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One of the most mysterious of all the films by Joe D'amato isn't that much of a mystery anymore. Like many of his other films from this period, D'amato often made good use of whatever footage shot by using it more than one project. In this instance re-cycling about 40% of the 1976 film EVA NERA (BLACK COBRA WOMAN), with snake dancing Laura Gemser, and mixing in some new hardcore footage shot on the same island where the bulk of PORNO HOLOCAUST and EROTIC NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD was filmed (and featuring some of the same performers, including those incredibly foxy brunettes from PORNO HOLOCAUST), mish-mashed with a smattering of new scenes filmed in and around Hong Kong.
The result is a totally new movie with the same gist: snake dancing erotic performer wishes to avenge the death of her sister after an "accidental" heroin overdose, leading her into a labyrinth of sleazy polyester lounge suits, erotic nightclub acts, and several softcore lesbian scenes. Gone are Jack Palance and any form of a plot, instead there are a series of incidents that set up the sex scenes as she gets closer and closer to the man responsible for yet another snake bite murder of yet another lesbian lover, culminating in the same cobra felching revenge murder at the end of the film ... only now, the names and the faces are changed, and so is the meaning of the murder, which is somewhat less graphic this time around.
What is interesting to me about the film is how the footage shared with BLACK COBRA WOMAN has been re-defined to fit the new story. And since the dialog is all dubbed, even the lines being spoken in conversation scenes from the earlier film are different. Since the gist of the film is now outright eroticism -- minus the snake, except for her nightclub dance scenes which are identical to BLACK COBRA's, only occurring at a different point in the film -- I am not even sure if this is a good movie. Hence the neutral rating of 5/5. It's decent early period Italian porn I guess, though since it's the same three performers having sex all the time the film lacks the variety of a typical adult potboiler. If I was to make one complaint about the film it is that it lacks the naughty goofiness of PORNO HOLOCAUST or the nihilistic drear of EROTIC NIGHTS OFTHE LIVING DEAD.
Joe D'amato and Laura Gemser fans will be in heaven, and it's a good lesson for film students on how to re-edit footage for new uses. An excellent widescreen Italian language version was re-released a few years ago and can be found with relative ease. You may too be wondering afterwards what the big deal with it was, but at least you'll know for yourself, and there is something to be said for seeing it with your own eyes.
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