Directed by Joe D’Amato
Starring Laura Gemser, Karin Schubert, Ivan Rassimov
Release Date: September 16, 1977
97 Minutes (Standard Release)/Color
To call the Black Emanuelle cycle somewhat hit-and-miss would be quite an understatement. Among the cycle you’ll find mildly diverting melodrama (BLACK EMANUELLE), shockingly grotesque sleaze-fests (EMANUELLE IN AMERICA) and insomnia-curing sex travelogues (EMANUELLE IN BANGKOK.) However, with EMANUELLE AROUND THE WORLD, director Joe D’Amato manages to crank out a highly effective and erotically-charged thriller.
Emanuelle embarks on yet another globe-hopping adventure to save the women of the world from sexual degradation. What she discovers is more sordid than any female slavery ring she has ever encountered in adventures past. She finds herself in a debauched and dangerous world where women are kidnapped, bought, sold and disposed of. Will Emanuelle be their next victim?
Even in its English dubbed version, the story and scripting remain strong. On paper, the story is very similar to other films in the series: photojournalist Emanuelle goes from place to place uncovering sordid sex scandals and freeing women from sexual bondage. However, in this film, the strong script and above-par performances keep the story moving at a frenzied pace, never forgetting to give us the occasional sexy interlude to keep our blood pumping.
Laura Gemser is on top form here. Her earlier performances occasionally betrayed her accidental entry into films, but here she is relaxed and confident and shows an acting ability that few directors other than D’Amato knew how to exploit. The supporting cast is no less impressive. Sultry German beauty Karin Schubert stars as Emanuelle’s crusading companion and rival journalist Cora Norman. As for the male leads, Ivan Rassimov manages to elevate what is basically a cameo into an engaging character and George Eastman hams it up as a self-styled love guru beset with premature ejaculation.
Befitting the “crusader against exploitation” storyline, there are numerous, very unpleasant rape scenes on display. These are shocking in their brutality, rivaling the gross-out scenes in EMANUELLE IN AMERICA. This time around, Joe D’Amato shows a heretofore absent sense of restraint and the film benefits as a result. He allows his performers to convey the horrors of what the audience is witnessing. What we are imagining is more horrific than anything D’Amato could show us and the scenes become somehow more realistic. D’Amato also, quite wisely, stays away from any attempt to eroticize these scenes, which is a rather disgusting phenomenon in (particularly Italian) exploitation films.
One such scene is the gang rape of a beauty queen on the New York City waterfront. In reviewing exploitation films, I’ve seen a lot of rape scenarios, always upsetting, but this was absolutely stomach-turning. By this point in the film we have long identified with Gemser and Schubert’s characters, and this viewer shared their feeling of desperation as they are forced to look on, unable to render assistance.
In the realm of consensual sex the film certainly delivers. Rarely do five minutes pass without ample display of either female or male nudity. These scenes are shot among gloriously rich set dressing underlining the decadent lives the story’s denizens are living. This film plays out much like “Sex Lives of the Rich and Famous,” with Emanuelle discovering tableaux after tableaux of erotic debauchery.
Emanuelle participates somewhat less frequently in the sexual shenanigans than in previous pictures, taking on more of the observer role. This helps the audience relate to her all the more. Some prints contain hardcore footage (with some interesting use of special camera work, which inserts various actors into scenes they were very likely not present for.) It should be noted that the one explicit scene featuring Emanuelle uses a (horribly obvious) body double for Gemser. A particularly memorable scene features beautiful girls engaging in rather unusual antics with balding, fat bigwigs – with a banana making a cameo appearance.
Karin Schubert gives the film’s defining performance. While her character is no more fleshed out than any of the others, it doesn’t need to be. We know her character the moment she steps into frame. No matter how sordid the scene, Schubert maintains her dignity. This is no mean feat considering her character is involved in a brutal attack in what may be the most confronting scene of the entire film. Schubert uses her eyes to convey horror, pain and desperation in a way that is beyond heart-breaking. A truly remarkable actress.
The film uses every penny of its budget on sumptuous location footage: San Francisco, New York, Tehran and beyond. D’Amato wisely keeps the story moving, using the exotic locales to further the plot, never allowing the film to become a dull travelogue (as in the earlier film EMANUELLE IN BANGKOK.)
While one of the most widely seen Black Emanuelle pictures, it has rarely been exhibited in uncut form. However, even in it’s most severely edited versions (such as the cut screened on US cable networks in the early 1990s) the story and eroticism still stands up. If you are looking for a representative film to begin exploring the Black Emanuelle series, I can recommend this outing without reservation.