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Emanuelle in America/Review

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Emanuelle in America
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When I was younger, I used to stay up a bit longer and watch those cheap-ass erotica movies on Austrian free-tv, which used to be really soft and not pornographic at all. Thinking back to these films, I feel something of a nostalgia, and especially when I think back at those 70s semi-Italian films like Emanuelle (1974) with Laura Gemser. I think back to films like Black Emanuelle and such, and those are nice memories, and I can smile and laugh at those memories. Just recently I stumbled upon Blue Underground's wonderfully restored and uncut version of Emanuelle in America. Now, of course I thought back to my teenage years and thought, well let's watch this cheesy old 70s movie with some naked women. But I was surprised, that being an uncut version it turned out to be very well pornographic and it even had Joe D'Amato snuff scenes in it. Now I am not a kid anymore and it didn't shock me or anything but it destroyed my wonderful teenage memories. Nevertheless, I watched the film, and this being a blog for films you don't normally watch, let me introduce the film to you. To brush all doubts aside, I do not want to start posting porn reviews, but I do think that adult cinema of this kind is underrated, underrepresented, overlooked and frowned upon or ignored in mainstream cinema talk, and I personally think it's a shame to be so hypocritical. While we lure little kids to see torture porn like Saw and Hostel, we can't sit down with family and friends to see Sexploitation flicks. So here we go, a small step for mankind...

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In this part of the (then) popular series, the stunningly beautiful Laura Gemser investigates as the journalist Emanuelle various places on the US east coast. There is no real story to the film, aside from the journey into various places and circles of people until she finally stumbles upon shocking footage of film where she sees women being tortured. Her editor sends her to investigate, but when she returns with the evidence, the newspaper doesn't want to run the story.

What makes movies like these so special? For one, Joe D'Amato is not a hack director, he knew his craft. This movie is really well made in the technical terms. The acting is also not that bad, and if you consider that Laura Gemser doesn't really do a sex scene in this, it is absolutely surprising, but she really carries the film, because she has such a strong screen presence (and really, she's hot). The film itself is full of 70s atmosphere of free love and cold war anxiety, cheesy music and bad clothing. There are a number of sex scenes, some of them of soft pornographic nature, and there are one or two really tough snuff film scenes, that can really disturb people, so be warned. The bottom line is, that this Emanuelle movie, like the many others (and I am mostly talking about the Gemser ones, which are spin-offs of the original Emmanuelle films (with Sylvia Kristel) is an enjoyable guilty pleasure, that I can recommend wholeheartedly, if you need some 70s exploitation for a boring evening.

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Emanuelle in America might not be the best among the Emanuelle films, and especially if you're out for some real stuff, there are films that show more sex than this one, but to me, that's not the reason for watching it. It's the atmosphere, the message and the spirit of the times that I relate to this and other films like this. I know, I sound a bit like a hippie, but maybe in my heart, I am one.

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Sebastian, co-founder and admin of the Grindhouse Cinema Database (GCDb). He also started The Spaghetti Western Database (SWDb), The Quentin Tarantino Archives, The Robert Rodriguez Archives, Nischenkino and Furious Cinema. Outside of movies, he works on the intersection of technology and policy. He lives in Berlin, Germany.
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