Director: Tinto Brass
Cult Epics

Cult Epics packages together a quartet of smut from Italy's top ass-loving aesthete with TINTO BRASS: MAESTRO OF EROTIC CINEMA.

Since the early days of DVD, niche label Cult Epics has been primarily responsible for exposing American viewers to the works of ass-obsessed Italian auteur Tinto Brass – better known at the time stateside for SALON KITTY and lesser so as the actual director of Penthouse's fiasco CALIGULA – from his pop-art sixties beginnings to his latter day simultaneously slick and raunchy erotica. While I find his eighties and nineties films to be the best of his erotic work – including his literary adaptations THE KEY (1983) and THE VOYEUR (1994) as well as ALL LADIES DO IT (1992) and PAPRIKA (1994) – Cult Epics' Blu-ray set (also available individually) comprises four of his post-2000 works.

CHEEKY! is the popular English title for Brass' TRA(SGRE)DIRE – "tradire" meaning "to betray" and "trasgredire" meaning "to transgress" – although English prints of the film actually feature the title TRANSGRESSING (as seen here). In London on an internship, lithe Venetian blonde Carla (Ukranian model Yuliya Mayarchuk, who was working at a pizzeria when Brass discovered her) realizes that she needs more private digs since her boyfriend Matteo (Jarno Berardi) is on his way to join her at the end of the school term. She patronizes an estate agency belonging to Moira (Francesca Nunzi), but she is more interested in what Carla is not wearing under her skirt and gives her "preferential treatment" in the form of a ridiculously spacious loft along the Thames ("She's kind of lesbian-like and gets the hots," Carla explains to Matteo). During her free time, Carla goes to the spa with Moira for much nude and oiled groping, and attends a wild party hosted by Moira's Venetian ex-husband Mario (former soccer player turned Brass regular Max Parodi) who finds some alone time with her in the bathroom. Back in Venice, Matteo stops by Carla's parents' home to pick up a pair of pink panties she asked him to bring along to London only to discover photographic evidence of her infidelity which he confronts her with when he arrives in town (and find her in bed with Moira).

With a resolution that mirrors ALL LADIES TO IT and actors carried over from Brass' prior film FRIVOLOUS LOLA (in which Parodi played the frustrated boyfriend, Nunzi a brothel prostitute, and Vittorio Attene as a similar horndog character as seen here), CHEEKY! feels a bit over familiar as Brass moves away from stories about eroticism with explicit sex to more lighthearted and even more explicit erotica (with Brass less concern about hiding the comical artifice of the dildo "prosthetics" substituted for erections as the camera itself gynecologically probes his starlet's nether regions). Less busty (and rump-y) than some of Brass' starlets – although she still gets the wide angle treatment when she bends over – Mayarchuk makes for an appropriately impish and uninhibited nymph, first seen strolling through Hyde Park amused and delighted by expressions of sexuality on view (capped off by her shocking surprise for a flasher). In addition to T&A, Nunzi provides humor and a hint of depth absent from the rest of the characters, although Brass' depiction of lesbianism isn't particularly enlightened (Moira is a man-hater, and lesbianism in his other films is generally recreational). Cinematographer Massimo Di Venanzo – son of Fellini's DP of choice Gianni Di Venanzo (JULIET OF THE SPIRITS) – favors a sharper, less diffused look here than Brass' previous regular cinematographer Silvano Ippoliti (Di Venanzo would assist Ippoliti on his last Brass film ALL LADIES DO IT and would emulate his style on FRIVOLOUS LOLA and THE VOYEUR), giving the film a candy colored mise-en-scene that, combined with the sets of Carlo De Marino (FRIVOLOUS LOLA), would influence the look of Brass' subsequent films. Pino Donaggio – who also scored ALL LADIES DO IT and FRIVOLOUS LOLA – provides a jaunty pop score that adds sax and electric guitar to his playful orchestra string section. Brass himself cameos as a Venetian photo processor who gets to grope Carla as they look over her vacation snaps.

