Director: John Doo
Impulse Pictures

With its recently formed Classic Latin Erotica Collection, Impulse Pictures sets out to explore the steamy cinema of Brazil known as Pornochanchada. From the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, a series of softcore sexploitation films erupted in the South American republic, despite the strict dictatorship of the time and the ridged Catholic doctrine that still dominates the popular culture. Producers were given free reign to push the boundaries of sex in cinema, so long as they did not tread on any sensitive political issues, allowing for a series of films to briefly arise that capitalized on every talent an actress had to offer. While most Pornochanchada tend to be comedies, John Doo's THE CHICK'S ABILITY (Volúpia de Mulher) falls more in line with modern soap operas or telenovelas, thick with melodrama, with only minor comedic moments providing pause to a multitude of wanton flesh and unbridled throws of passion.

An innocent afternoon of skinny dipping turns into an awakening of sexual exploration when Christina (Vanessa Alves) and her childhood companion Tonico begin to explore each other's bodies in the river by their homes. Their carnal antics are however cut short when discovered by Christina's mother and father, who are less than pleased to have caught their daughter in such an intimate encounter. Given an ultimatum by her father to either marry Tonico or be banished from their home, Christina chooses the latter, leaving her small town behind for a better life in the big city. With nowhere to go and no one to turn to, Christina is forced to shack up with Carla (Alvamar Taddei), a local hooker, and her less than agreeable pimp. Unfortunately, her new living arrangement becomes a short-lived one when Carla discovers that her roommate is both penniless and pregnant. Finding herself homeless yet again, Christina's last hope is to plead for sanctuary with Lili (Romeu de Freitas), a transsexual streetwalker. Accepting the charity case, Lili watches over Christina with love and affection, going so far as to deliver her baby and plan her shower, inviting all of her prostitute friends. I can just picture the gifts of little fishnet stockings, tiny feather boas and baby thigh high booties.

Rushed to the hospital after delivering her baby at home, Christina is shocked to discover that her newborn son will have to stay at the facility for several months, as he requires an expensive surgery before he will be allowed to return home. Feeling for the young girl's plight, Christina's nurse Laura (Helena Ramos) suggest that she model nude for her boyfriend Marcos (André Loureiro), a painter who has for years been searching for the perfect face. Christina agrees, much to the delight of Marcos who feels that he may at last have found the muse of his dreams, but with her son's surgery rapidly approaching, the immediate need for cash leads Christina to take her nubile figure and innocent looks to the streets when Carla and her pimp promise to double her nightly earnings in exchange for a few favors.

The title bares the questions, just what is this chick's ability? Given the impressive amount of nudity on display, I would have to say her unique skill is the ability to disrobe in the blink of eye without an ounce of humility. The title however more likely refers to Christina’s combination of her innocent fresh face and sinful body that painter Marcos tries throughout the picture to realize on canvas. Auditioning every model that agrees to disrobe for cash, Marcos certainly has no shortage of subjects, but it isn’t until Laura reluctantly informs him of her latest patient that Marcos finally finds his inspiration. Bathed in a sea of B and C cups, it is Vanessa Alves who shines brightest as the film's main object of desire. Equally sexual and naive, inquisitive yet shy, her performance and numerous displays of flesh, carry the picture despite receiving second billing to Helena Romos. Billed as Brazil's screen goddess, Helena’s dominated the Pornochanchada movement with over 40 screen credits from 1974 to 1984, including roles in José Mojica Marins INFERNO CARNAL and Kung Fu Contra as Bonecas, aka BRUCE LEE VERSUS GAY POWER, one of the strangest entries in the bruceploitation subgenre. She holds here own throughout the picture, nearly matching Vanessa for amount of screen time spent nude, but just as Marcos lost interest when presented with the younger, sleeker Christina, so did I.

At some point in the film's 90 minute running time, every cast member, save thankfully for Romeu de Freitas, is fully nude, either while sleeping, simply lounging about or engaged in a heated bumping and grinding session. Pushing the edge of what many would consider softcore, THE CHICK'S ABILITY often works its way right up the point of penetration, with most encounters far exceeding their heavy petting setups. Love scenes are shot with a characteristic 1980s flare, with soft lights bathing flesh tones in a supple hue, giving the impression that the scenes where shot through a lens coated with a thin layer of petroleum jelly, as does much of the cast, who glisten with sweat before, after and during sex.

Impulse Pictures presents THE CHICK'S ABILITY with an all new digital transfer in its original 1.33:1, full-frame aspect ratio. The print has a slight coat of grain that is often peppered with a drizzle of white dots, but nothing that takes away from the film's goal of showcasing its stars in assorted states of undress and partaking in a variety of sexual escapades. The original Portuguese dialogue is presented in a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track, with no outstanding imperfections to distract from the moans and the groans and is accompanied by newly translated, removable English subtitles. While their latest is as bare of supplements as its cast is clothing, Impulse has certainly wetted my appetite for Pornochanchada with its initial Latin Erotica entry and their summer ‘09 release of VIOLENCE AND FLESH, which promises “Guns! Girls! Lust! and Flesh!”, look just as titillating. (Jason McElreath)