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Pages: (16) « First ... 12 13 [14] 15 16  ( Go to first unread post )

 What Eurocult films have you been watching?, Yeah, it's that thread again...
Mark Tinta
Posted: Jul 28 2011, 08:16 PM


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LIVE LIKE A COP, DIE LIKE A MAN (1976) - Raro USA just released this awesomely violent Ruggero Deodato polizia, and I'm going to assume it's a vast improvement over the botched DVD that came out in Europe. The 1.85 anamorphic image is absolutely pristine and the film looks fantastic.

Fred (Marc Porel, dubbed by Ted Rusoff) and Tony (Ray Lovelock--not sure who dubs him) are members of an elite special squad of the Rome police, assigned to take out the criminal element by any means necessary. And by any means, I'm talking shooting perps before they do anything, snapping necks rather than fill out paperwork, and, my personal favorite, tying a couple of guys up and setting them on fire. That's all fairly early on and the insanity tapers off into a more standard polizia as they pursue crime lord Pasquini (Renato Salvatori) after Pasquini's goons kill their supervisor Conti (Marino Mase) and the head of their unit (Adolfo Celi) essentially lets them loose.

Written by genre icon Fernando Di Leo, LLAC,DLAM opens with a jaw-dropping motorcycle chase through Rome and rarely lets up until the end. It's definitely on the high end of the subgenre, and worth a look for Eurocult fans as it's Deodato's only contribution to the polizia scene. His next film was JUNGLE HOLOCAUST, which is where he certainly achieved his first major notoriety before CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST and HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK a few years later. But the take-no-prisoners over-the-top-ness of vintage Deodato can certainly be seen in its early stages here. The DVD includes some early Deodato TV commercials and a 40-minute retrospective doc featuring interviews with Deodato, Lovelock, and Al Cliver, who wsa originally set to play the Porel role before he backed out, feeling that the script was too violent. This coming from the guy who went on to star in ZOMBIE and DEVIL HUNTER. Also with Silvio Dionisio, Franco Citti, Bruno Corazzari, and Tom Felleghy, with dubbing appearances by Pat Starke, Carolynn De Fonseca, Michael Forest, Larry Dolgin, and Robert Spafford, plus Lovelock guzzling a can of orange Fanta, and Porel sporting some nifty Converse Chuck Taylors in a couple of foot chases. Lovelock also sings the title song "Maggie." An essential buy for fans of the genre, as Raro USA has done a really nice job with it.

This post has been edited by Mark Tinta on Jul 28 2011, 08:28 PM


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Marty McKee
Posted: Nov 29 2011, 09:07 PM


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A MAN CALLED SLEDGE (1970)—Directed by Vic Morrow. Stars James Garner, Dennis Weaver, Claude Akins, John Marley, Laura Antonelli. COMBAT! star Morrow co-wrote and directed this brutal spaghetti western produced by Dino de Laurentiis. His co-writer, Frank Kowalski, was a member of the COMBAT! crew, and his star, James Garner, became famous as the easygoing Western gambler Bret on ABC’s MAVERICK series. Garner had just been seen in the crowdpleasing comic westerns SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF and SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL GUNFIGHTER when A MAN CALLED SLEDGE slid into American theaters, and I suspect audiences were disappointed to see him playing against type as a taciturn anti-hero.

In his 2011 memoirs, Garner called SLEDGE “a turkey” and claimed he let de Laurentiis talk him into doing it. It isn’t as bad as all that, but it’s really only memorable because of actors like Garner, Weaver (MCCLOUD), and Akins (RIO BRAVO) appearing in their only Italian western. Notorious outlaw Luther Sledge (Garner) has himself tossed into a prison where $300,000 in gold rests in a basement vault. He and his gang, including Ward (Weaver), Hooker (Akins), and an old man (Marley) who spent twenty years in the cell next to the vault, bust the money out, and Morrow takes the third act into TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE territory.

Italian western expert Thomas Weisser claims Morrow was fired during shooting and replaced by director Giorgio Gentili (MADIGAN’S MILLIONS). There’s no telling which director shot which footage, so who knows who to credit with the handful of artful shots, such as a man who falls dead amid a cloud of gold dust. Wayde Preston, who was a Warner Brothers contract player (COLT .45) at the same time as Garner, plays the town sheriff. Also with Ken Clark (MISSION BLOODY MARY) and Tony Young (POLICEWOMEN). The music by Gianni Ferrio (A BULLET FOR SANDOVAL) is not very good—unusual for an Italian western.


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Mark Tinta
Posted: Dec 8 2011, 06:38 PM


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MURDER OBSESSION aka FEAR (1981) - Uneven but intermittently effective old dark house giallo was old-school Italian horror icon Riccardo Freda's first film in nearly a decade, and the last one he finished (he started 1994's REVENGE OF THE MUSKETEERS before being replaced by Bertrand Tavernier; Freda died in 1999). The world of Italian horror in 1981 was quite different from the early 1960s when Freda and Mario Bava ruled the game, and MURDER OBSESSION has a quaintly old-fashioned feel most of the time. Freda does acknowledge modern exploitation necessities by getting Laura Gemser topless within the first minute, and there's another scene where Silvia Dionisio's breasts keep popping out of her nightgown while she's being chased, but the gore is used sparingly, which is probably why I shut this off after about 40 minutes when I rented the old big-box Wizard Video VHS under the title FEAR back in the late '80s. The Italian-French MURDER OBSESSION, just out on DVD from Raro USA, isn't a classic waiting to be unearthed, but it doesn't deserve the dismissive treatment I gave it as an impatient teenage gorehound so many years ago.

