I was a teenage boy once, so it’s no great secret to admit I’ve watched my fair share of late night Skinemax movies over the years. Hell, I even lost more than a few hours to the search for naughty bits in the scrambled images of channels my parents were too smart to pay for. During that time, though, I never got around to catching a Laura Gemser film. The Indonesian model turned staple of Italian genre cinema eluded me, as did all 56 of her films apparently, but it’s never too late when it comes to trashy movies.
Two of Gemser’s efforts are new to Blu-ray with 2K restored pictures and numerous extras. One involves cannibals and the other is a women in prison flick, but the common theme between them is pure sleaze. So turn the lights down low and the volume down even lower, and keep reading for a look at a Gemser double feature.
Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals (1977)
The life of an investigative journalist is never dull, and after breaking a story about a disorderly mental hospital Emanuelle (Laura Gemser) has plans for a vacation. That changes, though, when her editor suggests she accompany Mark the anthropologist on an exploratory trip to the darkest parts of the Amazon. Their intention is to look for information that led to a woman being tattooed and turned into a cannibal, but what they find is lots of downtime for sleeping naked, going commando, fingering, fucking, and all kinds of diddling. Well, at least until the cannibals get hungry.
Cannibal movies are an acquired taste — sorry not sorry — as they typically feature an abundance of gore, cruelty, and animal abuse (or some combination thereof). The animal stuff is notoriously real in many of the more popular examples, and for some viewers that’s an (understandably) automatic turn-off. Thankfully, for those of us who don’t enjoy seeing a large turtle slowly stabbed to death on screen (Cannibal Holocaust), there are movies like Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals.
Director Joe D’Amato avoids animals all together and instead focuses his attention on naked bodies — mostly female — as they stand around, lay around, and fool around. We know Emanuelle’s into the dirty stuff as she has an entire franchise built around that particular character trait, and the second the expedition introduces a young nun and an even younger blonde woman it’s clear that they’ll be getting in on the action too. And good gravy do they.
The cannibals don’t truly make their presence known until the third act, and it’s only then that we get some real gory bits outside of scratchy moments glimpsed on a film reel early on. A nipple is cut off and eaten, guts are pulled out and eaten, and a guy is cut in half with a string — no, I don’t quite understand the physics of it either — but all of it feels like D’Amato adding the bare minimum to qualify as a “cannibal movie” while instead wanting to focus on the maximum bare naked women. It’s a film far more interested in sleazy shenanigans than in scenes of bloody cruelty, but both are handled well enough.
Severin’s new Blu-ray presents the film with a 2K restoration, a trailer, and the following extras.
- *NEW* The World of Nico Fidenco [27:04] – The film’s composer talks about his career as a singer turned composer and his work on various Italian films.
- *NEW* A Nun Among the Cannibals [22:53] – Annamaria Clementi recalls her role as the ill-fated nun and her career as a pinup model that led to it.
- *NEW* Dr. O’Brien MD [18:47] – The actor talks about his early life, his career in genre films, his role here as the ill-fated hunter, and his dislike of Franco Nero.
- *NEW* From Switzerland to Mato Grosso [18:40] – Actor Monika Zanchi remembers moving to Italy as a child, hitchhiking for five years, how nude modeling led to movies, and her role as a mostly ill-fated young woman.
- I Am Your Black Queen [11:25] – An archival audio interview with Laura Gemser where she discusses her life and career. This featurette is dated 2018, but as it’s titled “archival” I assume it’s somewhat older.
Buy Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals on Blu-ray from Amazon.
Violence In a Women’s Prison (1982)
Prison is supposed to be tough, but when Laura Kendall (Gemser) arrives behind bars she finds a world of pure horror waiting for her. The warden enjoys watching the female prisoners get busy only to interrupt their love-making with whacks from her baton. Rats are allowed to feast on those unlucky enough to be tossed into solitary confinement. And then there are the fecal fights.
As far as “women in prison” movies go this is definitely one of them. Director Bruno Mattei was never the most creative or exciting genre filmmaker, and his efforts here see the film focused on the basics while still servicing the narrative. The expected players are introduced — our heroine, the prison’s tough inmates, the even more aggressive lesbians, and a love interest in the form of a male prisoner who’s allowed to play doctor. That’s not a euphemism. He’s the prison’s doctor even though he himself is a prisoner. It’s probably the least sketchy thing about the place.
It’s a nightmarish reality, and the focus remains on the exploitative. Our lady prisoners wear unflattering gray smocks which seem chaste enough until you notice they’re also wearing saucy red underwear underneath. Some women in prison flicks don’t even offer underwear, so these ladies shouldn’t complain I guess. The sex scenes are Skinemax quality as far as what’s seen and heard, but their cohabitation with scenes of violence and bloodletting keep the whole from approaching the level of arousing erotica. (Unless your particular kink is rat nibbles in which case to each their own.)
The story takes a turn revealing a secret about Gemser’s character, but in addition to it not really being a surprise given her filmography, it’s also one that feels almost like an afterthought here. She’s an undercover reporter… and I’ll give you one guess what her real name is. The reveal is more of an interesting sidenote than actual narrative aid, but many films in this sub-genre don’t even make that effort so you’ll take it and you’ll like it.
As with Emanuelle above, Severin’s release of this later Gemser film has been given a 2K restoration, and the results are even sharper. The extras are a bit lighter, though, and include a radio spot and the following.
- *NEW* Brawl In Women’s Block [29:03] – Co-director/writer Claudio Fragasso and co-writer Rossella Drudi discuss first meeting at a cinema club as teens, getting in movie-making, their first meeting and subsequent collaborations with Bruno Mattei, and more.
- Archive interview with director Bruno Mattei [2:47] – The filmmaker talks about the film’s production and how it was designed from the beginning as a vehicle for Laura Gemser.
Buy Violence In a Women’s Prison on Blu-ray from Amazon.
Related Topics: Home Video