Sister Emanuelle (1977)

a.k.a. - Suor Emanuelle (ITA)

Laura Gemser stars in Giuseppe Vari's nunsploitation film. Severin Films USA R0 DVD.

The Film

Emanuelle (Laura Gemser) has renounced her libertine lifestyle and taken holy orders. Along with the Mother Superior she travels to Venice to pick up the wayward young daughter of a wealthy man to take her to stay in the convent over the summer. As they journey by train, Emanuelle realises the challenge she is in for with this girl when she first tries to bed Emanuelle herself and is later caught 'entertaining' the train's conductor. On arrival at the convent she quickly seduces many of the girls, however things change when she discovers an escaped convict hiding nearby and sneaks him into the convent at night...

As Italian film-makers started to push the boundaries of erotic cinema in the 1970s they covered a wide range of topics and as was common in Italian exploitation cinema, numerous productions would appear to cash in on a film's popularity, turning a single idea into an entire sub-genre. Sister Emanuelle is part of the nunsploitation genre that kicked off in the early 1970s after the success of the quite serious La monaca di Monza (1969), although unusually for the genre it is set in contemporary rather than medieval Europe, presumably to allow the inclusion of the Emanuelle character who seems to be directly borrowed from the popular Black Emanuelle series, although this is never specifically mentioned in the script.

Sister Emanuelle's writer Marino Onorati had quite some experience writing softcore erotica including Edwige Fenech title The Lady Medic (1976) and he provides a very effective framework here with a suitable storyline and plenty of well written sex scenes that never come off as gratuitous, a crime that many erotic films from the period fall into. His background in sexy comedy is evident in the much lighter tone of this film compared to the very sleazy Joe D'Amato Black Emanuelle titles from the period - there are no rape or shock scenes here - but equally the script avoids descending too far into sex-comedy territory, there are some effectively funny scenes and a couple of rather low brow but fortunately brief toilet gags. Well paced throughout, there are a few surprises along the way and the film ends very well.

Versatile Euro-cult director Giuseppe Vari (credited as Joseph Warren) clocks up his only erotic film credit here and does a surprisingly good job considering that he was more at home shooting Spaghetti Westerns and crime films - the sex scenes are sexy yet artistic, the locations look great and the soundtrack by composer Stelvio Cipriani is very effective although the film's light tone would have suited a cheesy opening song like the Nino Fidenco scored Black Emanuelle titles.

Laura Gemser is back again as Emanuelle and she keeps her clothes on a lot more here (although not throughout of course), showing some good acting as she is replused by the actions of her younger rival. Monica herself is played by the little known young actress Mónica Zanchi (who also appeared alongside Laura Gemser in Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals (1977)) and who manages to perform well in and out of clothes. Laura Gemser's real life husband Gabriele Tinti who appeared alongside her in many of the films plays the escaped convict Rene in one of his largest roles in the Emanuelle films, while Italian actor Rik Battaglia (Giů la testa (1971)) has a brief appearance as Monica's father.

Sister Emanuelle is one of the few Laura Gemser Emanuelle films outside of the official Black Emanuelle series, to actually use the proper Emanuelle character and it does so in a very original way. The script is effective at keeping the film moving and the production is generally strong throughout with solid direction and a good soundtrack. Laura Gemser is good although almost outplayed by the gorgeous Mónica Zanchi. The film (even in its hardcore varient) is a lot softer than many of the Italian erotic films of the late 1970s, it doesn't descent to the sleaze of the Joe D'Amato or Bruno Mattei films but as such will certainly appeal to fans of softcore erotica and a must see for nunsploitation collectors.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Laura Gemser - Indonesian born star of the original Black Emanuelle (1975).
Directed by anyone interesting? Giuseppe Vari (credited as Joseph Warren) - an Italian director who worked on a number of Pepla, including La vendetta dei barbari (1960) and Spaghetti Westerns, including Un buco in fronte (1968)
Any gore or violence? None.
Any sex or nudity? Extensive softcore female nudity. (A hardcore print was also created, including some very brief oral sex shots - these are included as extra features on this DVD).
Who is it for? For fans of softcore and nunsploitation erotica.

See Also:
Black Emanuelle series Laura Gemser's classic erotic film series, ranging from sexy softcore to depraved sleaze.

Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colour
The print quality is very good with almost no print damage or grain, the focus is slightly soft throughout although this is probably how the film was shot.
Audio English and Italian audio. Both sound fine, and the English dub is quite well done.
Subtitles English (optional) - these translate the Italian track.
Extras The disc includes:
  • Deleted Scenes. These scenes are included with wrap around footage and are taken from a low quality video source.
    • The 'Train Scene' and the 'Flashback Scene' include very brief hardcore inserts into two of the film's sex scenes.
    • The 'Stepmom Scene' is a lengthy extension to a lesbian sex scene, involving a banana (2m 30s)
    • The 'Bondage Scene' is an additional sex scene missing from the film's climax, non-hardcore. (3m)
  • Original English titled theatrical trailer (3m 40s).
Region Region 0 (ALL) - NTSC
Availability Available on its own or as part of the limited edition Black Emanuelle Box.
Other regions? Also available on a lower quality DVD from X-Rated Kult DVD in Germany.
Cuts? The film is presented in its softcore European edit, an alternative hardcore edit was created for the French market - the additional footage from which can be seen in the deleted scenes. The print used has English language credits.
Additional Notes The disc reviewed had a couple of minor authoring problems that might not be present on other discs. The deleted 'Bondage Scene' cannot be accessed from the menus, but you should manually select TITLE 3, CHAPTER 2 to view it. It is also not possible to switch between the audio and subtitle streams while playing the disc, only via the menus.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 30th March 2007.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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