Actor Michael Stanford (Stefano Patrizi, dubbed by Frank von Kuegelgen) and his girlfriend Deborah (Dionisio, dubbed by Pat Starke) return to his family mansion to visit his mother Glenda (Anita Strindberg, dubbed by Carolynn De Fonseca). Michael has been finding himself haunted by childhood memories of killing his father (also Patrizi) as he was beating Glenda. It's clear from the outset that nothing is what it seems, especially since the mansion's caretaker Oliver (John Richardson) is a total weirdo. Michael and Deborah are soon joined by some associates from his latest film, director Hans (Henri Garcin), co-star Beryl (Gemser, dubbed by Susan Spafford), and assistant director Shirley (Martine Brochard), and it doesn't take long for the body count to start piling and Michael to think he's possessed by the vengeful ghost of his father.

Freda and cinematographer Cristiano Pogany (son of Gabor Pogany) set up a nice atmosphere, but the pace is often plodding and very slow. It gets better as it goes along, and the final sequence is quite chilling. Freda seems fine with gratuitous nudity, but is a little hesitant with the gore effects (some of which were handled by a young Sergio Stivaletti), which are very sparingly-used and largely unconvincing (one axe to the skull is accomplished with one of the most hilariously fake dummy heads I've ever seen), but one chainsaw decapitation is nicely-handled. There's a black mass subplot that doesn't seem very well thought out. There's also some tech gaffes, as one actress playing dead is breathing like she just ran a 50-yard dash, and there's one shot where Patrizi exits a room after talking with Strindberg, and a member of the camera crew is clearly visible in the mirror on the wall. MURDER OBSESSION is largely for Italian horror and Eurocult completists, but I was mostly entertained by it. It could've used some tightening and some better gore effects, not to mention a more charismatic lead than the blank Patrizi, who screams "Italian Craig Wasson" and who I only recall seeing as one of the terrorists at the beginning of THE CASSANDRA CROSSING. The last film to date for 1970s Eurocult fixture Strindberg (WHO SAW HER DIE?, ALMOST HUMAN, THE ANTICHRIST).

Raro's DVD looks pretty nice at 1.85:1, and is dubbed in English, despite the packaging indicating that it's just in Italian with English subtitles. There are a couple of scenes in Italian that were cut from the FEAR version that went straight-to-video in the US in 1985 and never dubbed. One of those subtitled scenes is actually pretty essential. The DVD also has an interview with Stivaletti and a spoiler-filled booklet that you shouldn't read before seeing the film. I'm not sure who wrote the liner notes, since they're credited to (wait for it)...Riccardo Freda, which I highly doubt. Despite some packaging errors, the DVD itself doesn't exhibit any of the quality control issues that have plagued recent Raro USA releases like THE SECRET OF DORIAN GRAY and TO BE TWENTY.


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Mark Tinta
Posted: Dec 10 2011, 01:28 AM


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BODY PUZZLE (1992) - OK late-period giallo from Lamberto Bava is a bit too restrained despite a lurid premise that bears some similarities to PIECES. It has a few inspired set pieces but never quite cuts loose in the ways of the classics from Argento, Martino, Lenzi, or even Lamberto Bava's older films like MACABRE or A BLADE IN THE DARK.

Widow Tracy (Joanna Pacula), lives in one of those insanely-designed houses that only exist in gialli (there's a swimming pool in the living room!), is being stalked by a madman (Francois Montagut) who leaves various body parts and organs in her fridge. Mike (Tomas Arana), the detective on the case, is convinced the murders have something to do with the death of Tracy's husband a year earlier. Well, of course they do.

The standout sequence is easily the murder of a teacher (Ursula von Baechler) in front of a classroom of blind students. BODY PUZZLE is a pretty formulaic otherwise, watchable but a little stale. Bava directs like a gun-for-hire instead of an Italian horror auteur, and it's too bad the entire film wasn't as terrific as a couple of murder sequences (the killing in the public pool is also memorable). The twist is confusing and a little silly, and none of the actors seem particularly interested in what's going on. Pacula, pitched as a Next Big Thing a decade earlier with GORKY PARK, was already a regular presence in the world of straight-to-VHS by the time this made it into US video stores in 1994 (Triboro's box credits "Larry Louis" as director and Arana is listed as "Tom Aaron"). According to her IMDb page, she's stayed busy into 2011, but I don't think I've seen her in anything since the Jamie Lee Curtis sci-fi thriller VIRUS in 1999. How has Joanna Pacula not done a LAW & ORDER: SVU yet? Arana, an American character actor (L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, GLADIATOR, , and more recently, LIMITLESS) who's had an extensive career in Italy (THE CHURCH being a standout), played the would-be killer in the Kevin Costner-Whitney Houston blockbuster THE BODYGUARD the same year he did BODY PUZZLE. Also with Gianni Garko, Erika Blanc, Susanna Javicoli, Bruno Corazzari, and Giovanni Lombardo Radice. Pacula and Arana dub themselves, but you can hear Nick Alexander handling a couple of voices, including an ominously creepy overhead mall closing announcement, plus Tony La Penna reading the book-on-tape that the blind kids are listening to in class.

