The Joe D’Amato Emanuelle movies are absolutely lunatic. I mean that in the best of ways, because while they promise you skin, sin and sleaze — and they deliver — it often feels like it all comes at the price of you feeling like you’ll ever be clean again.
Written by Maria Pia Fusco, the daughter of a policeman who rebelled by writing movies like Bluebeard and five of the Black Emanuelle movies while also becoming a respected film writer for La Repubblica where she became one of the few journalists to have an in-depth exploration of Kubrick from a first-hand perspective, and Gianfranco Clerici, whose oeuvre is filled with some of Italy’s most notorious films such as The New York Ripper, Cannibal Holocaust and The House on the Edge of the Park.
After a meeting with United Nations diplomat Dr. Robertson (Ivan Rassimov!) in New York City, our heroine Emanuelle (the always wonderful Laura Gemser) is invited to India to write a report on Guru Shanti (George Eastman), a man who is teaching his followers to hold off their orgasms so that they may all experience the ultimate in le petit mort before the lovely journalist of our dreams basically ruins everyone.
This movie lives up to the title because Emanuelle and her friend Cora Norman (Karin Schubert, Hanna D. – La ragazza del Vondel Park‘s mother) really do travel the world and free women from bonds both literal and sexual, encouraging free love and never having the film preach to us about what they do.
I mean, you should also realize that this is a D’Amato movie where scenes of torture, assault and two different species of animals involved in the sex scenes because, well, Italy is the most insane of all countries, but you’d be like that too if the Vatican was directly inside your capital city. There’s a cut of this that has a banana scene that has nearly made me swear off this type of fruit, but these are the dangers of watching Italian sexploitation.
But it’s even odder because D’Amato makes us look away in the climactic beauty queen assault scene, our heroines unable to do anything but realize that when this is all over, they’re going to ruin the men who let this happen. I first saw this as a teenager in the early 90s. While most of the movies I saw back then haven’t held up, this movie has only improved with time.