She's arrived on this earthly plane to love you to death.
We said you'd see sexploitation star Laura Gemser again sooner than you thought, and here she is—or at least here's an interesting depiction of her—on a poster made in Turkey to promote her film Ateşle Oyun. That translates as “game with fire,” but the movie was known in English as Divine Emanuelle and Love Camp. There's no Turkish release date, but we're talking about it today because it premiered today in 1981 in West Germany, where it was released as Die Todesgöttin des Liebescamps, or “the death goddess of love camp.” Death goddess, eh? That doesn't sound fun, but we'll get to that in a minute. As you can see in panel two, the West German promo is nothing to write home about, which is why we decided to focus on the Turkish art. It's signed by an illustrator named Ömer Muz. We looked him up and got many hits, but with no way of knowing whether any of them were the Muz we were seeking. A few of them were artists, and one was even an art director in movies back in the early 1980s, but final identification eluded us.
Die Todesgöttin des Liebescamps was written, directed by, and co-starred Christian Anders, an Austrian musician/singer/composer and man-in-over-his-head in terms of technical ability. His character oversees a free-love cult on Cyprus called Children of Light. He's the servant of the Divine One, played by Gemser, who bathes in milk, parades around topless while flanked by an oiled up bodybuilder, and preaches an apocalyptic schadenfreude doctrine that sounds a lot like the Rapture. In her cult, you can give love freely, but cannot be in love. “Love for only one person is egosim,” she puts it. “When two people love each other they shut the world out. That's a sin.” Basically, that means the cult is an ongoing orgy. Rulebreakers get slapped around or whipped. Gemser even whips herself occasionally. She's a true believer.
The plot kicks into gear, sort of, when one of the cult babes decides she wants to leave and is instead thrown off a cliff by the oiled up bodybuilder guy. There had to be a dark side to all this sex, and that dark side is you can check in anytime you like but you can never leave. We next learn that the police have become suspicious about missing cult members and have inserted an undercover operative who's poking around even as Gemser tries to indoctrinate an heiress and soak her down for her fortune. Will the undercover cop learn the truth of the cult? Will Gemser expose him? Will she expose herself? On the latter score, fans will be satisfied, rest assured. But for objective film buffs, we have to tell you that, like most Gemser efforts, this flick is terrible.
But it's also significant because there's bizarre trivia associated with it. Most notably, David Koresh has a small role. You perhaps remember him? As the leader of the Branch Davidian cult he sought to create a new lineage of world leaders, had sexual partners as young as ten years old, and finally died in 1993 with seventy-five disciples during a fire that broke out at the cult's compound during an FBI raid. On top of all that, writer director Anders propagated various conspiracy theories in books and interviews. The lesson is don't take a movie script too seriously. Especially a sexploitation script. Die Todesgöttin des Liebescamps premiered today in 1981.
Witness me, little ones! Are my abdominals not out of this world? Bring forth the divine ointments and sexual lubes! I and my slippery, steroid enraged servant shall now engage in the holy rite of hot raw sex. You may want to rewind this part a few times. I came here to find myself, and she gives me this room. Feels like she's mocking me. There's something to find right under these holy raiments, little lost blonde one. Divine One, I prefer this female version of myself. Diversity is good and all, but we're a matched set. Hope you're okay with that. Throw them both into the pit of eternal-despair-without-hope-of-redemption-or-surcease! Hmm... probably need to shorten that name. And who forgot to order the lube for today's orgy? Throw him in the whatever pit too! I'm a cruel goddess, it's true. But behold the everloving fuck out of this!
Gemser exercises her right to bare arms—and everything else too.
We try to document the top erotic stars of yesteryear—Lindberg, Forså, Annie Belle, Izumi Shima. Today it's Laura Gemser's turn again, this time starring in Emanuelle in America, which premiered in Italy today in 1977. This entry is third, fourth, or seventh in her Emanuelle series, depending on how you count them, and sees her investigating a multi-national sex trafficking ring that kidnaps women and kills them for the production of underground snuff films. That synopsis and the fact that the movie is helmed by Joe D'Amato are all you need to hear to suspect this is going all sorts of disturbing places, and indeed, your worst fears will be realized, as scenes of documentary-style transgressive violence occur, and there's a scene of a woman stroking off a horse. Fortunately, the snuff sequences are fake. They were staged by Italian special effects experts Giannetto de Rossi and Maurizio Trani. The horse thing? That's real.
