09 November, 2007


It's taken me exactly one week to get through the movies, extras and music on Severin Film's BLACK EMANUELLE'S BOX: Volume 2. This four disc Limited Collector's Edition boxset, along with the first BLACK EMANUELLE'S BOX [below] constitutes one of 2007's major R1 DVD events. Guaranteed hours of viewing and listening pleasure for the connoisseur of what one might fondly term European Trash Cinema from the 1970s.

The final verdict is in: You Must Have BLACK EMANUELLE'S BOX Volume 2! That is, if you are as compulsive a collector of Nico Fidenco/Laura Gemser/Joe D'Amato movies as I am... Wrapping up our in-depth coverage is a look at the R1 DVD debut of the first BLACK EMANUELLE sequel, Bitto Albertini's EMANUELLE NERA 2.

Dr. Freud (Angelo Infanti) probes the unconscious of Emanuelle Richmond (Sharon Lesley) in his private New York City psychiatric clinic to discover the trauma which has trust her into amnesia. Was it her proximity to war action in 1970's Beirut, too much sex, or was it that brutal encounter with the vicious motorcyclists? Neglecting his frustrated wife (Dagmar Lassander) the Doctor is determined to cure his patient while her concerned father (Don Powell) and the man who wants to marry her anxiously pace in the waiting room.

The last (and least) of the three BLACK EMANUELLE films in Severin BLACK EMANUELLE'S BOX Vol. 2 under consideration is Bitto Albertini's BLACK EMANUELLE #2 (onscreen title), the 1976 afterthought to his vastly superior EMANUELLE NERA, which initiated the series a year earlier. That film had exotic locations, engaging characters, a terrific score and, most importantly, Laura Gemser in what would become her signature role. BLACK EMANUELLE 2 unfortunately contains none of those elements. Laura Gemser IS Black Emanuelle, accept no substitutes. Presumably, she wasn't available due to her being busy filming the Joe D'Amato BE films, but there was really no excuse for going ahead without her. They should have waited for her or not made the film.

Sharon Lesley (rn: Shulamith Lasri) in her only known screen role (you will quickly understand why after watching her for a few minutes) just doesn't make it in the role or as an actress. She, and the film, are what no BLACK EMANUELLE film should ever be: DULL. Angelo Infanti (Fabrizio in THE GODFATHER) looks more like a third level gangster than an expensive shrink. The sex scenes are best described as perfunctory.

Flashbacks to the war in Lebanon, gang rape, lesbian encounters and a silly episode of body painting don't help raise this above the level of a mildly diverting softcore romp. Even the once alluring Dagmar Lassander can't save it. Albertini (directing under his Albert Thomas beard) can be a stylish, energetic director, as EMANUELLE NERA proved, but he can't do anything here with the mostly indoor sets, the New York clinic looks like a few modified hotel rooms, and the obviously unenthusiastic and unattractive cast. Cinematographer Gugliemo Mancori shows little interest in making anything the least bit visually interesting. Joe D'Amato aka Aristitde Massaccesi understood the potential of Gemser, along with the concept itself, and would take the series in wild and wonderful directions. This entry is mainly for the Black Emanuelle completest. However, Severin Films has given it a razor sharp, colorful 1:85:1/16:9 transfer from glossy vault elements. It looks absolutely terrific, too bad the film isn't.

The only extra is the featurette DIVA 70, a video interview with an unrecognizable Dagmar Lassander, who discusses her work in such films as FEMINA RIDENS and with director Mario Bava (A HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON). The feature is presented with its [badly] dubbed English language Mono track. I doubt the inclusion of an Italian track would have made any difference.

The music soundtrack is by the late composer/actor/Spaghetti Western singer Don Powell, whose stirring baritone rendition of his theme song for Antonio Margheriti's...AND GOD SAID TO CAIN (1969) was quite memorable. He also wrote/sang the themes for such Eurowesterns as TEXAS, ADIOS (1966) and A FEW DOLLARS FOR DJANGO (1966), among others. His most effective music and performance were in Osvaldo Civriani's 1973 Voodoo Sexploitationer IL PAVONE NERO, featuring EMANUELLE NERA's Karin Schubert. His role here is inconsequential, as is everything else about the film. His musical score is an uncompelling blend of soft rock, mild disco and a dreadful exit song performed by The Peppers [who?]. Powell seemed more at home scoring Spaghetti Westerns. He reportedly committed suicide sometime after his last film work in the mid 1980s. The blandness of the music underlines the originality and importance of the Nico Fidenco scores for his BE assignments.

As with Severin's first BLACK EMANUELLE'S BOX we get high quality transfers of two better than average entries and one bottom tier title, supported by an impressive array of extras and a very welcome CD collection of Nico Fidenco cues. I personally prefer the movies { VELLUTO NERO; LA VIA DELLA PROSTITUZIONE } and the Fidenco scores included in this compilation to the films and music contained in the first boxset. But considering you get a total of 6 High Quality R1 DVD debuts of vintage EuroErotica, along with two newly mastered Nico Fidenco CD's, they are both must haves. Highly recommended.

One can only hope for a third BE Boxset including the essential 1975 template, EMANUELLE NERA along with the Joe D'Amato oddity UNLEASHED PERVERSIONS OF EMANUELLE, a 1980 composite featuring footage from most of the previously mentioned BE titles, with a completely new Eurospy storyline imposed by a post-dubbed dialogue track. Joe D'Amato was a genius at double dipping!
BLACK EMANUELLE'S BOX: VOLUME 2 streets Nov. 13th.

(C) Robert Monell, 2007

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