Black Emanuelle’s Box Volume 2 (1976-1978)
On November 13th, Severin released volume two of the Black Emanuelle box set. It includes Black Emanuelle 2, Black Emanuelle/White Emanuelle and Black Emanuelle and the White Slave Trade. One of the more intriguing and worthwhile curiosities of the collection is Black Emanuelle 2, the only film of the series that does not star the gorgeous Laura Gemser. Even more curiously, star Sharon Lesley (also known as Shulamith Lasri) never appeared in another film. I found myself more intrigued by Lesley’s story than by anything offered in the films themselves. Unfortunately, none of the collection’s supplemental features gave any explanation of where she came from or where she went.
Each film suffers from simplified plots, mediocre acting (made worse by truly atrocious dubbing — both poorly translated and poorly recited) and a low-budget verité style that doesn’t quite match the content. If you enjoy mid-’70s music, the score for each movie is pretty good (although some of the songs with lyrics are sung in Italian). Each film boasts some impressive locations, although they aren’t exactly served well by the sloppy guerilla filmmaking.
But you didn’t come here for the traditional merits of cinema, did you? The sex scenes (all simulated) range from poorly blocked to surprisingly erotic, and one of the highlights is the sheer number of beautiful women. Laura Gemser, of course, might go down in history in the top 10 all-time beauties, but supporting actors — like Annie Belle, Susan Scott, Ziggy Zanger, Danielle Ellison, Dagmar Lassander and Elly Galleani — round out the cast in more ways than one. Sharon Lesley, too, is quite beautiful, but she can’t hold a candle to Gemser.
Almost as importantly, Severin did a very nice job with the DVD transfers. Anybody who saw a Black Emanuelle movie on VHS or cable (or on bootleg DVDs prior to Severin’s U.S. releases) is aware of how fuzzy and washed out these films can look. Here, they probably look as well as they did in theatrical release — not great, thanks to the rushed and amateurish production, but serviceable.
If you like the Black Emanuelle series, this set is a no-brainer. If you like beautiful women getting the softcore treatment and don’t mind the usual trappings of erotica, you might like it, too.