Thursday, May 26, 2011

DVD Review: Sex and Black Magic (1980)

Label: One 7 Movies
Region: Region 0 NTSC
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 97 mins
Video: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Audio: Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono with English Subtitles
Director: Joe D'Amato
Cast: Richard Harrison, Nieves Navarro, Lucia Ramirez 

Film: Sex and Black Magic aka Orgasmo Nero is a wonderfully smutty slice of erotic Eurosleaze from Italian cult film director director Joe D'Amato (Anthropophagus) who gives us the exploitation goods with exotic locations, perversions and some cannibalism for kicks, why not? Apparently D'Amato is well known for his exotic sexploitation films, especially the Emanuele series of films but I come to this with a fairly clean slate having only just seen the island horror Anthropophagus which I enjoyed quite a bit.

Set on a tropical island with miles of white sand beaches and exotic scenery we meet Paul (Richard Harrison) who is studying the customs of the island's natives. He is joined by his vampy wife Helen (Nieves Navarro, Death Walks at Midnight). The two are having intimacy issues stemming from their inability to conceive a child. These intimacy issues fall to the wayside when  Helen meets Haini (Lucia Ramirez), a dark skinned exotic beauty who comes from a tribe of voodoo practicing cannibals, of course the couple bring Haini back to the mainland with them. What's the worse that could happen, right? Since Paul's distracted with work and scotch Helen and Haini become close (real close) and some slow-motion frolicking on the beach turns into a twisted lesbian affair. D'Amato makes sure we get plenty of lesbian action, masturbation, oral sex, 70's bush and three ways in scene after scene of titillating exploitation, it just wouldn't really be a D'Amato film if it didn't now would it?

The film not susurprisingly is very short on plot, a middle aged couple seek exotic sexual plaything 'nuff said, and instead is quite happy to sleaze along from one carpet munching sex scene to the next. Navarro as the lusty older woman is a vampy middle 40's sexpot with a ravenous sexual appetite. Ramirez's Haini is petite, not so voluptuous, but quite desirable and more than a bit crazed in the head, she does come from a tribe of voodoo cannibals, remember. At one point she nearly takes a machete to a man that Helen has brought home to screw, it seems Helen's sexual appetite is not content with her alone and Haini doesn't take it well. Eventually Paul catches onto his wife's affinity for the exotic woman and is upset but not so much that we don't get the inevitable three-way and then Paul getting blown by Haini on the beach leading to some jealousy from Helen which results in the couple deciding to return Haini her back to the island like taking a dog back to the pound, which results in a fun if not particularly shocking finale.

This is a sleazy softcore flick that borders on the hardcore with an insert shot featuring Italian pornstar Steve Cipriani getting a blow job from Lucio Ramirez. The film exploits the seductive power of the exotic dark skinned native people, perhaps even the fear of islanders by European people, not sure about that but the elements are here if you're looking for it. Sex and Black Magic gets billed as a horror film but this is really a tropical sexploitation film with only minor elements of cannibalism thrown in to spice things up. 

DVD: Sex and Black Magic gets a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen release from One 7 Movies. It's a decent looking source print with some nice grain, it's good too see that it wasn't overly doused with the DNR and there's only minor print damage. There's some image softness to it and compression artifacts but it's not too shabby overall. The Italian language mono audio is nothing to get excited about but the dialogue, effects and score all fare well. Unlike the other One 7 Movies titles I've seen this actually has some decent special features including a alternate and deleted scene, hardcore inserts (minus audio), the original end credits and a photo gallery. The hardcore inserts feature about 10 minutes of Ramirez and Italian XXX star Steve Cipriani going at it, fun stuff even w/o audio. These might be good whacking material if you could get past Cipriani's genital warts, that's right, we get some nasty VD action right on the screen, now that's just sleazy. I would have liked to see some featurettes or a D'Amato retrospective but this is a pretty sweet package nonetheless.

Special Features:
- Alternate Scene (0:50)
- Unused Shot (3:43) 4:33
- Hardcore Inserts (9:49) 16:9
- Original End Credits (0:48) Letterboxed
- Photo Gallery

Verdict: The title Sex and Black Magic like a ton of exploitation films before it is misleading, it's short on voodoo and cannibalism but truly excessive in it's lusty exploitation. My hat is off to One 7 Movies for digging up this obscure Joe D'Amato sexploitation film and presenting it in the original aspect ratio with a selection of cool bonus features. Those seeking grue may be a bit disappointed initially but by the end of this tasty slab of eurosleaze they'll have a stiffy in their pants and in a forgiving mood. Between this and Anthropophagus I'm definitelyy interested in further exploring D'Amato's sleazy filmography which includes nearly 200 titles.
3 outta 5