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Emmanuelle bianca e nera (Passion Plantation)(1976)

In the pre-civil war American south, Emanuelle, a plantation owner’s daughter, while outwardly a dainty southern belle, brutally abuses the slaves in her charge. When her fiance is bitten by a snake, he falls for Emanuelle’s beautiful African-American maid who’s kindness and skill saved his life. Insanely jealous, Emanuelle continues her sadistic behaviour towards her charges, and when her fiance announces he plans to wed the maid, Emanuelle “gives” her to her even more brutal hired men, and her fiance is powerless to stop them. Can Emanuelle learn an important lesson in love before it’s too late for everyone?

This somewhat turgid “Mandingo” knockoff by the same director who did the other principal Italian one of the era, ‘Mandinga,” certainly doesn’t skimp on the sexploitation. The plantation mistress (Emmanuelle, of course) is your standard racist, spoiled, blonde nymphomaniac who keeps seducing black “studs” then crying “rape!” and having them whipped, tortured and/or killed. This is standard stuff,

Somewhat funnier is the deadly-earnest speechifying of the hero, who starts out as her fiancé, But after a slave girl’s herbal remedy saves from from a snake-bite death, he is “born again” as an ex-racist. He and the slave girl (whose middle name happens to be…Emmanuelle) have more of a “love” affair after that point and say ridiculously lofty things about foreseeing a future without prejudice. (That actually seemed more likely to happen back in 1976 than it does now.) Meanwhile the “white Emmanuelle” just continues boning every man in sight. The latter is dubbed by the same voice actress who I swear did the English-language-version dubbing for just about EVERY principal female role in Italian exploitation movie during the 1970s and 80s.

There’s some terribly silly dialogue, but despite its fairly busy pace “Passion Plantation” is on the whole too pedestrian in concept and execution to be hilariously bad. I did laugh out loud a few times, however, particularly during an incongruous quote from the lyrics of “Ol’ Man River.” There’s quite a bit of nudity; the actors are pretty attractive and were in several cases probably cast mostly for their impressive physiques. Production values are adequate for this sort of mid- 70s Italian exploitation movie, which was shot in widescreen.

The Something Weird transfer has some problems toward the beginning (for a while the framing is off, so the bottom of the screen spills onto the top), but you’re surely not going to find a better print. I thought the movie was considerably longer than IMDb has it listed as, but it turned out that in fact the SW DVD is two hours long only because there’s a couple 8mm late 60s/early 70s nudie loops at the end, “Tbe Interlude” (capturing strip acts at the titular San Francisco nightclub) and “Naked Party” (about three blonde stewardesses frolicking in a hotel room).

Racial and sexual tensions haunt a Southern plantation. Hilariously overwrought Eurotrash sex-n-violence fest is apparently part of the notorious, ubiquitous Emmanuelle series in name only, sharing none of the stars or characters of the main series, which is fine, because this then comes across as a wild-n-wooly little nothing that stands brilliantly on its own. The premise itself is classic: a Mandingo-like Southern plantation romp filmed in Italy, replete with bitch-nymphos, black slaves with huge afros, white landowners with bad hats and mustaches, slave rape, bathtub masturbation, slave torture, black-n- white love, etc. The two “Emanuelles” (Maria Luisa Longo, Rita Manna) are both pretty homely. We see tits at least once every five minutes, a grindhouse staple. An elemental synth score by Robert Pregadio helps add cheap drama to what is already terminally cheap. Add to all this weirdness this some deliciously dumb dubbed dialogue like: “It’ll be a pleasure to see you rot in hell you nymphomaniac!”, “The times are a- changin’, Pa!”, “Shall I beat him to death for you sir?”, “You’re one of the few beautiful things that this ole river has seen, as it keeps rollin’, rollin’ along!”, “I’m a selfish, empty little bitch!”, and “Don’ blame me. Dey’d have cut my balls off!”, much of it with a bad Southern accent, and you have a marvelous piece of obscure Eurotripe, ripe for picking. A Groovy graphic title sequence by Studio 4. What makes this film all the more tacky is a gratuitous plotline involving a young landowner who wants to emancipate the slaves! This progressive philosophy just doesn’t jive with the hoary exploitation we’ve been privy to throughout this stunningly daft fiasco. All told, an E-T winner. The box art spells Emanuelle with two mm’s, so even the producers don’t have a handle a franchise which seems to be available to anyone for the asking.

Date: July 27, 2021