Apprehensive Films goes Italian in this repackaging of two prior releases from the California-based company.
First up is Black Cobra Woman, a.k.a. Eva Nera from infamous sleaze director Joe D'amato, a 1976 sexploitation obscurity which plays to the hilt star (and frequent D'amato collaborator) Laura Gemser's exotic sexuality. This element would be exploited further with the director's legendary "Emanuelle" series of films throughout the late seventies, as D'amato (born: Aristide Massaccesi in 1936) and Gemser further mined the depths of sexual excess in the cinematic world.
Eva Nera, however, is really more of a sexed-up drama than anything truly sleazy or depraved, dealing primarily with Gemser's character of Eva as a sort of snake charming opportunist, eager to take advantage of co-star Jack Palance and his offer of financial freedom in exchange for platonic companionship.
Meanwhile, the character of Palance's brother Jules-played by Gemser's real life husband Gabriele Tinti-is who serves as the film's real villain, a shady and untrustworthy cad who co-operates his father's business with Palance. Tinti's portrayal of Jules as a sexually insatiable, borderline sociopath is what eventually pushes Black Cobra Woman from a travel tour of Hong Kong into something which at least passes for a competent story.
Although it's true that the lion's share of Black Cobra Woman is profoundly boring, D'amato's penchant for smart cinematography, lovely scenery and that ever-present atmosphere of deviance-including two instances of real life animal violence-attempts to assist in lifting the film's latter act into a set-up which at least stands up to the director's lesser Emanuelle efforts. Yet the fact that Apprehensive's print of this film is so beat up and damaged hurts the case of Black Cobra Woman even more, resulting in a viewing experience which ultimately proves trying for the viewer to finish with any satisfying success.
Luckily, Apprehensive fares a bit better on this disc's other side, in the form of director Massimo Dallamano's fantastic Italian crime film, Super Bitch. The film-which is also known under the titles Mafia Junction and Si puo essere piu bastardi dell'inspettore Cliff?-falls under the country's poliziotteschi genre of cinematic efforts which were spawned in the wake of such American successes as Dirty Harry and The French Connection.
As such, the Italian take on the genre features an excess of violence and depravity not imagined even in their Stateside counterparts, with Dallamano's effort serving as a fine example of the genre at its action packed best. Dallamano's film is a stylized and violent ode to the tawdry cop tales of the 1970s, complete with bad behavior and double crosses, memorable villains and fractured heroes. Nearly every aspect of the classic poliziotteschi is represented here within Dallamano's expert direction, Jack Hildyard's established cinematography, the funky score of Riz Ortolani and the excellent performances captured by the cast.
Apprehensive's version of Super Bitch is far superior to Black Cobra Woman when it comes to its quality of presentation, with the disc's full screen print looking just fine and watchable, although snipped a bit on the sides in terms of aspect ratio. The real issue here is that the solid cult video company Arrow Video in the U.K. has already released the definitive version of this film on video late last year on a region free DVD, featuring a new widescreen transfer in the proper ratio, dual language options and plenty of extras.
Meanwhile, Apprehensive's issue of Super Bitch is armed only with the English dub of the film, which, combined with the lesser print and lack of extras, really only serves a purpose for Stateside fans who don't want to either a) seek out the Shameless version or b) pay an import price when they do...which leaves Apprehensive's version as an admittedly serviceable standby.
ORDER FROM AMAZON