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Plot: novelist Sarah Asproon moonlights as a high-class escort researching a new book

Ten years after after Eva Nera (1977) Italian exploitation guru Aristide Massaccesi (under his English nom de plume Joe D'Amato) started a new soft erotica franchise with a bright young star in the form of Eleven Days, Eleven Nights. Bankrolled to capitalize on the success of Nine 1/2 Weeks (1986) and on the willingness of actress Luciana Ottaviani (under her Anglicized alias Jessica Moore) to shed fabric it sees the symbolic passing of the torch from D’Amato’s beloved softcore star of the previous decade Laura Gemser to Moore. While not her screen debut with D’Amato Eleven Days, Eleven Nights was the franchise she is most identified with. In 1988 a pseudo-sequel followed in the wake of the original’s box office success with Top Model (1988) (alternatively released in some territories as Eleven Days, Eleven Nights: the Sequel for maximum confusion). In 1990 followed an official sequel with Eleven Days, Eleven Nights 2 with Kristine Rose taking over as lead.

Front and center is Luciana Ottaviani, who was a dancer, glamour model, and showgirl before turning to acting. At age 19 Ottaviani was offered a role in Convent Of Sinners (1986), a production where she initially was contracted to work as an assistant. The production proved lucrative and Ottaviani was given her own vehicle with Eleven Days, Eleven Nights. Working the trenches almost exclusively with Joe D’Amato, and Mario Bianchi, Ottaviani starred in a dozen of movies in the three-year period from 1986 to 1989. During the death throes and eventual collapse of the Italian horror industry she worked with Lucio Fulci on Sodoma’s Ghost (1988) and the Fulci produced giallo Blood Moon (1989). Taking a cue from the greatest exploitation muses, Luciana Ottaviani never appeared under her own name. Early on Ottaviani used the Gilda Germano alias before rechristening herself to the more American sounding Jessica Moore once given her own production. Luciana Ottaviani’s English alias in turn has led to some understandable confusion as she shares it with an Hungarian adult actress, and an Australian tennisplayer. In 1989 Ottaviani moved out of the cinema industry as family life took precedence.

Aristide Massaccesi was a cinematographer by trade, and the typical workhorse exploitation director that dabbled in every genre in need of exploiting. It wasn’t until 1979 that he adopted the Joe D’Amato alias under which he directed a swath of soft erotic features with Laura Gemser. Gemser was the star of Bitto Albertini’s Black Emanuelle (1975), but it was D’Amato who made the franchise profitable. All through the 1980s and 90s D’Amato directed over 100 erotic features, both of t he soft- and hardcore variety, for the Italian video market. During the decade he directed everything from the Greek horror feature Anthropophagus (1980), the Conan the Barbarian (1982) knockoff Ator the Invincible (1982) and its sequel Ator, the Blade Master (1984) with Miles O’Keeffe to the post-apocalyptic actioner Endgame (1983). From the looks of it D’Amato’s 1980s softcore features apparently came as a response to the success of Italian master of erotica Tinto Brass. Where Brass is a craftsman and technician with an obsession with richly formed posteriors, smut peddlers Massaccesi, and Jesús Franco, were far less dignified and ogled any and every starlet willing to get naked for them. Moore is easy on the eyes and it's easy to see why D'Amato insisted on getting her her own franchise. Moore might not be much of an actress, but she certainly looks absolutely amazing au naturel.

In New Orleans Sarah Asproon (Luciana Ottaviani, as Jessica Moore) is an enterprising young writer moonlights as a high-class escort to collect material for her new book. Asproon is a bisexual, nymphomaniacal, nude top model/exotic dancer moonlighting as a journalist, or the other way around. It’s the sort of character that could’ve only sprung from the diseased mind of old Joe. On board of a ferry Asproon flashes dopey young construction designer Michael Terenzi (Joshua McDonald) who can’t resist the comely charms of the alluring vamp, and their initial meeting is the start of a brief albeit passionate affair. Terenzi is scheduled to be married to the demure Helen (Mary Sellers). In the following Eleven Days, Eleven Nights Terenzi engages in a steaming affair with sizzling Sarah, who initiates him to exciting sexual pleasures. Mentoring Asproon is publicist Dorothy Tipton (Laura Gemser). It’s a symbolic passing of the torch from one D’Amato softcore starlet to the next. Helen, naturally, starts to feel neglected, and some friction develops when Asproon is forced to reveal that she is merely using Terenzi as a way of completing her new novel “My 100 Men”, a scathing exposé chronicling her sexual conquests. Hearts break, tears roll, and Sarah Asproon returns to her life of prostitution.

