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5.3.09

Emanuelle in America (1977)



Director: Joe D'Amato
Starring: Laura Gemser, Gabriele Tinti, Roger Browne, Paola Senatore
Unrated Running time: 100 minutes
Released by Blue Underground

The sunglasses-and-raincoat crowd got more than they bargained for in Italian sleaze merchant Joe D'Amato's 1976 Emanuelle in America. What starts out as your usual lightweight softcore outing becomes something entirely different when the film reaches its tipping point -- a jaw-dropping scene that shows a woman satisfying a randy horse named Pedro. From there on out, hardcore insert scenes are thrown into the mix, and Emanuelle (Laura Gemser) even encounters a snuff film operation. The snuff/torture scenes are pretty rough, especially when the rest of the film is a lighthearted formulaic sexploitation vehicle for the Indonesian Black Emanuelle star. "Stylishly directed" and "Joe D'Amato" don't really go together in a sentence, but there are enough interesting camera angles and snappy edits to make you give the guy credit for trying.

There is some plot -- a bunch of nonsense about Emanuelle infiltrating a modern-day harem that has links to a kidnapping ring. Or something like that. Really, do you care? It's got wall-to-wall-nakedness, bestiality, and gore. That ought to be enough to get you to rent it. That is, *ahem* if you're into that sort of thing. All in all, it's a pretty dull affair until we get to the notorious "snuff" segment, which ends up feeling like something D'Amato threw in to give an otherwise bland skinflick a nasty edge. It worked -- over thirty years later and people are still talking about this film. It is even said to have inspired David Cronenberg to make Videodrome. Maybe it was Pedro's performance . . .

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