Joy & Joan (Jacques Saurel, 1985)
Joy returns in this entirely French sequel (this time in the form of Jean Rollin muse Brigitte Lahaie) and she’s still having troubles with Marc (Jean-Marc Maurel) who is younger here and now a roving journalist rather than a businessman. Joy’s modeling work suffers when Marc finally walks out on her and jets off to Bangkok. Wealthy friend Bruce (Pierre Londiche) – less New Agey than in the original – offers Joy the world but all she wants is him to take her to Thailand. Upon arrival, Bruce presents Joy with personal slave Millarca (Maria Isabel Lopez), a diamond ring, and a palace belonging to the creepy prince Cornelius (Jacques Bryland).
For her birthday, Bruce gives Joy 9,125 pearls (“I’ve lived for 9,125 days without you”) and “the gift of pleasure through others” (read: drugs her and makes her the centerpiece of an orgy for his rich friends). Joy flees Bruce – although Cornelius is never far behind – and runs into Marc who takes her into a photo booth for a quickie before leaving her again. Fleeing Cornelius, Joy meets tour guide Joan (Isabelle Solar). Joan immediately confesses her love for Joy and they jet off to the Philippines where Joan’s old boyfriend (one of those eighties guys who thinks he can get away wearing pink tank tops) who owns a hotel. He puts them up but arranges for them to be kidnapped and taken to a spa/brothel. Cornelius disrupts the actions and Joan disappears.
Rather than taking her back to Bruce, Cornelius takes Joy to the airport (because she resembles a woman he was in love with; then he gets all creepy again just as we were beginning to feel some sympathy for him). Joy gets back to Paris and back to work only for Joan to show up on her doorstep. When Joy goes off for a four day commercial shoot, Joan meets Marc who showed up for a quickie just after Joy left. Joan obliges him and then confesses to Joy when she discovers she is pregnant (she explains that she wanted to find out how Marc got under her skin). Ever flexible, Joy finds a way to scrounge up a happy ending.
Jacques Saurel‘s follow-up to Sergio Bergonzelli’s JOY is also based on a novel by the pseudonymous Joy Laurey and is more plot-oriented than the original; but also even more absurd. Whereas in the original, Joy’s adventures were confined to underground sex clubs and wielding a gun on the set of a cheesy action flick, here she is drugged, raped, kidnapped, and the like as if she were the heroine of one of the later EMMANUELLE film sequels. Debbie Davis’ theme from JOY is reprised early on as Joy spots Marc on the dance floor of a club with another woman as if to remind us of their prior history but both characters are very different from the way they were in the previous film (besides being played by different actors) in which they had already split before the end.
New composer Francois Valery comes up with a new “Joy and Joan” theme song (“Call it love, call it fun, call it play…”) that plays throughout (even though Joan doesn’t show up until nearly halfway through the running time). Valery’s vocal “You Need Love” is a bit whiny but the instrumental version is nicely employed and recalls some of Pierre Bachelet’s themes for Just Jaeckin’s GWENDOLINE more than the setting recalls his EMMANUELLE. Statuesque Lahaie’s doll-like inexpressiveness made her a simultaneously chilly and sensuous presence in her work for Jean Rollin (along with a well-cast bit as the Alida Valli-equivalent in FACELESS, Jess Franco’s sexy, glitzy reworking of EYES WITHOUT A FACE) but here her passivity cements her role as victim throughout (whereas Claudia Udy’s Joy was merely going with the flow for most of the prior film).
That’s not to say, Lahaie isn’t up to the role. In the rare instances in this film where her expression does crack into a smile or a look of hurt, it is effective. Solar fares a little better but she’s also a bit whiny in her proclamations of instant love for Joy. Maurel as Mark has little to do than look decorative. Still photographer Ian Patrick also plays the photographer in Joy’s opening modeling session. The film is less visually interesting than the prior JOY film although there’s plenty of nice landscapes and costumes (the scenes in the misty French countryside towards the end of the film and the candlelit interiors of Joy’s country home are a lot more interesting to look at).
Having never seen JOY ET JOAN before, I am not sure just how much Severin’s transfer improves upon previous versions (although I’m sure the R2 French DVD uses the same master) but it is an anamorphic 1.62:1, progressive, single-layer transfer that seems to represent the original cinematography rather well (apart from some edge enhancement) from the bright Thailand settings to the misty and candlelit French chateau setting of the last section of the film. There are no extras on Severin’s disc but it is recommended for fans of European softcore erotica – it’s not the best but it hits all the right notes – and a solid release from Severin. (Eric Cotenas)