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Murder Elite (1985)
More tea & biscuits than Troma & Jack Daniels!
'Murder Elite' is somewhat of a curio piece; a British pseudo-slasher set in the bucolic countryside, that feels more like a particularly sedentary episode of 'Bergerac' than a lurid 80's horror. Thus far it sounds as if I am being condescending, but I'm merely try to place this rather obscure title in a truer perspective; while it concerns the murderous machinations of a provincial serial killer, 'Man Bites Dog' it 'aint!
All that said, and with its palpable lack of sanguinary violence, I really enjoyed it; and while it is definitely more tea & biscuits, than Troma & Jack Daniels; the fact that 'Murder Elite' takes a rather sedate, bucolic approach, which ultimately endeared the film to me greatly; and this was largely down to the largely excellent cast: Billie Whitelaw and Hywel Bennett were tremendous in the roles, and it was a joy to see Garfield 'The Sweeney' Morgan reprise his role of Detective Chief inspector Haskins (sort of!) and while he didn't get to do more than sneer, and regard everyone's paltry alibi with scorn; as expected, he did this with aplomb! This stoic fellow was born to play a TV copper, such verisimilitude, such perfect pitch of derision was never quite so pronounced in any other thespian. Again, this is a largely esoteric reason to enjoy a film, but there it is!
The one major suspension of disbelief has always been that Ali MacGraw was in any way,shape,or form a competent actor: she wasn't; and the energy expenditure it required to accept that she was Billie Whitelaw's sister took infinitely more creativity than N. J Crisp displayed in his somewhat piecemeal script. Watching Steve McQueen's main squeeze stumble-bum through her performance as a libidinous strumpet, was, in its own way hugely amusing. The weary plot would suit the yellowed pages of a pre-30's pulp pot boiler, and, along with MacGraw is definitely the last chicken in the shop; but the true gold is the woefully grandiose score by Hammer legend James Bernard; his heady, Gothic bombast raises this anodyne effort to that of magnificent folly with his HUGE overbearing score; let me just say this is no fault of his; he remains one of the all time greats; but this slender tale couldn't hold the cumbersome weight of his muscular score: a bit like slathering the most grandiose John Williams effort over a scratchy Doris Wishman effort: thereby creating a gravitas overload which soon escalates to unbound jocularity. If Christopher lee were creeping, swivel-eyed through the misty gloaming; repeatedly tearing nubile throats asunder, THIS would be a stupendously exhilarating score: Hywel Bennett repeatedly mucking out the stable is, frankly, too prosaic a visual, and requires considerably less orchestration, if any, really.
The film is absurd, hysterical, and rather pedestrian, and, still, I found much to enjoy here: I definitely prefer the European title of 'Elia Mordercow' to 'Murder Elite': 'Murder Elite'? Why? Because it's a far better moniker than 'bloodless killings on a somnolent, near- bankrupt farm'
Just remember to crank up the giddy James Bernard score! 'Elia Mordercow' will probably have its greatest appeal to Hywel Bennett fans, or those singular individuals who can glean inordinate amounts of pleasure from the kind of ragged, celluloid nonsense most sensible folk would cast violently from the village with bilious hue & cry, and raised, angered pitchfork.
La puritana (1989)
All that doesn't glitter, might yet be gold!
After many long, soul-withering years of trawling through the brackish, celluloid murk of Italian exploitation effluvium; one gets used to throwing much that is entirely indigestible back into the greasy void of cinematic spume; but, on those gloriously rare, and wholly exhilarating occasions, something quite unexpected glitters enticingly within the tawdry, oleaginous miasma of tepid euro-schlock.
