Directed by Joe D'amato / Astro Filmworks/ SS-SL PAL Reg. 0 DVD / 2.0:1 (4:3) / DD Mono German / MSRP $39.95

Just Jaeckin's original sexual excursion Emmanuelle gave birth to a glut of psuedo-sequels and retitled flms which went on to rival the entire Django debacle. The undisputed King of the rip-off Emmanuelles (spelled with one or two m's, depending on what country or distributor it may be) had to be Joe D'Amato with his Queen being the indonesian beauty Laura Gemser. Beginning with Black Emanuelle, Gemser went on to star in a long series of sordid sex odysseys helmed by veteran Italian exploitation Director D'Amato. Most of them follow a simple formula with ample opportunity for exotic locations, nudity and the occaisional hardcore insert. While all of these films feature open moral attitudes and a tendency to mix sexuality with violence, D'amato/Gemser's cruelist entry into the series was 1979's notorious Emanuelle in America. While Anchor Bay plans to release their own remastered dvd sometime in 2003, Germany's Astro Filmworks has beat them to the punch and released a dvd which will satisfy the fans temporarily but is by no means a definitive version of this classic.

Emanuelle in America finds Gemser yet again as a trendy fashion photographer working in New York and looking for the big scoop. After a close encounter with a mugger (Gemser gives him oral sex), Emanuelle infiltrates the lavish estate of a private pleasuredome full off rich sickos.

After traveling around the world and becoming a spetactor of some wild events (like a naked woman flagellating a horse) as well as participating in a series of wild orgies and swinging pool parties to the swirlingly psychedelic sounds of Nico Fidenco, Emanuelle stumbles onto a room where a super-8 projector is unspooling a violent snuff film. This film, probably the most controversial element of the film, is a work of cinema verite genius unto itself and much of the film's reputation is based solely on these fleeting moments. Gianetto De Rossi's expert effects combined with D'Amato's authentically-aged grainy footage pop off the screen to create a masterwork which would be too potent even for some of the stronger mondo films. Supposedly this film also served as a primary inspiration of David Cronenberg for creating his own film about televised torture Videodrome.

After witnessing this brutal sight which jars even her own sensibilties, Gemser does a bit of snooping and gets into the confidence of a certain influential Colonel who feeds her a bit of LSD and takes her on a plane to some remote South American country where "moviemaking" is a prime industry among various rebel military outfits. Fun things ensue.

When Astro initially attempted to release Emanuelle in America, the pressing plant supposedly refused to deal with such adult material. Whether that was hype or not we'll never know, but Astro eventually did succecede in getting out the dvd, which is apparently a numbered limited edition of 3,000.

While this release seems to be full x-rated cut and contains both the complete horse and orgy scenes, it also appears to be a composite taken from numerous video sources of varying quality. By varying quality I mean barely acceptable to really bad. Blacks levels are all over the place and the image in general is of a muddy brown hue as clearly visible in the larger screenshots. It's also apparent that in order to mask out the burnt-in subtitles in some of the video prints used that they horribly cropped the film from it's orignal aspect ratio or around 1.85:1 all the way up to around 2:1! Compositions suffer at times, but in general the movie still works even in this comprised aspect ratio. The DD Mono track is also boomy, slightly distorted at times and very low in volume. The fact that there's only German audio on this disc is also a drag, but since the plot of this film is so well-known it didn't take away from my enjoyment of the film.

The disc also includes a short Black Emanuelle slide show as well as the interesting documentary Porno Holocaust, which is more of a greatest hits collection of some of D'Amato's best bits with heavy emphasis on the later pornographic works.