“A comedy, from the director of… Cannibal Holocaust ?”

I’m not kidding. Director Deodato is best known as the man behind one of the most notorious of all “video nasties,” a film which created such a furore, he had to produce the actors to convince the Italian courts he hadn’t killed them. But in almost fifty years of work (he’s still active today), Deodato has done everything from spaghetti Westerns to science-fiction. And more than a decade before Holocaust, back in 1968, he directed this bawdy action-comedy.

Set in the early 17th century, the titular heroine (Love) is a peasant girl who discovers she is actually the daughter of a duke and duchess, overthrown and killed by evil baron, Don Alonso Imolne (Ireland). She sets out with her “virgin army” – initially consisting of two other local women, but growing along the way – to take revenge, with the help of the local rebels under Gennaro (Parenti, the film’s producer and also Love’s husband). However, the baron has his own plans, which involve burning Zenabel at the stake.

The main problem is Deodato’s inability to pick an approach and stick with it. Love actually makes for a very good heroine: she’s feisty, brave and smarter than just about anyone else in the film. However, these positive aspects are perpetually battling against the chauvinistic or flat-out elements of sexist comedy. These have not aged well – and, indeed, hardly seem less than Neanderthal, even by the dubious standards of sixties Italy. Let the rape jokes and blatant homophobia flow! Though the latter is at least defused somewhat by Stander (best known as butler Max from Hart to Hart) as a randy villager who pretends to be gay, in order to come along with the all-female army. Hey, I laughed, even if subtle, it certainly ain’t.

As the salacious German poster, and title which translates as “Countess of Lust”, likely suggest, there is no shortage of nudity from Love and the rest of her recruits. That’s likely because it’s an unofficial adaptation of Isabella, Duchessa dei Diavoli, an erotic comic which ran for a decade, starting in 1966. This beat the official film version, starring Brigitte Skay and directed by by another cross-genre veteran, Bruno Corbucci, to Italian screens by a year. I’ve seen that, under its US title of Ms. Stiletto, and it’s tilted significantly enough to the sex side, not to qualify here [though not so far as the 1975 French re-release of Zenabel, under the title La Furie du Desir, which had hardcore scenes inserted!]

This take is still an almost schizophrenic film. The wild swings from the empowering to the crude make it feel like two directors were involved, with sharply contrasting visions, and the poor editor was caught in the middle. Similarly, the viewer will be pulled in a number of different ways from scene to scene, and the end result for me tilted somewhat toward the negative. Though as far I know, at least Deodato didn’t get hauled into court this time, it perhaps does show his talents are not in the comedy genre.

Dir: Ruggero Deodato
Star: Lucretia Love, Mauro Parenti, John Ireland, Lionel Stander

The Belle Starr Story

“A blandly over-cooked platter of spaghetti”

This is virtually unique, in being almost the only spaghetti Western with a female lead, and certainly unique in being the only one directed by a woman. Unfortunately, beyond these novelty aspects, it’s really not very good. Indeed, the overall attitude on view here is so remarkably retrograde, the gender of its director would likely be a surprise, if you didn’t know what it was going in. The film certainly keeps it quiet, disguising Wertmüller – who, seven years later, would become the first woman ever to receive a Best Director Oscar nomination, for Seven Beauties – under the pseudonym of “Nathan Wich”. Whose brother is called Sam, presumably. 

The anonymity is perhaps because she wasn’t originally intended to direct. She took over from Piero Cristofani, some sources say as a favour to leading lady Martinelli. Wertmüller then rewrote the script to reduce Woods’s role, with whom she reportedly had on-set battles. A bit like the more recent, yet similarly cursed Western, Jane Got a Gun, it’s perhaps remarkable the makers managed to come up with a finished product at all. And also similarly, the behind-the-scenes saga is likely a good deal more interesting than said finished product.

There’s no denying Martinelli looks the part, as renegade, gambler and outlaw Belle Starr. She falls for the charms of fellow poker player Larry Blackie (Eastman), and they begin a tempestuous romance, which my wife sarcastically described as “Hit me! Kiss me! Rape me! Love me!” It’s this aspect which seems especially at odds with the rest of Wertmüller’s filmography, much of which is populated by strongly feminist characters. Here, Belle seems both to crave Blackie’s attentions and loathe him with a passion. She declines an offer to bring her on board for his planned robbery of a diamond shipment, instead setting about assembling her own crew, which will beat him to the loot.

