Director - Joe D’amato
Cast - Mark Shannon, Annj Goren, George Eastman
Country of Origin - Italy
Discs - 1
MSRP - $29.95
Distributor - One 7 Movies
Reviewer - Bobby Morgan
The Film: 2/5
Joe D’Amato was one of the most notorious of the Italian journeyman directors. Although he made a few decent horror films such as Beyond the Darkness and Anthropophagus they were surrounded by an infinite of tepid schlock ineptly made even by B-movie standards. By the time he departed this mortal coil D’Amato had long been reduced to churning out hardcore porn. It wasn’t like his career hadn’t been heading in that direction anyway. Beginning in 1980 the director started dipping his toe in the porno waters with the assistance of actor and screenwriter George Eastman, best known for playing the title monster in Anthropophagus and one of the loathsome criminals in Mario Bava’s crime masterpiece Rabid Dogs. D’Amato and Eastman’s collaboration was the result of a mutual desire to take an extended filmmaking vacation on a tropical island and toss off a few cheap horror-porn outings that would cash in at the global box office. This led to such infamous films as Porno Holocaust and Erotic Nights of the Living Dead, which attempted to take the Italian film industry’s success with zombie and cannibal movies and throw in a few blowjobs, penetration, and money shots (and not of the gory variety) with varying results, usually godawful. The film that started it all (and is claimed to be the first Italian hardcore porn film, or so the DVD packaging says) was Exotic Malice, and despite what you may be hoping (or fearing, depending on your feelings regarding the films of Joe D’Amato) this movie contains no horror elements whatsoever. It’s a straight melodrama, and not a very good one at that, and like his later horror-porn hybrids D’Amato chose as his leading man the one and only Mark Shannon, an actor with less sex appeal than Richard Mulligan and a scrotum covered in white pustules that could not have been good for his health or that of his on-screen female sexual companions, but still should have been insured by Lloyd‘s of London for all the action they get. Nevertheless Shannon and his diseased gonads are on full display here, mostly being lovingly licked and pounded by the lovely (yet wooden) Lucia Ramirez and Annj Goren. But we’re not here to admire their acting abilities, right? Right? Fuck it, on with the story.
Mark (Shannon), the cold fish husband of saucy but sterile millionaire Liza, is diagnosed with prostate cancer and is faced with a difficult decision: there is a surgical procedure that could save his life, but in the process it will leave him a eunuch for the rest of his life. Given that the focus of most of his existence has been the hedonistic pursuit of sexual pleasure this does not sit well with our haunted hero. Thus Mark decides to take a vacation to a tropical paradise where he once spent many hot nights in the arms of his beloved Majra (Goren) until she committed suicide, which has plagued Mark ever since. Once there Mark enjoys the company of his old friend Jacques and his wife Lucia (Ramirez), but especially Lucia, which does not please Jacques in the least. Meanwhile Mark suffers constant prostate pain and if that weren’t bad enough he keeps seeing Majra’s face everywhere he goes. Is our dying hero slowly losing his mind, or has his lost love returned from the grave with malicious intent?
Unlike Porno Holocaust and Erotic Nights D’Amato keeps Exotic Malice moving at a steady pace with few slow patches, those naturally being the painfully unerotic sex scenes. The plot about people haunted and ultimately confronted by the loves of their life having ended tragically has been the subject of countless dramas and horror films throughout cinema history, most recently in Inception. But don’t ever go into a Joe D’Amato movie expecting high art or anything approaching emotional resonance. The man was a tried and true hack until the day he died, only interested in stuffing as many wet vaginas and throbbing cocks into his movies as possible. He just never gained a flair for the erotic even though he could occasionally act like he did; the sex in the hardcore version of Emmanuelle Around the World is way better than anything you’d find in his later output. Then again Laura Gemser is also a sexier screen presence than Mark Shannon and Lucia Ramirez, the Gable and Lombard of shitty Italian porn. Whatever acting Shannon does is with his mustache and Ramirez looks stoned and uninterested every time she’s on screen and the same can be said for Goren, the actress who actually has a character to play in this sordid affair. Only the actress who plays Mark’s wife shows any fire in her single sex scene, which consists of her blowing Jacques as compensation for Mark having earlier fucked Lucia stupid and had his rotten carrot waxed by her drooling lips. Between his silly orgasmic euphoria and the pain caused by his dead prostate Shannon never stops indulging in his penchant for goofy moaning. There is a total of seven sex scenes in this movie and most of them are just guys getting blown. There’s just too much drooping cock in this flick for my taste. There are two blowjobs in the first 25 minutes alone, the second seeming to go on forever. Lady, if it takes you that long to get a guy off then you just ain’t trying hard enough (pardon the pun). At least some of the scenery from Santo Domingo where the film was shot looks nice, the script by Eastman (who also has a small role as Mark’s hedonistic friend Voyagis) contains a few interesting ideas and a nice twist in the third act, and the electronic soundtrack by Nico Fidenco (another D’Amato regular) sounds like a disco lullaby. Plus the final scene made me laugh out loud.
The film is presented in an extremely grainy 1.66: 1 full frame transfer with an obscene amount of print damage, and the picture is supported by a muffled two-channel Italian Dolby Digital audio track that makes every character sound like adults from a Charlie Brown cartoon. English subtitles are also included but there seem to be more than a few grammatical errors in the translation. A passable presentation and sadly the mark of quality I’ve come to expect from One 7.
The sole extra is a meager three minutes of deleted scenes, which is actuality is a reel of random women masturbating. Not even worth one watch unless you’re big on women with enough pubic hair to choke Godzilla pleasuring themselves. Meh.
I enjoyed Exotic Malice a bit more than most of Joe D’Amato’s filmic output, although that is hardly a ringing endorsement. Mixing drama with porn and keeping the running time short and the pace speedier than usual for a D’Amato flick makes the film a vast improvement over the likes of Porno Holocaust. I’m still not recommending it though. This movie sucks so bad it makes Lucia Ramirez smile, and One 7’s typically subpar DVD presentation does nothing to alleviate that.