All that doesn't glitter, might yet be gold; this little-appreciated maxim is given considerable verisimilitude by 'La Puritan's' generic, Joe D'Amato artwork: while its moribund vista of poodle-haired, pneumatic broad, and an oily, lascivious-looking cat in pensive pre- canoodle might initially appear about as enticing as Polish cuisine; beneath this prosaic veneer is a muscular, lurid masterpiece of palpating, gratuitous nudity; replete with merciless revenge; and a kaleidoscope of non-stop, soft-core ruttage; whereby all those craven, voyeuristic souls can enjoy the myriad charms of Margit Evelyn Newton; who zealously dispenses an especially carnal mode of retribution that invalidates the puritanical coda of less is more: no it isn't! More of Margit Evelyn Newton's deliciously pulchritudinous flesh is ALWAYS the best option. (fortunately the arch reprobate director, Grassia realizes that one should always butter one's movie muffin, breast side up) #Excuse the bungled mixed metaphor, but the delightful Ms. Newton's libidinous physiognomy has played havoc with my reeling noggin!#
It would be remiss of me to give away the plot, or any of the wondrous set pieces away, so I wont. Life is paltry enough without some callous internet scrivener dampening the possibility of someone enjoying myriads of mondo marvels that lurk betwixt the mountainous peaks of Margie newton's fecund flesh. I literally had no idea what to expect with 'La Puritana' which heightened the exponential excitement Nini Grassi's grease-palmed Giallo afforded me!
This glorious film suffers not by the wondrous inclusion of exploitation legends Gabriele Tinti, and the perma-smarmy Helmut Berger; both of whom deliver suitably scurrilous performances; twin burning sons of macho sleaze, desperately out-sleazing each other in this towering trash-babel of tantalizing teats; an ultra-prurient; giddy-glorious, grungy Giallo; and all of which, is, of course, entirely indefensible to those with an modicum of decency. Fortunately 25 years of incremental cinematic debasement has eroded all vestiges of good taste from my amoral palate!
Groovy, krimi-style Giallo with a suitably absurd premise!
The undeniably groovy 'Las Trompetas Del Apocalipsis (1969) (aka) Murder by Music is somewhat of a curate's egg; as with most gialli it is positively agog with laboured McGuffins, and is, again, festooned with an atypically absurd premise; in this case the fug-headed scribe suggests that a certain piece of esoteric music is able to engender such a profoundly distressing malaise in the listener, that the desperate individual must immediately hurl himself bodily from the nearest window after listening to it. (this is clearly a prototype for Katy Perry's indigestible, saccharine horrors!) It must be noted that all said victims are fortuitously close to a high enough window that would cause a permanent case of death, should one take the final plunge,as it were. Much of the film has a gloomy, almost Edgar Wallace- style view of London: dingy backstreet's; even dingier bars enlivened with funky, ass-swinging psychedelic pop, and primordial-looking opium den lend the film a wildly expressionistic feel, which captures the tale end of the sixties as a beatnik apocalypse!
The welcome groove is supplied in mammoth doses by Gianni Ferrio's sublime score, a personal fave of mine, and he certainly doesn't disappoint with his wall-to-wall psyche-hippie-funk.
For those more jaded gialli fans who require their sleazy celluloid entertainments to include a plethora's of squeaky, be-gloved, ice-cool razor slashing into hot nubile flesh will be wholly disappointed, as this seems to be more of an anti-drugs polemic than a slinky extravaganza of high-octane misogyny.
Incontro d'amore (1970)
Absurd hoodoo-voodoo on Bali!
Ugo Liberatore has fashioned a rather unusual confection in Bali. Part- murder mystery; part-existential melodrama; part-metaphysical erotika; part-exotic travelogue; that ultimately cannot help be be somewhat less than its rather exploitative parts. There is a bloody, giallo-esque murder at the beginning which engenders a rather clunky conceit of the ostensible wife-slayer, Umberto Orsini, relaying the heady Bali-bound tale of marital infidelity, Balinese hoodoo-voodoo; and the great, existential woes of the preternaturally sulky, blonde bombshell, John Steiner; who, unsatisfied with his two slinky, Asian honey-pot wives, finds the satiety he desires among the considerable, sun-warmed bosom of Orsini's voluptuous wife; played in rather somnambulist fashion by the super-sexy Antonelli; who does little more here than brood, and look inordinately delicious in her snug black bikini; which, as you might well imagine, is more than adequate compensation for her minuscule character development, and vapid stare. Again, highlighting the sterling plot; or lack thereof; or mentioning the spurious motivation of the comic book characters does the film no good deed at all: it is better to immerse the noggin with suitably robust libations, and then glory at this sunny bounty of giddy nonsense.