Before we get to that, there’s a long, long flashback, covering Starr’s life to that point. In its entirety. In real-time. Or perhaps it just seems that way. It certainly brings the story grinding to a halt. We see how she was brought up by an abusive foster uncle, from whom she was rescued by the outlaw Cole Harvey (Woods). He tries to rape her – yeah, you may be forgiven for detecting a bit of a theme here – and is killed for his pains, which helps set Belle off on her life of crime, poker and questionable romantic choices.

Beyond Martinelli’s look, there’s very little to recommend this, particularly for the first hour – it does pick up somewhat late, as Belle and Larry simultaneously stage their robbery attempts. Until then, even getting beyond the dubious sexual politics on view, this is poorly written, and just not very interesting. Wertmüller can’t even shoot a poker game properly; she’ll show you the cards, and half the time, you don’t know whose they are. Sad though it to say this, you can certainly understand why it was a case of “one and done,” both for spaghetti Western heroines, and Wertmüller’s genre efforts.

Dir: Lina Wertmüller
Star: Elsa Martinelli, George Eastman, Robert Woods, Francesca Righini

Miracles Still Happen

“Truth is certainly more entertaining than fiction.”

We documented elsewhere the incredible, true survival story of Juliane Koepcke, who survived a two-mile fall from the sky, then 10 days alone in the Amazon rain-forest. Naturally, it wasn’t long before a “true-life adventure” version of the story made its way to the screen, starring English actress Susan Penhaligon as Juliane. Outside of Penhaligon, and the actor and actress who play Koepcke’s father and mother (Muller and Galvani), the hook here is that everyone else plays themselves, such as the people involved in the search and rescue mission, for example.

Unfortunately, it isn’t much of a hook, because they didn’t really do much. Like finding the freakin’ plane, it being left up to Koepcke more or less to rescue herself, walking out of the jungle to be found by some very surprised loggers, ten days after the crash. Thus, you get a lot of footage of people flying planes, taking off, landing, radioing in for instructions… None of which adds significantly to the atmosphere, or adds any factual notes of importance. The film is also hamstrung by the very fact this is a saga of solo adventure, which means that once Juliana hits the ground like a giant lawn-dart, it’s her against the jungle. And the jungle isn’t exactly a witty, sparkling conversationalist.

Working around this, Scotese makes heavy use of flashbacks and voiceover. It does stick relatively closely to the facts of the narrative. There is some scathing criticism of this film in Werner Herzog’s documentary about her ordeal, Wings of Hope; Herzog describes it as “extraordinarily bad”, and Koepcke pans Penhaligon for stumbling through the jungle “with the look of a hunted doe” (as shown above!). However, she did apparently consult with the creators – likely further than certain Italian moviemakers would have gone, especially in the seventies. So most of the key moments do agree with what Juliane has said over the years. For instance, she did remember a key survival lesson about finding a stream and following it down, and she did stumble across some crash victims, briefly wondering if they included her mother, with whom she had flown.

It’s generally better off when it simply concentrates on the perilous jungle, especially the moments when you get some idea of scale. The Amazon is big, folks. Credit also due to Penhaligon, who gets steadily more disheveled over the course of what can’t have been an easy film to shoot. She certainly gets closer to a very large anaconda than I would have been prepared to go! But watching her stagger, increasingly bedraggled, around the rainforest is something that isn’t enough to sustain interest. We can only wonder what the results might have been like had Herzog, who narrowly escaped being on the plane which crashed (doing location scouting for Aguirre, Wrath of God), directed this instead.

Oddly, this is credited to ‘Brut Productions’, which was the film production division of cosmetics company Fabergé. I say oddly, because those of a certain age and location will remember 70’s commercials in which heavyweight boxer Henry Cooper touted “the great smell of Brut” aftershave. Seeing its logo pop up in the opening credits here was certainly unexpected. I may well remember that much more than the rest of the film

Dir: Giuseppe Maria Scotese
Star: Susan Penhaligon, Paul Muller, Graziella Galvani

Luana, the Girl Tarzan

“Not the promised thrill adventure of a lifetime.”

luanaDespite a broad range of impressively kick-ass posters, in which renowned artists Frank Frazetta and Russ Manning had a hand, the heroine of the title (Chen) is much more of a supporting role than the star, and that’s a disappointment. While competently made, compared to others of the genre, its failure to deliver what the advertising promises, and indeed much jungle-girling at all, earns it a significant downgrade. The backstory is more or less the usual: a plane crash in darkest Africa leaves one survivor, the three-year-old daughter of a scientist and an Asian princess(!), who somehow survives in the rain-forest. She grows up to wander round her domain with a chimpanzee sidekick, wearing nothing but a loin-cloth and hair that magically affixes itself over her breasts, this being a firmly PG-13 rated jungle romp.

