I’m a hard sell on sexploitation pictures. Pure sexploitation, that is. I can take in something like nunsploitation or nazisploitation movies because they have an absurdist edge that separates them from the regular boobs and bush sex romps. You know, there’s something else at work that makes them more than really soft porn. Which brings me to my official stance on sexploitation: Make a porno or don’t. In some cases, distributors of sexploitation flicks like the Black Emanuelle movies and Thriller: A Cruel Picture, went back and inserted hardcore penetration shots to serve certain international markets that weren’t quite as strict about up-close, unsimulated sex in theatrical releases but for the most part, you get Dyanne Thorne writhing around in some of the most unarousing scenes you’re likely to find in a movie.
At the same time, some of the outer limits of sexploitation and some of the crossovers, have managed to sneak some really perverse content into their movies or take a really banal and cliche subject, such as a young woman’s descent into depravity and addiction thanks to a life of prostitution, and make it really stand out as something more than just a cheap excuse for full frontal nudity. Such is the case with Hanna D.: The Girl From Vondel Park.
Hanna begins the movie as a doe-eyed teenager being pimped to perverts on a Dutch train in order to support her histrionic mother’s staggering dependence on alcohol. Her mother, naked through most her scenes, lurches around the set, tears streaming down her face, screaming about how ungrateful her prostitute daughter is for everything she’s done for her. It’s ironic, really. It doesn’t take long for Hanna to fall in with a sleazy pimp and narrowly avoid being raped by her mother’s boyfriend for whom she provided an upskirt shot ealier in the movie. Soon after her hopes of falling into film as a nude body double, she hooks up with heroin and then falls madly in love with a normal guy, seemingly in the span of a single day set to the tune of the cheesiest love song ever recorded. Her downward spiral continues, however, and it’s not long before her addiction winds her up in jail and then later stumbling around her boyfriend’s house, vomiting on everything while deep in throes of withdrawal. It’s a real bummer.
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t give the time of day to a plot like that. I’ve seen it a million times and I don’t necessarily watch movies to soak myself in someone else’s dramatic depression, but Hanna D. is only a sober portrayal of a life burning out slowly on the surface. Beneath its melodrama is a sleazy layer of gratuitous nudity, sparing no opportunity to show leading actress Ann-Gisel Glass in full frontal glory. Yet, the mission of sexploitation pictures, to arouse your most basic instincts is crushed under the iron heel of an exploitation movie trying to be many things at once.
An exploitation of the film, Christiane F., about the actual life of a teenage prostitute/drug addict in Germany, Hanna D. has all the requirements of a good girl gone bad story but director, Rino Di Silvestro’s narrative is so disjointed that it’s difficult to tell how long any of this is taking. Whether that’s a matter of a weak script of really bad editing is a matter of debate. The film’s editor, after all, is one Bruno Mattei, a man capable of poisoning any movie that he’s involved with no matter what he’s doing. Hanna D. is also plagued with filler. There are scenes which introduce nameless characters and seem to carry with them some kind of subplot that never emerges. A drug dealer early on is seen being chased, presumably by his suppliers that he owes money to, but he disappears soon after being beaten up. It’s not clear if he’s even named.
Director, Rino Di Silvestro is just like any other Italian exploitation filmmaker. He’s not particularly good at what he does, his script is crap and the cast is a bizarre mix of overactors struggling with a strange script that is little more than an excuse to get its cast naked but believe it or not, this is a strength for the movie as a whole. Hanna D. falls into the so bad it’s good category with the greatest of ease. Hanna’s mother is laughably awful, constantly nude, always feeling herself up and yelling about how she used to be beautiful. Hanna’s boyfriend after finally wrestling her to the ground while she’s freaking out, hungry for smack and her mouth covered in vomit lays a deep, passionate kiss on her and their entire courtship, seemingly spanning a single afternoon in Amsterdam is made up of clips of Hanna charging into groups of pigeons. It’s not without its horrific moments, either. Hanna starts to withdraw in jail and in the absence of a guard, her cellmates suddenly bend one of the girls in the prison over, throw up her skirt and pull a capsule containing smack from her ass. Mind you, this is not implied, this is shown in explicit, up close and remarkably hairy detail.
Hanna’s age is tough to determine. She’s supposed to be a teenager, but Glass is, a very pretty woman, doesn’t sell the teen in trouble role well at all. She’s very easy on the eyes, though. It’s also never clear how long any of this is taking. For all I know, the entire running time could be spanning a single, very bad week in the life of Hanna D. and I would be none the wiser. Hanna is stocked with some really funny characters and surreal moments of outrageous insanity that make it worthwhile for fans of sleaze and trash but what is supposed to be a stone faced fable is laughably awful and hilariously acted.