Impulse Pictures // 1984 // 89 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Christopher Kulik (Retired) // April 10th, 2009
Her ability will blow your mind!
Brazilian screen goddess Helena Ramos was one of the reigning stars of the Pornochanchada genre, a series of films that were produced between 1976 and 1985. Boasting semi-legitimate plots with steamy sex action, these films caused quite a stir among Catholic folk during their heyday. What's rather shocking is the government actually supported the genre, on the sole condition they didn't address political or social issues. These films have been rarely seen in the US until now, as Impulse Pictures has come forward with their initial entry in the "classic Latin erotica collection," the 1984 pornochanchada known only as Volupia de Mulher, aka The Chick's Ability. Does the film deliver in its own way, or is this just another plate of T&A slop to be dumped?
Sexy, small-town teenager Cristina (Vanessa Alves) loses her virginity to a local boy, outraging her father. After being banished, Cristina's only option is to go to her older sister Carla (Alvamar Taddei), a prostitute in downtown Rio with a muscle-bound pimp named Milton (Germano Vezzani). When Cristina finds herself pregnant, Carla kicks her out, forcing her to turn to her transsexual neighbor Lili Marlene (Romeu de Freitas). While in the hospital about to give birth, her natural beauty is noted by nurse Laura (Ramos), whose boyfriend is the much-younger artist Marcos (Andre Loureiro). Marcos requests to paint Cristina (against Laura's better wishes)...and ends up falling madly in love with his subject. His muse is torn, however, between prostituting herself in order to save her infant son (who has been afflicted with a disease) or taking Marcos' offer and eventually submitting to his charm. This is barely enough plot to warrant a string of sex scenes, all of which are mildly stimulating.
Even though Ramos is technically the star, the "chick" of the title is actually Alves, whose "ability" is never adequately explained. I assume it's sexual in nature, but how can it be so when she's almost completely inexperienced? Perhaps it's the seductive spell she casts upon Marcos, complete with him having constant visions of her running on the beach towards him. These scenes reminded me a lot of Dudley Moore's fantasizing of braided Bo Derek in 10 doing the same thing...and the irony is that Andre Loureiro is a dead ringer for Moore's one-time partner Peter Cook. The major difference between both films is that this one has a strongly misogynistic undertone, which is emphasized by not only the title but also any scene involving the sadistic Milton. Sadly, this is something late '70s / early '80s audiences no doubt accepted as commonplace, and today it truly disturbs.
What works in Chick's favor is a surprisingly well-developed storyline, which often infuses soap-opera theatrics, a romantic (if repetitive) score, some truly beautiful women, and a thankful lack of embarrassing camp. What almost tarnishes the proceedings -- aside from the misogyny of course -- is the often dull pacing, lame dialogue, and fake orgasmic shrieks. Even with all the boobs and butts flying around, the film becomes exceedingly tiresome by the time of the climax, relying on the luminous Alves and Ramos to keep the male viewer enthralled. At the end of the day, The Chick's Ability is nothing more than dated exploitation that serves practically no purpose today...except perhaps providing a marginally fascinating window into the extinct genre. Fans of the stunning actresses will be perfectly satisfied, while all others are advised to look elsewhere.
I can't say for sure if Impulse's screener will represent the final product, but The Chick's Ability boasts drab colors and lots of grain. The full frame picture certainly screams low-budget, though it could have been a lot worse; the flesh tones are not bad, and the black levels are better than expected. Indoor scenes are ten times better than outdoor shots, largely because the latter sports a significant amount of white fading. Audio is even worse, with cracks dominating the dialogue and soundtrack, as well as some major pops in the background. The new English subtitles are perfectly readable, however. There are no extras on the disc, but there is a single-page leaflet inside which briefly discusses the Pornochanchada phenomenon as well as an advertisement for Impulse's next release in the Latin erotica collection: Violence And Flesh, also starring Ramos.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Impulse Pictures
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (Portuguese)
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 1984
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Genre Notes