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 the 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 who 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.