Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 9th, 2007
Theatrical Release Date: West Germany, 1977
Director: Hubert Frank
Cast: Olivia Pascal, Anton Diffring, Eva Garden, Astrid Boner
DVD released: August 28th, 2007
Approximate running time: 92 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Severin Films
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.95
Synopsis: Vanessa (Olivia Pascal) has been living in a monastery since the death of her parents. One day she learns about property that has been left to her in Hong Kong and she travels there to collect her inheritance. Immediately after her arrival Vanessa quickly falls prey to the more sensual pleasures in life. Will Vanessa fully embrace her new found sexuality or will she give it all up and return to the life she lived before traveling to Hong Kong?
The 1970’s cinema opened up to sexuality and what followed was some ground breaking films like Emmanuelle and The Story of O both which proved that more adult oriented subject matter could be done in a more erotic and less pornographic way. Besides the Emmanuelle series and The Story of O other notable sexploitation films from this era include Laure, the Italian Emanuelle films and Hubert Frank’s Vanessa. These films always featured strong female characters on sexual journeys of self discovery.
Vanessa is expertly directed by Hubert Frank who captures the erotic moments with the same quality and style that is also present in the films more character driven moments. My favorite moments in the film are a flashback scene where Vanessa is whipped by nuns and the other scene the visually really grabbed me is when Adrian shots bags of rice which then fall on an Asian women who slowly and seductively dances in the rice rain. The story is one of best that I have come across out of the numerous sexploitation films that I have come across. The pacing and the editing flawlessly move the story along without ever drawing attention too themselves.
The acting is average at best with only Olivia Pascal and Anton Diffring performances rising above the material. Anton Diffring gives another wonderful performance as a disturbed character whose pleasure is in other people’s pain. Olivia Pascal is one of these timeless beauties who steal every scene she is in. All of the actresses in the film are attractive and their beauty is only enhanced ten fold during the sensuous love scenes. Lets face it the sex scenes are the reason why these films are successful or not and the sex scenes in Vanessa are some of the most erotica that I have ever seen. One of the films strongest assets is its out of this world score which features many memorable motifs like the organ music and the films main theme. Ultimately Vanessa more then your typical Emmanuelle knock off and the end result is one cinema’s best examples of what a erotic film should be.
Severin Films continues to release on DVD some of the most interesting and entertaining exploitation/cult titles. They once again put together a flawless release with their Vanessa release which comes with a solid transfer that is colorful, free of any print damage and details looks razor sharp throughout.
This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital mono mix in English. The audio sounds clear, clean and balanced.
They also went the extra mile by putting together a bevy of insightful extras that give a thorough overview about this production. Extras for this release include a theatrical trailer for Vanessa, Vanessa Revealed: Intimate Behind-The-Scenes Featurette with On-Set Home Movies (16 minutes) and High Life In Hong Kong: Interviews with Director Hubert Frank and Director of Photography Franz X. Lederle (28 minutes). Vanessa is one of the best sexploitation films to ever grace the silver screen and now it can finally be seen via Severin Films superb DVD release.