Mario Bava fashions a lean an’ mean, exhilarating kidnap yarn, including yet another protean performance from George Eastman. ‘Rabid Dogs’ is a masterclass of dynamic, economical filmmaking. Set mostly within the cloying confines of a sweltering automobile; a clearly mean-spirited, Bava’s ratchets the tension up to an almost impossibly frantic degree, with the total lack of digressions keeping the pace brisk with frank outbusts of savage violence that suddenly jolt you far out of your confort zone. ‘Rabid Dogs’ is Stylish, brutal Italian action cinema at its very finest. Not only was Mario Bava the absolute master of mood, atmosphere and exemplary lighting in gothic cinema; his obvious mastery of gritty Euro Crime action is yet more demonstrative evidence of his grand cinematic legacy.
Archive for January, 2009
Brutal euro crime exploitation produced in Germany in the early 70’s ‘ that easily ranks alongside the bruising likes of ‘Violent Naples’, ‘Almost Human’, and Michael Apted ‘s ‘‘The Squeeze’ etc. With a ballsy, genuinely frightening performance from the muscular and enigmatic Raimund Harmsdorf; plentiful amounts of splenetic, bone-breaking violence and a blistering score from the estimable Francesco ‘new york ripper’ De Masi and you have an all-time Goliath of grindhouse madness that delivers bravura, hardboiled 70s thuggery unlike any other.
Little-known and poorly documented euro-crime that merits re-discovery. That said, any italian actioner from the early 70’s with a typically grooved-out score from, Stelvio Cipriani and a muscular performance from Philippe Leroy is going to be anything but a time waster; and surprisingly Klaus Kinski turns in a restained performance as a blow torch-weilding hitman, who cuts a dashing, violent swathe through the proceedings in his hep-cat sunspex. It might well have been this film that got me to re-view many other titles with that most swarthy of enigmatic actors, Philippe Leroy…Methinks it it time for a Leroy retrospective!
A truly masterful and riveting actioner from the rightfully lauded high-stylist of Italian crime, Fernando Di Leo. ‘Blood & Diamonds’ is a definite keeper for both euro-crime junkies and lovers of dynamic, plot-heavy action thrillers. The brooding, Claudio Cassinelli delivers yet another masterful performance, and his main squeeze, Barbara Bouchet is such a sweetie as to engender a diabetic swoon in even the most robust of males! All this macho slam-bang-gangster man whirligig is neatly punctuated by yet another blazing jazz-funk score from the supremely talented Luis Bacalov. A taut, expertly crafted thriller that is ripe for re-discovery.
‘Blazing Magnum’ is a lightning-paced, taut and brutal euro-crime/giallo with assured & bravura direction from Alberto De Martino. Set within a grim-looking Montréal, quintessentially hard-nosed and nimble-fisted cop, Tony Siatta (Stuart Whitman) and the ever-svelte, genre staple, John Saxon pursues a brutal, opportunistic killer. ‘Blazing Magnum’ is a truly bruising and exhilarating entry in the ever-popular euro-crime cannon, with all the gonzoid violence and hard-boiled dialogue one expects; including a profoundly exhilarating, dizzyingly-paced, wildly bonkers car chase that usurps all others! This monstrously entertaining euro-crime thriller is amongst the very best the genre has to offer and yields utterly essential euro-crime viewing. The deeply-funky score by that unheralded genius, Armando Trovajoli is one of the genres very best; gritty, urban crime funk that ranks alongside the very best pile-driving, gonzoid wah-wah funk, Guido & Maurizio de Angelis have to offer!
Assassination (1967) Groovy late 60’s euro-spy goodness about the convoluted chicanery of nefarious intelligence agencies, Henry Silva is suitably tense as, John Chandler, a C.I.A operative who is forced to undertake a perilous mission, whereby he assumes the identity of his non-existent brother, Phillip. This is a swingin’ yarn with a nifty pop score, brisk pacing and Miraglia’s use of the Hamburg/Berlin locations make ‘Assassination’ a memorable heft of 1960’s cloak and dagger. Henry Silva fans will find much nourishment in his steely-gazed, fleet-fisted, super spy persona.
The uber macho and super-svelte pugilist, Maurizio Merli reprises his incendiary role as the maverick, all fists blazin’, skin-tight shirt wearin’, commisario betti for yet another gonzoid installment of rabidly hard-boiled Italian poliziottesci action. craven, ill-dressed thugs are foolhardy enough to attempt the kidnapping of a group of school children on Merli’s watch which unleashes a deluge of exhilarating retribution from the inimitable, golden-haired paragon of righteous vengeance, commisario betti; whose zero tolerance; throw jaw-mashing roundhouses an’ ask questions later modus operandi proves more than adequate when called to throw down with his arch nemesis, Albertini; played with obvious glee by another legendary euro-crime alumnus; the ever- lithe, John Saxon. ‘special cop in action’ is demonstratively one of the all-time great euro crime epics, galvanized by a riot of killer set pieces, made all the more deliriously entertaining by Franco Micalizzi’s gritty, funkier-than-thou score; emphatic crime funk par excellence.
IL MERCENARIO (1968) Sergio Corbucci. Now this is more like it! A primo western directed with great gusto by the venerable Sergio Corbucci with a magnificent cast including: Franco Nero, Tony Musante and Jack Palance. The film’s great strengths lay not in fashioning a convoluted plot but in executing rigorous action sequences, a wonderfully exhilarating score by Morricone and a plethora of full blooded, eccentric characterisations. Franco Nero cuts a remarkably arrogant swathe as Sergei Kowalksi, a marvellously coiffure’d, amoral gun for hire who spends most of the film killing folk with unerring accuracy, all the while drawling out laconic put downs AND effortlessly maintaining a fabulously luxurious mane of immaculate hair! Nero appears to be having a ball with this roguish character and that good humour sears through the celluloid. Jack Palance is one of cinema’s most singular performers and here he finds himself resplendent in dark, octogenarian curls playing yet another granite-hearted henchmen with consummate élan…(it must be said that whenever I saw him in his grannie syrup meting out the old ultraviolence I almost pissed myself laughing! A more incongruous villain would be hard to find) and the likable Tony Musante excels as the flawed, rambunctious and opportunistic revolutionary whose political and military ineptitude is overshadowed by his rugged good looks and rough house charm. ‘il mercenario’ is everything one could want from a spaghetti western, and a whole lot more; this is gangbusters entertainment from start to finish, and should be immensely appealing even to those outside the cloistered, fan boy world of the Italian Western. Absolute class!