However, the real stars are the scientist’s other daughter, Isabel Donovan (Marandi), who is seeking answers to her father’s disappearance, and jungle guide George Barrett (Saxson). He knows of Luana, having been rescued by her after being attacked by savages on a previous trek into the jungle. Also along on the trip is her father’s partner, the somewhat creepy Norman (Tordi), who appears to have a more than guardian-like interest in Isabel. It soon becomes clear that “someone” – and let’s be honest, you deserve no prizes for guessing who, 30 seconds after they show up – doesn’t want the truth about the crash to be established. Meanwhile, Luana is lurking on the edge, saving her sister from a spider, stealing her clothes when Isabel takes a dip, etc.

It’s a definite shame there wasn’t more Luana, as her character possesses a sweet innocence which is quite endearing, and certainly more fun than watching the bland Isabel and George traipse through another section of faux-jungle or react to the usual stock footage [though this is integrated somewhat better than usual]. For example, witness the scene where Luana tries to figure out how to use a bra; it’s naively charming, and I’d have loved to have seen more of this angle. Indeed, the script itself is solid enough, with a number of sequences which clearly have potential. For example, there’s George arm-wrestling a tribesman, with scorpions set up on either side to greet the loser with their sting. The film also has a carnivorous plant. How can you go wrong with a carnivorous plant?

The answer appears to be director Infascelli, operating under a pseudonym, as he manages to suck the excitement out of every sequence, courtesy of pedestrian execution. But one final anecdote will sum up the overall ineptness here. When the film got US distribution, Ballantine Books commissioned Alan Dean Foster to write a novelization However, the only available copy of the script was in Italian, so Foster wrote a new novel based on the Frazetta poster. I can’t help thinking any film based on that would likely be rather better than the actual movie.

Dir: “Bob Raymond” (Roberto Infascelli)
Star: Glenn Saxson, Evi Marandi, Mei Chen, Pietro Tordi


“Insane Clown Posse”

judyAt first, I wondered if this was some kind of post-apocalyptic work, with Ursula (Giorgi) the leader of a face-painted tribe, enforcing discipline with extreme brutality on her minions. But it turns out to be everyday society: she actually heads a group of “street performers” [I guess; not quite sure what they do, but it’s likely something between mime and a freak show]. who survive by extracting money from members of the public. Ursula’s next target is Mary (Babusci), who pulls over in her car to have a phone conversation (an admirably safe approach, it has to be said), only to find herself being menaced by Ursula. Panicking, Mary pulls a gun on the whey-faced loonette, and drives off. Despite making it safely back to the apartment where she lives with her dog, Judy, it becomes increasingly apparent that Ursula has not taken kindly to her rejection at gunpoint, and will have her revenge – both on Mary and Judy.

What’s particularly interesting here is, this is a horror film almost entirely without male characters. There isn’t a single speaking, on-screen male role: there is a emergency dispatcher whom Mary calls on her cellphone (before Ursula’s blocker kicks in), and one of the villains could be male, since they wear a mask and never speak. But otherwise, not just protagonist and antagonist but all the supporting roles – hell, even the dog! – are female. That’s not common in any genre; it’s likely entirely unique in the “home invasion” sub-division of horror. De Santi sets the table well, quickly establishing both the ruthless brutality of Ursula as well as her mercurial nature: Giorgi does very well at putting over the idea that her character could explode into savage violence at any second.

Significantly less effective is the middle section, which largely consists of Mary pottering around her flat. There are attempts at building menace, such as a creepy-looking robe in the bathroom, or incoming phone-calls consisting of almost dead-air. However, there’s no real sense of escalation or progression to these, and they appear little more than trivial gimmicks. Things ramp up appreciably when Judy goes missing from the locked apartment. Mary goes to look for her canine on the beach, but the answer to the mystery may be closer to home than she initially thinks, and when she discovers that… Hoo-boy. There’s also the question of what, exactly, Ursula keeps in that manacled, spike-encrusted box (and, perhaps, also the one of how the hell she got it up all those stairs).

