A double dose of European sleaze, the kind that could only be made in the seventies, comes to DVD courtesy of Apprehensive Films who have now bundled together two of their previously available releases and packed'em together just for kicks. Here's a look...
Black Cobra Woman
Directed by the late, great Joe D'Amato in 1976 and originally released as Eva Nera, the movie begins when a beautiful, exotic woman named Eva (Laura Gemser) arrives at the airport in Hong Kong. Here she's approached by Jules Carmichael (Gabriele Tinti) and they talk. We learn she's come to Hong Kong to perform at a nightclub where she's scheduled to do some sort of weird ancient snake dance. Jules, on the other hand, is in town to do some business and hang out with his older brother, a rich snake enthusiast named Judas (Jack Palance).
Later that night we cut to the club and sure enough, Eva is strutting around mostly nude with a big snake wrapped around her neck and Jules and Judas couldn't be happier. Duly impressed, Judas calls Eva up the next day and insists on taking her for lunch at her favorite restaurant and though they never mention the name of that place, they meet there and talk over a lovely meal. At this point Judas basically offers to buy Eva's company, he'll pay her to hang out with him and in turn he'll spoil her. It's a pretty weird offer but eventually Eva obliges, probably to get away from the Chinese guy she's been hanging out with who keeps beating her up. When Judas throws a party, Jules introduces Eva to the cream of the crop and before you know it, Eva is having off screen and on screen lesbian sex with Candy (Ziggy Zanger) and Gerri (Michele Starck), not to mention getting massages from attendants with strange vibrating hand attachments and swapping bathing suits. As Eva and Gerri grow closer, Jules and Judas both start to get a little irked, and a whole lot of shifty backstabbing and weird kinky snake related sex stuff goes on. This won't end well...
Not nearly as explicit as most of the movies that D'Amato and Gemser would make together, Black Cobra Woman still manages to offer up enough sex and sleaze to appeal to fans of their Black Emmanuelle series of films. Eva plays with herself, has sex with the dude who slaps her around and gets involved in some girl on girl play time here and there as well. It all leads up to a ridiculous conclusion, the kind that you really only ever get in a D'Amato movie and which really needs to be seen to be believed.
Nicely shot and making fine use of a good, if very repetitive score from Piero Umiliani, the film was edited by none other than Bruno Mattei, which might explain why it's choppy and lacking any serious flow. The cast all sort of sleepwalk through it, which is funny when you consider what's going on, and it's just plain weird seeing Jack Palance show up in this movie. Animal lovers are advised that there is some very real snake violence in here that many will find a turn off. Not the best or most interesting of the run, but it's entertaining enough that if you've enjoyed previous collaborations between D'Amato and Gemser you'll want to give it a look.
Also known as Mafia Junction, Massimo Dallamano's 1973 film is a pretty solid slice of Italian crime genre madness. Ivan Rassimov plays a police inspector named Cliff Hoyst who spends a lot of time working undercover and busting up drug rings. He's the type of cop who does what he has to do to get the job done, and if that means bending the law a little bit to make it happen, so be it. When he has to head to London to work a case, he runs into an ex of his, Joanne (Stephanie Beacham). They get reacquainted in the Biblical sense and after a quick romp in bed, he learns that she's working for a professional brothel that uses secret recording devices to film high profile clients in bed with their ladies. In short, it's a blackmail operation.
The fiend who runs this agency is Morrell (Ettore Manni ) and he blackmails this latest client, an American business man, into making a drug buy for him and smuggling it through customs. Morrell offers Cliff a slice of the pie if he'll come on board with them and help them out, which he does by taking out an American operative named Gambel (Luciano Catenacci). Well, it turns out that Gambel was working for Mamma The Turk (Patricia Hayes), a lady mafia big shot who rules the scene with a small army of sons and daughters who do her evil bidding. She has her employees take out two of Morrell's men - things are quickly getting out of hand and Cliff is stuck in the middle and very obviously guilty of some seriously sneaky behavior...
Fast paced and full of awesome violence, Superbitch lets Rassimov strut his stuff, though honestly he's a little wooden here. The dubbing probably doesn't help him any. Stephanie Beacham looks rad naked and Patricia Hayes is hilarious as 'Mamma The Turk', the most bizarre character in a movie populated almost entirely by bizarre characters. The movie is full of bad stereotypes and loads of clichés but it give you everything that you could realistically ask for out of a Poliziotteschi movie of this era: shoot outs, fist fights, tough guys, naked ladies, car chases, and action galore. It's sexist, occasionally misogynist even, but it's a Hell of a lot of fun to watch. Through in some nice location photography and some cool music from Riz Ortolani and it's hard not to have a good time with this movie so long as you don't over think it.
Black Cobra Woman is presented letterboxed (non-anamorphic widescreen) and taken from a worn out VHS source that was misframed when transferred from whatever beaten up print they found way back when. Look for the left side of the opening credits to be cut off and check out the occasional tape roll up towards the top of the image. Colors are horrible, very muted looking with tons of fading and print damage runs rampant. Superbitch is fullframe and should be 1.85.1. It does look better than the first movie in terms of clarity and color reproduction but still leaves plenty to be desired. The image is flat, black levels are muddy and the framing is wrong.
Both films are presented in Dolby Digital Mono, in English. There are no alternate language options or subtitles provided for either movie. Sound quality is about on par with the video quality. For Black Cobra Woman the audio is muffled and flat and full of hiss. Superbitch sounds a bit better in that it doesn't suffer from as many inaudible lines and as much hiss as the first feature but still doesn't sound great by any stretch.
Extras? We get a handful of homemade trailers for some unrelated Apprehensive Films DVD releases, static menus and chapter selection. That's all she wrote.
These movies are a kick and if you're at all interested in European exploitation movies of the seventies, you'll want to check them out. Unfortunately this DVD from Apprehensive Films is fairly horrible and there are better versions of both movies out there for those who are region free. In a perfect world this would be a proper release, but this is not a proper world we live in and it's hard to recommend this one even if the movies are pretty cool.
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.