Huh? Divine Emanuelle? Well, the film on this DVD is actually better known as Love Cult in most circles and has very little to do with the Emanuelle series we all know and love, but Laura Gemser stars in it and takes her clothes off a lot, so hey, there's that at least.
Gemser plays 'The Divine One' – a woman who is the central figure of a strange love cult named The Children Of Light that owes a lot to Jim Jones and his crew of religious nut jobs. At any rate, these cultists practice group sex a lot and also manage to incorporate the dirty deed into pretty much all of their rituals. They often sing songs (seriously, there are musical numbers in here) but more or less spend all of their time getting' it on.
The dark side of the cult becomes evident when someone refuses to engage in carnal deeds – for their dissent, they're usually stripped and whipped. Should you decide to leave the cult, well, you'll find yourself tossed to your death at the bottom of a pit full of spikes by some guy who looks like a greasy Steve Reeves movie reject.
The writer/director of the film, Christian Anders (who would later appear in Kung Fu Emanuelle), plays the role of Dorian and his job is to smooth talk ladies into joining up with the cult, so that there's always a constant supply of fresh meat to play with. When he meets up with the pretty young daughter of a prominent American senator named Patricia (Simone Brahman), he talks her into becoming one of them. Dorian becomes conflicted when he starts to fall for the latest addition to the love cult, and soon he's falling head over heels in love with her. Once he gets in touch with his emotions, he realizes that they're not safe if they stay with the cult and he decides that they should escape the compound so that they can get back to the real world and make a new life for themselves.
Unfortunately, as Dorian knows all too well, the cult doesn't like it when you try to leave. When you join them, you're one of them forever and when the two lovebirds make their escape, the burly muscleman is going to be there to try and stop them. And then there's the rumblings of the end of the world that are going around the camp, and the mass suicide that they've scheduled to ensure that they get into Heaven when it happens…
Part cult movie in the tradition of Guyana, part women in prison film, Divine Emanuelle is one hundred percent goofball sleaze from start to finish. The musical numbers border on the surreal, the sex is completely gratuitous and extremely plentiful, and the plot merely exists to take us from one set piece to the other. Performances are standard for this type of material across the board, with Christian Anders winning the award for goofiest hero to ever turn against a cult and Laura Gemser spending a lot of her time naked and looking good but not doing a whole lot else.
Anders' direction is competent if at times a little primitive. The cinematography has its moments but overall isn't anything to write home about. In terms of pacing the movie moves along at a good speed and the script throws in enough sex, violence, and sexual violence, to keep things interesting. Divine Emanuelle isn't really an Emanuelle or Emmanuelle movie at all, but it is a fun soft core adventure with horror movie trappings that entertains as a guilty pleasure.
Despite the fact that the back of the packaging states that this is an anamorphic 1.85.1 widescreen release, it is in fact full frame and it is in fact not flagged properly for playback on progressive scan hardware. Some scenes look a little cramped but for the most part the compositions make it through okay. Print quality is average – there's some damage here and there, some specks, some grain, but the colors come through nicely. The black levels stay deep, but fine detail is a bit on the washed out side.
The English language Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack is acceptable if unremarkable. Dialogue is clean and clear and while there are a couple of notable instances where some background hiss makes its way into the scene, it's not too distracting. The score sounds nice and lively and there aren't any serious issues with the sound on this release. There are no alternate language subtitles or closed captioning options included on this release to speak of.
The most interesting aspect of the supplements compiled for this release is the collection of deleted scenes. The first batch of scenes is sourced from the German VHS tape, and they total about seven and a half minutes. They're not subbed, so it's hard to know what's going on. Outtakes are up next, and look to be film sourced, and there's around eighteen minutes of this material, the vast majority of which is sex scene footage. There's also a section dedicated to trailer outtakes, about ten minutes or so worth. Combined, there's over half an hours worth of excised material in here and while it's all out of context, it's still cool to see.
Rounding out the extra features is a decent still gallery of promotional artwork for the film, as well as a trailer for the feature and trailers for other 'Exploitation Digital' releases.
Well, if you take the transfer out of the equation, you've got a pretty decent release – unfortunately, the video quality really does hurt this disc quite a bit. The movie itself isn't bad though, and Laura Gemser fans are probably going to want to check Divine Emanuelle out as it is uncut and the deleted footage is a nice touch. Rent it.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.