Spike of Bensonhurst (1988) Poster

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rdhibsho19 January 2000
I grew up in Brooklyn. I knew Spike and his friends. Their names and faces were different, but their lives were the same. If you treat this movie as a political statement you will be offended. If you treat this movie as entertainment you'll suffer. But if you treat this movie as a sociological exercise, you will be enlightened. No movie made before or since, has captured the essence of Brooklyn so effectively. Story, plot progression, and emotive content are deliberately sacrificed to the end of painting a realistic portrait of both the subjects and their neighborhood. At the film's conclusion, the characters, like their environs, develop little. Such is Brooklyn.
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A Truly Informed, Brilliant Satire Crying Out For Release On DVD.
griffinmill2751623 April 2008
Alan Bowne, sadly, will not be around to enjoy SPIKE's reemergence (assuming that Image gets off its ass and publishes a long-awaited anamorphic DVD release); but the film's many fans will rejoice. Image published a pan-and-scan transfer on LaserDisc in 1989.

In other reviews of the film on this site, some (perhaps myopic?) individuals skewer SPIKE for its depiction of certain Italian characters - failing to notice that the foibles of women, Jews, gays, Puerto Ricans and W.A.S.P.s share equal billing. Morrissey & Bowne's targets were hypocrisy and bigotry. The score - a double bullseye.

Viva Spike Of Bensonhurst. While we're asking, may we have an official DVD release of Andy Warhol's BAD, another classic of the period?
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Funny. . .Offbeat. . . Offensive. . .Weird
Jeffrey Wang26 February 1999
This is one strange movie, and that's why I love it so much. The actors overact, the lead actor is a jerk, his Portuguese sidekick is a riot, and the last scene is strangely touching and uplifting. Oh, and the dialogue has to be heard to be believed. No, this is no Godfather, but I doubt that that was Paul Morrissey's intention. If you don't take it too seriously, you're in for one strange, fun viewing. Oh, and the Spanish pop music soundtrack by Coati Mundi is just great! I'm not joking, either. . . Gus Van Sant should have remade this instead of Psycho.
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* * *1/2 Out Of Five
bronsonskull7218 March 2006
Sasha Mitchell stars as Spike Fumo a boxer who want to be a champion but not mess up his pretty looks in the process, Fumo gets along well with the mobster Baldo Cacetti (Ernest Borgnine, in a great performance) however it's when Spike starts eyeing Cacetti's daughter Angel (Maria Pitillo) he's forced out of his neighborhood and forced to live with his Puerto Rican friend Bandanna (Rick Aviles) and there he starts his own boxing circuit, however when Cacetti finds out Spike has gotten Angel pregnant, As well as Bandanna's sister India (Talisa Soto) things heat up to confrontation in this hilarious and sly satire of Rocky and mobster flicks. The best joke is of course that Sasha Mitchell doesn't want to actually earn his title as champion but rather have it fixed by mobsters so he doesn't have to work so hard. Sasha Mitchell displays real acting talent and real sharp comic skills, something that would surprise you if you saw him on that awful TV show he was on. This without a doubt Mitchell's best movie and it's thanks to the humor derived from Mitchell and Borgnine's chemistry which provides the most enjoyable moments. The only complaint is Talisa Soto who comes off like a deer in the headlights. Still it's shocking that the best Mitchell could do after this was Kickboxer 2, 3 and 4.

3.5/5 Matt Bronson
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The cinema of Paul Morrisey.
Joseph P. Ulibas15 October 2003
Former Factory alumni Paul Morrisey's Spike of Bensonhurst(1988) is a funny film about the streets of Brooklyn. Like most of his other films, this one's an acquired taste. You either love Morrisey's work or you hate it. Spike is a punk kid who also happens to be a lousy club fighter.

He's always in and out of trouble, making life miserable for every one around him. Then one day, Spike makes a very stupid decision that'll nearly destroy his life. You might want to call this movie a lowlife Rocky. I highly recommend this film. I enjoyed it and you might too! Sasha Mitchell is Spike, Ernest Borgnine, Talisa Soto, Rick Aviles (R.I.P.) and Sylvia Miles also co-star.

Check it out. If you can find it!
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Proud owner of a copy
Boyo-222 June 1999
Unlike the majority of my fellow reviewers, I really like this movie and am proud to say I own a copy. It's very funny in part and everyone gives a good performance. Even Geraldine Smith is hysterical. Whoever did the casting did a great job.
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Never judge a video by it's cover!
harlemsushi18 June 2004
In life, just as in boxing there are rules that one must abide by. Despite knowing these rules, Spike Fumo chooses to march to the beat of his own drum. Unfortunately, at times the beat is out of synch with the tune of reality.