CHEEKY! hit DVD in Italy first from CVC with an anamorphic 1.73:1 transfer – cropped from the original 1.66:1 aspect ratio (as stated in the end credits) – with English and Italian 5.1 audio options (CHEEKY was an early Dolby Digital theatrical title). A slightly trimmed English-dubbed version with under the title TRANSGRESSING was shopped abroad and picked up by Arrow Films in the UK. The film was finally released stateside on DVD in 2006 by Cult Epics who sold the uncut subtitled Italian version and the dubbed shorter version separately (only distinguished by the text "Unrated, Uncensored Italian Version" and "Unrated English Version" respectively to distinguish them on the front cover). Sourced from the same master as the Italian disc, these versions were once again cropped from the 1.66:1 aspect ratio (Filmexport disregarded the original aspect ratio to several of their 1.66:1 titles when they struck new anamorphic masters).

The Cult Epics Blu-ray included in this set was released separately in 2012 (a DVD edition was also announced but I haven't seen it available anywhere), and the HD master suggests that Filmexport has once again disregarded the original aspect ratio. The cropping isn't too distracting for the most part, although some long shots that utilize the full height of the frame are thrown off balance and a couple close-ups look invasive. The bold colors are as saturated as ever while skin tones are lighter without looking too pale (with the exception of a beach sequence that looks warmer on Blu-ray, although it is a fantasy/flashback). Like the Cult Epics DVDs, the Blu-ray features only the Italian and English 2.0 stereo downmixes in Dolby Digital (although the Blu is the first stateside offering without PAL speedup). The optional English subtitles reveal in some sequences how some exchanges that dealt with the language barrier had to be changed since everyone speaks unaccented English in the dubbed version. On the Italian track, Carla first speaks halting English to Moira asks if she is from Venice since her ex-husband speaks English the same way. On the English track, Moira instead asks Carla if she has allergies. When Carla asks why, Moira responds "It's obvious that going around wearing panties does bother you" (which, to be fair, does refer to a subsequent line of dialogue in the Italian version).

The sole substantial extra for the film is the "Backstage" segment (8:18) carried over from the DVD releases in which Brass waxes on betrayal as "the most exciting of transgressions", how one can "discover women's lies by looking at their asses" (in fact he'd expresses an interest in doing a television show where he could read asses called "Not Just Mona" – Mona being Venetian slang for a woman's genitals). He discusses casting Mayarchuk and the difficulty lesbian sex onscreen. Much of this is heard over behind the scenes video from the spa sequence. The disc also includes a Photo Video Gallery (1:16) or production and promotional stills as well as the film's trailer (3:23).

BLACK ANGEL is the nonsensical English title for Brass' SENSO '45, an adaptation of the Camillo Boito novella (previously filmed by Luchino Visconti in 1954 with Alida Valli and Farley Granger and French TV in 1993). In the closing days of World War II, Livia (Anna Galiena, Leconte's THE HAIRDRESSER'S HUSBAND and Bigas Luna's JAMON JAMON) recalls the beginnings of her torrid affair with Nazi officer Helmut Schultze (former Mr. Italy Gabriel Garko). She meets him through her husband Carlo (Brass regular Antonio Salines, MATALO), a bigwig at the Istituto Luce where Helmut represents the Nazi film unit. Carlo finds Helmut – a pimp who procured actress Lida Baarova for Goebbels – distasteful but he and friend Ugo are determined to play both sides in order to be on the right side of history. As she and Helmut covertly pursue their fleshy affair, she witnesses the ways in which he is profiteering from the war (fencing selling art the Third Reich has banned as perverted) but is blind to the ways in which he is using her (to cover his gambling debts and fund his desertion with promises to take her with him). Carlo's friend Ugo (Franco Branciaroli, THE KEY) is aware of everything that is transpiring but Carlo only realizes (or only seems to care) when Livia becomes the subject of rumors among their circle. As the political situation grows more unstable, Carlo sends Livia away to a villa in Asolo. When Helmut fails to keep his promise to reunite with her, Livia makes a pact with Ugo to give her body to him if he provides her safe passage through the partisan and fascist checkpoints back to Venice; but what will she find when she gets there?