The story is hysterical, and palpably absurd, and can only be enjoyed if taken with an enormous pinch of hallucinogenics; but, miraculously, all the film's myriad faults do finally coalesce into a remarkably entertaining yarn; this is because A) it is all wholly, and unrelentingly absurd and B) The location and photography of the impossibly beautiful island paradise of Bali is truly sensational; and C) (a jolly good C it is too!) Giorgio Gaslini's score is lushness personified; slathering unctuously over the steamy proceedings like a sublime application of warm, slippery coconut oil, across the magnificently burnished busts of Laura Antonelli.
To nisi tis amartias (1973)
Sleazy, oily pulchritude doesn't come much better than 'Island of Sin
Island of Sin is a quite, special special. Now, that would be special in the sense of the film being both spectacularly goofy and wildly unsavoury in equal doses. This ignoble work is the absolute quintessence of true- blue Grindhouse madness; as the 'film' is little more than a palsied celluloid skeleton to hang on a veritable cornucopia of egregious acting; delightful amounts of gratuitous nudity; arbitrary acts of violence, and some monumentally poor attempts at disco dancing. (all the young people here are blessed with all the grace and physical coordination of an arthritic chicken recently shorn of its head) Any two of the latter ingredients is usually enough to keep someone like me watching with full-beam eyes, but having all this sleazoid bounty in one wholly insalubrious film is almost too good to be true! Sleazy, oily pulchritude doesn't come much better than 'Island of Sin'.
The perfunctory plot is yet another popular riff on the drive-in standard of: oily nut-balls who invade a bourgeois home, and proceed to wreak a fleshy tumult of grimy nastiness, and, frankly, this is achieved with aplomb via the preternaturally lurid film-making vernacular of Kostas Doukas. The dialogue and performances are uniformly atrocious, merely adding to the hysterical tone of this, quite literally insensible work of sun-bleached depravity. Life is simply too short NOT to experience the cinematic wonderment of 'Island of Sin'.
the appealing triumvirate of Merli, Milian and Saxon deliver euro crme gold!
Gonzoid Euro-crime with the appealing triumvirate of Merli, Milian and Saxon; with so much scene chewing testosterone on display it's a blessed wonder that any celluloid remained for the final print. Saxon plays the boorish crim, Frank Di Maggio with charismatic muscularity, and there really can be only one avenging, fists first, thug-baiting copper up to the task of carving a crimson swathe of justice through the iniquitous backstreets of Rome, and that man is the icon of hep-cat poliziotto cool; an uber geezer with a mustache fashioned out of living granite; ladies and germs
give it up for, Maurizio Merli, the protean arch nemesis to douchebags, young and old, large, or small, bearded, or shaved. You cross that line on Merli's watch and you go home in a blood spattered, zip lock tuxedo! The swarthy, and perpetually balding, Saxon bites off more than he can chew, and ends up choking on a fist-sized, broken-jawed mound of Maurizio Merli! 'The cynic, the rat & the fist' isn't the greatest Merli/Lenzi pairing, but it's damn close, cupcake! And that means one thing
La mano spietata della legge (1973)
Methinks it it time for a Leroy retrospective!
'La mano Spietata della legge' (1973) is sadly a little-known and poorly documented euro-crime that merits re-discovery. That said, any high- octane Italian actioner from the early 70's swollen with a typically phat-sounding, grooved-out score from Stelvio Cipriani, and festooned with an especially muscular performance from Philippe Leroy is going to be anything but a time waster. In addition this zesty euro-crime effort also features tyro screen-gobbler Klaus Kinski who, surprisingly, turns in a somewhat restrained performance here as a blow torch-wielding hit-man; nevertheless still cutting 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 starring that most swarthy of enigmatic actors, Philippe Leroy...Methinks it it time for a Leroy retrospective!