To call the ending abrupt, on the other hand, would be the understatement of the year. Admittedly, it doesn’t seem like there’s anywhere else the story could go, at the point when the credits roll; yet there’s usually at least a momentary coda at the end of most movies. Here? Not so much. All told, it would likely have worked better as a short film, in the 15-20 minute range, which gives you an idea of how much padding is present. Still, given the low budget, it is certainly better than some I’ve endured, and is helped by a creepy central premise, especially if you suffer from coulrophobia. Look it up…

Dir: Emanuele De Santi
Star: Orietta Babusci, Marlagrazia Giorgi

Battle of the Amazons

“This world was made for hate, not love.”

amazonsIt’s startling to think that when this came out, this merited not only a theatrical release in the United States, but a review from perhaps the most respected critic of our time, the late Roger Ebert. Needless to say, it didn’t end well for the film, but Ebert tearing apart a film is still fun to read. I particularly liked the line, “There are spears and bows and arrows and swords, which suggests early times, but then again all of the women on both sides are fresh from the hair dryer. They also exhibit impressive technical advances in the art of brassiere-design.” Yeah, welcome to The Magnificent Seven – only set in a vaguely Greco-Roman era, with a tribe of rather vicious Amazons the antagonists.

They live by raiding and plundering local villages, under Queen Eraglia (Love), but after they kill her father, local lass Valeria (Tedesco) has had enough, and rents the service of conveniently-passing bandit Zeno (Tate), to teach the village farmers how to defend themselves. However, the sexual chemstry that flies between Valeria and Zeno fail to impress her betrothed, who convinces a group of village men, that their best chance of survival is to switch sides, reveal details of the defense plans to Eraglia, and hope she sees fit to give them mercy. It turns out though, that he may not be the only snitch present in the town camp, as things proceed towards the entirely expected finale, a lengthy battle pitting the raiding women against the defending agriculturalists.

It’s actually a little darker and possibly somewhat more well-thought out than I expected: the final line of dialogue being the one atop this review, which sprinkles a nice sense of doom and futility over things, and the multiple levels of betrayal are effectively handled. I started watching this on a plane flight to New York, but I think the second topless torture scene was about where I opted to save it for another day, though there really isn’t much else here worse than PG-13 rated. Tedesco makes a good impression as the feisty heroine, and it’s a nice touch to have women effectively leading both sides, though when it comes to the actual fighting, Valeria obviously steps aside for Zeno. Sadly, the Amazons also step aside when the action kicks off, largely being unconvincingly replaced by male stunt doubles in masks and wigs. Valeria acquits herself best there as well, indeed coming to the rescue of her employee in the final face-off. I can’t honestly say I minded the dubbing as much as Roger, and the time passed briskly enough on its way to an appropriately grandiose finale. Though I’m certainly agree with him on one point: I’m not quite sure why the local men made such a fuss about getting kidnapped…

Dir: Alfonso Brescia
Star: Lincoln Tate, Paola Tedesco, Lucretia Love, Mirta Miller

Werewolf Woman

“Hungry like the wolf”

wolfwomanWhile there have been plenty of female vampires over the year, the number of female werewolves is a lot smaller. There’s the wonderful Ginger Snaps (and its not as wonderful sequels), the forgettable Cursed, TV series Bitten, and most infamously of all, Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf.  However, perhaps the closest relative here is a little off to one side: the remake of Cat People, made by Paul Schrader in 1982. It is not dissimilar in tone and approach, both taking a firm, if somewhat hysterical psychosexual tone to proceedings, and Giorgio Moroder’s musical score sounds like the synthesized one here. Both have heroines whose transformations are triggered largely by sexual excitement, and who eventually find a man happy to love them for who they are – only for that happiness to be short-lived. Of course, this one being grindhouse, the reason for its abrupt termination is her boyfriend being stabbed to death while trying to stop her from being raped, which triggers a rampage of revenge that justifies its inclusion on this site.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. It’s also a sexual assault which triggers the psychological problems for Daniela Neseri  (Borel). The psychological trauma and Daniela’s obsession with a family legend involving an ancestor who supposedly turned into a predatory animal, form a potent combination, and she develops a deeply-held belief that she also changes into a wolf at the full moon. That doesn’t appear to be the case, but it still brings tragedy down on the family, when Daniela gets all hot and bothered after seeing her sister (Lassander) making love to her husband. The resulting carnage get her committed to a psychiatric hospital by her aristocratic father (Carraro), only for Daniela to escape after an encounter with the facility’s local nymphomaniac. After some more brutal murders, which baffle the local police, she finally meets her soulmate, who works as a stuntman. And this takes us back to where this paragraph came in.

