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  Venus in Furs whip crack away!
Year: 1970
Director: Massimo Dallamano
Stars: Laura Antonelli, Régis Vallée, Loren Ewing, Renata Kasché, Werner Pochath, Mady Rahl, Wolf Ackva, Peter Heeg, Josil Raquel
Genre: Horror, Drama, Sex, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: “There’s something about a woman naked in furs… inducing pleasure so intense it becomes painful.” Quite. Not to be confused with the Jess Franco movie lensed the same year, Venus in Furs is a more faithful adaptation of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s infamous novel. It benefits from the seductive presence of awesome Laura Antonelli, a sexploitation film starlet who went on to a respectable art-house career. Severin (Régis Vallée), an obsessive voyeur, craves to be whipped and humiliated following a childhood trauma. He spies on his beautiful neighbour, Wanda (Laura Antonelli) masturbating nude in furs and discovers she’s equally happy being watched. What follows is a twisted love story between voyeur and provocative exhibitionist. After marriage, Severin moulds Wanda into the perfect vessel for his fantasies, goading her into sex with strangers while he watches. Happy at first, Wanda comes to resent his games and rebels. Reborn as an unstoppable love monster she beds a succession of moustachioed hunks and drives Severin away. The peculiar conclusion sees Severin discover his wife’s identical double: a gum-chewing hooker more compliant with his desires. While the music swells, she whips him silly - a happy ending, of sorts…

Cinematographer-turned director Massimo Dallamano is best known for his excellent “schoolgirls in peril” giallo trilogy, which includes What Have You Done to Solange? (1971), What Have They Done to Your Daughters? (1974) and Rings of Fear (1978). His languid camera glides across Antonelli’s silky flesh, fetishizing every inch of her body, yet somehow avoids outright misogyny. The dreamy, romantic tone softens the sleazy subject matter, coming across like a skin flick antidote to Love Story (1970). The film taps into then-trendy, middle class obsessions with swingers and sexual liberation, with characters drawn to kinky sex as much by intellect as their libido. As with any sexploitation movie there are dull stretches, including a throwaway subplot involving lesbian housemaids, and you need a tolerance for softcore groping.

Dallamano provides interesting visuals, filming lovers behind gauze, in silhouette or through wild coloured gels. He includes a weird, sitar scored, S & M fantasy and an amusing, erotic gag where Wanda screws in the back of a limousine while a football game plays over the radio (“Goal!”). Amidst the bare flesh, Antonelli delivers a genuine performance (actually two, since she doubles as the hooker), exploring the differences between real love and romantic (albeit twisted) fantasy. Anyone who has had a crush on her since Mario Bava’s Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (1966) will relish seeing her in nubile glory. She blossomed into an art-house diva in Divina Creatura (1975) alongside Terence Stamp and Luchino Visconti’s L’Innocente (1976), and disrobed again for more ambitious erotica like The Trap (1985) - co-scripted by Lucio Fulci - and The Venetian Woman (1987), where she romped with Jason Connery. Despite the Italian star and crew, this is actually a German production and enjoyed great success there. In Italy the film was hauled before the courts to face obscenity charges before its eventual release some years later.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


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