Friday, April 8, 2011

EMANUELLE IN PRISON (1983)

AKA Blade Violent AKA Emanuelle Escapes from Hell AKA Women's Prison Massacre AKA A Bunch of Bastards, the funniest pseudonym by far. Directed by Bruno Mattei with screenplayer Fragasso handling second unit (and, if my instincts are right, it shows when some of the shots get more adventurous). One of very many Laura Gemser Emanuelle movies, most of which are quite full of fucking. This one isn't. When weighted against other EMANUELLE films or other women in prison films, EMANUELLE IN PRISON seems tepid and tame with nary a hungry torture rat in sight and paltry shower footage. When judged as a part of the Fragrasso oeuvre, it fits and is kind of okay. Ish.
So here's the deal with Emanuelle: she's basically the world's sluttiest woman. But being a slut doesn't pay the bills unless you go pro, so she works as a reporter. But slutting is really safer than reporting, because she ends up crossing the wrong drug-smugglingly corrupt politico and gets framed and taken to jail. All this happens prior to this film, which opens with a PERFORMANCE ART SHOW. In the jail. With dialog like, "Poor fools! How stupid they look, smiling at a woman, the one they've betrayed, as they sit astride her!" Thankfully, Albina, who is albino-esque shows up and says, "I represent the captive audience watching this shit!" META! Then she hits Emanuelle with a tomato.
As usual, Fragasso delivers the goods when it comes to words. The first 60% or so of EMANUELLE IN PRISON is brain-scrambingly great. I implore you, hear this exchange:
ALBINA: That'll be the day! Take my advice and die!
OTHER WOMAN: I'd like to bite your nipples off...and I'll do it!
This is followed by an Albina threat for the ages: "I'll put a stop to your arrogance, you haughty hottentot!" The first portion of the film compensates for its lack of sleaze with this sort of lunacy (and catfights). Unfortunately, a quartet of rapist/murderers show up, each one of a different nationality, like the Miss Universe Pageant of Rape/Murder. They turn the tables on their captors (resulting in the brilliant line, "The car's dead, it's been shot and so have I!") and eventually sex their way through the women's prison and its inmates.
They do so by force, but also by using suave sexytalk like, "Your skin's so exciting!" Alas, the guffaws are in short supply in the second part of our tale. Fragasso movies live or die by inane dialog and too much of EMANUELLE IN PRISON is devoted to no-talking very low-budget action scenes filmed exclusively in corridors or very tight corners. The sex scenes are there, but aren't especially alluring even by low-budget Euro women-in-prison standards (see screenshot below). Weirdest of sex-related things is how different this movie's Emanuelle is from the free-spirited, widely-stanced version found in the older films. There's only one sex scene involving Gemser's character and it's an ineptly ugly forced molestation kind of thing. I dunno if Fragasso understood that people would buy sex-crazed, happy-go-lucky Emanuelle as a heroine (even though it worked in the many previous films), so he turned her into a victim-angel. Bad decision.
This is not an utterly amazing film. However, it is better than ZOMBIE 4: AFTER DEATH. There is some fruit waiting to be plucked from the fun tree, torn off like a bad wig full of entertainments. Laura Gemser would cross the wide Fragasso sea again, costume-designing her way into history on TROLL 2, then disappearing into obscurity, much missed in her absence.

Next stop: MONSTER DOG.

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