BLACK ANGEL – the culmination of Brass' collaboration with Cine 2000 producer Giuseppe Colombo (THE STENDHAL SYNDROME) who had backed the four volume direct-to-video TINTO BRASS PRESENTS anthology of short films – marks a return not only to the World War II Venice setting of THE KEY, but also to a brief return to his eighties and nineties works of eroticism (sharing with the former film the discovery of sexual freedom against a repressive background of fascism). Although Galiena's protagonist is exploited by the men in the film and her body and features caressed by the camera, it is Garko who is appropriately objectified through Livia's narrative perspective. Galiena and Garko let it all hang out for the sex scenes, but they are tastefully shot and performed. Brass' trademark dildos and up-close-and-personal views of the female anatomy are contained to a cocaine-fueled party (peopled with Italian porn stars and a few crew members doubling as extras) where Helmut bets Livia to the lesbian hostess (Simona Borioni, CRAVING DESIRE) in a poker game. The scenes associated with the act of filmmaking touch upon the fascist origins of the Istituto Luce, the rise of Scalera Studios under the Italian Social Republic (which never lived that down, closing only a few years after the war despite attempting innovations like the first American/Italian o-production in the Orson Welles-starrer BLACK MAGIC), and fall of Cinecitta into disfavor during this period (the film suggests its use for munitions storage may have been because of the studio's "mistake" in shipping film equipment to Poland) subvert ideas of social resistance in the arts with the Mussolini quote "Cinema is the strongest weapon" emblazoned upon the background in the studio. While it is not quite the masterwork that THE KEY was, BLACK ANGEL is more than just a mainstream detour for Brass.

The film is beautifully shot by Daniele Nannuzzi (SANTA SANGRE), son of cinematographer Armando Nannuzzi who shot Luchino Visconti's WWII epic THE DAMNED (CHEEKY! cinematographer Massimo Di Venanzo is listed in the end credits as "direttore della fotografia parziale") in a number of the same Venetian locations familiar from other Brass films (in one of his interviews, Brass mentions shooting in the home of a sex-obsessed antiques dealer). Ennio Morricone, who had scored Brass' THE KEY, returns with a romantic score that only gets playfully Brass-ian during the orgy sequence. Max Parodi appears her briefly as an actor in the film-within-a-film and Loredana Cannata (the titular "she-wolf" of Aurelio Grimaldi's sexually explicit LA DONNA LUPO) has a small (fully clothed) role as Livia's maid Ninetta. Stuntman Massimo Vanni (aka Alex McBride, ZOMBI 3) is credited as way down the line in the supporting cast. Brass has a cameo as the director during the Scalera Studios sequence.

BLACK ANGEL was released on DVD in Italy by Eagle Pictures with Italian 5.1 audio only, with the first English-friendly option appearing in the UK in 2003 via Arrow Films in an uncut 1.78:1 transfer (cropping the 1.66:1 aspect ratio), 2.0 stereo audio, and giant burnt-in English subtitles. The film took even longer to arrive stateside with a Cult Epics DVD release in 2013 that was still cropped to 1.78:1 but at least featured the original 5.1 audio. The individual Blu-ray edition has come out concurrently with this boxed set and reproduces the contents of the domestic DVD. The 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC transfer is still incorrectly framed at 1.78:1 (radically throwing off some compositions so as to make them seem carelessly framed). The image isn't perfect but it looks more appropriately dreamy than the gauzier older master, and colors are striking when they want to be (for instance, Galiena's red hats and dresses). The Italian audio is presented here in its original 5.1 configuration as well as in a 2.0 mix (both in Dolby Digital). The optional English subtitle translation appears to be the same as the one on the Arrow edition (but more pleasingly rendered here).

"The Making of BLACK ANGEL" (25:27) is a more substantive behind the scenes segment in which Brass discusses adapting a novella already filmed by Visconti. His felt that he could move the time period from 1865 to 1945 because it was not a historical novel but a psychological one set against a historical backdrop. Galiena – who explains that she's wearing Helmut's Nazi jacket because of her low-cut costume underneath as well as her attraction to Garko – discusses the importance of the Venetian setting to finding Livia's character and connecting with the character emotions towards getting over the awkwardness of shooting sex scenes. Garko talks about working with his co-stars including theatrical actors Salines and Branciaroli. Branciaroli discusses his slimy character as "the lesser of two evils" while Salines – who refers to Brass as "the Hitchcock of sex" in his meticulousness as a director – how his character's vocation as a filmmaker for a fascist institution did not require him to make a burlesque of his characterization. Morricone also appears briefly to discuss the film's musical themes in very general terms. Brass also discusses his filmmaking homages, which have more to do with his apprenticeship under Roberto Rosselini (a sequence in the film mirrors the scene in ROME, OPEN CITY in which Anna Magnini's character Pina is gunned down) than Visconti's earlier film adaptation. We also see the construction of the sets at Cinecitta, including the Venice city backdrop seen through the windows of Livia's apartment. While the feature is cropped, the Promo Video (8:07) – somewhat of an extended trailer that conveys the story in more detail than the trailer (1:26) also include don the disc – is in its correct aspect ratio. The entirety of Morricone's soundtrack – only available on CD in Italy from ConcertOne – is presented as an extra (43:22) in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo over static images, and the disc also includes a photo gallery (2:21).