It’s pure exploitation cinema, not skimping at all on the nudity, and with a healthy amount of gore as well – what else would you expect from a director who, the same year, gave us Deported Women of the SS Special Section? This isn’t quite as sleazy, though certainly is not family viewing, and is well enough made to make for an interesting viewing experience for broad-minded spectators. Borel has a nicely lupine quality about her, and even if the transformation sequences [most notably the opening dream sequence] leaves a bit to be desired, the various elements – the heroine, her family, the cops who gradually realize the connection between the corpses – are tied together with a script that has had more effort put into it than you might think. They truly don’t make them like this any more.

Dir: Rino Di Silvestro
Star: Annik Borel, Howard Ross, Dagmar Lassander, Tino Carraro
a.k.a. La lupa Mannara or The Legend of the Wolf Woman

Tiger of the Seven Seas


“Good, for the (Spanish) Main part”

tigerofthesevenseasAnother in the flurry of Italian female pirate flicks of the sixties, this stars Canale as Consuelo, the daughter of a pirate captain. After he retires from the buccaneering business, she defeats her lover, William (Steel) in a duel to decide who takes command. Her father is killed with William’s knife a short while after, but they are attacked by the Spanish forces of Governor Inigo de Cordoba (Calindri) before her boyfriend can be hung for the crime. In the ensuing confusion, William escapes, and makes off with the ship. Consuelo and her followers, hijack another vessel and give chase. But is William the real culprit, or is this part of a plan cooked up by the Governor’s scheming wife, Anna (Spina), who seeks to get her hands on the horde of treasure which was buried in a secret location by Consuelo’s father, before his death?

The action is a bit disappointing here, with most of the sword-fights consisting of not much more than the two participants standing at arm’s-length from each other, waving their weapons. The story is also rather predictable, with few if any of the developments being unexpected. We just know William is going to be proven innocent, even if he looks like a young, piratical version of Lou Reed. ]Maybe that’s just me?] What do work, are the characters, who are an enjoyable bunch to spend time with – even the villainous Anna, who is clearly the brains of the marriage. She’s an excellent foil for Consuelo, who is equally smart and brave; she certainly makes a strong first impression, hurling a knife at William, and embedding it in the trunk of a tree by his face.

The spectacle side of things is well-integrated, though I have an idea some of the footage may have been lifted from other pirate pictures, as it doesn’t quite seem to match; it was certainly not Capuano’s sole foray into the genre. Everything builds nicely to the standard adventure film cliche, #37: the masked ball, which Consuelo infiltrates in the cunning guise of…a pirate, to rescue William, after he made an ill-advised attempt to storm the fortress and abduct the traitor. This leads to an all-out battle, perhaps most remarkable for the “raining cannons” sequence, but despite what I said about the plot having no twists, I must admit, the final conclusion is not one I saw coming, with the villainess getting off surprisingly easily, compared to other potential fates. She actually gets the treasure, though at the cost of letting Consuelo and William go. I like to imagine the sequel has them heading back to reclaim her father’s loot, and I certainly wouldn’t have minded seeing more of their adventures, and it’s a shame no such follow-up ever emerged.

Dir: Luigi Capuano
Star: Gianna Maria Canale, Anthony Steel, Maria Grazia Spina, Ernesto Calindri

Fraulein Doktor


“Germany calling…”

frauleindoctorThere’s a lot going on in this World War I spy thriller: probably a little too much, though it’s still generally interesting. The titular character – I wouldn’t go so far as to call her a heroine, for reasons that will become obvious – is a nameless German spy, whom we first see coming ashore at the British naval base of Scapa Flow. Her two male associates are captured, with Meyer (Booth) being “turned” by British intelligence officer, Colonel Foreman (More). Meyer reveals the fraulein’s mission is to find out on what boat Lord Kitchener will be leaving the base, so it can be attacked. Despite More’s desperate efforts, the plan succeeds and Kitchener is killed. That’s not the first time she has caused problems: in a flashback, we see her seducing French scientist Dr. Saforet (Capucine), in order to steal the secret of a dreadful new chemical weapon. Meyer, now a double-agent, is sent back into Germany with the aim of killing her, and appears to succeed. However, that’s just a ruse, so the not-so-good doctor can complete her biggest mission: organizing a raid on Allied headquarters to steal their defense plans, in advance of a massive German push.

