Playboy Cinema Collection: Black Venus Review
Artist Jacques (Emiliano Redondo) arrives at a building in Paris late one evening. The moon is already out but the bright red light above the door is all that Jacques needs to confirm what awaits him inside. Greeting the owner of the brothel, Madame Jean (Helga Line), Jacques is shown the various delights within, something to satisfy all tastes. Two young peasants tear the clothes off one another while Jacques laughs outside of a viewing window. A salty old sea dog lies on a ship's deck and gets tossed about by a buxom young cabin girl whilst a man on a throne gets more than a curtsy from a young woman who's come to honour him. But it's the last of the rooms that draws Jacques' attentions, inside of which is a Caribbean plantation where a slaver ravishes a young woman tied to a pole. There's something familiar about the girl.
Jacques calls to mind a ball that he attended years before to which he invited a young woman, Venus (Josephine Jacqueline Jones). Venus left that night with a struggling young artist Armand (Jose Antonio Ceinos) who is intent on using Venus as a model for a sculpture. Happy to remove her clothes before him, Armand falls in love with Venus but soon the practicalities of living intrude on their happiness. A struggling artist can barely support himself never mind another and as Armand drinks away what little talent he has, Venus finds work as a model for a fashion designer, who likes to sell more than just clothes...
I don't know what the official viewing figures might be but I suspect that back in the old, analogue days of Sky, that RTL on a Friday and Saturday night was much more popular a channel than anything English-speaking. Schulmadchen Report, Zwei Daninnen In Lederhosen and the occasional dubbed Russ Meyer were all much more memorable than anything showing on Sky One, none more so than Tutti Frutti, a game show that, no matter how far one's imagination might stretch, made no more sense than boiling water inside a pair of knickers but which featuring a stripping housewife. And some man who clearly agreed to get into the spirit of things but kept on a pair of lurid green briefs, much to the disappointment of the handful of women watching.
Black Venus is the kind of euro-smut that SAT-1 or RTL would have broadcast in those years, and for all I know might still do, being a dubbed skin flick with allusions of class thanks to a period setting and some free-of-copyright performances of classical music. Various actors, all of whom have seen better days, drool as a succession of lovelies parade about the drawing rooms of Paris in their lingerie or less, draped over chaise longues, their beds and behind the red drapes of period brothels. Unfortunately, none of this is remotely sexy as the pasty white bodies of the male actors makes the experience as erotic as bedding a young woman with a fetish for white pudding, which isn't really going to please anyone. One actually becomes rather glad that the actors tend to keep their clothes on, no less so when a particular threesome carries on with Venus spilling champagne over her naked body whilst two fiftysomethings in long johns paw at her breasts in the manner of jittery young men tweaking her nipples as though they were springs.
The actual story concerns Venus turning away from Armand into the wealthier arms of men like Jacques and leaving the struggling artist to warm himself by a single piece of coal burning in a stove and eating raw vegetables, even as the snow falls outside. Jacques' actions suggest that he's somewhat altruistic, even to buying the statue of Venus from a sick Armand, but he's actually a rum old dog who entices Venus and the seventeen-year-old Louise (Florence Geurin, who could well be older) out to Spain on the pretence of saving them from prostitution, placing his recently-purchased statue on the patio where they enjoy a glass of wine in the evening, loosening the tongues of Venus and Louise prior to doing the same with their period knickers. Of course, Armand shows up and he's unhappy at the turn of events, not least by the actions at Jacques but also how Venus and Louise spend their days splashing about naked in the sea. Of course, had Armand not actually held a broken piece of glass at Venus' throat earlier in the film, things might well have turned out so differently but Black Venus is very much a warning about the nature of love and how it can tear someone apart. In this case it's Armand but Venus ends the film no happier - in fact, both of them are dead - which is a little touch of drama when one has, frankly, seen as much horrible period skin as one can take.
You won't be picking up this release for the quality of the picture, which is a shocking thing indeed, bearing as much of a need to be on DVD as a two-year-old child tootling away on a tin whistle needs to have their efforts recorded on to CD. Black Venus looks terrible with much obvious damage to the print and a softness that suggests this was sourced off a videotape found amongst someone's private stash of pornography. The audio track is no better with copious amounts of background noise, although it does have the treat of having some sex scenes to some lovely music. Which, if they could stomach the sight of old men in long johns and not-very-attractive naked women, might keep a classical buff happy.
The only bonus material is a set of Trailers (5m11s) for these Fabulous Films softcore releases, including Black Venus, Christina, Love Circles and Ecstasy.