A glossier take on Tinto Brass' earlier disposable anthology pic P.O. BOX TINTO BRASS, PRIVATE – originally titled FALLO! and bearing the title DO IT! on English prints (including this Blu-ray) – is comprised of six erotic vignettes involving disenchanted relationships. There's very little depth or development as one can feel Brass' excitement to explore the various nooks and crannies of his new starlets (while The film was one of the last productions of Giovanni Bertolucci (who produced some of cousin Bernardo Bertolucci films as well as some of the later Visconti works and began his association with Brass with THE KEY) in collaboration with Roberto Di Girolamo (who produced Dario Argento's DRACULA 3D and is also working with Brass on his pornographic WHO KILLED CALIGULA? which may or may not be in 3D as well). The titular "Alibi" is the excuse married couple Cinzia (Sara Cosmi, P.O. BOX TINTO BRASS) and Gianni (Massimiliano Caroletti) to satisfy their seven-year itch while vacationing in Morocco via getting Cinzia drunk enough to sleep with young hotel porter Ali (William De Vito) while Gianni watches. In "Double Trouble", when Stefania (Silvia Rossi, CHEEKY!) discovers that her TV producer husband Luigi (porn star Andrea Nobili, Joe D'Amato's ROBIN HOOD: THIEF OF WIVES) has passed over their doubles tennis date to bang one of his bimbos, she gets busy in the showers with TV director Bruno (Brass regular Max Parodi) whose spouse has made a last minute appointment with her gynecologist. Unbeknownst to both of them, Luigi is "auditioning" Bruno's TV presenter wife Erika (porn star Federica Tommasi) – both of whom engage in the film's sole unsimulated sex – for a new program. In spite of (rather than because of) this unsolicited swingers act, the four arrive at a mutually beneficial business arrangement.

In "Two Hearts and a Hut", hotel maid Katarina (Raffaella Ponzo, GANGS OF NEW YORK) convinces her chef boyfriend Ciro (Stefano Gandolfo) of the advantages of establishing their own hotel business with arousing and lucrative tales of her servicing the particular needs of a German tourist couple (MONAMOUR's Virginia Barrett and Leo Mantovani) into BDSM. In "Jolly Bangs", Raffaela (Angela Ferlaino, Bruno Mattei's THE TOMB) frustrates and arouses husband Hugo (Daniele Ferrari) with stories of her amorous adventures as a train steward with the conductor and the crew during a railroad strike as well as a treasure hunt at a resort, pointing out that his obsessions are the inspiration for her dalliances (and how he benefits from them). More substantial is "Honni soit qui mal y pense" ("Evil to Him Who Thinks Evil") in which the explicit holiday snaps of Anna (Maruska Albertazzi) shot by her fiancé Franco (Riccardo Marino, MONAMOUR) while vacationing at the Cap d'Agde naturist resort catch the interest of eccentric British couple Noel (Brass regular Antonio Salines) and Helen (Grazia Morelli) who invite them to a party. Decked out in a kilt, Salines pulls a BASIC INSTINCT as part of his flirtation with Anna while Helen goes to work on Franco. Franco, frustrated by Anna's "no sodomy until after marriage" rule, warns not to go all the way; but his own faithlessness comes back to bite him… well, her in the end. In the final episode "Call Me Pig Cause I Like It", teacher Rosy (Federica Palmer) and businessman Oskar (Roberto Giulianelli) are honeymooning in London. They become separately aroused by the presence of a voyeur (denoted by the glow of a cigar in the darkness) watching them make love from the building across from their hotel room until the comic punchline. The episode is unnecessarily but pleasingly padded with a sequence in which Rosy has a lingerie fitting (for a thong) with a lesbian sales clerk (Lyudmyla Derkach).