Sasha Mitchell plays Spike Fumo; a native Bensonhurst Brooklynite whose grasp out seeds his reach. His father is serving a prison term for a crime he took the fall on to protect a local mob boss. His mother has taken up with another woman in her husbands absence and moved her lover into the house. Despite tall this, Spike has aspirations of becoming a boxing champion/mobster and thinks his Italian heritage is enough to carry him on the road to both. And such begins Spike of Bensonhurst. Paul Morrissy of the Andy Warhol fame directs this picture but try not to hold that against the movie. To his credit, during filming; Sasha Mitchell almost broke his back trying to carry the entire project on his shoulders with little to no avail. But, if you pause step back and look at the story line as a whole; the plot is amazing.

Spike is a club fighter who tries to impress local mob boss Baldo Cacetti by throwing fights. When he sees that is getting him nowhere fast, he quickly decides to get Baldo's daughter Angel pregnant and carve out a niche for himself. As a result, Spike gets him exiled from Bensonhurst. He is forced to move to Red Hook with Bandana (a fellow boxer) and his Puerto Rican family. Things then really start to spiral out of control when Spike falls for Bandana's sister, India and gets her pregnant as well. He finds himself between a rock and a hard place with a pregnant girl on each side pushing both in on him. If William Shakespeare were a filmmaker, this is the type of film he'd be making! It has everything: familial drama, sly comedy, prearranged marriages, unrequited love, crime, and a refreshingly flawed lead character who for once does not have all the answers and is free to make his own mistakes. (But trust me, The Bard would have done a far better job than some washed-up reject from Andy Warhol's factory.)

I believe that this film went wrong in 2 places. First off, there wasn't enough of an on-screen relationship developed between Spike and India. In fact, it seemed that Spike's furlough into Red Hook as a whole was more delegated to comic relief status when it could have been very revealing to Spike's character as a whole. I never felt I knew if Spike was involved with India because he just wanted a piece or if he actually found comfort in her arms. In one scene, Spike stared at India from bar of the club they were at while she was dancing with another man, and you knew that Spike felt a sense of guilt but you never know why.

Secondly, this film without a doubt possesses the worst soundtrack of all time. I'd rather listen to a tape an endless tape of Gilbert Godfried reading the phone book than to pop the soundtrack to this bad boy in my CD player. Trust me, mere language cannot convey how bad the music is. All in all, Spike of Bensonhurst is a film that deserves viewing. It's a film that is a dying breed. Part Anti-Rocky and part Shakespearean tragedy that is largely uneven and possess lots of the drawbacks of both. What it does possess, are enough genuine moments throughout to make you realize that his could have been so much more. Don't listen to any of the negative reviews on this for this film that other people have written. As a matter of fact, you can pretty much throw the positive ones out the window also and make up your own mind.
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Great Movie!
Joe7 August 2005
This movie was great, especially if you grew up in that time period in those neighborhoods. A lot of this movie was filmed in my area, Ridgewood, Queens. Most of the acting was a little cheesy, and some were even awful. But overall it was a great movie. I haven't seen this movie in a long time, and finally found a copy somewhere out west, at a store that went under. I was just reading the actors profiles, and saw the the actor who played the bandana died in 1995. That is a tragic loss. Great actor and funny guy. If there are any people out there who felt the same about this movie, let me know. And if you haven't seen it, you should, but just remember, don't be too harsh with comments, it's an old movie..LOL
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Relax and enjoy
Ignacio Martinez-Ybor22 March 2003
I have been an advocate of this movie since it came out. It is charming and endearing. Sasha Mitchell exudes a natural warmth that grabs your attention and leaves you smiling. The movie is well written, well acted and well produced. On its own terms, this is an entertainement that gives much pleasure which lingers long after you've seen it. It is well worth renting.
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Recolection and a question.
cmayorga31 March 2007
I saw this movie a long/long time ago and, thought it was cool. I have a question, does anybody remember the song at the end of this movie? I think that it was performed by the one and only Frank Sinatra. It is a shame that I have not been able to find this DVD because, growing up back in the 80's, I thought that the plot dealt with many aspects of social life in that decade. Very interesting movie that I would love to see again. I've always been fascinated by movies that contain a song that will make one, remember that particular movie for a long time. Mr. Eastwood's movies come to mind, he always includes a song in his movies that make one want to see it over and over again.
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beedub4117 February 2003
Those of you who (Italians) are taking this movie seriously need to ease up. I truly believe this was a comedy. Satire has to be exaggerated. Since all you Brooklynites seem to be taking offense, have you ever watched Saturday Night Live? Do you understand the concept of satire? Borgnine's performance was over the top and Sylvia Miles as the coke-sniffing Congresswoman was a laugh riot.

