Synopsis: In what critics and fans consider the most uncompromising film in the entire series, New York journalist Emanuelle (the ever-luscious Laura Gemser) is out to uncover violence against women by our male-dominated society. But when her voluptuous rival (Karin Schubert of CHRISTINA and BLACK VENUS) uncovers a sadistic ring of white slavers, Emanuelle is sucked into an international ordeal of bondage, bestiality and beyond. From Bombay sex cults and Roman rapists to Chinese perverts and depraved U.S. Senators, you have never experienced anything like the erotic odyssey of EMANUELLE AROUND THE WORLD.
Brigitte Petronio (HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK), George Eastman (ANTHROPOPHAGUS), Ivan Rassimov (THE SEXORCIST), Marino Ma_e (CONTAMINATION) and Paul Thomas (JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR) co-star in this sleazy stunner – also known as EMANUELLE: WHY VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN? and THE DEGRADATION OF EMANUELLE – from Joe D’Amato, the infamous director of EMANUELLE AND THE LAST CANNIBALS and CALIGULA – THE UNTOLD STORY.
eyelights: Laura Gemser. its exotic locales. its sexy bits. its feminist messaging.
eyesores: its sexual violence. it exploitative bits. its conflicting messages.
“I’m free. Men an Women are equal. It’s society that obligates them to be different.”
Well, I really don’t know what to think of the “Black Emanuelle” series. On the one hand, it offers an emancipated female protagonist who extols the virtues of sexual liberation and the equality of women and men. On the other, it exploits the female form and also subjects it to all manners of indignity and violence.
In 1977’s ‘Emanuelle – Perché violenza alle donne?’, the fourth official entry in this series, we find Mae investigating a white slavery ring that involves wealthy business men and politicians. This leads her from one exotic locale to the next all the while observing or participating in all kinds of sexual activities.
The strength of this picture is its visuals: Laura Gemser, looking forever lovely, the incredible, breathtaking mansions and palaces that the filmmakers were granted access to and the seas of beautiful women in various stages of undress. It’s quite clear that the producers had access to far more money to make this installment.
I was particularly impressed with the Indian palace that Mae visits for her investigative piece on a sexual guru who boasts that he can extend pleasure to infinity. There she finds massive orgies (in which she participates) and even a sapphic training of the Kama Sutra which involves dozens of women and large sex props.
It’s left an indelible image in my mind.
But, for each amazing venue, there is a counterpoint, such as the gym in which a toothy, maniacal hood named Chang sexually tortures women to initiate them into sex slavery. Or the grotty dockside warehouse full of rubbish in which a bunch of politicians party late in the night, and where yet another rape takes place.
I don’t know if it was a male pushback against second wave feminist ideals that make these films so frequently violent towards women, but it’s both indigestible and hard to make sense of given the picture’s frequent pro-woman messaging. Were they trying to bash those women or trying to educate less evolved men?
Who knows, but these world views come into conflict here, with no clear resolution.
At least the messaging is there, though, which gives hope that it’s helped to advance the cause to some degree. It’s not something we usually see in these movies, so one would like to think that some of the men who typically get off watching women being oppressed by men would absorb some of the values that Mae promotes.
There are actually a few moments when Mae confronts serial sex abusers, like the guru and an Emir, and tries to convince them to change their ways. Naturally, sex and diplomacy intermingle, but she always manages to put their views into question. That’s a welcome message in a film that revels in using women as sex objects.
There’s also a few instances in which the men are given a taste of their own medicine, which is a clear warning to those who enjoy the vileness: it’s not just unacceptable, there are direct personal consequences. In fact, though much of it is off-screen, Mae and her friend Cora ensure that justice is served to these men.
So, maybe, maybe it’s made a positive difference.
It’s not something one might expect from a softcore porn movie (which, incidentally, in its European version, includes fully hardcore scenes), so this is without a doubt one of its strengths. It’s unfortunate that it’s marred by an exploitative bent, a thin script, poor editing, and incompetent dialogue overdubs, though.
With its production quality and message, ‘Emanuelle – Perché violenza alle donne?’ could have been a standout of the genre, but it crumbles in the hands of unsophiticates, whose less-than-masterful touches counter its apparent intentions; sexual violence and social commentary is a balancing act that needs subtlety.
While this entry is mercifully not nearly as tasteless as the last one, ‘Emanuelle in America‘, it would still offend anyone who is not already jaded or immune to this stuff. It makes it difficult to recommend a picture that certainly has its moments, but that’s such a minefield that it’s impossible to get through it unscathed.
Personally, I’ve had enough of this series.
Date of viewing: May 28, 2017