Thursday, 15 March 2012

Emanuelle In Bangkok

This, the first official Black Emanuelle sequel arrived in 1976 and in many ways is a defining moment, fully establishing the template that made the series so superior to the official run of Emmanuelle films. The dropping of Black from the character's name signaled a more expansive, confident type of Emanuelle film (although it would return briefly for Black Emanuelle White Emanuelle), and the film would mark the first significant collaboration between Joe D'Amato and Laura Gemser. D'Amato had previously directed Gemser in a bit part in his 1976 sex comedy Vow of Chasity, and their working relationship continued with the Emanuelle series and films such as Erotic Nights of the Living Dead, Caligula II: The Untold Story, The Alcove, and the 11 Days 11 Nights series, before D'Amato settled into fulltime porno production in the mid-90's, and Gemser retired from the film business.

In the film, Emanuelle journeys to Bangkok to do a photo-essay on Thailand's royal family. After receiving the hopitality of Prince Sanit, Emanuelle is forced to flee the country when the Prince is involved in a failed coup. Emanuelle goes to Casablanca to meet with her on and off boyfriend Roberto and begins a new relationship with the sensitive teenage daughter of an American diplomat... Anyone who had forsaken Joe D'Amato after the long slog through Antropophagus or Porno Holocaust, would do well to catch Emanuelle In Bangkok, one of the director's breeziest and most entertaining films. Unlike Emanuelle In America and Emanuelle Around the World, this episode has little shock value, Emanuelle's globe-trotting, bed-hopping antics would make a fine introduction to the series. The nudity and sex is near relentless over the 90mins or so, but D'Amato's previous career as a cameraman serves him well and the film always looks stylish without looking like a Chanel advert.

For the armchair tourist, D'Amato steals some fantastic shots of historical sites around Bangkok, and fans of mondo weirdness will enjoy some furious Thai sword-fighting, a sequence with a stripper and her ping-pong ball swallowing pussy, as well as a real-life fight to the death between a cobra and a mongoose. Emanuelle as a character emerges here as a powerful sexual being, her sensuality liberating a vacuous American couple and a frigid female archaeologist. The film has some tender moments as well, like Emanuelle's love affair with the teenage girl, confused about her sexuality, but still has one instance of unbridled sleaze when Emanuelle is gangraped (again!) by some rough and ready royal security guards - and befriends them following the attack (?)

Laura Gemser has rarely looked more stunning than she does here, both in and out of her seemingly endless wardrobe, and her commitment to the role is impressive to say the least, especially in the aforementioned rape sequence where she's pawed and clawed by some ugly extras. Gabrielle Tinti returns from the first film, cast here as Roberto, and was perhaps hired as moral support for his leading lady - Gemser and Tinti were lovers since Black Emanuelle, and would later marry during the production of Emanuelle In America. Tinti continued to appear alongside his wife for the rest of the series, apart from Emanuelle Around the World. Excellent support too from Ivan Rassimov as the memorably sinister Prince Sanit. Rassimov was on something of a roll at this point in his career, coming off a pair of brutal crime thrillers, Umberto Lenzi's Rome Armed to the Teeth and Massimo Dallamano's Colt 38 Special Squad, before departing Bangkok for the rain forest in Deodato's Last Cannibal World.

Emanuelle In Bangkok is available as part of Severin's Black Emanuelle's Box Vol. 1 and is a very good presentation over all. The 1.85 anamorphic transfer is very solid, if a little grainy in parts, but the colors are strong and the level of detail is impressive (especially in the sequence when Emanuelle visits the pagodas of Bangkok). The print used is in generally good shape with only a few fleeting instances of damage and instability. Worth mentioning the opening and closing credit sequences are sourced from a French VHS, and are noticeably soft looking. The English dub sounds absolutely fine, while the disc features two extras - a theatrical trailer and an interesting if inessential 13min interview with D'Amato recorded at a UK Horror festival. A UK DVD is also available from Optimum but it has been shorn of over 4mins of footage courtesy of the BBFC, making the disc irrelevant.

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