Released uncut on DVD in Italy by CVC (once again cropped to 1.78:1 from its 1.66:1 aspect ratio), FALLO! was first released to English-friendly audiences as PRIVATE by Arrow Films in the UK in its trimmed-down English dubbed version. Cult Epics released separate uncut Italian and trimmed English dubs on DVD in 2006. The individual edition of Cult Epics' 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.78:1 widescreen Blu-ray followed in 2013 and has been reproduced here. It features the uncut Italian version with both Italian and English audio tracks with optional English subtitles. It's the least impressive of the four HD transfers in the set. Brass' typically colorful mise-en-scene is well-represented but the expanse of bare flesh look waxy. While Brass' other 5.1 titles have been Dolby Digital, FALLO! sports a DTS logo; however, the Blu-ray features Italian and English audio tracks in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo downmixes only. The optional English subtitles are not a transcription of the dubtrack but a translation of the Italian track; as such, it reveals some interesting variations between the English dub and the Italian original. The opening and closing credits as well as the segment titles are in English. While the Italian track is accompanied by the song "Honni soit qui mal y pense" performed by actress Albertazzi, the English track turns down the volume of the song and lets us here snippets of behind the scenes bantering between the English dubbing actors ("I like to call him 'Brassy Tinto'").

Presumably Cult Epics' SD DVD transfer of the uncut version had Italian titles since we see that the segment titles on the English version are different from the subtitle translations. The first episode is titled "Double Trouble" while the subtitles refer to it as "Alternate Mounting" and "Jolly Bangs" is called "Happy Bangs" in the subtitles but the original title is "Botte d'allegria" (or "Barrel of Fun"). The "Making of" (17:29) in some ways plays as a parody of behind the scenes featurettes as the starlets discuss their character motivations (even though they usually have less dialogue and facial screentime than their genitals) while Brass also explains the origin of the title FALLO! as well as its etymology which includes the Italian verb "fare (to do)" (proving some explanation for the English title) and also dedicates the film to Hilary Clinton and Monica Lewinsky (powerful women who know how to expertly wield the phallus). The trailer (1:04) appears to be thrown together from a montage sequence in the making-of segment with the English DO IT! title video generated. The disc also includes a short photo gallery.

Like TRA(SGRE)DIRE, the title MONAMOUR is another play on words with "mona" being Venetian slang for a woman's genitals (hence the use of Bo Didley's song "Mona" throughout). Milanese housewife Marta (Uzbekistanian former acrobat Anna Jimskaia) feels that the magic has gone out of her marriage to publisher Dario (Max Parodi again) just six months in (at least, she's unable to reach an orgasm). In Mantua for a literature festival, Marta has little to do on her own but fantasize and masturbate or see the sights. While visiting the Palazzo de Te (with its erotic frescos by Giulio Romano), she catches the eye (and camera) of French artist Leon (PRIVATE's Riccardo Marino) who aggressively pursues her. Frustrated by her husband's disinterest ("I was almost raped today," she tells him), she is more receptive to Leon's overtures (and fingers) when he pulls her into an alcove later that night at a literary party (where Brass makes a cameo and answers such questions of semantics as "Is it true, maestro, that pornography is to eroticism what the blowjob is to fellatio?"). Marta finds encouragement from old friend Silvia (Nela Lucic) who tells her that her affairs have improved her marriage since "Jealousy is the strongest aphrodisiac" (it's also not technically infidelity since she lets her lovers use the "rear entrance" and reserves the other for her husband). Dario is both incensed and aroused by his wife's behavior at the party, but his renewed interest in Marta is too short-lived for her to have an orgasm. She begins an affair with the sexually-adventurous Leon – under the guise of spending leisure time with Silvia (who tells Dario that women want to be taken not understood) – while playing the content housewife with Dario until he discovers her hidden diary. Jealousy does indeed prove to be a strong aphrodisiac, but it may be too little too late as Marta seems ready to cast aside all illusions of propriety and run off to Paris with Leon.

