Director: Joe D'Amato (Aristide Massaccessi)
Blue Underground

Rarely has the screen seen a more beautiful creation than Laura Gemser. Rising from bit player to international superstar via the BLACK EMANUELLE series, Gemser (hailing from Indonesia) was one of few women of color appearing in lead roles in Eurocult cinema, and still has a fervently strong cult following today. For good reason! Her jet-black hair, sculpted facial features, and almost perfect figure have provided countless erotic fantasies, promising exotic adventures and wild sex with reckless abandon, for her growing legion of fans. Gemser's sexually liberated 'Emanuelle' character used sex to spread her message of freedom all over the world, uniting peoples, solving crises, and first and foremost to quench her innermost desires. A Eurocult fan who has yet to experience her charms is a fan I pity. One of her most controversial films, EMANUELLE IN AMERICA, has been promised on DVD for close to three years now, first from Anchor Bay and most recently from Blue Underground, the most daring DVD company on the market. Longtime fans of the films scoffed at the idea of the film being presented completely uncut, with bestiality, snuff footage, and hardcore sex included in the DVD presentation. To all those skeptics: would you like some dressing with your foot?

Plot? You expect plot in a Joe D'Amato EMANUELLE film? You're in for a rude awakening, my friend, as EMANUELLE IN AMERICA flits from one outrageous sexual scenario to another, never letting up the frenzied horny pace. Introduced as a fashion photographer, Emanuelle (the peerless Gemser) is first held at gunpoint while driving through NYC by the boyfriend of one of her nude models, who plans to murder her to purify his girlfriend! When she tries to blow him to spare her life, he enjoys it and runs away ashamed! Sound insane? That's just the tip of the iceberg! Emanuelle goes on assignment all over the world, infiltrating a millionaire's personal harem (sharing a lesbian scene with doe-eyed Eurocult icon Lorraine de Selle), witnessing an orgy at a high society party (complete with a nude girl inside a cake), is captured by an African tribe while her boyfriend laughs his ass off, tracks down a snuff film ring, visits an island paradise for women, and many more misadventures, all designed to satisfy her need for sex!

Of the EMANUELLE films I've seen, AMERICA is the most accomplished and most entertaining of them all. Sure, it's not hard to top something like EMANUELLE AND THE LAST CANNIBALS, but this flick does and in spades! You've never seen anything like it! There's steamy phone sex, Gemser serving as a marital aid to (real-life husband) Gabriele Tinti and his sexually repressed wife Paola Senatore, more lesbianism than any other film I've seen (under water, in a sauna, at an orgy, in a hostage situation), and in a real show-stopping setpiece, an island stud farm provides rich society dames a chance to experience all variety of well-toned musclemen. The most surprising aspect of the series of scenes: they all feature hardcore sex! That's right, you get to see blowjobs, penetration, and ejaculation, all for real, in unflinching close-up!! This is the type of stuff that defines the term "jaw-dropping"!! Two sequences stand out amongst fan circles: the "Pedro" sequence and the infamous snuff footage. The bestiality is not as graphic as one would imagine, but it's still a real slap in the face, too! The snuff film, however, is just as disgusting and revolting as you've heard, with impalings, acid, whipping, and breast slicing. Don't eat anything before watching the film...unless it's cake... In his series of BLACK EMANUELLE musical scores, this is Nico Fidenco's best work, even better than the catchy LAST CANNIBALS score. It is unfortunately only partially included on the "Black Emanuelle's Groove" CD, and doesn't include the cheesy Bee Gees-esque vocal theme! The one weak link in the film is the surprise ending that serves as both a confusing in-joke and a disappointing anti-climax, but all that preceded it makes this is a must-see cult item. Consistently surprising, startling, and one of the sexiest films you'll ever see, EMANUELLE IN AMERICA lives up to its reputation and then some!

I've fortunately never had to witness a cut version of EMANUELLE IN AMERICA, but word from many reliable sources confirms this is the complete original uncut version. All the hardcore footage included are NOT inserts, but were shot for inclusion in this director's cut, the original release version. Glancing at the track record for the other EMANUELLE films on DVD, there is little competition between this release and the various foreign discs. Anamorphic and correctly letterboxed at 1.85:1, the color scheme of the film is beautifully rendered. Culled from a variety of different prints, once in a while a scene of gorgeous clarity will cut to a scene with grain and mild discoloration, but for the most part viewers can't complain with the presentation. Throw out all your old tapes, this is a keeper! Unfortunately, the mono audio isn't as strong as one would imagine. The first half of the film is very quiet, then kicks up for the duration of the running time. You get three audio tracks, English, French, and Italian. English is the preferable option, as the film seems to have been shot in English. None of the alternate language tracks feature subtitles, unfortunately.

Considering that any surviving cast and crew are hard to come by, Blue Underground has still managed to include a nice selection of extras. First up is a 13-minute interview with the late Joe D'Amato, excerpted from the documentary JOE D'AMATO: TOTALLY UNCUT. He discusses his brand of erotic cinema (arguably the best and most popular of the Eurocult genre), the BLACK EMANUELLE series, and his memories of the cast of AMERICA. His memories of Laura Gemser are particularly poignant, and there is an awesome story about working with transsexual cult icon Ajita Wilson (complete with footage of her from EMANUELLE'S EROTIC NIGHTS!!!). Star Laura Gemser has decided to not contribute any video, audio, or printed interviews at this time in her life, but BU managed to acquire an 11-minute audio interview with her originally recorded for an article in Notturno Magazine. It's fascinating to hear her speak in undubbed Italian, relating behind-the-scenes stories and speaking with nostalgia about her late husband Gabriele Tinti and the late D'Amato. The interview is played over an impressive stills gallery, with publicity stills, posters from around the world, and some of her more famous modeling shots. A text essay, "The Unofficial Emmanuelle Phenomenon," discusses the rash of cash-in films on the original EMMANUELLE with Sylvia Kristel, covering other related films as well as the BLACK EMANUELLE series. Strangely, no theatrical trailer is included... Well-written talent bios for Joe D'Amato and Laura Gemser round out the package.

For the uninitiated into the world of either Joe D'Amato or the alluring Laura Gemser, Blue Underground's disc is an essential introduction. And fans of both will eat up this package, which displays all the signs of tender loving care for these films. BU has made quite a daring move releasing a film with hardcore sex and bestiality in it onto DVD for the masses, and God bless them for taking the plunge into unashamed sleaze with such panache. A delightful gift for Eurocult fans, and one of the best discs of 2003. (Casey Scott)