JOE D’AMATO WEEK: Novelle licenziose di vergini ogliose (1973)

Giovanni Boccaccio is considered the greatest European prose writer of his time (1313-1375, in case you’re interested) and he’s best known for The Decameron, a series of short stories that pretty much define much of the Italian literary tradition.

Joe D’Amato made Porno Holocaust.

Six hundred years later, the cinema was referring back to Boccaccio with a series of films which are a subgenre of a subgenre, i.e. the decamerotici movies of the commedia sexy all’italiana, which get their start with Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Trilogy of Life of The Decameron, Canterbury Tales and Arabian Nights. Those films take the stories people knew, added sex and nudity, and there were around fifty ripoffs that followed.

Joe D’Amato made two of them, this movie and More Sexy Canterbury Tales, which he directed, wrote and even acted in under the names Romano Gastaldi in the Italian version and Ralph Zucker in the English cut. He was worried that other directors wouldn’t use him as a cinematographer if it got out that he was directing. That’s why he is listed as the cinematographer of More Sexy as his birth name, Aristide Massaccesi. It’s also the first time that D’Amato would show the idea of self-castration which is reflected at the end of his film Sesso Nero (Black Sex) AKA Sexy Erotic Love AKA Exotic Malice.

In this story, Boccaccio is led by demons into hell and learns of the reasons why his fellow pilgrims are there, including two couples who swap partners, a friar who ignores his vows to take a young parishioner, a merchant whose wife deflowered his nephew, a homosexual merchant (merchants obviously are all going to Hell) whose lover must sleep with his wife, Nero, a music teacher who instructs his students in the art of tickling more than just the keys and Dante Alighieri, the Italian poet who invented more of what we know about Hell than the Bible itself.

When this was first presented to the Italian censorship board, the title pretty much put every one of Pasolini’s three films together: Le mille e una notte di Boccaccio a Canterbury (The Thousand and One Tales of Boccaccio in Canterbury). Between full frontal female nudity and a priest in a pile of excrement, it failed and needed reshot, with Return of the Exorcist director Luca Damiano director filling in as D’Amato was in America shooting Alberto de Martino’s Il consigliori.

Nearly every long-time Italian genre director made comedies. There are several more from D’Amato, but this one takes advantage of his love and talent when it comes to making gorgeous women like Gabriella Giorgelli (Seven Blood-Stained OrchidsWax Mask) look even more beautiful.

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