With the DVD format becoming a certified merchandising monster, it's easy to understand the sudden influx of independent product to the market. After all, when the gravy is pouring this proficiently, who doesn't want a nice, solvent sampling. Of course, unless you plan on making your millions with a 10th version of some public domain stalwart (Night of the Living Dead, Little Shop of Horrors) or get lucky enough to stumble across a vault full of treasure like Mike Vraney of Something Weird Video, the search for some viable titles will be arduous and, often, unsuccessful. Take Kitty Media, for example. They are entering the European Exploitation arena with an instantly recognizable name brand of nookie - Emanuelle. But before you get your ardor in an uproar, be warned. This is a late 80s Italian version of the vice goddess, and the Lady-like title here is nothing more than a Sappho soap opera with minimal softcore and only the briefest glimpses of Mediterranean T&A. And it's BORING too.
This version of everyone's favorite video vixen resides in Italy, where apparently a favored pastime for all women is being systematically abused, sexually. According to this film, the Mediterranean male considers "No" an aphrodisiac and won't stop raping until he's proven his paison machismo to everyone around him. For the most part, their gals put up with it. But not Emanuelle. She has just stumbled across her grandmother's diary and she's convinced that she deserves more than daily forced penetration.
Who is this senile old sage with an ancient advice column, you may ask? Why, it's Lady Chatterley herself, that turn of the century tart that got all puritan tongues wagging with her fictionalized pronouncements that girls should enjoy sex as much as men. For shame! Anyway, Emanuelle decides to dump her hubby and take up with a lesbian writer who has arrived to chronicle granny's carnal capers. But after a few months of Sappho bliss, their alternative lifestyle turns into a kinky game of voyeurism and paid seduction. Both gal pals have glamour fits. Emanuelle seduces a young student. Her femme friend fakes suicide. They split up. The end.
Look, Malù may be someone's idea of a randy Roman miss (she is attractive in a Sears Catalog Active Wear kind of way) and she sure looks nice without her top on, but should breasts along be the sole basis for an 80 minute movie entitled Lady Emanuelle? Should an audience be asked to only consider the chest when trying to find an enjoyable plot point to get involved in? Are mammaries the main reason for this movie to exist, and if so, why are they shown so infrequently and asexually? And finally, why is the movie so sloppy and choppy? Apparently, with all the concentration on the teat, very little time was left for things like continuity, editing and characterization. One possible explanation could be that once director Pasquale Fanetti finished showing off Ms. Malù's mounds, he had nothing else to say. Or maybe his movie was hacked up by censors, uncomfortable with seeing women used and abused for the sake of nothing special. Whatever the case may be, you have not had your senses dulled or your wits weakened in quite the way this dreadful dose of pseudo-sensuality wears down your risqué resolve.
What many flesh filmmakers forget about the minute they pile of the ersatz porn is passion. If you're not going to show penetration - and let's face it, this film is in the wrong genre category all together to even consider that gratuitous gimmick - you've got to show affection, ripe and red hot individual lust. Without it, a sex scene is stale and static, like watching two sacks of sullen humanity horizontally honing each other. Even the smallest amount of spice perks things up considerably. Sadly, Fanetti is not fond of ferventness. He would rather take ten minutes showing us a lady suck on another gal's flaccid finger like she's tasting something tainted than suggest something sizzling between the potential paramours. Better yet, he'll get our gals good and oiled up in a sauna, preparing us for one heck of a horny rubdown - and then he'll quickly cut away to some unimportant garbage. Indeed, Fanetti as a filmmaker has ardor ADD. Just when it looks like his scene will start heating up, he shifts to some meaningless plot or a shot of something supposedly artistic (a couple walking on the beach, a writer bent over a typewriter). Like the cinematic saltpeter that he is, Fanetti fails in the very basic tenets of tantalizing.
