AKA 11 GIORNI, 11 NOTTI
AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY AND DVD
RUNNING TIME: 101 mins
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera
Architect Michael Terenzi is on a ferry where he encounters a pretty woman who, within a minute, reveals that her black leather coat has absolutely nothing underneath, after which they have sex against a wall before she leaves. Her name is Sarah Asproon, and she’s almost finished writing a book about her one hundred sexual partners. Ninety-nine of them are public figures, but her final is to be a ‘normal’ person, and she’s chosen Michael. However, Michael is due to be married in eleven days….
This is a film I loved when I was about sixteen for reasons I probably don’t need to mention, but never revisited. Of course quite often films that you once adored can come up short when viewed with older eyes, but I think the main reason is that – let’s face it – while there are plenty of good adult dramas that deal with sex [though not much these days], most soft-core porn movies are pretty lousy. However, reviewing two horror movies called Sodom’s Ghost and The Murder Secret that featured Jessica Moore [real name Luciana Ottaviani], the lady of Eleven Days, Eleven Nights, made me curious about seeing it again. I didn’t expect it to be good, but seeing as we don’t have much sex on HCF in terms of movies [something Bat and I sometimes talk about rectifying and never get around to], and that’s it out on a restored Blu-ray edition from 88 Films with special features [physical media may be declining but we’re still living in a good time when a film like this can have special features], I eventually decided to obtain it. It was even cheesier viewing than I expected, but what was obviously made as an answer to 9 1/2 Weeks is much more fun. The male fantasy premise of a man having a wild affair before he ties the knot is of course a common one, but it’s unusual to have a woman calling the shots, there’s a nice feeling of sexual liberation despite the kinkiness coming across as more amusing than either a turn-on or edgy, and the thing looks and sounds great – okay, the pop-style score may actually be rather terrible but I can’t get those darn tunes out of my head! And Miss Moore remains an astonishingly strong sexual presence despite only being nineteen at the time. There’s usually little information on films like this; even on the disc’s audio commentary Troy Howarth wasn’t able to provide much in the way of background stuff. But I don’t tend to review films like this, so no doubt I’ll still have loads to say.
To some lone trumpet sounds [shouldn’t it be saxophone?] we first see Michael running up and down some steps to catch his ferry, then a series of oddly chosen shots, some seemingly from his viewpoint, before he and Sarah meet. She gives him a slight come-on, he smiles and follows her into a reasonably enclosed area where he screws her against a wall. It lasts a little bit longer [sorry] than you usually saw at the time and we even get a silhouette of an erect penis, something that I’m sure wouldn’t have made it into the video version. Afterwards they tell each other their names and she dashes off – with his wallet. She’s writing this book about her one hundred sexual encounters, which is a little hard to swallow [sorry] seeing as Moore was nineteen at the time she made this and only looks maybe a couple of years older. Her publisher tells Sarah she must get to know him better, but Michael’s getting married in eleven days! “Then give me all the nights you have left” replies Sarah. Sarah likes playing games, such as tying him to a post and, after having her way with him, leaving him tied up to be found by the maid. Or telling Michael that she wants him to rape her then crying out that he’s trying to do this in a crowded street, a scene which is a little ‘off’ but too silly to be taken seriously. Teasing is also a thing of hers, such as when she pleasures herself on a video and gets him all hot and bothered, though this scene is partly undone by sloppiness where the footage supposedly being shot from one camera cuts to different angles. And she likes experimentation, such as running off with his clothes and leaving her with his. She’s exasperating, and likes to always be in control, but she’s also addictive. He’s getting really hot sex, but could he also starting to feel something? And could she?
It’s not entirely clear what the situation between Michael and Helen regarding sex is. They either aren’t doing it at all or she’s boring in bed compared to the exciting Sarah. It’s a tried, tested and tired trope. We’re invited to not necessarily dislike Helen, but certainly not to be too sympathetic to her despite Michael’s cheating which, it’s implied, is just something that he has to go through instead of listening to her going on about wedding plans. When she waits all night on the stairs leading up to his apartment while he’s playing away, we’re asked to consider her an annoyance. Yet at one point Sarah is picked up by a random guy on the street, and we almost want her to sink to his level. The character of Helen required more acting chops than the others, and Mary Sellers certainly rises [sorry] to the occasion. And the film almost seems savvy enough to be aware of its attitude during a scene where we keep cutting back and forth from Michael trying on potentially new suits in a shop while Sarah looks on, to Helen trying on her wedding dress. Despite the upbeat song heard over the soundtrack, the scene is really one of sadness. The writers for this film were, despite the Anglosised credits, the legendary team behind Troll 2, Rossella Drudi and Claudio Fragasso, so you shouldn’t expect much sense, and there are a few bits that are just odd, especially a dinner sequence where Michael, Helen and Helen’s parents are present. Father has bought the couple a house, but it won’t be available for six months, so he’s kindly arranged for some of Michael’s salary to be deducted while the couple stay in their house so they don’t have to worry about paying rent. However, we’re more interested in the mother nagging Michael to eat her ice cream, and the reactions of characters seem off. There’s even a weird bit in the English dub about switching to speaking in English.