Eleven Days, Eleven Nights was written by the husband-and-wife team of Claudio Fragasso and Rossella Drudi which, if this was a horror production, should have anyone sane running for cover. The movie claims to be based upon a novel by one Sarah Asproon, but the name is merely one of many aliases used by Rossella Drudi to give the production a veneer of respectability. It wasn’t the first time D’Amato used such tactic as The Alcove (1985) made similar bogus claims as to its source material. Surprising of both D’Amato and the rightly reviled Drudi-Fragasso axis Eleven Days, Eleven Nights is at times very romantic and there’s a genuine sweet undercurrent to its playful softcore shenanigans. Top Model, its pseudo-sequel, would play up the romantic angle to an even greater degree. In both movies there’s more than enough Luciana Ottaviani in the buff to satisfy anybody’s cravings.

As the Italian exploitation industry started to decline in the 1980s and eventually withered towards the end of the decade D’Amato worked as a director of soft- and hardcore erotica. It’s telling that D’Amato’s repertoire of softcore erotica is frequently and consistently better produced with more attention to shot composition than his horror movies of the period tend to be. Replacing much of the bleakness and nihilism that pervaded his movies with Laura Gemser, Black Emanuelle and otherwise, Eleven Days, Eleven Nights is the Eva Nera (1977) of the eighties. Providing two electro pop songs to the soundtrack is domestic Eurobeat mainstay Leonie Gane. Her two contributions border on the annoying with its cauterwauling vocalizations and sub-Marcello Giombini beat. The majority of the score was composed by Piero Montanari, a well-regarded Italian bassist and musician that contributed to recordings from many artists including Don Backy.

It never sinks to the backwardness of D’Amato’s own period potboiler The Alcove (1985) although that one did have the late Lilli Carati and it never bothers itself with the human drama that comprised much of Mario Bianchi’s Reflections Of Light (1988). Joe D’Amato might not have been a good director, but he at least knew how to put a scene together. Likewise is Luciana Ottaviani's inability to act countered by her looking rather splendid in lingerie (or less). There isn’t much in the way of a plot worth remembering, and whenever Moore takes her clothes off she’s shot with the kind of attention to detail you wish old Joe used in his other more remembered and memorable movies, but somehow never did. It’s a late-night erotic TV movie helmed by a director famous for his horror and gore oeuvre. It’s nothing more than 90 minutes of the camera ogling over the finer points of Luciana Ottaviani’s anatomy. It’s perfunctory in exactly the ways movies like this ought to be. It’s soft erotic trash with a veneer of minimal story. Eleven Days, Eleven Nights makes no qualms about what it is, and that honesty is refreshing to say the least.

Plot: scientists and mercenaries battle the advance legions of ancient Atlantis

The Raiders Of Atlantis is one of the great patchworks of Italian exploitation. After a fairly standard action opening in the next 85 or so minutes it rips off all the great American properties of the day and a few exploitationers for good measure. Like Umberto Lenzi’s Nightmare City (1980) the pace is absolutely frenetic and the screenplay from Tito Carpi (as Robert Gold) and Vincenzo Mannino (as Vincent Mannino) barely makes sense or does much in the way of explaining but that doesn’t stop director Ruggero Deodato (as Roger Franklin) from pulling out all the stops and creating perhaps one of the greatest Italian action cheapies in living memory. Like many productions from this period The Raiders Of Atlantis comes with a pulsating synth-rock score and through out the wall-to-wall insanity it somehow manages to push an admirable environmentalist message.

Ruggero Deodato is one of the greats of the Italian exploitation industry and while he dabbled in a variety of genres, he’s most known for his cannibal atrocity excursions. Deodato started as assistant director to Antonio Margheriti on the peplum Terror of the Kirghiz (1964) before venturing into the nascent jungle goddess genre with Gungala, the Naked Panther (1968), an obvious riff on Samao, Queen Of the Jungle (1968) that put Kitty Swan in the role that Edwige Fenech popularized earlier. After the usual amount of commedia sexy all’italiana, poliziotteschi and spaghetti westerns Deodato arrived at Jungle Holocaust (1977) and later Cannibal Holocaust (1980). The Raiders Of Atlantis immediately followed House On the Edge Of the Park (1980), his take on American shock classic The Last House On the Left (1972). Suffice to say The Raiders Of Atlantis does not disappoint and the cast has a selection of well-known names in it.

