Friday, December 3, 2010

Erotic Nights of the Living Dead (1980)

Mixing pornography and horror is nothing new. Since the 70's, movies such as "Sex Wish", "The Devil Inside Her", and "Hardgore" mixed bloodshed with cumshots. Not a particularly inviting prospect when you think about it, but hey. Hell, for some reason, some like the idea of pornographic action with zombies. I know there's a fetish for everything, but still, the mere idea is still revolting. Italy of course, was no stranger to any of this, particularly Joe D'Amato. An exploitation director known largely for films such as "Anthropophagus", "Beyond the Darkness" and "Emmanuel and the Last Cannibals", the director had tried his hand (pun partially intended) in mixing the two with the atrocious "Porno Holocaust." While public reaction met to this was poor at best, he tried it again with 1980's "Erotic Nights of the Living Dead."

John Wilson (Mark Shannon) and his terrible porno mustache are on a business trip captained by Larry O' Hara (exploitation vet George Eastman, who wrote this movie) to purchase a small island called "Cat Island" for an investment group. Of course, he brings "company" in Fiona (Dirce Funari), and plenty of sex goes on. Apart from that, they get to the island, and more sex occurs. Oh, and there's a local legend mentioned by a voodoo loving couple (which includes "
"Emmanuel" herself, Laura Gemser), and the next thing you know, a black cat comes into play, and the dead walk the islands.

As an adult film, "Erotic Nights" is all around bad. For fans of pornography, there's only one really explicit scene, as the rest is mostly just lots of soft-core frolicking. None of the sex on display is particularly arousing or worth a damn, and most of the cast seems uninterested and uncomfortable. Granted, there is a scene where a woman opens a wine bottle with her vagina, but it's more "what the hell was that?" than it is sexually interesting, though I kept wondering "So, where did the cork go?" Eastman himself even gets some action, but he keeps his pants on (literally) whenever he gets laid, which made me wonder "Who makes a porn movie where someone keeps their pants on during sex?" As for the zombie action, you get a little here and there earlier on, but it's not until the last 30 minutes that they really come into play. Until then, you get lots of padding and uninvolved, vanilla sex scenes. Keep in mind that the version I watched (the uncut version) is 112 minutes long.

Not all hope is gone though. The score by Marcello Giombini is great (especially the main theme), and really compliments the proceedings far better than they deserve. Also, when the zombies finally do rise, the film actually improves a bit. The zombies themselves are very creepy, looking like a mix of the Templar zombies from the "Blind Dead" films and the rotting zombies from Fulci's "Zombi 2." It's at this moment that director D'Amato actually manages to do something that's sort of interesting, as he manages to make what's actually a somewhat passable zombie movie. The problem though, is that by then, it's too little too late. You'll be lucky if you stay awake during most of what occurs beforehand, as everything else is dull and poorly directed.

"Erotic Nights of the Living Dead" isn't really worth watching except as a period curio and nothing more. As it stands, the mix of gory zombie action and pornography on display has too much tedium and sloppy film making to warrant any interest.

Rating: 3.5/10

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