Sasha was charming and his mother was comical. Sorry guys, this was light comedy that poked fun at Italians/Puerto Ricans/Jews. Give it a rest, there are plenty of better movies that put Italians in a bad light. I bet you all watch The Sopranos every Sunday huh?
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Not what it seems.
Aner-27 March 1999
This is an odd movie. The script and acting are toned-down John Waters, the plot structure is no more than it has to be (and sometimes not even that), but the look of the film, especially the composition of shots, is beautiful, careful, and coldly objective. Morrissey has a unique eye, demonstrated on the cheap in "Trash" and displayed here in surreal, over-saturated color.
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A fine independent film, which accurately portrays Brooklyn
sirasb-226 January 2001
Very humorous film, including some great, accurate Brooklyn dialogue. The film does drag in points, but it also takes a few risks in its ending, going for a more realistic rather than Hollywood outlook. I'm constantly surprised that this film has not received more attention, or even a cult following.
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Mama Mia Awesome!
kmetko518 October 2004
Fantastic is an understatement. Sasha Mitchell shines in this gem, this slice of Brooklyn life that puts most other New York movies to shame in the gutter of garbage where they belong.

Charming as heck, it follows the path of an ignorant fellow, Sasha, who has a heart of bronze and a head of stone, as he tries to pursue his dreams of love, boxing, and just trying to get by after he's banished from Bensonhurst, the only place he wants to be! He may be stupid but he looks real good.

And Talisa Soto is wonderfully beautiful, both ripe and delicious! Lots of laughs, local color, and an original for sure!
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spike is bensonhurst ten rate
orangebirds15 September 2002
this has to be the best movie ever made (next to fletch). i wouldn't be the person i am today if it weren't for seeing this movie as a little kid. no, i'm not joking. i think it's funny as hell. i wish i could have it for dvd. my vhs is wearing thin. long live spike.
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Why is everyone so down on this movie?
ericl-219 August 1999
Spike of Bensonhurst is a lot of fun. It's an only slightly idealized look at life in Brooklyn's ethnic enclaves in the 1980s, by former Warhol co-conspirator Paul Morrissey. With amusing and well deployed performances by Mitchell and by Borgnine as the neighborhood Mob boss he runs afoul of, it's one of the few Brooklyn- or New York-set movies from that era that actually looks like it was filmed there, not on a set. (Even Martin Scorcese's films of the period - although not his 1970s movies, of course - look slick by comparison.)

Maybe people don't like the fact that Spike implies strongly that life goes on even amidst crack, ethnic violence, and corruption and doesn't preach about these things - just presents them as facts of the local situation, without letting them get in the way of humor? Somehow, the movie leaves you amused and feeling good in spite or even because of some of the more graphic stuff it shows you.
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A talented cast can only do so much with this material
Wizard-81 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Maybe you have to be from Bensonhurst and the surrounding area to appreciate this movie fully. I am not, and that may explain why this movie didn't interest me that much. With the impressive line of actors in the movie (both well known and unknown), it should have worked, but it doesn't. The cast tries, but their parts are written to be more or less stereotypes you have seen in countless other movies. Also, the storyline is really garbled; for most of the time it seems to be rambling much about nothing particular, though there are also some plot details that are really murky, as if they were edited out or not filmed in the first place. The biggest problem, however, is that while the movie is supposedly a comedy, it isn't very funny at all. Don't get me wrong, the writing never gets to be annoying or strident in tone, but it is uninspired and lame all the same.

To be fair, director (and co-writer) Paul Morrissey does manage to create some great atmosphere; you can really feel the heat and grit in the air. But in the end, about the only interest the movie manages to generate is having the viewer wonder why the Pepsi corporation though it was a good idea to let the filmmakers make multiple plugs for Diet Pepsi throughout the movie.
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Sasha was phenomenal
Richard Latanville17 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I am a fan of Sasha, from Cody to David Sloane. But this was his first full featured film. I can tell Sasha was a breakout and good actor from this movie. He plays Spike, an Italian decent aspiring boxer who takes a shine to a Mafia daughter, Angel gets her pregnant.

But the Mafia father played by the recently late Ernest Borgnine doesn't like Spike being with his daughter uses his Mafia ways to keep them apart, meanwhile Spike life in Bensonhurst went downhill.

So he makes his life in Red Hook by the Battery Tunnel, a heavy Puerto Rican rundown neighborhood. Befriends Bandana (Rick Aviles - Willy Lopez on Ghost) and starts another life in Red Hook. He meets India takes a shine to as well and eventually got her pregnant. So he is torn between two ladies.