Like TRA(SGRE)DIRE, MONAMOUR is a handsomely-made (especially with the transition from film to high definition video) rehashing of themes from ALL LADIES DO IT (although it credits itself as a loose adaptation of Alina Rizzi's novel "Amare Leon" which Marta is seen reading early on). There's nothing new thematically, but the novelty is in the new actresses and how far this side of hardcore Brass will go. The sequence in which Leon arranges a blindfolded and passive Marta's body to take Polaroids of her body echoes not only THE KEY but also Brass' interest in recreating Gustave Courbet's painting "The Origin of the World". It's not a bad film, but it feels more like a place-holder for something more ambitious (he has only directed two shorts since and his 3D pornographic WHO KILLED CALIGULA? is still listed as being "in production"). Former camera operator Andrea Doria captures the Tinto Brass look (although Brass presumably operated the camera at times as he is seen doing so in the making-of featurettes of his films) and art director Carlo de Marino appears to have stylishly redressed some of the same spacious apartment locations to striking effect. Virginia Barrett and Leo Mantovani – the German couple from Brass' PRIVATE – appear hear as, respectively, a German chanteuse and a voyeur. The film was Brass' last collaboration with his wife Carla Cipriani – credited here as a co-writer and the film's producer – who died in 2006.

MONAMOUR was released on DVD in Italy in 2006 by Mondo Home Entertainment with a slick anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen transfer and 5.1 Italian audio. The first English-friendly version came out from Arrow Films in the UK in 2006 with English subtitles, but the widescreen image was non-anamorphic and the Italian audio track was 2.0 only (I first saw it on a Russian import that seems to have been censored without authorization since Brass said he switched sales agents when he became aware of the softening of the original English export versions of his earlier films). Cult Epics released a strong dual-layer DVD release in 2010 with Italian 5.1 and 2.0 options – with English dubtitles – as well as a lesser quality (artistically and technically) English 2.0 stereo dub. Less than a year later, Cult Epics released Blu-ray and DVD two-disc editions that featured the same content on the first disc and a second disc with the HD short KICK THE COCK (the original DVD release featured a promo for the short).

The 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC Blu-ray here is a the first disc in the individual edition (indeed, the disc face says "Disc One"). As stated in the end credits, the intended aspect ratio is 1.85:1, and it is preserved as such here. Shot in high definition and scanned to film by Technicolor, the image looks generally slick and colorful with enough detail to reveal some pimples under the body make-up as well as the brush strokes on some of the set decoration (like the mandala seen on the floor of the spa in a striking overhead long shot in which the design is framed between two naked women lying on massage tables chatting). Video monitors during the behind the scenes video show display "720P/60" which may refer to the resolution of the monitor itself or the high definition video shooting format (presumably the 1080p24 master comes from the film scan rather than an upscaling of the video output if it is indeed 720p).

Cult Epics' have once again passed on the lossless audio options but have given us the original 5.1 track in Dolby Digital as well as a 2.0 stereo downmix and an English stereo dub. The English track is passable as far as the voice casting goes – with some familiar sounding performers – but it is also effected with some very distracting and loud crackling on the high ends in a couple spots early on (and one or two later on). This was also an issue with the original Cult Epics DVD (the English dub is also available on the Australian Umbrella Entertainment DVD but I do not know about the quality, and it seems less desirable since that is the only audio option on the disc). The Italian track is the way to go anyway, although the optional English subtitles seem to follow the English dub.

Besides the film's Italian theatrical trailer (1:36) – an English version can be streamed from rights holder Filmexport's website – the disc also includes "The Making of MONAMOUR" (15:54) directed by Max Zanuck (who I believe is actually co-writer Massimiliano Zanin who directed one of the shorts for direct-to-video anthology series TINTO BRASS PRESENTS EROTIC SHORT STORIES as well as a more recent documentary ISTINTOBRASS). Brass explains the title as "Mona" referring to the Venetian Marta and "Amour" referring to Leon. He discusses the choice of the Mantua setting because Giulio Romano had been banished from Rome for his erotic drawings and paintings and taken in by the Gonzaga family. Federico Ganzaga, the Duke of Mantua, commissioned him to paint murals of pagan sexuality in the villa in which he conducted his illicit affairs (the Palazzo del Te). Some of the behind the scenes video involves the dance sequence late in the film as well as Brass rehearsing with Jimskaia and Parodi the final sex scene. Most amusing is the awkward bit where Brass insists that the make-up artist give a little color to an artificial phallus for the party scene ("It should look like a strawberry!") as Marino stands there holding it in his pants and Jimskaia giggles on the side.