Just out on R1 DVD from Raro USA, BODY PUZZLE looks alright, and probably never looked great in the first place. It has a TV-movie look and feel to it, very much like all those late '80s Filmirage joints looked. The accomplished Luigi Kuveiller handled the cinematography, but you wouldn't know it by what's here. Workmanlike at best. Raro's packaging spells Pacula's name "Johanna Pakula," and, like MURDER OBSESSION, erroneously lists "Italan with English subtitles" as the audio option. It's dubbed in English, and that's the only option. 1.66:1 anamorphic, with liner notes by Fangoria's Chris Alexander. BODY PUZZLE is an enjoyable enough watch, but even I can say without hesitation that it's really only for giallo or Lamberto Bava completists.


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Eric Cotenas
Posted: Dec 10 2011, 02:06 AM


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QUOTE (Mark Tinta @ Dec 10 2011, 01:28 AM)
Just out on R1 DVD from Raro USA, BODY PUZZLE looks alright, and probably never looked great in the first place. It has a TV-movie look and feel to it, very much like all those late '80s Filmirage joints looked. The accomplished Luigi Kuveiller handled the cinematography, but you wouldn't know it by what's here. Workmanlike at best. Raro's packaging spells Pacula's name "Johanna Pakula," and, like MURDER OBSESSION, erroneously lists "Italan with English subtitles" as the audio option. It's dubbed in English, and that's the only option. 1.66:1 anamorphic, with liner notes by Fangoria's Chris Alexander. BODY PUZZLE is an enjoyable enough watch, but even I can say without hesitation that it's really only for giallo or Lamberto Bava completists.

Screeners of the Triboro BODY PUZZLE had the original credits, but the rental tapes actually replaced the opening credits, billing Arana as Tom Aaron, Montagut as Frank Quinn, Bava as Larry Lewis, and Kuveiller as Lee Kraus. Image released the laserdisc (I'm guessing it used the same master). Image's DVD featured the original credits (their unmatted transfer was licensed from the company that acquired Triboro's materials). The title then became part of the Liberation catalog and was licensed to Madacy (who used a PAL-converted 1.66:1 non-anamorphic transfer for their release). Italian actor Silvano Tanquilli supervised the Italian dub.

Not only is Pacula's name mispelled, but also those of writer Teodoro Corra (as Todoro) - I'm guessing they sourced the credits from IMDb since Corra is billed as Teodoro Agrimi in the Italian credits (Bruce Martin is also listed, but he gets sole writing credit on the English credits [he may have written the English dialogue since it was acted in English]). One "L" is dropped from Kuveiller's name. Not only does the back cover promise "Italian with English subtitles" it also boasts of "New and improve English subtitles" (I wasn't aware that there was an English-subtitled release to be improved upon).

As for Kuveiller's workmanlike photography, BODY PUZZLE was one of a handful of flatly-photographed P.A.C. titles in the nineties likely produced with home video and cable in mind. These P.A.C. productions also included Sergio Sollima's BERLIN '39, Mauro Bolognini's HUSBANDS AND LOVERS (with Pacula and the same townhouse with the indoor pool + Julian Sands and a Giorgio Armani wardrobe), Carlo Lizzani's CATTIVA (also with Sands), Stelvio Massi's HIGH RISK and BALKAN RUNNER (and Danilo Massi's WAR DOGS). The only other giallo was Aldo Lado's CIRCLE OF FEAR (also shot by Kuveiller) with Michael Woods and Annie Girardot, which owed more to SILENCE OF THE LAMBS than anything Italian (Lado also directed the crime thriller POWER AND LOVERS for P.A.C. during this period). CIRCLE OF FEAR, POWER AND LOVERS, and the Massi titles were all picked up by Liberty and released on DVD by Madacy.


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Marty McKee
Posted: Dec 27 2011, 09:32 PM


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THE LAST GUN (1964)—Directed by Sergio Bergonzelli. Stars Cameron Mitchell, Carl Mohner, Livio Lorenzon. Mitchell and Clint Eastwood were among the first name American actors to star in Italian westerns. Of course, Eastwood was lucky enough to work with the great Sergio Leone. Mitchell’s 1964 entries, MINNESOTA CLAY and this one by director Bergonzelli (EL CISCO), were barely seen in the U.S. then and now. They also look more like the low-budget oaters being spit out of Hollywood as double-bill fodder than the stylish and often wickedly wry spaghetti westerns that followed in Leone’s wake. THE LAST GUN is a serviceable sagebrusher starring Mitchell, who’s dubbed by somebody else, as Jim Hart, a notorious gunslinger. Tired of violence, Hart poses as a wimp named Bill and runs a general store in a small Arizona town. However, he is forced into action as a masked defender when the town is overrun by a nasty gang led by Jess Lindall. Lorenzon (THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY) as Jess is a ludicrous heavy who laughs a lot and wears a tiny hat on his bald head. The poor dubbing does the actors no favors, though Mohner’s grinning performance as the morally ambiguous Guitar is entertaining. A little bit of action, but THE LAST GUN is nothing special. Also with Kitty Carver, Celina Cely, and Mariangela Giordano. Music by Marcello Gigante. Peter Tavis sings Hart’s theme.


