Film Review: Emanuelle in America (1977)

SYNOPSIS:

Fearless journalist and fashion photographer Emanuelle takes America, amongst other things. In a globetrotting journey which covers as much ground as your average Bond movie, Emanuelle joins a harem, investigates a snuff filmmaker and takes her clothes off a lot, everywhere.

REVIEW:

The most infamous of the black Emanuelle movies (as opposed to the other one, spelled with two m’s), Emanuelle in America is a genre defining bit of filth, which inspired a number of knock-offs and sequels. A sequel itself to Bitto Albertini’s 1975 sexploitation/blaxploitation Black Emanuelle, it sees the photographer (rude photographs, obviously) and journalist watching snuff movies, engaging in orgies and looking on as a woman pleasures a horse. It’s little wonder that the name Emanuelle is now synonymous with filth.

This is the second movie in a row I’ve now watched in which a woman masturbates a horse. Not on purpose (whatever floats your boat, sure, but that doesn’t really mine) but rather unwittingly, following the even sleazier Caligula II – which was also directed by Joe D’Amato, and starred this movie’s Laura Gemser. What are the chances, eh. Where the original Black Emanuelle was relatively softcore, D’Amato’s sequels up the sex and violence quotient, resulting in much uproar when censors discovered both the snuff and horse pleasuring scenes. Although once you’ve watched the near-constant orgy which is Caligula II, Emanuelle in America seems really rather innocent. Especially during a scene in which a woman decorates a man’s pubes with daisies. “Your bush is in flower,” she proclaims, sweetly. Bush. In flower, geddit.

Our intrepid journalist is no Lois Lane though, her version of investigative journalism being to flirt or shag her way in and out of trouble. Well, such methodology always served James Bond – and, more appropriately, given the tone, Austin Powers – just fine. Maybe it’s a form of Girl Power. Don’t worry, I’m not about to suggest that the Emanuelle movies are a shining example of female empowerment. This is exploitation cinema at its most blatant. The film opens with our Emanuelle being kidnapped and threatened by a disgruntled gunman. It doesn’t take much work at all for our heroine to outwit this poor uptight fool, simply by flirting with him until he gets upset and runs away. Whatever works.

From there, Emanuelle manages to infiltrate a harem (not difficult apparently) where she swims naked with a gaggle of other nubile young things and engages in all manner of filth and semi-softcore sex until it’s time for the main plot to kick in. There’s not even a hint of snuff until over an hour into the film. In the meanwhile, there’s the horse massage, steamy sex in a sauna, a threesome, sex in a Church, and an orgy. The snuff stuff, when it comes (no pun intended) is reasonably nasty, although nothing that fans of old school video nasties and Euro sleaze won’t have seen before.

The ‘In America’ of the title, too, seems redundant, since Emanuelle in America is as much about America as the disappointing Jason Takes Manhattan was about Manhattan. Although that film did have Jason Voorhees punching a kid’s head off, which is justification enough for its existence. Emanuelle in America, meanwhile, justifies its own existence with heaps of grot (although not quite as much as you might expect) and a nifty central performance from Gemser as Emanuelle. She would go on to make a number of Emanuelle movies, fighting cannibals and vicious prison wardens, but her Emanuelle in America is the most notable Emanuelle movie.

Rude and nasty as it might be, Emanuelle in America is a classic of the subgenre. It’s well directed by D’Amato, confidently acted by Gemser, and backed up with a series of beautiful locations, girls and musical cues. It’s exploitative and a bit offensive, sure, but you don’t go into an Emanuelle movie – or a Joe D’Amato one, for that matter – expecting anything else.

Emanuelle in America (1977)

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About Joel Harley

Lunatic, lover, poet.

Obsessed fan of everything horror, Batman and Queen (the band). Lover of Lovecraft, passionate writer, heavy drinker and idiot.

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