It’s refreshingly grey in terms of morality. Neither side comes off as occupying the high ground, and there’s very much a sense of grubby necessity. For instance, when the agent is being presented with a medal for her role in killing Kitchener, the presenting German officer refuses to shake her hand, because he considered Kitchener a fellow officer as well as a friend, and his death was “cheating”. But they are perfectly happy to use her talents: when the idea of sending a woman in is questioned, her commander replies, “Why not a woman? She has imagination, precision, courage beyond any man on any battlefield. She has only two weaknesses: traces of pity and grains of morphine.” The latter adds an extra wrinkle in her final undercover role, as a nurse on a Red Cross train, heading to the front, and she has no reluctance in using her body to achieve her goals – whether with men or women. Kendall gives a solid performance, and I was surprised to discover this was inspired by a real person, Elsbeth Schragmüller, whose identity as “Fraulein Doktor” was not revealed until almost 30 years after the end of WW1. Details of her actions are still sketchy, offering the makers a blank canvas on which to paint: no evidence she was a bi-sexual drug-addict, for instance!

As noted, there’s too much going on here. The mission to kill Kitchener could have been an entire movie in itself, as could the theft of the chemical weapon, but instead, these are galloped through at an over-anxious pace. The finale then seems to forget about its leading lady entirely, heading off in an completely different direction, depicting the German attack, both with conventional weapons and poison gas, and the effects on the Allied troops. Shown below, it is truly a nightmarish sequence of epic proportions, enhanced by Ennio Morricone’s discordant score: I believe the Yugoslav army supplied military extras, and that ups the ante considerably. It makes for a grim, rather than rousing finale, bringing home to the fraulein, the responsibility of what she has done. I can see why it was a commercial flop and has largely been forgotten, yet despite its flaws, it deserves a better fate than obscurity.

Dir: Alberto Lattuada
Star: Suzy Kendall, Kenneth More, James Booth, Capucine

The Queen of the Pirates


“Court in the act.”

queenofthepiratesSandra (Canale)  and her father fall foul of the local tyrannical Duke (Muller) after they refuse to pay his excise duty. Arrested, the arrival of the poor but noble Count of Santa Croce, Cesare (Serato), saves them from death – or a fate worse than in Sandra’s case, as the Duke has a profitable sideline, shipping local girls off to the Middle East. After escaping, they join up with a local pirate band, who agree to help target the Duke after Sandra bests their leader in sword-play. To gain the hand of the duke’s daughter, Isabella (Gabel), Cesare agrees to hunt down the “Queen of the Pirates” who has brought trade to a standstill, not knowing that his target is the same woman he helped save, and since then has had a secret longing.

Its storyline is more than slightly similar to the other Italian piratess movie we also covered here, Queen of the Seas, from the following year. This is slightly weaker, mostly because Sandra ends up taking a back seat to the heroic Cesare in the second half, though it benefits from a solid supporting performance by Gabel, who brings a genuine nastiness to her role as the spoiled heiress, who is perfectly happy to endorse Daddy’s white slavery operation, as long as it keeps her in jewels and pretty dresses. The shift in focus from Sandra is disappointing, not least because she can handle a sword pretty well – that’s clear right from the fight against the Duke’s excise-men, and reached its peak during the friendly duel against the pirate king. Really, given the era (1960) and Canale’s provenance as a former runner-up in Miss Italy, it’s genuinely impressive.


From about the midpoint on, it is entirely predictable, and becomes much less interesting as a result, despite some efforts to suggest that Cesare might not really be smitten by the heroine – just pretending to be, in order to lure her in. There’s also some desperately unfunny attempts at comedy, courtesy of his squire, and the English dub appears to have been written by someone practicing for International Talk Like a Pirate Day, spattering every other sentence with gratuitous nautical vernacular. I can’t call it disastrous, and at 75 minutes, doesn’t outstay its welcome; there’s just too much queening and not enough pirating in this for me.

Dir: Mario Costa
Star: Gianna Maria Canale, Massimo Serato, Paul Muller, Scilla Gabel
a.k.a. La Venere dei Pirati