4 DOLLARS OF REVENGE (1965)—Directed by Jaime Jesus Balcazar. Stars Robert Woods. U.S. Cavalry officer Roy Dexter (Woods) and his men, while transporting Confederate gold, are ambushed by Mexican banditos. Only Dexter survives the massacre, which is a good thing, right? Well, because Dexter is the only survivor, the government deduces he must have been working for the killers from the inside. He’s sentenced to break rocks in the hot sun for the rest of his life, but quickly Dexter engineers an escape and sets out to find the real thieves and clear his name. Not the most rapidly paced spaghetti western, 4 DOLLARS OF REVENGE benefits from attractive camerawork and an appealing Angelo Francesco Lavagnino score. Co-written by DJANGO’s Bruno Corbucci, the script is standard revenge fare with a not-very-surprising twist. The characters are bland, and the star is—ahem—wooden and too handsome to pull off a vengeful criminal on the lam. A mediocre oater from Balcazar, the Spanish writer/producer of the abysmal CASTLE OF FU MANCHU. The Colorado-born Woods was one of Europe’s busiest western stars during this period. Also with Dana Ghia, Angelo Infante, and Jose Manuel Martin.


Both films are on Mill Creek's SPAGHETTI WESTERN DOUBLE FEATURE, VOLUME 2 Blu-ray. VOLUME 1 reportedly features DJANGO and has either never been released or was quickly pulled from stores after Blue Underground claimed it owned rights to DJANGO. Although THE LAST GUN and 4 DOLLARS OF REVENGE are mediocre films, Mill Creek has done them right on Blu-ray, releasing GUN at 1.78:1 and 4 DOLLARS at 2.35. The prints look extremely nice. No extras are included. I bought the disc for about $6.


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Marty McKee
Posted: Jan 21 2012, 05:02 PM


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CLINT, THE NEVADA'S LONER (1967)—Directed by Alfonso Balcazar. Stars George Martin, Marianne Koch, Pinkas Braun, Walter Barnes, Francisco Jose Huetos. Dubbed and retitled to remind audiences of Sergio Leone’s westerns with Clint Eastwood, this German/Italian/Spanish oater uses the lush snow-topped Pyrenees as an effective location. Busy Spanish genre actor Martin (TOMB OF THE PISTOLERO) stars as Clint, a gunfighter whose wife Julie (Koch) left him and took their unborn son to start a new life on a Wyoming ranch. Many years later, a contrite Clint tracks down Julie and young Tom (Huetos), who thinks his father is dead, and convinces her he’s given up killing forever. He even hands over his gun to Julie, who reluctantly hires him as a ranch hand. However, the local ranchers are being threatened by hoods working for land baron Shannon (Barnes), and Clint can only watch his neighbors being abused for so long before he pulls his six-shooters off the shelf. Obviously influenced heavily by SHANE, CLINT was often seen in the U.S. as CLINT THE STRANGER. It’s fairly low-key for the most part with the action highlight being a major shootout with explosions and a burning town. Martin is a stalwart hero without any of the shading typical of spaghetti western protagonists. Also with Fernando Sancho, Paolo Gozlino, and Gerhard Reidmann.


THERE'S A NOOSE WAITING FOR YOU...TRINITY!(1972)—Directed by Alfonso Balcazar. Stars George Martin, Marina Malfatti, Klaus Kinski. Balcazar’s sequel to CLINT, THE NEVADA’S LONER (aka CLINT THE STRANGER) was properly titled RETURN OF CLINT THE STRANGER in Italy, but bafflingly retitled THERE’S A NOOSE WAITING FOR YOU…TRINITY! in the U.S. In actuality, it isn’t a sequel at all, but a remake with Martin returning as a retired gunfighter who wants his family back. The differences include Kinski as a long-haired bounty hunter on Martin’s tail, a good Ennio Morricone score, and Martin’s mustache. Martin is also Trinity, not Clint, this time to fool audiences into buying tickets to a Terence Hill movie. Trinity Harrison, on the run after killing his brother’s murderers, returns to his wife Norma (Malfatti) and children after six years away. The pacifist Norma isn’t ready to welcome Trinity back into her home just yet, but she hires him on as a ranch hand, provided he shelves his six-shooters forever. He tries—oh, does he try—but when thugs begin threatening ranch owners who refuse to sell out to their boss, well, sometimes a Trinity’s gotta do what a Trinity’s gotta do. And then there’s Scott (Kinski), that bounty hunter… Balcazar uses footage from CLINT as a flashback, and the same child actor plays Martin’s son in both films, so there’s little doubt NOOSE is supposed to be a continuation of the first film, despite the changes of character names and the implausibility of the same plot happening twice. NOOSE is more violent, a little gritter, and a little better. Also with Daniel Martin, Augusto Pesarini, and Francisco Jose Huetos.