Even Sasha's fake Italian accent is cheesy, but he makes it work. One final thing, the movie moves too quickly paying little attention in the storyline so this is why I make it a 7. It has potential.
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A Mob Film Classic
David_Brown27 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This film is an absolute mob film classic, and it may be the most under-appreciated film in the past 30 years. First off, it was done by a company (Film Dallas) that went bankrupt, so it may never end up on DVD (So it will not have a large audience). More to the point, what the film is about is honor, and doing the right thing, which Spike does throughout the film (Albeit reluctantly). Spike has a code of ethics (The OLD Itallian way of doing things), which is quite different than the other characters in the film (Especially his parents (not just his lesbian mother). I can tell you that if I went to jail, and my wife turned lesbian, she would not be back in my house, like nothing happened) Spoilers coming. First, Spike saves the life of a Puerto Rican fighter named Bandana (Rick Aviles) from a gang of racists. Then he refuses to throw a fight, and gets his knuckles smashed with a meat hammer for his efforts, then after getting India (Talisa Soto) pregnant, he marries her (They have another kid as well (In addition to the kid he has with Angel), finally he refuses any help from Baldo Cacetti the local Don (Ernest Borgnine), and becomes a police officer (Instead of a low level thug, or some kind of follower). Perhaps what is most interesting is the end of the movie, where it is Baldo (Not Angel and her elite University Graduate husband (Who is still a criminal, although a more sophisticated version)), who brings his grandson over to visit Spike, India, and his half brother. He is the one who knows and more importantly understands that Spike followed the old ways of doing things, and did not compromise his values, and thus, deserves the respect for not taking the easy way out.

Finally for those who think the stereotypes people, it really does not. What it shows, are very weak people (The Congresswoman, Bandana's mother, Angel, Spike's parents etc) who will do whatever they think is necessary to survive (Even if it is wrong)). The only ones to rise above it all are Spike and India. A superior film.
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If Rocky had no ambition
frobrousa16 February 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Contains Spoilers!!

This is a hilarious, non-P.C. spoof of Rocky in which our hero is too handsome to fight in anything but rigged bouts, yet he thinks he can be a contender. What he really wants, however, is to impress the Bensonhurst mafia boss enough to land a cushy job working for organized crime. Spike is a likable guy, who in any other movie would emerge as the triumphant hero. His problem is that he doesn't have any ambition, and there are some misunderstandings as the plot unfolds, so life deals him some tough lessons. Not only a hilarious movie, but sincerely touching too. Look for Mrs. Benjamin Bratt in her first role.
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Only watch with the sound down and while blindfolded
John Seal23 January 2000
What a comedown for director Paul Morrissey (Flesh For Frankenstein, Blood For Dracula). This film is not only boring, it features an incredibly irritating and overamplified score by Coati Mundi (he of Kid Creole and the Coconuts) and it has enough racial stereotypes to offend not one but two ethnic groups. All the Italian-Americans are loudmouths who scream obscenities at each other over a pasta dinner, and all the Puerto Ricans are crackheads, hustlers, or lazy welfare loafers. If not for the transcendentally beautiful Talisa Soto as the secondary love interest this would be a total write-off. Even with her it's nothing less than dreadful.
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Precious hours of my life, wasted!
Tilly23 March 1999
I saw this movie at the theatre for lack of anything else to do, and only paid a dollar to see it. God help me if I'm ever this desperate for "entertainment" again. None of the characters were likable, and although it can be fun to dislike awful characters, this film was just too horrible to offer that solace. Terrible acting, ridiculous characters, bad, bad movie. I should've asked for my dollar back.
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Compared to this movie cutting the lawn would be fun
honesty18 December 1998
There's not much I can say that could be taken as flattering except that it didn't go on any longer than it did. I didn't pay very much for this movie when I bought it but I felt bad when I sold it knowing that it was not worth what I got for it. Save your money and get a root canal instead.
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Never before have so many been so insulted by such garbage
philxxxx30 September 1999
The Italian-American anti-defamation league should buy up all copies of this movie and burn them. The only ethnic group made out to be stupider than the Italians in this movie are the Puerto Ricans -- FALN take note. Compared to this movie, "Amos & Andy" is a course in sensitivity training. A lot of money was spent on production for this flick -- too bad they couldn't afford a director who isn't bigoted
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a complete bomb ...
qttroassi19 March 2002
I agree with most of the other people posting on this site that the movie was horrible. If there has ever been a film that has been defaming/disparaging to Italian-Americans this is it, not to mention just about every other ethnic group depicted in the movie. One of the main reasons for this is because the story is crude, obnoxious, and in bad context, there's maybe just one funny moment where a group of young boys are asked if they know the Italian alphabet, the rest of it is just crash and burn.

It's actually strange that although Italian-American activists that have complained about "The Godfather" and other similar films most of which were considered monumentally well made and won academy awards (oscars)(with the exception of Disneys' "Mafia") didn't complain about "Spike of Bensonhurst". This may very well be because it is was much lesser known film that hadn't received much attention.
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