Monday, July 25, 2016

Emanuelle In Bangkok (1976)

Written by: Ottavio Alessi, Maria Pia Fusco, and Piero Vivarelli
Directed by: Joe D'Amato
Laura Gemser as Emanuelle
Gabriel Tinti as Robert
Ely Galliani as Frances
Ivan Rassimov as Prince Sanit

I've discussed in previous reviews my idea that the Emanuelle series bears a number of similarities to James Bond. I've also mentioned before that I wound up watching these things all out of order and that doing so is really not advised because these movies, to my utter shock, actually follow a logical and well-written story arc. This is the first in the series of gloriously sleazy Emanuelle movies that Laura Gemser and Joe D'Amato made together, although it's the second time that Gemser played the character more or less as we see her here.

While watching the Cannon Films documentary on Netflix recently, I had my computer in my lap with another Netflix window open adding everything they mentioned that I hadn't already seen. One of the movies that wound up on my watch list was Bolero, and there are sections of this movie that seem to have informed the latter Bo Derek vehicle, but I'll get to that later.

Investigative photojournalist Emanuelle (played once again by the ever-lovely Laura Gemser) has been sent to Madeupistan to do a story on Prince Sanit. On her journey through Madeupistan, she meets Robert (played by Gemser's real-life husband Gabriel Tinti), and his wife Frances. She also lives with a young woman in the desert for a while, which is the part that reminded me of Bolero. She gives the young woman her sexual awakening, and they ride off into the dunes with a sheik and his entourage to belly dance and puff on hookahs and have wild, off-camera group sex.

Unfortunately, also much like Bolero, this movie is pretty innocent and goofy since we're seeing Emanuelle before any of her experiences from the later movies have turned her into the jaded badass we came (huh huh huh) to know and love. With the exception of one sleazy scene where a group of Prince Sanit's men corner her in an old building and gang rape her to scare her away since their secretive boss doesn't want a photo essay of his sexual hijinks published, the movie is too unfocused and light and fluffy to hold the attention of a viewer who's expecting more than a romp.

The aforementioned scene does, however, contain the seed (huh huh huh) that will allow Emanuelle's character arc to grow through the rest of the series. It is revealed that she has something of a sexual superpower, in that with a bit of concentration she can turn any sexual encounter into a source of pleasure for her. By the time the first of the men (and D'Amato must have gone to some lengths to find the six or seven ugliest men in all of Western Europe, because these dudes are not pleasant to behold) gets on top of her, she's having a grand old time, and (once again, off camera, and praise Cthulhu for that because ten minutes of these doughy, pasty CHUDs grunting and sweating is not something I wanted to see) manages to fuck the entire group of them into submission! By the time it's all over, their leader is happy to give her all the information she wants to know about finding Sanit.

Even going in with the knowledge that this flick is not fighting in the same smut class as its successors doesn't help much to prepare you for just how dull the movie is. There are relatively un-sleazy Eurosmut movies that are still very enjoyable to watch, like Laure for example. This one is just a snooze. Unless you're a Laura Gemser completist, or just really, really desperate for some boobs (psst, you're reading this on the internet...there are places you can go for that which don't require you wade through 80 minutes of uninteresting plot), you can safely give this one a pass and start with the next entry in the series. You won't really be missing anything, and you'll have a much better time.

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