In a non sequitur opening only there to establish that The Raiders Of Atlantis is an action movie, Vietnam veterans turned mercenaries Mike Ross (Christopher Connelly) and Washington (Tony King) complete a dubious operation for a hefty sum of money. Once the cash has changed hands the two head out to sea for a well-deserved vacation. In the open sea they are followed by a helicopter flown by port authority Bill Cook (Ivan Rassimov). Meanwhile somewhere off the coast in Miami, Florida a clandestine United States military operation, led by nuclear physicist Dr. Peter Saunders (George Hilton), is underway attempting to float a sunken Russian nuclear submarine. Preliminary exploration of the site underneath the oil rig has yielded a mysterious skull-adorned tablet of unknown origin. Just like in Raiders Of the Lost Ark (1981) the military brass strong-arm Dr. Cathy Rollins (Gioia Scola, as Marie Fields), an archeologist with a Ph.D. in pre-Columbian dialects, previously engaged at “a very important dig” in Mazatlán, México to decipher the artifact. The float countdown is eerily reminiscent of the inane Ciro Ippolito shlockfest Alien 2 – On Earth (1980). As the submarine is brought up a tidal wave destroys the oil rig as a landmass in a transparent dome emerges from the ocean, sort of like The Abyss (1989). The survivors of the wreckage - Drs. Saunders, Rollins and technician James (Michele Soavi, as Michael Soavi) – are picked up by mercenaries Ross and Washington who heard their cries for help in the open sea.

In a sudden twist Manuel (John Vasallo) grabs a hostage and warns them to surrender to the Atlantis Interceptors who they’ll soon meet. Manuel, of course, brandishes a tattoo delineating his allegiance with the Atlanteans. Just like in Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals (1977) and Zombie Holocaust (1980). After the interruption they make landfall in Little Havana and meet up with Bill Cook who has landed his helicopter there. They find the Caribbean island abandoned, desolate and burnt out. Almost immediately they run into the Atlantis Inceptors led by Crystal Skull (Bruce Baron). The Atlanteans and the Atlantis Interceptors curiously look like extras from The Road Warrior (1981). In a succession of scenes recalling Assault On Precinct 13 (1976) and The Warriors (1979) the group defends their position before taking refuge in a nearby warehouse where they happen into Larry Stoddard (Maurizio Fardo, as Morris Fard) and his daughters Liza (Gudrun Schmeissner, as Gudrun Schemissner) and Barbara (Benedetta Fantoli) who were hiding beneath some rubble. Their mother Mary (Adriana Giuffrè, as Audrey Perkins) having being killed earlier as the Dome rose.

Just like in The Night Of the Living Dead (1968) the group quarrell and decide strategy against their Atlantean enemies. At this point Crystal Skull broodingly intones, “we have come back. Come back to the world that has always been ours. You have no place in it. You cannot defend yourselves. Our civilization does not accept intruders. We have returned to re-establish our presence. You have violated our world, and therefore you must be punished. All of you will be executed!” All this wouldn’t be complete without setting up the prequisite third act plotpoint, “All of you, except one...” A plan that sounds awfully familiar to that of the Atlanteans in Alfonso Brescia's amiable The Conqueror Of Atlantis (1965). The group continues to search-and-destroy as they advance through the blasted ruins. Along the way they team up with George (Mike Monty, as Mike Monti) and German mercenary Klaus Nemnez (Stefano Mingardo, as Mike Miller) for extra firepower.

Cathy is then kidnapped by the Atlantis Interceptors and the mercenaries give pursuit. They find an old bus and chase the Atlantis Interceptors in a number of scenes directly inspired by War Bus (1986). The chase results in a daring beach assault lifted wholesale out of W Is War (1983) and Clash Of the Warlords (1984) and takes them to a bridge which leads into a vicious shoot-out straight out of Gold Raiders (1982). Taking a helicopter the mercenaries are inexplicably drawn to Atlantis by a radio signal. This leads into a series of exploration and battle scenes reminiscent of every cheap Italian Vietnam war movie, alternated from time to time with the kind of jungle booby-traps you’d expect in an Italian cannibal atrocity film. How else could it not? The Raiders Of Atlantis was directed by Ruggero Deodato, maker of Cannibal Holocaust (1980). As the group navigates the jungle eliminating sentries guarding the perimeter technician James is brainwashed by the Atlantis Inceptors which, as these tends to go, leads to him being killed. At this point every unimportant secondary character is killed as Deodato thins the cast for the final showdown with the Atlantean warriors.

Ross and Washington make their way to the Atlantean caves where Ross dukes it out with Crystal Skull in a vicious brawl. Crystal Skull was prescient of the design of the Iron Warrior in Alfonso Brescia’s Iron Warrior (1987). The Raiders Of Atlantis then remembers to riff on Raiders Of the Lost Ark (1981) again as Ross and Washington neutralize the Atlantis machinery, that suspiciously looks like something out of The Giant Of Metropolis (1961), and cross the stormblown hallways in a scene apparently that inspired the Hell scene from Hellraiser II: Hellbound (1988) where Kirsty tears off Julia’s skin coat or its equivalent scene from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) when Luke Skywalker confronts Darth Vader. The dynamic duo then stumble into the heart of Atlantis, or just Central Command (it’s hard to tell exactly), where a sassied up Cathy telepathically does the Atlanteans’ bidding. Once the Tablet Of Knowledge is in position in the machinery the situation progressively turns worse for the mercenaries. Washington doesn’t like any of it but Ross is somehow able to break Cathy’s spell. In a race against time Ross and Washington make their escape in the helicopter they chartered as the Dome starts to close again and Atlantis is swallowed by the sea. For reasons inexplicable and unexplained Cathy is in the helicopter and her old self again.

