Blu-ray Review: EMANUELLE AND FRANCOISE

Joe D’Amato’s Eurotrash melodrama is as nasty as it gets

Even among the skeezy depths of Joe D’Amato’s cinematic oeuvre, his 1975 sex thriller EMANUELLE AND FRANCOISE is a jaw dropper. The director made his share of unofficial sequels to the popular Silvia Kristel-starring erotic EMMANUELLE movies, most starring the lovely Laura Gemser, but this trashterpiece (also known as EMANUELLE’S REVENGE) is among the best and is almost as cheerfully vulgar than his crown-jewel of vileness, the disturbing 1977 entry EMANUELLE IN AMERICA. Echoing the plot of the decade-and-change later Lucio Fulci softcore drama THE DEVIL’S HONEY, EMANUELLE AND FRANCOISE wallows in perversion to tell its operatically extreme tale of vengeance and sexual humiliation and though D’Amato’s lens captures ample upset, the entire thing is just so damned entertaining and groovy (Joe Dynamo’s funk soul score is a marvel) that you can’t help but kinda love it.

D’Amato regular George Eastman (the monster-man in ANTHROPOPHAGUS and ABSURD and the lead stud in EROTIC NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD) stars as Carlo a preening svengali-esque hustler brute who toils on the back-end of the entertainment business, grafting gigs and delighting in the exploitation and degradation of his lover, the sweet-natured and fragile Francoise (Patrizia Gori). As the film opens, Carlo subjects the girl to one blow too many and she jumps in front of a train.  Enter Francoise’s sister Emanuelle ( in this incarnation played by SALON KITTY’s Rosemarie Lindt), who traces the sad tale of her sister’s decline via letters, with each despicable incident leeringly illustrated by D’Amato for the audience’s outrage and titillation. Soon, Emanuelle hatches a plot to seduce, trap and torture the bastard, locking him in a room armed with a two-way mirror, drugging him and subjecting him to endless images of her getting off with a succession of lovers, both male and female.

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Blu-ray Review: TERROR IS A MAN

Severin unearths the 1959 Filipino horror classic

“More horrifying than FRANKENSTEIN! More Terrifying Than DRACULA! “

To my everlasting shame as a cult film connoisseur I must admit to having watched little to nothing of Eddie Romero’s output.As a producer and director, Romero was responsible for such classics as BEAST OF THE YELLOW NIGHT, TWILIGHT PEOPLE, BLACK MAMA WHITE MAMA. THE WOMAN HUNT and BEYOND ATLANTIS but its his “Blood Island trilogy” that stands out in the hearts of horror aficionados.

TERROR IS A MAN is the first of this very loose trilogy and one of the Philippines’ first Horror films to be shot in English. Directed in 1959 by Gérard de Leon but only picked up for North American distribution by Hemisphere 10 years later,  TERROR’s basic theme is taken from HG Welles’ Island of Dr Moreau. When William Fitzgerald  (Richard Derr) is washed ashore on an island, the only survivor of a shipwreck, he’s found by Dr. Girard (Francis Lederer) a park Avenue surgeon and (apparently) genetic scientist who has isolated himself to pursue his experiments free from distractions (and ethical constraints) and assisted by his wife Francis (Greta Thyssen) and his assistant Walter (Oscars Keesee).Quickly, we learn that the island has no means of leaving and no means of communicating with the outside world.  Fitzgerald is told that any return to civilization will have to wait until the supply ship returns in several months. Plenty of time for him to explore the island, the native culture of the indigenous people, stumble into the mysterious experiments and get to know the disenfranchised wife a bit better.

Actually…a lot better!

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Blu-ray Review: JACK THE RIPPER (1959)

Severin restores and releases both cuts of this undervalued shocker

The mystery of the Victorian-era serial killer dubbed “Jack the Ripper” has endured the ages, with countless fictionalized novels and films riffing onthe  sordid story of the fiend who once slashed his way through the flesh of London’s ladies of the night. The fact that “Saucy Jack” himself was never caught has only fueled the fantastical, with conspiracies ladled upon conspiracies as to who or what the murderer might have been, most potently in Alan Moore’s FROM HELL graphic novel and the freely adapted (and absolutely undervalued) Hughes Brothers feature film. But one of the more obscure remounts of the Jack the Ripper crimes can be found in Robert S. Baker and Monty Berman’s crackerjack 1959 chiller, simply called JACK THE RIPPER. Working from a script by Hammer Horror vet Jimmy Sangster, the film is a low budget but deft little murder mystery that sends ample chills up the spine, especially in its original UK theatrical cut, the likes of which is represented here – alongside the more sensational American re-edit – on Severin’s snazzy new Blu-ray release.

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