Joe D’Amato – Le Notti Erotiche dei Morti Viventi AKA Sexy Nights of the Living Dead (1980)
A sailor takes an American businessman and his girlfriend to an island where the businessman wants to build a resort. Soon a weird voodoo couple show up and warn them of bad things that are going to happen. It doesn’t take long for the zombies to show up and start chowing down on human flesh. The main characters do manage to fit in quite a bit of sex though.
One of the most interesting consequences of the brief period of “porno chic” in the early 70s was the resulting effect on the Italian exploitation industry. Never quick to miss an American cinematic “craze”, a lot of film-makers found themselves curiously crossing genres and stuffing hardcore porn into other genres, as well as vice versa. The absolute master of this was the ubiquitous Joe D’Amato, and here he fuses porno with the zombie movie (which at the time was in the midst of enormous popularity in Italy).
THE EROTIC NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD was shot back-to-back with the similar, but more sex-oriented, PORNO HOLOCAUST. In its full uncut form, the scenes of XXX are strangely innocent. There are a few explicit shots here and there, but no actual “penetration” (other than when one of the female characters hilariously opens a bottle of champagne with her genitalia!), plus many of the scenes seem to cut away at strange times. Whether this is due to an incomplete review print (a Midnight Video release, clearly made from two different prints spliced together) isn’t clear. What is obvious is that as a sex movie, this fails horribly. Many of the “erotic” scenes also fall victim to Luigi Montefiori and Laura Gemser’s obvious unwillingness to perform in hardcore sequences. Many of the sex scenes are made up of Montefiori watching a female character masturbate, before pretending to have sex with her- often without removing his trousers first!
The real benefit for Massacessi is that the sex allows him to pad out a horror movies that, in actuality, has only about 30 minutes of material. Almost all of the first hour revolves around sex, and the “horror” portion of the story really only kicks in after that. Massacessi was the first to admit that horror was not his forte (although after seeing this, it has to be said that porn clearly wasn’t either!) and by structuring his film in this way, he can basically cover up his shortcomings whilst still producing a marketable zombie movie.
Still, as ever, this is strangely enjoyable. The final 30 minutes is actually quite atmospheric, and there is some nice gore in there. I hear that this movie is very difficult to get hold of in an uncut form (review print was in unsubtitled Italian), but as far as I can tell from my copy, it is certainly worth seeking out as the “cut” print looks absolutely anaemic in comparison…
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