Has there ever been a DVD more manipulatively, misleadingly designed than Erotic Escape? Above the suggestive title, the packaging shows a naked woman sitting on a beach, and the back art refers to the film as a "steamy women-on-the-run classic." Every once in awhile, it's fun to watch a Z-grade Italian exploitation film for its sleaziest elements, but it's almost miraculous how much of a difference there is between the expectations set by the outside of the DVD and what's contained within.
Manuel (Rodrigo Obregón) is a political prisoner trapped in a work camp near the border (of what countries, I'm not entirely sure). At the prodding of a fellow prisoner, Manuel and several other prisoners attempt to break themselves out, but Manuel is the only one to escape with his life. On the outside, he steals a car, finds the estate of a rich and powerful local, kidnaps his daughter Amparo (Eleonora Vallone), and makes a run for "the border," where he hopes to find amnesty on his home turf.
As you can probably see, there's very little mention of nude beaches in that snippet of plot; suffice it to say, the picture on the cover never comes to fruition. On one hand, that wouldn't be a big deal, except the film flies past a neutral level of unsexiness and careens wildly into more distasteful areas. It turns out Amparo is actually extremely unhappy to be dragged through the desert, hands tied, all while an angry, impatient escaped convict constantly whips her and tries to tell her she should be grateful. Make no mistake, this is not the kind of movie where the criminal and victim discover they're an unlikely match made in heaven. Manuel gives Amparo bread and water, and when she refuses to be as pleased by the minimum level of sustenance to survive, he brutally rapes her (twice). Fun, eh?
Directed by Nello Rossati, Erotic Escape isn't a particularly flashy movie. Most of it takes place in rocky valleys and dirty caves, which doesn't allow for much visual grandeur, but it does move along at a decent clip, and none of the performances seem unusually hammy. Obregón is all about gritted teeth and Vallone oscillates between dead-eyed and varying degrees of sad, but both are passable, given that all the script wants them to do is hate each other. Really, there's almost nothing remakable about the entire production except how hateful, brutal, and dark everything is, especially for a movie that's being advertised as cheesy, unassuming fluff.
Adding insult to injury, the final reel gets really dark, and does so in a serious manner. Were any of the action more over-the-top, the film might have been slightly entertaining, in a sort of depraved, grindhouse-y way. Alas, there seems to be some hope that the audience cares about the emotional state of one or even both of the movie's two awful leads. A Google translation of the original title (Fuga Scabrosamente Pericolosa) spits out Escape Dangerous Roughness. Engrish aside, it's a far more accurate title, but, hey, I guess that doesn't sell as many DVDs.
To be fair, there is a reasonably accurate plot summary on the back. Still, the way it shaves the edge of Manuel as a rapist and the fact that it has a fully naked woman on the cover (complete with censoring) is really an unacceptable stretching of the truth. The case comes with no insert.
The Video and Audio
There are two sides to the A/V quality of the release. On one hand, this 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is easily one of the worst-looking DVDs I've ever watched. Colors are on the washed out side. The print is severely damaged, with every kind of scratch, nick, dirt and damage. Most of all, though, the transfer is extremely soft, to the point where you might think your eyes are going blurry if you look at it too long. That said, this is also a low-budget Italian film from 1985, so, all things considered, this is probably quite good for what was available. The picture, despite its flaws, absolutely achieves a stability and consistency well above the image on several under-$10 public domain collections I've seen on discs from Echo Bridge and the like. Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono also sounds surprisingly clear, with very strong separation of the dialogue from the ambient sound and music, even if the occasional note is mangled or warped and the elements are a little fuzzy. English subtitles are provided, and although a few sentences are worded incorrectly, and there are some formatting errors (special characters like apostrophes and accented letters fail to display properly, similar to when a website uses special HTML for certain characters but instead you see the raw code gibberish on the page).
I guess if you're in the mood to see a violent criminal relentlessly abuse an innocent woman in the name of entertainment, and prefer to dredge up an old, obscure way to do it, this is the disc for you? Skip it.
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