The Mondo-Esoterica Guide to

The Black Emanuelle Series

About The Black Emanuelle Series:

The French erotic classic Emmanuelle (1974) was a revolutionary film - co-inciding with the loosening of censorship laws and emphasising the artistic side of European erotica, it was instrumental in introducing sex films into mainstream cinemas when for years they had been relegated to the XXX houses. The film proved massively sucessful in France and across Europe and soon fans were clamoring for more. Seeing an opening in the market, producer Mario Mariani and director Bitto Albertini snapped up the beautiful young Indonesian born model Laura Gemser and cast her in Emanuelle Nera (1975). As well as changing the spelling of the character (one M to avoid rights issues) the Italian film makers created an entirely new character - a strong independent women who actively sought out sex with men and women of her choice for her own pleasure. Working as a photo-journalist, she was free to travel the world in search of stories and the potential in the series was obvious.

With the success of the first film worldwide, a sequel was quickly in preparation and Laura Gemser was brought back for the title role, but in place of Albertini, Roman born director Joe D'Amato was brought in to helm the production, having already made his own unofficial entry into the genre with the sleazy but artistically directed Emanuelle e Françoise le sorelline (1975). The resulting film Emanuelle nera orient reportage (1976) managed to combine some gorgeous locations and women with a decent narrative (the first film had been almost plot-less) while still finding time for a lot of sex and a few sleazy scenes - the gang rape scene that would become all but obligatory in the series and a Mondo-movie style shot of a snake and a mongoose fighting. Meanwhile, director Bitto Albertini was not to be denied the character he created and he directed Emanuelle Nera No. 2 (1976) - with Gemser under contract to D'Amato's series, he replaced her with Sharon Lesley and replaced the loose sex-filled storyline of his first film with a densley plotted thriller (or at least an attempt at one) - nothing worked and there was no sequel.

Three more official Black Emanuelle films were released in 1977 courtesy of Joe D'Amato. Emanuelle in America (1977) and Emanuelle - Perché violenza alle donne? (1977) continued in the same vein as before, featuring quite episodic storylines and increasing sleaze, while Emanuelle e gli ultimi cannibali (1977) looked to cash in on the increasingly popular jungle cannibal films by sending Emanuelle deep into the Amazon (played by a river near Rome) in an incredibly gory film that somewhat forgot about the sex. The final part of the series came with La via della prostituzione (1978), a much milder production it included the series' most erotic softcore sex scenes in the first half hour thanks to the casting of gorgeous Ely Galleani, but the film quickly tapered off into a rather uninspired white slavery storyline that really could have used the sleaze from the earlier films.

Despite getting into the profession as little more than an excuse to travel the world, Laura Gemser had quickly found herself becoming a popular film star and appeared in a number of erotic films throughout the late 1970s and into the 80s. In a twist that would be familiar to any Spaghetti Western fans, the uncopyrighted Black Emanuelle name was soon being freely attached to these films to pass them off as part of the series, the result was an incredibly varied range of Black Emanuelle films with no connection to the original character. They ranged from the light sex comedy L'infermiera di campagna (1978) (which became Emanuelle in the Country on English language prints) to the incredibly sleazy I mavri Emmanouella (1979) and the surrealist Velluto nero (1976) (released in English as Black Emmanuelle, White Emmanuelle).

The last Laura Gemser film to bear the name was Bruno Mattei's women-in-prison film Emanuelle fuga dall'inferno (1983) which unexpectedly sees the original photo-journalist Black Emanuelle character return, this time undercover in jail in a a particularly sleazy outing. The decline of the Euro-cult film industry and Laura Gemser's retirement from film in the late 1980s saw the end of the Black Emanuelle character and despite the re-emergence of the original Emmanuelle character for the DTV softcore market, Black Emanuelle has never been revived.

DVD Reviews

Official Black Emanuelle Series

Black Emanuelle (1975)

Optimum UK Region 2 DVD
The first of the Black Emanuelle series is low on plot but has plenty of sex and beautiful African scenery.
Certainly of interest.
Emanuelle in Bangkok (1976)

Severin US R0 DVD
The first of the Joe D'Amato films has some good sex and storyline but also sees the start of the sleazy trend.
Emanuelle in America (1977)

Blue Underground US R0 DVD
Joe D'Amato takes the series to new depths of sleaze with some incredibly depraved snuff movie sequences.
Of interest.
Emanuelle Around the World (1977)

Severin US R0 DVD
Even sleazier than before including beastiality sequences, it does at least add a decent narrative flow.
Of interest.
Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals (1977)

Shriek Show USA R1
Joe D'Amato makes a major shift of genre and all but drops the eroticism in this jungle cannibal film.
One for cannibal movie fans
Emanuelle and the White Slave Trade

Severin US R1 DVD
The final film in the series is surprisingly tame. Some superb softcore in the first half hour then it loses its way.
Partly recommended.

Related Films

Black Emanuelle 2 (1976)

Severin Films USA R0 DVD.
Director of the original film, Bitto Albertini, tries to make his own sequel without Gemser, but fails.
Not recommended
Sister Emanuelle (1977)

Severin Films USA R0 DVD
Gemser plays a nun in this enjoyable softcore film that follows on quite neatly from the official series.
Recommended to softcore fans.
Velluto nero (1978)

Severin Films USA R1 DVD
Laura Gemser's Emanuelle meets Annie Belle's Laure in this unusual surrealist erotica.

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All text in this page written by Timothy Young - November 2010.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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