EMANUELLE AND THE LAST CANNIBALS
(Emanuelle e Gli Ultimi Cannibali)
Around the same time as the success of the Emmanuelle films, there was also the Italian cannibal film, which became one of the most notorious and extreme horror genres of the 1970s. This began with Deep River Savages/The Man from Deep River (1972) and progressed through the likes of Last Cannibal World/Jungle Holocaust (1977), Slave of the Cannibal God/Prisoner of the Cannibal God (1978), Cannibal Holocaust (1979), Cannibal Apocalypse/Cannibals in the Streets (1980), Eaten Alive (1980), Zombie Holocaust/Dr Butcher M.D. (1980) and Cannibal Ferox/Make Them Die Slowly (1981), among others. The most notable feature of these was their pushing the envelope of sadism and gore about as far as it is possible to go for any film made then and since with several of the films depicting the actual on-screen slaughter of animals and many of the entries being banned in numerous countries around the world.
The sixth of the Black Emanuelle films, Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals is an oddity in the sense that the two genres the softcore erotica of the Emmanuelle/Black Emanuelle films and the hardcore savagery of the cannibal film do not mix. The first hour of the show centres around Emanuelle (Laura Gemser) and her plans to make a journey into the jungle in search of a lost cannibal tribe. This is a standard jungle adventure where the plot is frequently sidetracked by Gemsers dalliances with various members of the party (mostly with Gabriele Tinti) and they with each other and the native bearers. There is no real plot in most of these scenes, just intervals between glossily photographed sexual interludes (ones that even come accompanied by a female singer on the soundtrack).
This works okay but then the film becomes a cannibal film and takes a turn for the perverse. Certainly, in comparison to most of the abovementioned cannibal films, the amount of gore spilt on screen is tame. However, it seems perverse to go from beautifully shot scenes of women running around topless to closeup shots of the natives slicing nipples off the same breasts that had been presented to us to erotically admire earlier. Or a closeup on one womens pubic bush before the stomach above is then gutted and the intestines torn out. I am not really sure what director Joe dAmato was thinking when he allowed an erotic film to get so twisted. Either that or he was attempting to be subversive in a way that entirely eludes me.
The film was directed by Joe DAmato (1936-99), a prolific director in the Italian exploitation industry whose career was predominantly in pornographic films (including a number of the other Black Emanuelle films and several other films starring Laura Gemser). He made over 200 films and is known under a variety of different pseudonyms. His other genre films include:- the giallo Death Smiles on a Murderer (1973), another erotic/cannibal film Papaya, Love Goddess of the Cannibals (1978), Blue Omega/Beyond the Darkness (1979), Anthropophagus/The Grim Reaper (1980), the erotic/zombie film Erotic Night of the Living Dead (1980), the erotic/voodoo/cannibal film Sex and Black Magic (1980), Absurd (1981), the erotic/zombie film Porno Holocaust (1981), the sword and sorcery film Ator the Invincible (1982), the post-holocaust film Endgame (1983), Ator the Blade Master (1984), the post-holocaust film 2020: Texas Gladiators (1984), the Ator film Quest for the Mighty Sword (1989), Frankenstein 2000 (1992), Contamination .7/Creepers/Troll 3 (1993), the pornographic reincarnation film Chinese Kamasutra (1993), the pornographic Ghosts in the Castle (1994), the pornographic Marquis de Sade (1994), the pornographic Tarzan X (1994) and its sequel Tarzhard: The Return (1998), the pornographic ghost film Erotic Bluff (1995), the pornographic caveman film Homo Erectus (1996), the pornographic psycho-thriller Primal Instinct (1996), Hells Angels/Demons of Lust (1997), Hells Angels 2/The Seven Sexy Sins (1997) and Hells Angels 3/The Devils Lair (1998), a series of pornographic vignettes set in Hell, the pornographic Greek myth films Aphrodite: Goddess of Love (1997), Hercules: A Sex Adventure (1997), Olympus, Refuge of Gods (1997), Samson in Amazons Land (1997), The Sexual Adventures of Ulysses (1998) and Love and Psyche (2000), Kamasutra (1997), a pornographic film with fantasy elements, the pornographic Queen of Elephants (1997) about a female Tarzan, a pornographic version of the story of the Phantom of the Opera with Phantom (1998), Elixir (1998), a pornographic film involving a youth serum, Eternal Desire (1996), a pornographic version of Highlander (1986), and Experiences (1999) and Experiences 2 (1999) about a woman sucked through her computer to participate in a series of erotic interludes across time.