Director: Claude Mulot
Private Screening Collection

There was a time shortly after the arrival of adult video rentals but before the advent of the internet, in which the most assessable means to ogle gratuitous T&A was late night cable television. One channel in particular, Cinemax, became so prolific in its late night programming that it was given the nickname Skinemax, a term which is to this day still lovingly adorned to any softcore affair that simulates sex without ever actually showing the act itself. Like most children, I became more adapt at the latest technology than my folks and can fondly recall setting our new VCR to record Cinemax from 11:30 pm to 2:30 am while they were still trying to figure out a way to get the machine to stop blink "12 O’Clock." It didn’t matter what was recorded, as I eventually learned there was at least a 70/30 chance that it would star Shannon Tweed or have the word “Passion” in its title, either way it was usually worth the effort. Private Screening Collection seeks to duplicate those forgotten times with the release of BLACK VENUS, the story of an artist, his muse and the numerous ways in which they finds themselves naked.

Gifted yet destitute artist Armand (José Antonio Ceinos), downtrodden by a lingering artistic block, gratefully finds inspiration with an exotic, ebony enchantress known as Venus, played by former Miss Bahamas 1979 Josephine Jacqueline Jones. Herself enamored with the young artist, Venus agrees to pose for what will surely be Armand’s finest work. Moving in together, the couple makes the most of their meager earnings, seemingly content in their life of squalor; however the realization that his lover may be using her body as means to put food on their dinner table proves too much for Armand. Throwing a hissy fit, Armand throws Venus out into the streets where she has little choice but to take residence at the nearest village brothel. Passed from man to man, then woman and back to man, Venus’s luck turns when she is befriended by Jacques (Emiliano Redondo), the very fellow who first introduced her to Armand. Living a life of luxury she had only ever dreamt of, Venus allows herself to indulge in all that life has to offer, however Armand has yet to let go of the ebony beauty and if he can’t have her, no man can.

It always amazes me how a film brimming with female nudity can be so utterly boring. Granted anyone looking for an exhaustive plot in a skin flick, European or otherwise, is bound to be met with disappointment, but when the novelty of seeing young, attractive girls cavorting around naked becomes tiresome, well then something is just plain wrong. Credit should be given where it is do and as such BLACK VENUS does easily pass the five minute rule, in that every five minutes somebody, usually Josephine, gets naked. However such scenes rarely strike a chord with the carnality failing to pick up or become anywhere near titillating until the film's final moments, when Venus, a guest in Jacques’s seaside chateau, finds herself as the apparent roommate of a caucasian lesbian lover.

After VENUS, her acting debut, Josephine Jacqueline Jones landed a role in Francisco Lara Polop's CHRISTINA and later in Gérard Kikoine's LOVE CIRCLES, both produced by Harry Alan Towers and both currently available from Private Screening Collection, with her final role being Chloe in Chuck Vincent’s WARRIOR QUEEN along side Sybil Danning. While quite fetching both in and out of her clothes, Josephine's talents as an actress are anything but flattering. Her blank, doe eyes don’t so much emote sympathy as they do give an expression of surprise, I’m guessing at having remembered her lines. Likewise the film's other beauties do little to arouse a sense of eroticism. Karin Schubert, no stranger to nudity having stared with Laura Gemser in EMANUELLE AROUND THE WORLD and BLACK EMANUELLE and Monique Gabrielle (MIRACLE BEACH, HOT MOVES) briefly turn up the heat but unlike LADY LIBERTINE, also produced by Towers, there is no one single figure on display that qualifies VENUS as recommendable viewing. Granted my personal tastes do tend to lean toward a more robust (enfaces on the bust) cast.

Originally released in 2006, Private Screening Collection has re-issued BLACK VENUS in a 2 for 1 pack with THE EROTIC ADVENTURES OF THE THREE MUSKETEERS staring Traci Winn (ANALS OF HISTORY, SATURDAY NIGHT BEAVER), Nina Hartley (IN AND OUT OF AFRICA, FALCON BREAST), Britt Morgan (THE FLINTBONES), Madison (VAMPIRASS), and of course Ron Jeremy. Shot on video in ’92, MUSKETEERS is directed by Paul Norman under the pseudonym Norman Apstein. Paul is probably best know in cult circles for directing Clint Howard in 1995’s ICE CREAM MAN and in porn circles for helming such epics as EDWARD PENISHANDS and INTERCOURSE WITH THE VAMPIRE. Funny titles aside, MUSKETEERS plays like a heavily edited adult comedy sans laughs or entertainment value. If you always wanted to watch a pornographic film but are afraid to see actual penetration then look no further, otherwise MUSKETEERS is little more than a boring cock tease.

BLACK VENUS is presented full frame in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio and given its 95 minute running time, appears to be uncut. Despite a light coating of grain, picture quality is fare if not hazy, which is to be expected considering the subject matter and time period. Mono audio is adequate if not a little flat, but considering the delivery of most of the dialogue, that may not necessarily be a fault of the transfer. Barebones, the only feature on BLACK VENUS is a chapter selection menu. The sets may look expensive and the costumes elegant, but BLACK VENUS fails to deliver a happy ending, beginning or middle. (Jason McElreath)