Papaya dei Caraibi (1978)

a.k.a. - Papaya: Love Goddess of the Cannibals

Sirpa Lane stars in Joe D'Amato's slow paced but sex filled erotica. Severin USA R1 DVD.

The Film

On a remote Carribean island, the geologist Vincent has arrived to resarch the future site of a nuclear power plant. He runs into Sara (Sirpa Lane), an old fling, but their lovemaking is disrupted when Sara discovers the charred body of one of Vincent's colleagues in his hotel room, an incident that leaves the police baffled. Meanwhile, Sara and Vincent run into a local woman known as Papaya and are led into a hidden world on the small island while struggling to work out her motives...

From the pen of writer Roberto Gandus (Frozen Terror (1980)), Papaya goes nowhere particularly fast. A rather vivid opening packs in sex, castration, fire and cockfighting, but soon the film slows down to introduce the plot and characters - although neither are ever really fleshed out. This langurious atmosphere continues throughout, with only the occasional hint of plot, which does give te film a tendency to drag despite the numerous sex scenes. Interestingly the storyline avoids a descent into surreality (as one would have expected if this were a Jess Franco title) although there is a pronounced dream-like ambience for much of the runtime - unfortunately a filler subplot of the native townspeople discussing their plans for the village in some sort of council meeting rather damages this atmosphere.

Director Joe D'Amato had just completed his famous Black Emanuelle series when he helmed this title. He gets various chances to show off his often underrated directoral talents and the film as a whole looks very good - several of the sex scenes carry a genuine eroticism that many of his more sleazy titles would lack. Real Carribean locations are well used, both the beautiful beaches and the less attractive slums, the scenes of a parade in the town in particular are very realistic and remniscent of the Mondo Cane films of the 1960s. The two most sleazy scenes are a clearly genuine cockfight - although fortunately without too much detail - and the disembowling of a (fortunately) dead pig with a rather vivid close up on the ensuing organs. Curiously the cannibal scene itself is very brief and contains little detail, a contrast to the vivid gore of D'Amato's earlier Emanuelle e gli ultimi cannibali (1977).

Finnish actress Sirpa Lane made her name being violated by Walerian Borowczyk's Beast (1975) and went on to have a brief career in Euro-cult cinema. A rather unusual beauty, she gives a pretty decent performance here although the obvious dubbing does not help, most importantly she looks good and comfortable in the film's many nude scenes. Papaya herself is played by the little known actress Melissa Chimenti (credited here simply as Melissa) in her only major film role - she plays the temptress part very well and genuinely looks like an island native. Vincent is played by Euro-cult regular Maurice Poli (Rabid Dogs (1974)) who certainly seems to be enjoying himself.

The slow lazy pace of Papaya dei Caraibi is more remniscent of Jess Franco's 1980 era films than the often briskly paced D'Amato sleaze-fests, although without the Spanish director's trademark surrealism. It is also easy to imagine that with Laura Gemser in the lead role, the plot could have been compressed to about 50 minutes and used as a chapter in one of the Black Emanuelle films and it would perhaps have been more effective than it is here. As it is, Papaya has plenty of sex and a vivid helping of sleaze - in the shape of some animal guts - but inbetween is some very slow pacing that might well bore the less patient Euro-cult fans. Certainly of interest to fans of D'Amato or Sirpa Lane.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Sirpa Lane - a little known Finnish actress who also starred in sci-fi sexploitation The Beast in Space (1980).
Directed by anyone interesting? Joe D'Amato - Italian director who helmed nearly 200 films at the sleazier end of Euro-cult cinema, including such titles as Emanuelle in Bangkok (1976) and Caligula: The Untold Story (1982).
Any gore or violence? A very vivid scene with a (dead) pig being cut open and the organs removed. A real cockfighting scene (although not too vividly seen), some other bloody scenes.
Any sex or nudity? Numerous sex scenes, fully frontal female nude scenes and some brief full male nude scenes.
Who is it for? One for Euro-cult fans looking for something different, particularly of interest for fans of Joe D'Amato.

Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colour
The print is very grainy with some minor damage but has strong colours and good detail.
Audio English mono - sounds fine throughout, although the dubbing is very noticable, on Sirpa Lane in particular.
Subtitles None
Extras The disc includes:
  • A long theatrical trailer containing all the film's sex scenes.
Region Region 1 (USA, North America) - NTSC
Other regions? Previously released by X-rated Kult in Germany - non-anamorphic print, about the same quality, Italian and German audio only. Did include alternate title sequences and a photo gallery.
Cuts? Cut status unknown - no apparent cuts. English language print.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 28th June 2008 - updated 14th April 2011.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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