On EMANUELLE AND FRANCOISE

Joe D’Amato’s trashy sex drama is as lurid as they come

Even among the skeezy depths of Joe D’Amato’s cinematic oeuvre, his 1975 sex thriller EMANUELLE AND FRANCOISE is a jaw dropper. The director made his share of unofficial sequels to the popular Silvia Kristel-starring erotic EMMANUELLE movies, most starring the lovely Laura Gemser, but this trashterpiece (also known as EMANUELLE’S REVENGE) is among the best and is almost as cheerfully vulgar than his crown-jewel of vileness, the disturbing 1977 entry EMANUELLE IN AMERICA. Echoing the plot of the decade-and-change later Lucio Fulci softcore drama THE DEVIL’S HONEY, EMANUELLE AND FRANCOISE wallows in perversion to tell its operatically extreme tale of vengeance and sexual humiliation and though D’Amato’s lens captures ample upset, the entire thing is just so damned entertaining and groovy (Joe Dynamo’s funk soul score is a marvel) that you can’t help but kinda love it.

D’Amato regular George Eastman (the monster-man in ANTHROPOPHAGUS and ABSURD and the lead stud in EROTIC NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD) stars as Carlo a preening svengali-esque hustler brute who toils on the back-end of the entertainment business, grafting gigs and delighting in the exploitation and degradation of his lover, the sweet-natured and fragile Francoise (Patrizia Gori). As the film opens, Carlo subjects the girl to one blow too many and she jumps in front of a train.  Enter Francoise’s sister Emanuelle ( in this incarnation played by SALON KITTY’s Rosemarie Lindt), who traces the sad tale of her sister’s decline via letters, with each despicable incident leeringly illustrated by D’Amato for the audience’s outrage and titillation. Soon, Emanuelle hatches a plot to seduce, trap and torture the bastard, locking him in a room armed with a two-way mirror, drugging him and subjecting him to endless images of her getting off with a succession of lovers, both male and female.

EMANUELLE AND FRANCOISE is pretty much everything you want from a Eurothriller, especially one helmed by the notorious D’Amato. There’s a giallo-like structure to the piece,  there’s pretty seaside sequences, piles of nudity, buckets of revolting behavior and sexual sadism and there’s even a really gross cannibal dinner sequence that is as ludicrous as it is sickening. Sure, the film is unapologetic trash, but it’s skillfully made, looks fantastic and moves like a bullet from a gun, filling every inch of its running time with intrigue and transgression. But there’s also a streak of surrealism here, one that often veers either consciously or accidentally into Bunuel or Fellini territory. As far as Joe D’Amato movies go, this might be the most accomplished one I’ve ever seen. It’s certainly the most entertaining.

Severin Films offer a typically beautiful presentation of this relatively obscure non-classic, with a 2K scanned negative that makes every color pop. Features are – for Severin – relatively light, but what they lack in volume, they make up for in quality. The best bit is an interview with Eastman (real name, Luigi Montefiori) who admits to never liking the film but has crystal clear memories of making it and lovingly recalls his happy relationship with D’Amato, a man who despite making some of the most gruesome exploitation movies of the period, was a kind, gregarious and talented man. Eastman is warm and funny, and mentions that co-writer Bruno Mattei (HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD) kept wandering around the set offering advice to D’Amato…all of which he ignored.

EMANUELLE AND FRANCOISE is not for the feint of heart but if extreme ’70s Euroshock is your cup of greasy fluid, drink up! It tastes SO gooooood…

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