The fifth disc is a DVD featuring the documentary "Tinto Brass: Maestro of Erotic Cinema" documentary (95:03) which is a re-edited combination of interview footage with Brass shot in the 2001 in Torcello as bonus material for Cult Epics DVD releases. He starts off discussing his early work as an editor at the Cinematheque Francaise for filmmaker Joris Ivens and then for Roberto Rosselini on his documentary about India (INDIA: MATRI BHUMI), editing in the same room where Rosselini was hiding his young Indian mistress from discovery. He discusses the influence of filmmaker Jean Vigo – who influenced many French New Wave filmmakers – on his first feature CHI LAVORA È PERDUTO, his trilogy of films shot in London (DEADLY SWEET, LA VACANZE, and NEROSUBIANCO). He recalls having to audition a new cinematographer after the death of Bruno Barcarol, and how Silvano Ippoliti had the most practical and simple solution to his photographic test.

He discusses shooting SALON KITTY and how it lead to CALIGULA, which was an exciting shoot before he ran into problems during the editing phase with Bob Guccione's competing vision of the film (Brass took the "Principal Photography by" credit instead of a director one because he considers editing to be a large part of the creative process). Brass had wanted to film THE KEY at an earlier time, but the rights were not available since it had been adapted in Japan in 1974 (interesting, IMDb lists another Japanese adaptation from 1983, the same year as the Brass version). During this part of the interview, he discusses his favored setting of Venice and the WWII period as a moment of historical change. Another favored setting is the Po Valley, the setting of MIRANDA – a vehicle he conceived for Serena Grandi with four lovers representing the four seasons – and FRIVOLOUS LOLA (whose lead Anna Ammirati he met when he accidentally knocked her off of her bicycle with his car). Of PAPRIKA, he recalls reading an anonymously-authored article purporting to be the experiences of a brothel madam which he recognized to be the work of Fellini scripter Bernardino Zapponi (DEEP RED) so he approached him about developing a script (Zapponi would also co-author ALL LADIES DO IT). He had locked in the cast of PAPRIKA before he met Claudia Koll and decided to build a feature around her (ALL LADIES DO IT) instead of casting her as an extra.

He also airs views on censorship, feminism (including his female fanbase and public confrontations with feminists), and T&A (he became aware of Russ Meyer while shooting in London, and describes himself as more of an "ass man" than a "tit man"). He talks at length about his filmic alter ego in actor Franco Branciaroli (who has worked primarily for Brass outside of his Miklos Jancso film PRIVATE VICES, PUBLIC PLEASURES and Michelangelo Antonioni's video-lensed THE MYSTERY OF OBERWALD), but makes only fleeting reference to now late wife Carla Cipriani – who was a collaborator on some of the films' scripts and was credited on most as post-production supervisor – and no mention of his regular editing collaborator Fiorenza Muller (whose collaboration spanned SALON KITTY to BLACK ANGEL), his composers including Armando Travajoli (DEADLY SWEET). There's no discussion of composers Ennio Morricone (THE KEY, BLACK ANGEL), Pino Donaggio (ALL LADIES DO IT, FRIVOLOUS LOLA, CHEEKY!), and Riz Ortolani (PAPRIKA, MIRANDA), or regular production designer Mario Di Biase (THE KEY) and still photographer Gianfranco Salis (CAPRICCIO).

The set also includes thirty-nine page booklet (with a back cover image from the short KICK THE COCK not included here) edited by Cult Epic's Nico B. with a four page overview of Brass's films, an eighteen-page interview with Brass (mostly a transcription of his comments from the video interviews, but here presented with Nico B.'s contextualizing questions), and a Brass filmography. Given Brass' thick accent on the video interviews, the print version is a thoughtful addition. While TINTO BRASS: MAESTRO OF EROTIC CINEMA does not in fact showcase his masterworks, it is a more affordable package of four entertaining and explicit flicks that would cost well over a hundred bucks at SRP if purchased individually. (Eric Cotenas)