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(aka "L'Alcova" or "Lust" or "Zerbal")

 

directed by Joe D'Amato
Italy 1984

 

Italy 1936: Elio (Al Cliver, ZOMBI 2) returns home from Africa planning to write his memoirs to settle his mounting debts. Little does he know that his lonely wife Alessandra (Lili Carrati, TO BE TWENTY) has been sleeping with his hired-in-advance secretary Velma (Annie Belle, LAURE). Besides the silks, African masks, and sculptures, Elio has also brought Abyssinian princess turned sex slave Zerbal (Laura Gemser, BLACK EMMANUELLE) home with him. Alessandra and Velma take an instant disliking to her and constantly degrade her and underestimate her intelligence (her initial greeting to Alessandra of "Go and get yourself fucked" is taken by Elio as a misuse of a phrase he taught her to fend herself against unwanted attention from other men). When Elio turns over Zerbal's ownership to Alessandra and jealous Velma's time is taken up typing Elio's unsuccessful memoirs, Zerbal becomes Alessandra's model and exercises her influence over Alessandra and a subsequently sexually-frustrated Elio (who Alessandra locks out of her bedroom so she can spend time with Zerbal). Elio returns the belongings of a fallen comrade to his widow only to discover that the man was a stag filmmaker and his wife was an actress. With his manuscript going nowhere, Elio buys some filming equipment and decides he can make money if he produces some stag films himself with Alessandra, Zerbal, and Velma as actresses. Zerbal convinces Elio to use the true story of how he acquired her as the film scenario which she uses as the start of her revenge.

Although regarded as one of Joe D'Amato's best works of erotica (specifically in the eighties Filmirage period), THE ALCOVE is a bit of a frustrating view. The period detail is well-handled, the cast is attractive, and Gemser is an effective presence as usual but the first two thirds of the script lean towards Zerbal giving these decadent, racist, and hypocritical people (Alessandra only questions how history is shaped by the victors and neglects the perspective of the vanquished after she has had her way with Zerbal) what they deserve to Velma appealing to Elio's gallant son Furio (Roberto Caruso, THE CHURCH) to save his father and stepmother from Zerbal's evil influence without a hint of irony. Even so, THE ALCOVE is one of the better Filmirage entries from a time when Joe D'Amato's erotica which emcompassed such dire modern day set films like TOP MODEL and ELEVEN DAYS, ELEVEN NIGHTS and other okay period entries like the Venice-set THE PLEASURE, the BELLE DU JOUR copy PEEPSHOW, and the New Orleans-set HENRY & JUNE ripoff ROOM OF WORDS amidst Filmirage's other variable horror and sci-fi product.

Eric Cotenas

Poster

Theatrical Release: 1 January 1986 (France)

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DVD Review: Severin - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Severin

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:33:27
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.17 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono)
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Severin

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• TALKING DIRTY WITH JOE D'AMATO - Interview with the Director (4:3; 11:11; in English)
• Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 2:59)

DVD Release Date: February 23, 2010
Amaray

Chapters 16

 

Comments

Severin's dual-layer progressive, anamorphic transfer of THE ALCOVE is a tad softish with hazy blacks. This is partly the original cinematography as other examples of director/cinematographer Joe D'Amato's work bear out but Filmexport's master must not have been optimal either. The English mono sound is clear and strong with only light hiss. The film should probably be framed at 1.66:1 but the 1.78:1 cropping is not as ruinous here as it is on Severin's discs of HANNA D. and THE ART OF LOVE (the cropping to 16:9 was likely done by licensor Filmexport).

The Joe D'Amato interview comes from an old videotape (augmented with film clips of varying quality) and is 4:3 fullscreen inside a 16:9 frame. The 16:9 trailer appears to also be sourced from fuzzy videotape but may well be the only source for it. The film has had previous DVD releases in Italy by Avofilm (who may have used their fullscreen VHS master) and Germany's X-Rated Kult Video whose transfer was 4:3 1.66:1 with forced German subtitles on the English track.

 - Eric Cotenas

 



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

 

Distribution

Severin

Region 1 - NTSC

 

 




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