Written by: Christopher O’Neill on May 19th, 2009
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1976
Director: Bitto Alberto (credited as ‘Albert Thomas’)
Writer: Adalberto Albertini, Palmambrogio Molteni; Story: Mario Mariani
Cast: Shulamith Lasri (credited as ‘Emanuelle Nera’), Angelo Infani, Sharon Leslie, Don Powell, Dagmar Lassander
DVD released: April 27th, 2009
Approximate running time: 92 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Severin UK
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £14.99
After the success of the original BLACK EMANUELLE, almost simultaneously two sequels were hastily put into production. Joe D’Amato used that film’s leading actress Laura Gemser in the title role of his continuation EMANUELLE IN BANGKOK, while the original film’s director Bitto Alberto recast the role and created BLACK EMANUELLE 2. D’Amato’s feature was a luscious continuation on the BLACK EMANUELLE formula that mutated into more outlandish variations as the filmmaker went on to shoot several further films with Gemser. Alberto’s offering, on the other hand, retracts rather than expands the elements laid down in the first picture and the results are well-intentioned but ultimately diminishing.
The fundamental problem with BLACK EMANUELLE 2 (which is the name on the packaging, while the actual on-screen title is BLACK EMMANUELLE NO 2) is the screenplay. The film opens with a miss-spelled quote from Sigmund Freud (“The sickness that disturb[sic] me most is myself”) and this mixture of pretension and unintentional amusement forecasts the overall shoddiness of the entire project. It would appear that the filmmakers are attempting something beyond the usual softcore trappings by developing a psychological understanding of the Emanuelle character, but to do this, the narrative is punctuated with long, incredibly wordy dialogue passages of phony analytical exposition: Freud and his studies are tiresomely mentioned throughout as if by doing so the film is illustrating a sophisticated understanding of the subject, but this is rendered ridiculous by the crude English dubbing which produces such amusing lines as “Showing spontaneously happiness is a indication of equilibrium” and “Up your fat fanny with you and your Freud!”. While such moments do bring a comedic charm to the proceedings, unfortunately the erotic content has been muted to facilitate these frequent exchanges. The sexual encounters that are in the film are too few and far between, rendering BLACK EMANUELLE 2 rather pointless.
Another core issue with the film is that it does not feature Laura Gemser, whose beauty and delectable screen presence is sorely missed. Her replacement Shulamith Lasri, although very attractive and easy on the eye, fails to emulate her predecessor’s charisma with a rather wooden performance. While Lasri (in her only film role) lacks the strength to carry the title role, her supporting cast is excellent and are often the highlight of BLACK EMANUELLE 2. Angelo Infani, who appeared in several Italian crime thrillers as well as the original BLACK EMANUELLE picture, is a handsome and capable leading man who eases through the film with a likable charm. Sharon Leslie is a joy as the bubbly nymphomaniac blonde, thanks to a flirtatious yet comedic performance and is generally more agreeable when onscreen than Lasri. German actress Dagmar Lassander offers reliably solid support as the Doctor’s wife, but is overall wasted in the film since she is given very little to do.
However weak BLACK EMANUELLE 2 is as a film, there’s no denying that Severin have pulled out the stops to present an excellent transfer for this DVD. A direct port over from the disc that Severin released in America as part of their BLACK EMANUELLE’S BOX VOLUME 2 set, the image is framed at 1:85:1 which appears to be the correct ratio to represent the original cinema presentation. While the opening logo for the film’s theatrical distributor is scratchy and grainy, the actual feature itself looks amazing, with very little damage and a healthy amount of mild grain.
Only one audio option is available, and it is for the English language track. However laughable the dubbed dialogue might be, quality wise the sound is excellent with hardly any hiss and no damage.
There are two extra features on the disc, the original theatrical trailer (as with the main feature, it is presented at 1:85:1 and enhanced for 16X9 playback) and an enjoyable featurette called DIVA ‘70, which is an interview with supporting actress Dagmar Lassander. Although a relatively minor player in Italian exploitation cinema, Lassander was a memorable and talented performer, and her recollections of working during that decade are an entertaining listen.
Although it may pale in comparison to other entries into the series, this BLACK EMANUELLE film is given a decent release by Severin with some nice supplementary material.