Synopsis: The stunning Laura Gemser stars as Emanuelle, the fearless fashion photographer and investigative photojournalist whose thirst for adventure is matched only by her insatiable erotic hunger. But when Emanuelle uncovers shocking evidence of an international snuff film conspiracy, she is plunged into an odyssey of forbidden passion, depraved desires and unspeakable human brutality. From the lust-filled streets of New York City to the corrupt corridors of Washington D.C. and beyond, one of the most controversial sex and gore epics in exploitation history has finally come home: This is EMANUELLE IN AMERICA!
Everything you’ve heard about this jaw-dropping cult classic is true: graphic sex, harrowing violence, a horse named Pedro and much, much more. Directed by the notorious Joe D’Amato (BEYOND THE DARKNESS), EMANUELLE IN AMERICA has been newly mastered from pristine vault materials and is now presented completely uncut for the first time ever!
Emanuelle in America 3.25
eyelights: Laura Gemser’s beauty. the sumptuous locations. the sexy bits.
eyesores: Laura Gemser’s performance. the lack of plot. the appalling torture and snuff film snippets.
“Don’t you think that a hot bath is as nice as a lover’s caress?”
‘Emmanuelle‘ was such a worldwide smash in 1974 that it would inevitably inspire copycats. But no one could outdo Italian B-movie filmmakers in those days: they would rip off just about anything for a quick buck.
This would lead to such shameless rip offs as ‘O.K. Connery‘, which used Sean Connery’s brother and many James Bond actors for a pseudo-Bond adventure. Or ‘Alien 2’, which has no connection to Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien‘.
The same would happen to ‘Emmanuelle’. To get around copyright issues, producers decided to create a series after a character named Emanuelle (notice the missing “M”) and instead of making her Caucasian, she was “black”.
I say “black” because the ‘Black Emanuelle’ series stars Laura Gemser, an Indonesian-Dutch actress who is exotic-looking but could only pass as black if one were to lump all “brown people” into the same category.
In any event, it worked: the original film generated enough interest that Gemser wound up in seven ‘Black Emanuelle’ films in just four years – and would return for two more a few years later. She was a hit.
She was such a hit, in fact, that even this copycat series was ripped off: Gemser starred in a bunch of other movies that were marketed as “Emanuelle” films even though she played a character other than Mae Jordan.
Because, yeah, her character isn’t even named Emanuelle.
In any event, I got curious about the series because of Gemser, who’d made such an impression in ‘Collections privées‘. I wanted to see more of her… oeuvre, and proceeded to getting a few of her ‘Emanuelle’ films.
But I didn’t bother to start at the beginning, given that these softcore sex films have far too little plot for this to really matter. ‘Emanuelle in America’ is, in fact, the third in the official ‘Black Emanuelle’ series.
Released in 1977, it finds Mae, a fashion photographer and journalist, working out of New York when gets a lead on a sex cult. She decides to infiltrate it and finds herself on a string of unconnected investigations.
And, naturally, has sexual adventures along the way.
Italian filmmakers at the time shot most of their films without sound and then just dubbed the audio in in post-production. With their diverse casts, it was rare for the actors’ voices to match the movement of their lips.
I chose the English dubbing instead of the original Italian track because the movie is set in the U.S. Purists may disagree with this choice, but given that the focus of these… ahem… classics is sex, who cares?
What I found interesting is that Gemser is nude much of the picture, but a lot of her sex scenes are off-camera: whenever Mae’s with a guy, they make out, and we’re treated to a fade-out before anything happens.
However, she does have a few lesbian trysts, including a peculiar underwater “dance” with two other women and also a pretty steamy sex scene with one of the cult’s other members. I suppose that they were easier to fake.
The picture is surprisingly explicit, though: some of the other actresses perform fellatio on screen, there’s a little bit of penetration and they even show an ejaculation. There’s just enough of it to satisfy hardcore audiences.
But ‘Emanuelle in America’ also spirals into tastelessness, showing one of the cult members masturbating a horse and Mae’s investigations leading to a snuff film ring – forcing us to watch a grueling array of grotesqueries.
Nasty, sick stuff. Tons of it.
In fact, the picture was already pretty vacuous, but the horrors of the torture/snuff films stripped it of any enjoyment for me. Until then, I was enjoying the titillating sexy bits for what they were: harmless fun.
But that was a real turn off.
Even a small amount would have put me off, but the filmmakers obsessed on this for some reason. I just can’t justify showing this much cruelty, let alone when it’s completely directed at one gender. It’s sexist and f-ed up.
If not for this, I’d have rated ‘Emanuelle in America’ much higher: though its plot is sketchy and its performances are amateurish, it has plenty of sexy bits to go around and it takes us to all manners of lovely locations.
In fact, I couldn’t believe the mansions and the luxury that the filmmakers had access to – whether it be in the U.S., in Venice (where Mae goes for a bit), or on a remote island. I guess that they had wealthy connections.
In any event, it’s a visually-appealing picture.
And, usually, that’s a key aspect of erotic cinema, along with atmosphere. But ‘Emanuelle in America’ crosses lines that should be unthinkable; it’s utterly unpalatable and I truly wonder who could think that it isn’t.
And no amount of Laura Gemser can make up for it.
Date of viewing: May 24, 2017