Which means all we are left with then are the premise and the personalities, and Lady Emanuelle cannot survive on these underdeveloped offerings. No one here is three dimensional or interesting. Emanuelle is a pair of ruby red lips and the aforementioned boobies...that's it. The lesbian author is a cockeyed crybaby, wishy-washy and whiny in ways that would make enlightened homosexuals weep with shame. Emanuelle's husband is a clef-chinned choad who can't prove his love unless he's physically dominating his spouse - and then he'll scope out the available skirt once he's finished raping his good wife. Pierre, the schoolboy who Emanuelle falls for, is supposed to be a saucy drag queen when his sugar momma's not around, but you'd never guess it by the Bugle Boy look on his face. He's about as convincing a cross dresser as John Leguizamo in To Wong Fu, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. Between the disco pick-up who gets angry when Emauelle and her lover make him dress up in a bra, to the inane moments where the women are fighting for no apparent reason, 90% of this film fails to engage us. Even the Mediterranean setting looks shoddy, with the beach providing the sole bit of aesthetic background to what ultimately looks like an interior decorator's confused cultural nightmare.
Without a lick of lust, sans a single character we can clamor for, missing even the most minor moment of audience engagement, Lady Emanuelle is a blight upon the good name of our leading lover of lewdness. Apparently, the Italians figured that if you just stick this label on any old bland bump and grind you'd find someone willing to watch. And, again, Malù would make a fine spokesmodel for Schweppes Bitter Lemon or some manner of ritzy Neapolitan cordial. But even with her clothes off, she's about as erotic as a fungo bat and no amount of middling Japanese foreplay (our gals get frisky with chopsticks - talk about your asexual sushi!) can win our wannabe wanton hearts. In the end, this scattered snooze fest is more sudsy than sexy, playing like a bad Telenovela rather than a rip-roaring piece of softcore porn. Had there been something of interest other than Malù's lady lumps, had director Pasquale Fanetti used something other than a meat cleaver and cellophane tape to edit his film, had the plot not switched tone and mood like Sybil after missing her medication, maybe there'd be something here to recommend. Otherwise, this is dull, dreary psychodrama with too much emphasis on personal peculiarities and not enough naughty nookie. Lady Chatterley was famous as a lover. Her granddaughter will only be known as a loser.
Kitty Media's transfer of this title is pretty good. As with most European filmmaking, the image is flat and rather lifeless, but at least this 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen picture looks pretty clean and professional. Colors are correct and details well defined. About the only real flaw is the harsh, abrasive lighting that renders everything dimensionless and drab.
Someone needs to remind the Italians that creating a musical theme for a cinematic character is nice, but not when it's repeated, add nauseum, thousands of times within a mere 80 minutes. Apparently, Fanetti was so taken by this melodious maxim that he had to put it into the soundtrack every few seconds, if only to remind us of who we are watching onscreen. This is a habit with most continental softcore. Inga had it, as did other Swedish sex films. But its aching earworm qualities far outweigh its amiable artistic merits. Otherwise, the Dolby Digital Stereo is fine, and since the movie is in Italian, there is no chance of missing the dialogue. The excellent English subtitles do a fine job of explaining all inconsequential conversations.
Aside from a trailer for the film, a few more ads for other Kitty Media titles, and some extended scene footage - mostly more shots of Emanuelle and her greased up scribe getting giddy in a spa - there is nothing of substance in the added features department. This is a pretty bare bones package, with nothing to explain why the movie was made, or who Malù was/is and why she made so many movies in 1989 (the IMDb lists six, including Lady Emanuelle!). A little context would have helped our understanding, but not our appreciation, of this tainted title.
It will be no surprise then to see Lady Emanuelle with a Skip It score next to its name. There is nothing here to please even the easiest softcore porn fan. The sex scenes are sketchy and scattered, the chemistry between the couples (both mixed and same gender) is close to nil and the overall tone of the film shifts wildly from moment to moment, producing a kind of cinematic whiplash that's near impossible to recover from. Malù may be a hot honey, but she's nothing but a cold clam here, and the rest of the repugnant supporting cast is equally frigid and frozen. If you really must see every film that festoons the Ms. E moniker, you have been warned. Others looking for a little Latin loving need to find their Mediterranean bed mambo elsewhere. While she may be a lady, this Emanuelle is nothing but a lox. The only stirring she'll accomplish is in your sleep reflex.
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