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Alan Maxwell
Posted: Feb 4 2012, 11:12 AM


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THE BATTLE OF THE DAMNED (1969)

A group of soldiers (including Dale Cummings, Maurice Poli and Fabio Testi) are sent on a suicide mission to destroy a German bunker in the middle of an African desert in this spaghetti war movie.

Following the usual rag-tag men on a mission story, this is a largely forgettable affair with only the most basic of plot developments and virtually no characterisation at all. One guy has a grudge against the captain leading the mission; one is a black soldier who has a talent for knife-throwing; one of them operates a radio. These are pretty much the only signs of any attempts to give the soldiers any kid of identity and for the most part the characters are bland, two-dimensional and largely interchangeable.

A brief running time, a reasonable amount of action and a slightly downbeat conclusion make it a diverting excursion into the genre but I don't believe this movie will ever feature on anyone's lists of the spaghetti war film's finest examples.
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Mark Tinta
Posted: Mar 1 2012, 11:51 PM


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Ruggero Deodato's 1979 disaster movie knockoff CONCORDE AFFAIR, with an amazing cast of American name actors and Eurocult fixtures, started streaming on Netflix today. More at the link...


CONCORDE AFFAIR (1979)


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Alan Maxwell
Posted: Mar 21 2012, 04:36 PM


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CODENAME: WILD GEESE (1984) - Lewis Collins heads up a group of hardcase soldiers on a mission into the depths of Thailand to destroy an opium racket in this mid-eighties actioner from director Antonio Margheriti (listed as good old Anthony Dawson). Is there a name for this particular sub-genre? Junglesploitation doesn't really roll off the tongue.

There's little in the way of plot - our heroes just work their way from one location to another destroying everything, with the action being punctuated occasionally by the odd scene of the suits back home being all corporate and sleazy. That shouldn't be taken as much of a criticism in this case however as the film pretty much delivers everything you expect from a movie like this. It's shot nicely enough, the film benefiting from the sunshine and exotic locations, and the action is more than competently handled. Perhaps more importantly for something like this, it hardly lets up. Barely five minutes go by until the next conflagration or shoot-out so you're certainly never given time to get bored between the action.


If you're a big fan of people being shot and things being blown up, you'll definitely get your money's worth out of this one. Other faces of interest to cult movie fans include Ernest Borgnine, Klaus Kinski, Mimsy Farmer and Lee Van Cleef.
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Mark Tinta
Posted: Mar 21 2012, 04:41 PM


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QUOTE (Alan Maxwell @ Mar 21 2012, 10:36 PM)
CODENAME: WILD GEESE (1984) - Lewis Collins heads up a group of hardcase soldiers on a mission into the depths of Thailand to destroy an opium racket in this mid-eighties actioner from director Antonio Margheriti (listed as good old Anthony Dawson). Is there a name for this particular sub-genre? Junglesploitation doesn't really roll off the tongue.

There's little in the way of plot - our heroes just work their way from one location to another destroying everything, with the action being punctuated occasionally by the odd scene of the suits back home being all corporate and sleazy. That shouldn't be taken as much of a criticism in this case however as the film pretty much delivers everything you expect from a movie like this. It's shot nicely enough, the film benefiting from the sunshine and exotic locations, and the action is more than competently handled. Perhaps more importantly for something like this, it hardly lets up. Barely five minutes go by until the next conflagration or shoot-out so you're certainly never given time to get bored between the action.


If you're a big fan of people being shot and things being blown up, you'll definitely get your money's worth out of this one. Other faces of interest to cult movie fans include Ernest Borgnine, Klaus Kinski, Mimsy Farmer and Lee Van Cleef.

I'm a big fan of this one as well. I always just label them "Margheriti jungle action," for lack of a better term. New World released this in US theaters in the summer of 1986. Image Entertainment has been releasing the old New World catalog (previously owned by Anchor Bay) on US DVD, and I wish they'd get around to this one, since Anchor Bay never bothered. Some vintage Margheriti miniatures in that early chase scene with Collins and Borgnine! Plus Luciano Pigozzi!


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Alan Maxwell
Posted: Apr 3 2012, 12:27 PM


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WHEN HEROES DIE aka SUICIDE MISSION (1970) - a ludicrous plan involving German soldiers masquerading as Americans (lead by Craig Hill) and sending a "fake" General Rommel (Piero Lulli) to assassinate Eisenhower forms the basis of this men-on-a-mission Euro-war movie. It's a World War II setting as usual for these things, but the plan is pure science fiction.

The action in this one is pretty pedestrian - mainly just people shooting machine guns at each other in a fairly uninspired string of set pieces - but at least there's plenty of it, and I could Lulli in pretty much anything. On the down side, the film puts the viewer in an odd moral position in that the band of protagonists we're following are essentially the bad guys. The film tries to do something about this with a sappy, nonsensical ending that sadly can't hope to end the movie in a satisfactory way.

FIVE FOR HELL (1969) - another WW2 men-on-a-mission Euro-war effort, slightly more satisfying than the above. It's the usual story of a rag-tag bunch of misfits sent into the heart of Nazi territory on some crazy suicide mission, but with a great Eurocult cast (Garko, Kinski, Rossi) and large helpings of spectacular action, only hindered at times by a score that seems inappropriately jazzy and upbeat on more than one occasion.

The film is helmed by Gianfranco Parolini (aka Frank Kramer) and if you've seen his daft contribution to the Sabata franchise, expect the same approach to the action in this war movie. While the action is great fun, it's also pretty silly in places, with some of the key skills of the soldiers being the use of a portable trampoline and being able to accurately pitch a baseball. Acrobatics are unsurprisingly provided care of Parolini's Sabata star Aldo Canti, while the requisite beauty is supplied by Margaret Lee.
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Marty McKee
Posted: Apr 16 2012, 10:14 PM


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ZORRO IN THE COURT OF ENGLAND (1969)—Directed by Franco Montemurro. Stars Spiros Focas, Anna Maria Guglielmotti, Dada Gallotti, Franco Ressel, Daniele Vargas, Barbara Carrol, Franco Fantasia. Greek actor Focas (SHAFT IN AFRICA) portrays Johnston McCulley’s caped crusader in this entertaining Italian adventure with a familiar storyline. Director Montemurro (THE BLACK INVADERS) transposes the Zorro legend from Los Angeles to Hamilton, Bermuda when it was a British colony. Queen Victoria (Carrol) hears rumors of government malfeasance perpetrated by Hamilton’s governor, Sir Basil Ruthford (Vargas), and sends a member of her council, Lord Percy Moore (SABATA villain Ressel), to investigate. She doesn’t know that Moore is himself corrupt and has embezzled his niece Patricia’s (Guglielmotti) trust fund. In exchange for a clean report to the Queen, Moore plans to marry off Patricia to Sir Basil and receive a hefty dowry. Meanwhile, Ruthford and his security chief Captain Wells (Fantasia) are constantly plagued by the people’s champion, Zorro, a masked man in black who fights for justice and opposes Sir Basil’s cruel rule. If only he knew Zorro was actually Don Pedro Suarez, the callow rich landowner who prefers to be a wallflower than to rustle the governor’s feathers and risk imprisonment. Bright colors, brisk action, and a bright Angelo Lavagnino score rustle up laughs and excitement in Montemurro’s tale of sword-swinging derring-do. Although the plot is basically the same as every other Zorro movie ever made, COURT OF ENGLAND plays it with style and good cheer.


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Mark Tinta
Posted: May 24 2012, 11:05 PM


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PLOT OF FEAR aka E TANTA PAURA (1976) - Just out on DVD from Raro USA, covered at the link...


PLOT OF FEAR

This post has been edited by Mark Tinta on May 24 2012, 11:06 PM


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Marty McKee
Posted: May 28 2012, 07:50 PM


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QUOTE (Mark Tinta @ Jun 20 2010, 12:24 AM)
THE STRANGERS GUNDOWN aka DJANGO IL BASTARDO, DJANGO THE AVENGER (1970) - Belatedly released in the US in 1974, this is a sluggish and dull pseudo-supernatural spaghetti western from journeyman hack Sergio Garrone. Garrone, best known for some really sleazy Nazisploitation and other softcore porn several years down the road from this, does have a few nicely-staged sequences, most notably three crucified gunmen riding into the center of town, and it does contain one of Luciano Rossi's most over-the-top performances. But it just drags and the climax takes forever to play out. And Garrone seems undecided on whether Django (Anthony Steffen, who also co-wrote with Garrone) is a ghost. Steffen's Django exhibits supernatural tendencies when it's convenient for the plot. The story has Django coming back to a small town run by the vicious Murdok (Paolo Gozlino), a traitorous Confederate colonel who sold out his soldiers--including Django--to Union officers and left them for dead during the final days of the Civil War. It's now 1882 and the possibly dead (depending on whether it works for the plot) ghost (maybe) of Django demands vengeance. Other than that, it's pretty much business as usual except for a wild-eyed, Klaus Kinski-esque performance by Rossi (billed as "Lu Kamante") as Luke, Murdock's nutjob younger brother, who, oddly enough, gets more accomplished in the pursuit of Django than any of Murdok's none-too-bright flunkies. Worth a look for spaghetti completists, but rather inessential otherwise. Also with Rada Rassimov. Film has a cult as an atmospheric spaghetti/horror hybrid, but it's pretty light on the horror, and as far as the eerie atmosphere goes, Sergio Martino nailed that with 1977's excessively foggy MANNAJA.

THE STRANGERS GUNDOWN (1969)—Directed by Sergio Garrone. Stars Anthony Steffen, Rada Rassimov, Paolo Gozlino, Luciano Rossi. Garrone’s revenge western was seen in most countries as DJANGO THE BASTARD in an attempt to capitalize on the massive 1966 international hit DJANGO. Steffen (KILLER FISH) stepped in for Franco Nero, though the plot he co-wrote with director Garrone (IF YOU WANT TO LIVE…SHOOT!) has nothing to do with the original DJANGO.

A brooding stranger (Steffen) dressed in black arrives in Desert City with homemade grave markers containing that day’s date and the names of the men he plans to kill. After shooting down two men, the third on his list, town patriarch Rod Murdok (Gozlino), forces the townspeople to leave and organizes an army to protect him. It’s revealed that the stranger’s targets were Confederate traitors who allowed their regiment to be slaughtered by the Union Army, and that the stranger, whose name is revealed as Django, was one of the dead men.

