Odd anti-American tract from the Italian goremeister
Alberto Cavallone has a devoted underground following for his experimental sex/gore films, none of which (to my knowledge) ever were legitimately imported to the U.S. This early effort has some of his trademark exploitation elements, but is essentially a political rant.
Its subject is the then-raging Vietnam War, with an unabashed leftist slant condemning the U.S. in the form of a story of two American deserters who travel from Berlin to Copenhagen, aided by a shadowy peace group intent on embarrassing the U.S. and trying to end the war. Watching the movie 40 years later it's a bit hard to align one's sympathies, but the heavy-handedness of Cavallone's approach is generally a turnoff, constantly undermining his arguments.
As the G.I.'s, Cavallone brings back the stars of his first feature Le Salamandre. William Cole, played by Alain Kalsyj/Walter Fabrizio (he never got a career going under either name), is a baby faced Lieutenant who gets to board with beautiful Jane Avril and her homosexual husband (Cavallone always throws in some kinkiness at every plot turn). This actor resembles a cross between Michael Pitt and Klaus Kinski (!) and predictably he goes nuts, starts choking Avril to death and bashes her face in with a perfume bottle. This scene uncannily resembles the 40 years later atrocious Winterbottom travesty of Jessica Alba pummeled to a pulp by miscast Casey Affleck in the remake of THE KILLER INSIDE ME. In both cases, pandering to a misogynistic segment of the audience is clear.
The cause of Cole's craziness is his experiences in Vietnam, which are shown in frequent flashbacks that lead to the film's didactic conclusion. His war buddy Nick Moriglio is boarded with a family featuring a senile grandma, and he manages to keeps his wits about him. Both guys are destitute after a month in Copenhagen, because nobody will hire a foreigner, so Nick gets a job working in porn films (thank you again, Mr. Cavallone), permitting some nudity and an extraneous lesbian scene.
Film takes its major U-turn following the (fatal?) assault on Avril, when the peacenik group enlists the services of Prof. Max Bork to take Cole in hand. Along with his partner Ulla, Bork exploits Cole for his own research, permitting the film's main subplot concerning academic exploitation to be developed in rather boring psychodrama segments. Ulla ends up impersonating Cole's sister Katie from back in NYC, with strong hints of an incestuous relationship, and film ends abruptly before the real Katie can arrive to visit her brother with a final line ringing out (translated): "Whose conscience?".
I'm seen quite a few of Cavallone's films, now circulating internationally among collectors long after his career ended, and I'm unimpressed. Obviously working outside the mainstream he never seems to have cobbled together a decent budget, and the amateurism of his work is extreme. What one fan calls innovative or experimental I call simply too many zoom shots, thrown in for emphasis almost constantly. The acting is miserable, and the constant insertion of goofball exploitation material as "plot twists" tags Cavallone as a pornographer, albeit quite an offbeat one. At least, unlike the phony Winterbottom, his following recognizes him for his exploitation orientation and in today's inverted value system praises him for it. Winterbottom, in 9 SONGS and his current release, merely dabbles in porn.
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