Of course much of the film consists of Michael and Sarah getting it on, and one has to adjust to the fact that there’s not much chemistry between Joshua McDonald and Moore. McDonald is a bit bland too and doesn’t project his character’s confusion enough. However Moore makes up for a great deal with her presence; the erotic energy she exudes is considerable and she even performs some of her dramatic scenes quite well. Her expressions of jealousy while Michael is in the next room with another woman she’s set him up with, and sadness at her method of ending things, convince. We’re treated to numerous glimpses of what God gave her, even several shots of her lady garden, though the avoidance of showing Michael’s erect penis sometimes gets laughable what with the often odd angles employed. This Blu-ray version is two minutes longer than the old video version, though I have no memory of what’s extra, while details of the cuts don’t seem to be available. I reckon that part of a scene where Sarah plays with herself with some closeups would have been originally shortened Anyway, sex scenes are typical soft porn of the time in terms of explicitness, and it’s maybe disappointing that Sarah’s publisher is played by Laura Gemser, ‘Black Emmanuelle’ herself, yet she fails to join in the sexual shenanigans. What’s interesting though is that Sarah is usually dominant. Even in ‘conventional’ sex, she’s the one on top. I find it funny that she keeps removing his ugly large glasses. There’s an interesting scene near the end that suggests a slightly feminist perspective in terms of the treatment of Sarah [if not Helen]. She tells him that what she’s doing is only like what woman tend to do with men, but then he roughly throws her down and almost rapes her before thinking better of it. We don’t seem to be invited to like his behaviour here, despite her having used him in the way that she did.
Some of the humour does seem intentional and will provoke laughter, like a scene where Michael encounters a woman trying to make it as s singer and listens to her song, which is a rather dodgy love ditty to her dog. Then there’s that strange party scene [look out for the awesome blonde buy with a Japanese umbrella] where people pour into a room, start eating, then suddenly all get up and dance at once And the sudden cut to the end credits of Stagefright where it looks like this film itself has ended before we cut to Michael asleep in a cinema auditorium due to his busy nights and Helen saying, “Oh, what a beautiful film, so touching, so romantic”. One feels that the creators of this film were having a fair bit of fun, being aware of its silliness without turning things into an actual spoof. They’re also happy to slow things down to provide some flavour of New Orleans, most notably during a lengthy pursuit sequence which takes more the form of a travelogue. We don’t mind too much, especially when it’s so well shot with sun haloes around the characters, even if it’s obvious that the slender plot is being padded out here. Interaction between Michael and a bag lady is rather touching, even if we don’t care about Michael as much as we’d like – but then a better actor would have helped with that. The music, all arranged in a typical ’80s pop style, comprises of two songs – one happy and upbeat, one sensual despite the singer not hitting all the notes – and several non-vocal pieces. The tracks are repeated and sometimes appear at random so it’s hard to think of them all as themes relating to a particular person or kind of situation, but whether you enjoy the music or not it’s an essential part of the experience of watching Eleven Days, Eleven Nights and suits it, even if personally I find sex scenes are sexier with no musical backing at all.
The director is, of course, the legendary Joe D’Amato [real name Aristide Massaccesi] who made three horror films which made the UK video nasty list but who spent most of his career working on porn of both the soft and hard variety. His son claims that his fatal heart attack which claimed him at age sixty-two was due to prints of twenty of his films [porno of course] he’d just shot in the United States becoming lost in transit to Italy. He’ll never be remembered as a great filmmaker even to his fans, and the other three sexploitation movies of his that I’ve seen [courtesy of the lamented ‘Movies For Men’ channel] seemed rather haphazardly put together, but Eleven Days, Eleven Nights is far more coherent and flows quite well even though they had to shoot it in just two weeks. It does sometimes seem to be on the verge of going further than it actually does, such as the cross-dressing scene which ends very conventionally. But it’s curiously charming. Now I suppose you could say that it ends happily. But, being a sceptic in most things, I wonder. Rather than Michael going on to have wedded bliss with Helen and using his experiences with Sarah to aid the physical side of his marriage, I can see him becoming unfulfilled and seeking out Sarah again, which would have made for an obvious sequel. One was actually made anyway, though only Moore returned. I haven’t heard anything about 88 Films bringing out the imaginatively titled Eleven Days, Eleven Nights: The Sequel. However, I recall enjoying that one even more, so it’s time for me to hunt it down and report back. After all, revisiting really old movie loves can be a good thing after all.