Okay, so let's forget those problems for now. What's the thrust of the movie? It's a scathing indictment of the decadent wealthy, people who money has deadened inside and who must buy increasingly depraved thrills to bring stimulation to their lives. During the course of Gemser's investigation she goes undercover as a high priced call girl, jets from the U.S. to Venice to the Caribbean and back to the States, gets naked or topless numerous times, and has her skinny body handled and squeezed by man and woman alike, including her real-life husband Gabriele Tinti. As usual her sexual powers are transformative. For instance a carjacker wants to kill her but has never experienced sex and has his lid flipped by his first blowjob. Later a call girl with no self worth comes to see the world in a brighter light after a slippery steam room session with Gemser. She's like a superhero—with a superpower you really have to marvel at.
We won't tell you how the whole snuff plotline resolves. You'll just have to watch—all the way to the baffling postscript. Should you decide to partake, you'll probably end up with a version of the movie that has hardcore sequences featuring porn actresses Paola Senatore and Marina Lotar inserted, so to speak. Usually such scenes shred continuity, and they do here too, as well as failing to add much to the overall erotic value of the film. We'll admit though, that the bit where a woman sticks daisies in a man's nest of pubes then says, “Your bush is in flower,” was funny. The other high point is Gemser, hitting her stride here as the Emanuelle character, looking her best, making stick-thin more alluring than she has any right to. She does the same in many additional entries. A few of those efforts are better, but many are far worse, so we'll have to call Emanuelle in America above average.
Laura Gemser turns out to be one twisted sister.
Laura Gemser again? Really? Well, she made a lot of movies and we find them highly amusing. This one was called Suor Emanuelle, aka Sister Emanuelle, and we'll tell you up front it'll probably be wildly offensive to anyone with religious beliefs, as she plays the horniest nun in L'Aquila, Italy. She doesn't start that way. At first she's one cold penguin, but as we've mentioned before, exotic places heat her up. Plus in the convent she finds herself in close company with Mónica Zanchi, who knows exactly which of Gemser's buttons to press. That chilly old convent starts cooking, with Gemser giving in to Zanchi, and Zanchi regularly hiking Vinja Locatelli's treasure trail. But it wouldn't be ’70s sexploitation without some hairy men. Enter Gabriele Tinti as a bank robber hiding out in the stables. Gemser and Zanchi both take carnal communion with him, multiple times. All in all, Suor Emanuelle is a typical Gemser sex flick—ethereal, ridiculous, a bit quaint by today's standards, and not to be taken at all seriously. We give it two-and-half nipple-kisses. It premiered in Italy today in 1977.
Tropical storm Anita blows into Port-au-Prince.
Set in Haiti, the Italian thriller Al tropico del cancro follows the story of a doctor who invents a powerful hallucinogenic drug that interests various parties who believe it to be priceless. In addition to being a giallo, some people consider this film a classic of—what would you call it?—not blaxploitation, but that unofficial sub-genre of movies (which we also wrote about yesterday in assessing Emmanuelle IV) in which white women go to the tropics and jettison their inhibitions. Though the promise of Renato Casaro's brilliant poster art undoubtedly draws many viewers to the film, star Anita Strindberg's interracial coupling is a highly stylized hallucination or dream, ancillary to the plot. She gives it her theatrical best, though, gangbangy subtext and all. The scene was bold in 1972's racial landscape—and still is today, which shows you how little progress we've made in half a century.
Strindberg is a favorite around Pulp Intl. She was one of our early femmes fatales—in fact the one that made us decide to feature the occasional frontal nude on the site. Otherwise we wouldn't have been able to share this shot. Under a ridiculous crown of sculptural ’70s hair, she's all high cheekbones, icy eyes, and a recurved mouth. Everything below her neck looks good too, although she sports a pair of early breast implants, but hey—her body her choice. Her nordic looks juxtapose nicely against Haiti's tropical setting. She's a gleaming alien there, which is important for the sense of disconnection her character feels as the various male cast members busy themselves trying to outsmart each other to acquire the drug formula.
Al tropico del cancro features awesome location shooting in Port-au-Prince, not only in the streets and estates, but in unlikely locales like a functioning abattoir where island beef production is depicted in full gore. Cows aren't the only animals that fare poorly, so be forewarned. The movie eventually ends in foot chases and gunshots, as greed for the formula triggers a spate of violence. Reaching this climax isn't the most gripping ride, but we've been on worse. We recommend the movie for fans of Strindberg, as well as for people interested in historic Port-au-Prince, much of which—the prized Cathédrale de Port-au-Prince, the capital building, the parliament, et al—was destroyed in a 2010 earthquake. Al tropico del cancro premiered in Italy today in 1972.
Once you go Black Emanuelle you never go back.
