Severin Films // 1978 // 86 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 11th, 2008
Oh, my papaya!
From the recesses of primo late '70s Italian cannibal/sexploitation comes a tale of...well, sexploitation and cannibalism.
Italian geologists are dropping like flies, getting themselves killed and disposed of mysteriously by a culture that is unwilling to let them defile their native lands with a nuclear reactor. When geo-hotshot Vincent (Maurice Poli) and his nubile journalist gal pal Sara (Sirpa Lane, The Beast in Space) nose around the happenings, they are quickly enveloped in a web of sex and death and disco orgies.
Turns out Papaya (Melissa), the aforementioned Love Goddess, is the seductress tasked with driving the interlopers mad with horniness and then doing what it takes to ensure they are no longer a threat. And if that means biting off a -- never mind.
Courtesy of Joe D'amato, famed purveyor of lurid trash, Papaya is a sex-drenched saga that is light on the cannibalism, heavy on the social statements of indigenous people resisting the advances of nuclear technology and positively bloated with enough T&A to desensitize a friar.
The movie makes little to no sense and the story of Italian scientists getting seduced and discarded because of their support for a nuclear reactor is laughable in its pretension and execution, but that matters little I assume since the key word in that synopsis is "seduced." These guys are here with their science and atom-splitting merely because they're dudes with overactive libidos who will engage in casual sex with the female lead and Joe D'amato needs to film something with his fancy cameras. As the titular (!) character, Melissa does what she has to do, which is look sexy and disrobe and writhe and utter some incoherent platitudes about protecting her land. She's attractive, though for some reason her face reminded me of Arsenio Hall. Not sure if that's a deal-breaker for you.
Her comrade-in-boinking is Sirpa Lane, the infamous Finnish actress that carved a comfortable niche out of the sexploitation circuit with such deranged fare as The Beast and The Beast in Space. Here she adds to her legacy, breaking free of the bondage of clothing and frolicking with everyone from Vincent (in the shower) to Vincent and Papaya (in the bathtub) to one of the studly native dudes (on the beach in public view of anyone that happens to be strolling along the shore) and, finally, in the film's finale, Papaya (on the beach and in the bedroom). If I had to award Nude Most Often to either Melissa or Sirpa Lane, I think the Finnish Wonder earns the honor; a comparison of her clothed versus unclothed sequences will almost certainly flirt with the 50/50 ratio.
Last thing to look at is the gore (because, frankly, besides the nudity, there's nothing here). We're promised cannibalism and cannibalism we get, though the blood and guts are limited to two scenes: the opening tryst with Papaya preying on her first victim, culminating her fellatio with an act that will make all men dry heave and the disco orgy, a ludicrous, profoundly unsexy affair spiced up with a dead pig disembowelment and the removal and taste-testing of a man's heart. And that's it. In fact, you won't see anything more shocking in the film than that first sequence, so if it's bloodshed you seek, look elsewhere -- Papaya is all about getting its two female stars as naked and sweaty as often and nothing more.
Severin's technical treatment is notable. The 1.85:1 remastered widescreen is a winner, slick in detail and strong in color. The original mono soundtrack won't win any A/V enthusiast competitions, but consider the fact that you won't have your ears besieged by the awful disco score in 5.1 surround a blessing. Just the trailer for extras.
A little bit o'cannibalism and boatloads of exposed flesh go a long way to luring guilty-pleasure seekers into the embrace of this nonsensical trash flick.
Does it really matter what I put here?
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Severin Films
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 86 Minutes
Release Year: 1978
MPAA Rating: Not Rated