Robust entry in the violent euro-crime cannon
For some inexplicable reason 'Gang War in Naples' (aka) Camorra remains an obscure cinematic prospect; and while the gifted director Pasquale Squitieri has fortified this undeniably robust mafiosi actioner with many zesty set pieces, it is, sadly, one of myriad unseen Italian Euro Crime efforts of th 1970's; which is a great shame, since the nifty, two-fisted charms of 'Camorra' are undiluted.
Admittedly the ubiquitous 'thug rising up the ranks of the cosa nostra' theme is a little uninspired; but the hackneyed narrative is emboldened considerably by the welcome inclusion of that most magnetic and handsome of Italian leading men, Fabio Testi; who plays the scheming and violent hoodlum, Tonino Rosso with great elan; thus far, I have yet to see a lackluster performance from this swarthy-eyed devil! 'Gang War in Naples' (aka) Camorra is an unashamed crowd-pleaser; with its success as solid late night entertainment due in no small part to the luminous charisma of Testi, and Pasquale injects much rigor in what is ostensibly a tired premise. Good stuff! And mine's a J&B rocks!
Gli amici di Nick Hezard (1976)
deserves much more recognition outside of the murky, cloistered world of the euro-crime cognoscenti
Extremely stylish Italian crime outing from the grand magus of 70's euro-crime, Fernando Di Leo; sporting a great cast; a twisting plot, break-neck pacing, and an excess of cinematic flair, this cracking thriller really is as essential as 'Milano Calibro No 9' or 'Manhunt'. When two-bit con-man Nick Hezard (Luc Merenda) gets picked by a mob boss (Lee J. Cobb) to be the fall-guy for his insurance scam, he gets a bit more than he bargained for. Nick decides to do that one big scam that will set him up for life and get revenge at the same time by setting up an elaborate plot to not only swindle the Mobster for a ton of cash but smear his name and force him to leave the country. A truly spectacular addition to Di Leo's extraordinary CV with all the requisite action one expects from the genre plus a remarkably well crafted script; and engaging performances from both Cobb & Merenda. A definite must-see for fans of Di Leo's seemingly effortless cinematic cool. (And, again, Luc Merenda's luxurious coiffure remains a thing of transcendent beauty.) Nick the Sting is a genuinely exhilarating heist movie, and it's a real shame that such a laudable film seems to have been all-but forgotten; outstanding entertainment that deserves much more recognition outside of the murky, cloistered world of the euro-crime cognoscenti.
Mark il poliziotto (1975)
'The Narc' (aka) 'Mark il Poliziotto is a euro crime classic!
The first in Stelvio Massi's gloriously rumbustious Mark Trilogy. The cool and svelte Franco Gasparri makes for an engaging lead; while he lacks the brutish machismo of the legendary Maurizio Merli, he still cuts a handsome dash as the crusading maverick copper with a penchant for wayfarer sunglasses and high caliber weaponry; which he uses most expertly against a multifarious gallery of hideous criminality. Lee J. Cobb does his mean ol' guy routine and Stelvio Cipriani unleashes one of his most funky scores. 'The Narc' (aka) 'Mark il Poliziotto is a euro crime classic, proving yet again that Stelvio Massi remains one of the finest practitioners of this most exhilarating of genres.
gonzoid car chases, gratuitous slo-mo squibs and full-blooded fisticuffs
While this is a late entry in the euro-crime cannon it's also a gem; director, Stelvio Massi & the estimable, Merli are said to have been great friends and this chemistry translates into a very watchable, violent and thrill-engorged crime thriller. Featuring a rare low-key performance from erstwhile tyro performer, merli adds much needed depth to his default two-dimensional stoic and vengeful police chief persona; and the characteristically rotund, Merola excels as the bovine, violent hood. massi films are generally solid, watchable affairs and 'hunted city' is no exception; particularly of note are his dynamic, savvy camera angles which eek as much tension as possible from scenarios that might strike one as wildly pedestrian in a lesser director's hand. All is present and correct in this quality actioner: gonzoid car chases, gratuitous slo-mo squibs and full-blooded fisticuffs...I, for one, found this merli/massi collaboration to be immensely entertaining.
Napoli violenta (1976)
Commissioner Berti finds gory grist to his ever-more violent mill!
