Black Venus (1983)

Cultured late night cable softcore from Harry Alan Towers. The Private Screening Collection - R0 US DVD release.

The Film

Although the 1980s saw the rise of hardcore pornography, aided in no small part by the birth of the home video system, it also saw a boom in milder 'adult' entertainment as the late night softcore cable movie was born.

Set in Paris, the story of Black Venus is told by Jacques, a wealthy man with various 'interests' in the city. Seeing a beautiful black woman known as Venus working in a brothel, he recants the story of his first encouter with her and her subsequent rise and fall - beginning as the model of an impoverished artist, becoming befriended by a lonely, wealthy woman and eventually finding herself working in the brothel. The story told, Jacques sets about trying to 'save' Venus.

Famed British exploitation producer Harry Alan Towers was behind Black Venus and the film's writing credit bears his familiar 'Peter Welbeck' pseudonym. In the late 1960s, working with euro-cult legend Jess Franco, Towers had producted a variety of films based on the works of lunatic French writer, the Marquis de Sade, many concerning the appropriately sadistic corruption of innocents and while Black Venus contains some light references to these works, it is a much milder effort overall. There are a good number of sex scenes including several lesbian sequences but the pacing is somewhat unsteady and many of the sex scenes are quite brief while the story elements can drag in places - especially for viewers just waiting for the next sight of nudity. Despite the sometimes poor dialogue, the storyline does mange to keep things moving along and the eventual conclusion is surprisingly good, teasing of some much deeper story ideas that were never fully developed.

Direction, from little known French director Claude Mulot, is solid and the film obviously benefits from some decent production values - the Victorian era setting looks very impressive, boasting an authentic French atmosphere with some surprisingly detailed exteriors and large casts of extras. The soundtrack is entirely composed of well known classical music, which does work quite well and gives the whole production a cultured air, although it does seem a little random in places.

The winner of "Miss Bahamas", Josephine Jacqueline Jones is cast as Venus and looks very sexy - her acting, although not great, is enough to help carry the film and certainly better than one might expect from a gimmick casting. A couple of familiar faces crop up in the shape of Eurocult regular Helga Liné (El espanto surge de la tumba (1973)) and Karin Schubert (Companeros (1970)). The rest of the cast perform fine, the female cast in particular are strong and notably, given today's "adult" film stars, they all look very natural and beautifully curved.

Ultimately, Black Venus is not a film for those looking for a quick fix of sex and nudity, nor is it one for the hardcore fans. However, those looking for some cable softcore nosalgia or anyone who enjoys some culture with their nudity (but don't want to watch it in French), could do worse than picking Black Venus, its solid production values and decent acting set it above many other productions from the era.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Helga Line - a Spanish horror regular who also appeared in Horror Express (1972)
Directed by anyone interesting? Claude Mulot - a little known French director whose credits are almost entirely in erotic cinema, most notably Pussy Talk (1975) and the Brigitte Lahaie film Les petites écolières (1980).
Who else was involved? Harry Alan Towers - the British exploitation producer who also produced the similar Lady Libertine (1984)
Any gore or violence ? None
Any sex or nudity? Numerous softcore female nude scenes, some mild male nudity and various sex scenes.
Who is it for? Fans of cultured erotica might enjoy this, although it is far from the best of the genre.

Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 1.33:1 fullscreen (filmed for television). Colour.
Shot on 35mm film, the print quality is very good with only mild layer of film grain.
Audio English mono. Sounds fine although some voices are obviously dubbed.
Subtitles None.
Extras None.
Region Region 0 (ALL) - NTSC
Other regions? Released on DVD in the UK but cut by 2 minuts:

At 53½ mins reduce sequence in which woman is gang raped on bed as follows:-
(1) After man in dinner jacket says "Come on Sir, get to work" and second man gets on top of woman, remove all CU of man raping woman. Resume on sight of clothed woman saying to topless woman "Come along dear, there's nothing to get upset about!".
(2) After topless woman leaves room, saying "you can keep your dress", remove all sight of men raping woman. Brief back shot of man on top of woman may remain. Resume on sight of man in dinner jacket saying "Oh, wow! Where is Venus?".
(3) After woman says "It's all your fault", remove sight of woman being raped.

Information courtesy of the BBFC.
Cuts? Believed to be fully uncut - this is the original 95 minute cut, rather than the more well known 80 minute US TV varient. Includes the full sequence as detailed above that was cut from the UK DVD. English language print.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 1st November 2006/18th July 2010.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

Please contact: