Sunday, December 7, 2008

Blastfighter directed by Lamberto Bava 1984

Ex cop Tiger is leaving prison after an 8 year stretch, played by Michael Sopkiw who unfortunately only starred in 4 films in his career, although of those 4 there were some classic Italian genre films like 2019: After the fall of New York and Massacre in dinosaur valley.

Through a series of flashbacks we learn that Tiger was doing time for shooting the murderer of his beloved wife. Picked up by a friend he is driven to a car park where his friend has a weapon Tiger requested; it's a beast of a gun that can fire smoke bombs, flares, rubber pellets, lead slugs, armor piercing, grenades and tear gas! It becomes pretty obvious that this weapon is going to play as big role as any of the characters.

The title Blastfighter might be a confusing one for the content present, I personally was expecting a science fiction film based just on the title, after some research it came to my attention that it was originally intended as a science fiction but for reasons unknown to me (please feel free to comment) the story was re-written but the title was kept because advertising had already begun. Tiger is the classic action anti hero loner, after a moral decision not to kill the judge that sent him to prison he sets off to the woods where his fathers abandoned cabin is located, like all cops with emotional baggage he plans to live out his days alone. Some of the local hicks take an instant dislike to Tiger particularly Wally who's older brother is played by the legendary George Eastman, Eastman's character Tom has a history with Tiger and there is noticeable tension when they are together, this tension will come to confrontation later in the film. Tiger plays it cool at first but when he finds out that the local hunters aren't just hunting for food anymore he is furious. A local Asian entrepreneur is reselling the animal parts to his medicine making friends, he is paying the hicks a lot of money for this merchandise with the only catch being that he wants all his animals alive. The locals at first limit their taunts to just practical jokes and verbal abuse in the form of hilarious dialogue. Eventually it escalates to attempts on his life.

When Tigers estranged daughter Connie arrives at the cabin there is hostility and inappropriate dialogue aplenty, just as Tiger starts to warm to Connie those pesky hicks return and kill his friend from the start of the movie along with Connie’s innocent boyfriend Pete.
Connie is roughed up and injured in the fiasco this is when things really reach their pinnacle, tragedy strikes our hero and he is sent into a jungle rage! Unarmed Tiger needs to get back to the cabin to get one thing, the multipurpose shoots anything firearm.

When he finally does get back to the cabin and retrieves the gun all hell breaks loose. The action and revenge that follows is satisfying with plenty of exploding cars and missing limbs, the location really shines in the final 40 odd minutes with some great helicopter camera shots and jungle chase scenes.
I really enjoyed Blastfighter, it’s stock standard action fare but like it’s Italian genre counterparts it amps everything up just a little bit further, it’s the kind of film you craved when you were 12 but could never find (well not me anyway).

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Friday Femme!

This Friday, the incredibly sexy Edwige Fenech, even part time 70's Italian Genre fans will recognise her. Enjoy!

Monday, July 21, 2008

What have you done to Solange?

This review comes from contributor Mr Intolerance.

Strap on the black leather gloves, kids, it’s giallo time! And it’s a reasonably sordid affair, too. As is the affair between high-school teacher Enrico Rossini (the reliably good Fabio Testi) and his student Elizabeth; this kind of sets the sleazy tone for the world we’re in, in this film. There’s nothing good about the context we’re introduced to; you can’t even rely on a good clean kill, if you’re going to get murdered. You’ll be killed, sure, but in a vicious, brutal, not to mention degrading, way.

st as in Argento’s The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, the murder that sparks off the action in this film is witnessed, sort of, at the start of the film – and it is pretty repellent. This is one of those great moments of giallo cinema where the implied violence is so strong you actually think you see it explicitly. You get a fair bit of this in …Solange. We start off the film with Enrico and his young paramour, a student of his at St Mary’s College for Catholic Girls in London, getting to second base in a boat floating up the Thames. Just as he’s starting to map out the uncharted territory of her boobs, she happens (with inevitable giallo logic) to look up and see a long knife blade getting slammed viciously between a young girl’s thighs (ouch!). He doesn’t believe she’s seen this, being a bit more concerned with trying to nob her, and throws a bit of a tanty before taking her back to town, presumably with a terrible case of blue balls, given his rather cruel treatment of the poor young thing. But the murder did happen, and it’s the first of a few – and it’s the start of a number of cases, all related somehow back to the mysterious Solange (Camille I Spit On Your Grave Keaton).

I think one of the elements of mystery essential to the giallo genre that’s so well handled in this film is that the title character is kept off-screen for most of its duration. You see the title, you hear the character’s name mentioned, but where the hell is she?
Actually, when you even read the title, you ask yourself, what have they done to Solange? Given the kind of film this is, and that first kill, you can only assume that what ever “they” have done is very bad indeed. Enrico’s marriage sucks pretty hard. To call it a cold and unfeeling one is to put it mildly. His Nordic, if not positively Aryan-looking wife, Herda, he refers to as “piss elegant”, a phrase that made wine shoot out of my nose. True, she’s a bit of an ice-maiden, but he’s a philandering paedo, so should we listen to a word he says? Enjoying such matrimonial harmony, Enrico hears on the news about the murder and becomes a tad agitated. He goes to the crime scene for a bit of a look-see, thus implicating himself, in the eyes of the police as the story progresses.

Anyway, the coppers have turned up to St Mary’s, as the girl murdered was a final year student there. The police rather inexplicably show the staff some crime scene photos of the poor young murdered Hilda with a knife buried deep in her vagina, and then fuck off for no readily apparent reason – wouldn’t they want to question her friends? Or the staff, for that matter? Or even explain why they’re showing them such horrid photos? There’s that giallo logic again…

Enrico prevents Elisabeth from going to the police, for the obvious reasons, and that reinforces our view of him as a sack of shit, and our take on the world of this film as a bit of a seamy one. This latter point is reinforced when Hilda’s parents are interviewed by the police and dear old Dad states extremely emphatically to the investigating officer about the other students, “I never understood those girls.” That’s a clue, by the way, and signposted in such an obvious way it makes your head spin. I guess that given the context of the film’s composition, Generation Gap was pretty paramount in the audience’s collective mind.

The police manage to convince Enrico to tell his real side of the story, but the whole investigation is still treading water, until…uh-oh, another murder of another pretty young student of St Mary’s, and in the same grotesque manner as before (cue: more knife-in-cunt photos). And again, a la Plumage, the original witness, Elisabeth, starts having flashbacks revealing that little bit more of the original crime all the time, piece-by-piece, in the little love-pad she’s set up with Enrico.
Elisabeth finally tells her story, with some of the details glossed over, and with some pretty dire consequences. And can you spell “red herring”? I mean how stupid are these police? The trail of nastiness continues unabated. It appears that the girls were very cliquey (oh, what a surprise), and are protecting something or someone, which starts driving Enrico back towards his wife, as they become some kind of awesome crime-fighting duo, trying to discover the culprit. Enrico interrogates a jive photographer, and Solange is first mentioned.

Then the film picks up pace, and it wasn’t any slouch to begin with.
Enter: Solange, and the last act of the film. You thought it was grimy? Oh, you just wait and see… And now the motive for the killer seems to have been made apparent. And time for me to shut my mouth, not wanting to be giving any potential plot- spoilers.

So then: amateur detectives? Check! Sexual violence? Check! A black-leather-gloved-assassin? Check! An incompetent police force? Check! Ladies and gentlemen, we have a giallo.

This film has a lot to recommend itself. Aristide Massaccei’s (Joe D’Amato’s) camerawork (say what you will about his direction, he knew his way around a camera), an Ennio Morricone score, excellent cinematography, just to re-state the point, Fabio Testi in god-mode, a plot that gradually unfolds and is totally unknowable, and an ending that can’t be predicted.

The performances are all you’d expect from a giallo; heightened register, heightened delivery, excessive violence and black leather gloves. It’s all good.
It sort of struck me at a later point how intrusive the whole Catholic milieu was and yet intrinsic to the intended audience, given that England is a predominantly Protestant country, but there’s those wacky Catholic Italians for you.

Very kind thank you to Mr Intolerance for the excellent review.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Rome armed to the teeth - DVD release

Pre-orders are now up for the New Entertainment release of Rome armed to the teeth, it is limited to 600 pieces so I imagine it won't last long. It also doesn't come cheap, especially including postage.

You can pre-order here

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Man Called Magnum (1977)

Luc Meranda stars as Inspector Mauri a cop transferred from Milan to Naples to fight a growing crime war between the aging mafia and a fierce independent operator. His only clues are strange tip offs in the form of child like drawings. Like most crime film's of this era elements of Dirty Harry are explored, however like other more obvious entries A Man Called Magnum trims away the stereotypes and cuts straight to the chase, the actual meat of the story. Which at it's essence is genuinely compelling.

Often with Italian crime films I find myself losing my way in the story because it doesn't engage me enough, between the two writers Dardano Sacchetti and Michele Massimo Tarantini a lot of genre favourites were penned from Massacre at dinosaur valley to the New York Ripper. This is no different with a tight well written script with interesting characters and good story plot. Albeit a little obvious at times, the drawings from the small girl for example are a less than believable plot line.

Italian comedy is throughout with most of the dated laughs coming from Mauri's new partner Sergeant Nicola Capece (Enzo Cannavele). The comedy has an interestingly culture specific twist in the constant banter between characters regarding North and South Italy.

Luc Meranda is one smooth cat. His character isn’t as jam packed with cliché lines as maybe Ray Lovelock and Maurizo Merli but “Get dressed now so I can undress you later, it’ll be more exciting” is a classy line if you ask me. Like his aforementioned counterparts he does have the uncanny ability to make women fall in love with him at the drop of a hat. Again the film shows a more refined story in that Mauri doesn’t spend 90% of his time with the ladies. He is a focused hard working cop with a few less than legal methods. The other performances are not to be overlooked one in particular from the young daughter of the crime boss, Francesca Guadagno who does a fantastic job.

The villains Mauri and his partner face are effectively menacing, if it’s shoot outs and car chases you are looking for it wont disappoint, there is plenty of action, including a great car chasing train scene ala French Connection.

Tarantini employs some interesting camera techniques during the car chases to set them apart from the norm.

Most reviews I have read online have been less than positive, most only giving credit to the soundtrack and the car chases. I may be in the minority but I liked this film, it was paced well and had interesting engaging characters. It’s nice to start a new blog with a positive review. Lets see how long that lasts.