Christopher Connelly was a television actor that got lost in Italian exploitation. Tony King debuted in Shaft (1971) and had an uncredited bit part as a stable hand in Francis Ford Coppola’s crime epic The Godfather (1972) with Al Pacino. King ended up in exploitation via Larry Cohen’s crime cheapie Hell Up In Harlem (1973). Gioia Scola was in Lucio Fulci’s Conquest (1983) and in a 1981 Pierino comedy from Marino Girolami. Bruce Baron was in Tsui Hark’s Dangerous Encounters of the First Kind (1980) and Jing Wong’s Winner Takes All (1982) but through a brief excursion into Filipino exploitation ended up in Italy and from 1986 onward went to star in a number of dubious Godfrey Ho-Joseph Lai cut-and-paste ninja movies. Ivan Rassimov was a pillar of continental shlock having appeared in a couple of gialli starring Edwige Fenech with The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh (1971) and All Colors Of the Dark (1972) before becoming a fixture in the cannibal atrocity genre through The Man From Deep River (1972), Jungle Holocaust (1977), and Eaten Alive! (1980). Rassimov also was the villain in the enjoyable Star Wars (1977) plagiate The Humanoid (1979). George Hilton was in a regular in giallo, spaghetti westerns, poliziotteschi with credits including the Edwige Fenech gialli The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh (1971) and The Case Of the Bloody Iris (1972) as well as Luigi Cozzi’s The Killer Must Kill Again (1975). The only credit of note for Giancarlo Prati was the original Man On Fire (1987), famously remade in 2004. Benedetta Fantoli and Michele Soavi both were in Alien 2 – On Earth (1980). The English language international version has voices provided by prolific dubbing regulars Nick Alexander, Susan Spafford, Pat Starke and Frank von Kuegelgen.

The Raiders Of Atlantis never bothers explaining who Crystal Skull is or what the Atlanteans plan beyond reclaiming their earthly throne. Crystal Skull only becomes hostile once the Dome and the island emerge out of the sea. Crystal Skull is apparently a guy in a suit who is never even given a name or much of a backstory. Likewise does the screenplay never explain why the Atlanteans looks like rejects and extras from The Road Warrior (1981). As in the Cirio H. Santiago yarn The Sisterhood (1988) do some of the Atlanteans wield spears, axes and swords while others brandish automatic weapons. The pace is as breakneck as in Wheels Of Fire (1985) and The Raiders Of Atlantis is custodian to a slew of very brutal kills (including incineration and decapitation-by-wire). As always does the main villain, in this case Crystal Skull, come with his own set of belles. One of the Atlantean babes looks like a very young and punkish Lisa Kudrow with the fashion sense of early Madonna. Of course it isn’t Kudrow since she didn’t start acting until 1989 but the resemblance is striking. Not that these productions were known for their complete and detailed credits anyhow.

How could The Raiders Of Atlantis not be so utterly amazing in its derivation? It was written by Tito Carpi and Vincenzo Mannino. Both were specialists in spaghetti westerns, poliziotteschi, and giallo. Carpi wrote a bunch of Euro war movies and commedia sexy all’italiana through the 60s. He wrote the screenplays to Jungle Holocaust (1977), Tentacles (1977), Thor the Conqueror (1983) and Alien From the Deep (1989), one of the more notorious The Abyss (1989) knockoffs. Mannino wrote the spy-action/superhero romp Argoman (1967) which, at least in part, goes to explain the sheer level of insanity that The Raiders Of Atlantis frequently indulges in. The Raiders Of Atlantis was produced by Edmondo and Maurizio Amati, who were responsible for Argoman (1967) and more post-apocalyptic action shenanigans with Warriors of the Year 2072 (1984). Amati also produced the great pandemic classic The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (1974) and the two Agent 077 (1965) Bond knockoffs with Ken Clark. There was never any question about how insane this one would be, more of how far it would push it. Also helping are the cinematography from Roberto D'Ettorre Piazzoli, director of photography on Luigi Cozzi’s StarCrash (1979) and a score by Guido and Maurizio De Angelis. It is almost as if it was envisioned as a project for Umberto Lenzi.