The most interesting aspect of THE STRANGERS GUNDOWN (sic) is that Garrone and Steffen leave it open as to whether Django survived the attack or is actually a vengeful ghost back from the dead. He seems to appear and disappear at will, and Garrone has a good time accentuating the film’s horror elements with moody camera angles, including a neat shot of the black-clad Steffen against a white cliff face. The film is paced and scored to accentuate the supernatural. Placing the flashback that explains the Rebels’ betrayal near the middle of the film adds a mystery element to the chills too. Not among my favorite Italian westerns, but THE STRANGERS GUNDOWN is an interesting oddball genre turn.


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Marty McKee
Posted: May 28 2012, 10:30 PM


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QUOTE (Mark Tinta @ Jun 20 2010, 12:24 AM)
TODAY IT'S ME...TOMORROW YOU (1968) - Really fun spaghetti outing from director Tonino Cervi, notable for being co-written by Dario Argento, benefits greatly from a strong cast of spaghetti and Eurocult stalwarts like Brett Halsey, Bud Spencer, Wayde Preston, and William Berger, plus the bizarre and unexpected casting of Kurosawa regular Tatsuya Nakadai as the villain. After spending five years in jail for a crime he didn't commit, peaceful rancher Bill Kiowa (Halsey, during the brief and ill-advised period where he was calling himself "Montgomery Ford") is obsessed with getting revenge on Elfego (Nakadai), his former friend who raped and killed Kiowa's wife (Diana Madigan) and set him up to take the fall. Having a lot of money stashed away, Kiowa offers four men $10,000 each to help him track down Elfego and his gang: there's the burly O'Bannion (Spencer), local sheriff Milton (Preston), young hotshot Bunny Fox (Franco Borelli, billed as "Stanley Gordon"), and gambler Colt Moran (Berger). There's a great camaraderie among the five heroes, plenty of action scenes that keep the stuntmen busy (the fight scenes are especially energetic), some snappy, witty dialogue, solid characterizations (I like the way Kiowa and Elfego, at different times in the pursuit, are able to demonstrate just how well they know one another), and some sharp, effective camera work and editing. Plus, a memorable, inventive performance by Nakadai, who at times seems to be channelling Gian Maria Volonte's Indio from FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, but really makes this character into something uniquely creepy and despicable, and this wouldn't be the last time that figures from Asian cinema would find themselves in a spaghetti western (Tetsuro Tamba in THE FIVE MAN ARMY, Chen Lee in THE FIGHTING FISTS OF SHANGHAI JOE, Lo Lieh in THE STRANGER AND THE GUNFIGHTER, and arguably, Toshiro Mifune in RED SUN), but Nakadai might've been the first. This is not a film that comes up in spaghetti western discussions all that often, but it's a tremendously entertaining genre offering with a great cast and rousing action and I just enjoyed the hell out of it. Released in the US by Cinerama in 1971.

TODAY WE KILL, TOMORROW WE DIE! (1968)—Directed by Tonino Cervi. Stars Brett Halsey, William Berger, Bud Spencer, Wayde Preston, Franco Borelli, Tatsuya Nakadai. Cinerama Releasing gave this Italian western a U.S. theatrical release as TODAY IT’S ME…TOMORROW YOU. Brett Halsey won a Golden Globe the same year he starred in the shortlived ABC adventure series FOLLOW THE SUN. A year later, he was in Europe kickstarting a new career toplining westerns, fantasies, and spy movies. For this one, written by director Cervi (QUEENS OF EVIL) and future horror icon Dario Argento (BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE), Halsey was billed as “Montgomery Ford,” which must have confused Americans who remembered Halsey from his Hollywood roles.

Halsey co-stars with another television veteran, former Warner Brothers contract player Preston (COLT .45), in this amiable revenge western with a good cast. Of course, being Italian, revenge is the thing, as Bill Kiowa (Halsey) is released from prison after serving five years on a trumped-up charge. The guy who framed Bill, James Elfego (Nakadai), is also the guy who murdered his Indian wife, and Elfego has to pay. Usually, these western heroes are loners, but Kiowa assembles a team of killers to help him avenge his wife: sheriff Jeff Milton (Preston), dandy Colt Moran (Berger), big O’Bannion (Spencer), and young Bunny Fox (Borelli).

Obviously riffing on THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, Cervi delivers an entertaining amount of gun-cracking action and humor. Casting a Japanese actor as Elfego is an absurd idea, but Nakadai’s wild overacting sort of makes it work, especially when he brings a machete to a gunfight. Cervi has a nice eye for locations, shooting the last couple of reels in a barren autumn forest, which adds a touch of the eerie to the engrossing climax. Both Halsey and Preston stuck it out in Europe through the end of the 1960s, then returned to Hollywood for minor film roles and TV guest shots. Music by Angelo Lavagnino.


