The film, set in the 1940's, kicks off by introducing the viewer to Alessandra (Lilli Carati), the spoiled trophy wife of military man Elio De Silveris (Al Cliver), who is about to return from his station in the jungle. Alessandra and Elio have an assistant, Wilma (Annie Belle), with whom Alessandra is secretly having a torrid lesbian affair. When Elio arrives, he has more than the standard trinkets and treasures to show his wife; he's also brought back Zerbal (Laura Gemser), who he won as a slave after saving her father's life. Alessandra claims aloud that she doesn't like the idea of having Zerbal around, but it becomes clear to Wilma that Zerbal has caught Alessandra's eye, and a bitter game of jealousy and infidelity begins to ensue.
Director Joe D'Amato, famous for several of the Emmanuelle films, wastes no time ramping up the movie's sex scenes. In the first 20 or 30 minutes, I think the viewer is treated to at least three of them, between Alessandra and Elio, between Alessandra and Wilma, and between Alessandra and Zerbal. One of the most bizarre, amusing things about the movie is how desperately it wants to lay on both sides of the line: there's plenty of frontal nudity, and the film pushes the limits of softcore lesbian sex about as far as it can before backing off; the film's number of scenes of women kissing each other's upper thighs and lower belly rack up pretty quickly. Somehow, most of this transpires without Elio noticing, I guess he's just too busy writing a book about his experiences in the jungle to notice torrid affairs happening to the left and right of him.
Not content to stop there, the film ramps up the tension when Elio finally catches on, at which point he forces Wilma to pleasure him, and later reveals that he's essentially bankrupt. His only solution? Shoot a porn film with all three women. I have seen left turns in movies, but nothing quite like this. For no clear reason, Elio's vision involves masks, nuns, and the couple's unassuming, innocent gardener, so if the film hasn't quite broached the viewer's bad taste boundaries yet, rest assured that there's plenty more to get up in arms about before the credits roll. Before long, there's another left turn in which Zerbal turns the tables on the white couple and initiates a bizarre ritual that would make them slaves to her. I don't want to spoil all of the movie's surprises, but the ending is suitably over-the-top; instead, I'll repeat a fact I learned from Inglourious Basterds, which is that nitrate film burns ten times faster than paper.
When pitching the idea for the porn film, Elio shows a black-and-white filmstrip that involves actual pornographic content, which is probably some of the footage that is making its American debut, according to the DVD box. Ironically, this glimpse of actual smut is probably the least interesting thing about the entirety of The Alcove, which slathers on the filth as if filth was going out of style, continually rushing itself to a new level of debauchery without stopping to catch its breath. I can't imagine those videotapes, like The Bikini Car Wash Company and the "adults only" version of Cinderella, held anything racier than Showgirls, but here's The Alcove, which goes to ludicrous heights that the 13-year-old brain couldn't possibly imagine. I'm telling you, they even get the gardener in on the debauchery! The poor gardener!
The Video and Audio
A Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track, as with all of the Severin films I've reviewed, is a muddy English dub that's easy to understand but in no way impressive. It just sounds like everything in the sound field has mushed together, with the exception of the new dialogue. I'm not sure the movie is entirely dubbed, because some of the lines synch with actor's mouths, but it's clearly not all in the original language. No subtitles are provided, either. Boo.
The film's original theatrical trailer has also been included.