Javanese beauty Laura Gemser isn't black in the ethnic sense, but you know that going into Black Emanuelle, first of the Italian-made sexploitation series that borrowed the French Emmanuelle concept and took it to places its originators could never have imagined. Gemser could actually be half black or mostly black, going by skin tone alone, but in a way her being South Asian in real life becomes the whole point, as it makes all her love scenes titillatingly interracial, whether she's getting it on with Africans or white foreigners. This is the tamest of the series—before poor Emanuelle was beset by voodoo priests, cannibals, and worse. In addition to the honeyed Gemser in the starring role you get a scoop of vanilla Schubert on top—German actress Karin Schubert. We aren’t going to bother to tell you about the plot of this one—it follows the form of other movies about westerners who get freaky in the African bush and eventually leave with profound insights and fond memories (cue shot of dreamy eyed actress gazing out airplane window as dark, mysterious Africa recedes below). In addition to the Japanese poster above we were able to locate quite a few promo images, including two of Gemser and Schubert doing field tests of Newton’s laws of physical motion. See below. Black Emanuelle opened in Japan today in 1976.
Getting it is hard. Keeping it is even harder.
This rare Japanese poster for the Italian caper flick 7 uomini d’oro, aka Seven Golden Men, tells you at a glance everything you need to know—men with guns, a pile of gold bars, and Rossana Podesta in a lace catsuit. The movie is about a group determined to rob a gold depository in Switzerland, and stars Podesta along with Philippe Leroy, Gabriele Tinti, and an Ocean’s 11-style cast of others. All the elements here are ones you've seen before—the impenetrable underground vault, the international hotshot thieves, the hi-tech gizmos and gadgets, and the haute couture costume changes from the leading lady. Breezy direction from Marco Vicario and a winning performance from Podesta make everything, familar though it all may be, work like a charm. We also liked the music, the cool exteriors in Geneva and Rome, and the fact that the heist has already begun as the movie opens. The thieves’ plan is clear pretty quickly; how they’re going to pull it off as obstacles proliferate is what becomes the crux of the fun. 7 uomini d’oro is well worth the time. After opening in Italy in 1965, it had its Japanese premiere today in 1966.
Laura Gemser ventures into uncharted territory in Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals.
Laura Gemser’s Emanuelle series started innocuously enough, but soon she was running into slavers, zombies, and Amazon cannibals. It’s the latter she contends with in Emanuelle e gli ultimi cannibali, aka Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals, and she handles them and their voracious appetites for human meat the way she handles pretty much every obstacle in her movies—by getting naked. In truth, Gemser has nothing to fear from flesh eaters—she’s nothing but skin and bones. But of course her angular, stick-figure exoticism is her appeal.
You really have to appreciate how hard Gemser tries to breathe life into this one, gamely wading into fetid swamps, battling murderous anacondas, and letting ham-fisted Italian dudes paw her tender parts. Her co-stars Gabriele Tinti, Mónica Zanchi, Annamaria Clementi, and Nieves Navarro likewise give their all—including some innards, a uterus, and plenty of dignity—but the mixture of sex and gore is jarring, and the Mondo Cane style shock documentary realism is totally inappropriate. Oh, and we’ll add that the scene in which a chimpanzee smokes a cigarette—and French style, no less—is just wrong.
We gather that this was a pioneering effort by director Joe D’Amato at genre mash-up, but being neither scary nor erotic, we can only shrug at the final result. However, on the plus side of the ledger you get a groovy score from Nico Fidenco, some lush tropical scenery, and several unintentionally funny “cannibal cam” sequences. In the end, the film imparts one important lesson, which is that there’s never a bad time to get your hump on, even when homicidal cannibals are lurking in the undergrowth. Above you see the movie’s nice Italian poster, painted by an unknown. Emanuelle e gli ultimi cannibali premiered in Italy today in 1977.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1966—LSD Declared Illegal in U.S.
LSD, which was originally synthesized by a Swiss doctor and was later secretly used by the CIA on military personnel, prostitutes, the mentally ill, and members of the general public in a project code named MKULTRA, is designated a controlled substance in the United States.
1945—Hollywood Black Friday
A six month strike by Hollywood set decorators becomes a riot at the gates of Warner Brothers Studios when strikers and replacement workers clash. The event helps bring about the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act, which, among other things, prohibits unions from contributing to political campaigns and requires union leaders to affirm they are not supporters of the Communist Party.
1957—Sputnik Circles Earth
The Soviet Union launches the satellite Sputnik I, which becomes the first artificial object to orbit the Earth. It orbits for two months and provides valuable information about the density of the upper atmosphere. It also panics the United States into a space race that eventually culminates in the U.S. moon landing.
1970—Janis Joplin Overdoses
American blues singer Janis Joplin is found dead on the floor of her motel room in Los Angeles. The cause of death is determined to be an overdose of heroin, possibly combined with the effects of alcohol.
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