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Marty McKee
Posted: Mar 3 2013, 03:18 PM


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PECOS CLEANS UP (1967)—Directed by Maurizio Lucidi. Stars Robert Woods, Erno Crisa, Carlo Gaddi, Luciana Gilli. The director and the star of MY NAME IS PECOS returned for a more lighthearted sequel. Three comic mariachis stumble upon a map leading to Montezuma’s legendary treasure, which leads to the ruins of an Aztec temple carved into the side of a mountain. The evil El Supremo (Crisa), who believes he is Montezuma’s heir, has his headquarters there and wants the hidden treasure for his own, but doesn’t know where the map is. The musicians team up with gunslinger Pecos (Woods), and the four of them infiltrate El Supremo’s gang with a plan to make them kill each other off so the gold can be easily removed. An unimportant entry in the Italian western genre, but not an unentertaining one. Crisa is a great villain, dressed in black and wielding a bullwhip against Pecos at the end. The good guys’ plan to separate the bad guys to make it easier to pick them off is cleverly portrayed.


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Brian Camp
Posted: Mar 10 2013, 08:37 PM


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50 years ago today, I opted not to see Roger Corman's THE RAVEN, but instead went to a different theater to see SAMSON AND THE SEVEN MIRACLES OF THE WORLD and WARRIORS FIVE, two Italian genre films with American stars, dubbed in English and distributed by American International Pictures, a moviegoing decision with lifelong ramifications.

I write about it in today's blog entry.

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Marty McKee
Posted: Apr 21 2013, 07:43 PM


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OUR MAN IN CASABLANCA (1966)—Directed by Tulio Demicheli. Stars Lang Jeffries, Olga Omar, Isabella Biancini, Pier Paolo Capponi, Paco Moran. Besides the Moroccan locations, this mostly undistinguished Italian spy thriller stands out for two reasons. One of the villains, who should be played by Ray Wise in a remake, has a blocky, oversized steel hand that he uses to electrocute his victims. Also, the major action scene is an exciting chase between a convertible and a cropduster in which the airplane’s wheels appear to miss the camera in the car’s backseat by about a foot. That star Lang Jeffries is clearly behind the wheel of the automobile while this airplane ducks and weaves just above his head makes the action sequence even more phenomenal. Otherwise, OUR MAN IN CASABLANCA is clumsily structured, considering how simple the plot is, and director Demicheli (THE MEAN MACHINE) gets less mileage out of the cool steel-claw gimmick than he should. Canadian actor Jeffries, whose career was confined to American television and European genre films, stars as American agent Brian Kervin, who chases a dossier potentially embarrassing to a U.S. ally around Morocco. The usual clichés of the Eurospy genre apply, including gorgeous women, chases, fights, shootouts, and the requisite wiseguy standoff between hero and villain. Routine stuff, though, boy, that chase sure looks dangerous.


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Marty McKee
Posted: Jun 10 2013, 09:05 PM


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QUOTE (William S. Wilson @ Apr 2 2010, 11:06 AM)
MANHATTAN NIGHT OF MURDER (1965) - G-man Jerry Cotton (George Nader) and his partner Phil Decker (Heinz Weiss) are on the case of The $100 Gang, a group of neighborhood extortionists who killed local Italian restaurant owner Giuseppe.  The only witness to the crime was 10-year-old Billy, who the gang tries to snuff out while Cotton and Decker try to figure out who is the Kingpin behind all of this. 

Jerry Cotton was a American FBI crime fighter exclusive to Germany (?) in books starting in the 1950s and this is the second of 8 Cotton films made by the West Germans between 1965-69.  The first four are in black and white and the last four are in color.  The films are breezy affairs and Nader is fun as the Bondsian hero.  The investigation is fairly routine in this one (you'll laugh at the main villain reveal and their motive) but it is fun to see the 60s decor and styles.  Also, the filmmakers try to pass of Germany for NYC (not gonna happen).  There is some location work of Jerry's trademark jaguar driving around and lots of stock footage of the city.  They also try to create a massive FBI office-scape by having actors stand in front of rear projections of file footage.  The film's action highlight is at a coal processing plant. 

Here is the oft repeated (to the point that you WILL be whistling it) theme:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6Wv6rg8wzs

Oddly enough, the Germans are back at it with a new Jerry Cotton flick this year that looks to be like those OSS spoofs:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-ExIx8M50I

MANHATTAN NIGHT OF MURDER (1965)—Directed by Harald Phillip. Stars George Nader, Heinz Weiss, Silvia Solar, Paul Muller. American actor Nader (from the MAN AND THE CHALLENGE TV series) went to Germany during the mid-1960s to star in eight films about FBI agent Jerry Cotton. Jerry’s second time around the big screen is something of a dud, thanks to its dishwater-dull bad guys. While it may be realistic for the FBI to investigate a protection racket extorting $100 per month from local business owners, it doesn’t make for exciting spy adventure. Peter Thomas scored the Cotton films, so they’re always worth listening to even what’s happening on screen isn’t thrilling. A foot chase through a coal mill is okay, and Cotton’s attempted rescue of a hood (Muller from LADY FRANKENSTEIN) trapped in an abandoned warehouse with a door-triggered bomb ends in a nice twist. Setting the film in New York City, though an obvious choice for a film about the FBI, is a laughable task for the German filmmakers though. Their Brooklyn looks more like Berlin, and they have no idea how baseball or television advertising works. Coincidentally, Nader bears a strong resemblance to more famous FBI guy Lew Erskine.


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