'Violent Naples' is yet another gloriously fruitful coupling betwixt the mighty Maurizio Merli & powerhouse exploitation director Unberto 'Cannibal Ferox. Lenzi. This time the irrepressible rage of Commissioner, Berti (Merli) finds gory grist to his ever-more violent mill by unearthing the criminal machinations of drug overlord, Franesco Capuano. Needless to say with Umberto Lenzi behind the wheel; this rampaging leviathan of briskly mounted criminal violence, and the pursuant reactionary fury from the Tasmanian devil of politically incorrect police thuggery himself, Maurizio Merli, swiftly coagulates into a suitably unruly strip of bloody celluloid! And one might also state with little ambiguity that 'Violent Naples' makes for entirely righteous evening's viewing.
Poliziotti violenti (1976)
a morass of lurid gun play and equally brutal fisticuffs!
A truly excellent euro crime from the director of the equally splendid 'A Man Called Magnum' & '7 Hours of Violence'; includes the ever reliable Henry Silva delivering yet another stoic performance as an honorable military officer driven to acts of extreme retribution due to army corruption and an increasingly brutal criminal underworld, (wherever the poor sod goes a random act of extreme violence is never too far behind!) Antonio Sabato is also well cast as the sharp witted belligerent cop with a clear yen for the ol' ultra violence. All in all a much underrated actioner from an excellent director who really should be given more recognition, as the talented chap delivers the goods every time! (includes yet another brilliantly gritty crime jazz score from the masterful Guido & Maurizio de Angelis.) This is vintage euro crime; gonzoid car chase after gonzoid car chase and a morass of lurid gun play and equally brutal fisticuffs.'Violent Policemen' is a worthy title that seriously deserves re-discovery.
Luc Merenda: The dapper vendor of death; Euro-Crime's deadliest fashonista.
'Violent Professionals' is another ball-busting euro-crime title that appears on many a 'best of' threads and it's not hard to see why. Its continued success is due in no small part to the gleeful celebration of gratuitous violence that adds so much pep to the exploitation oeuvre of director, Sergio Martino. This snub-nosed poliziottto is a resounding keeper; while Luc 'smart hair of death' Merenda lacked the obvious barbarian machismo of, Nero & Merli, he cuts a svelte, dashing figure amongst all the under cranked vehicular slaughter, and Merenda always manages to emerge from dispatching any number of ill-bred thugs with his luxurious thatch of impossibly immaculate hair intact; for me, Luc Merenda will always remain the suave destroyer, a dapper vendor of death, Euro-Crime's deadliest fashonista.
La mano lunga del padrino (1972)
Adolfo Celi always gives good don!
'Long Arm Of The Godfather' is an slight, but entertaining Mafioso/heist yarn with the ever-reliable character actor, Adolpho Celi giving Don Carmelo all the necessary heft and gravitas a vengeance-seeking mafia kingpin requires. Vincenzo (Peter Lawrence) & Sabina (Erica Blanc) go on the lam after ripping off bruising gangster, Don Carmelo, who proves to be most persistent in his zealous, murderous and misogynist endeavors to reclaim his ill-gotten loot. 'Long Arm of The Godfather' is actually far better value than its current status as bargain bin curio implies. While not up to the lurid grandeur of an Umberto lenzi, or quite as entertaining as a Stelvio Massi effort, 'Long arm of The Godfather' would still merit a far nicer print than the one currently available.
an unreconstructed heft of bravura poliziotto action
By the 80's the halcyon days of the Italian poliziotto was on the wane, if not, it was pretty close to extinction; so it comes as a pleasant surprise to discover that the veteran euro-crime director and all-round exploitation don, Stelvio Massi had one more righteous movie up his sleeve. This German-Italian Co-production is an unreconstructed heft of explosive poliziotto action, that makes excellent use of its oppressive Berlin backdrop and delivers everything one expects from a Massi/Merli collaboration. "Poliziotti solitudine e rabbia" finds everyone's favorite mustache of vengeance, Maurizio Merli as an undercover cop in West Berlin; using his inimitable methods of cro magnon policing against the nefarious activities of a shadowy Mafioso blackmailing outfit. 'The Rebel' is highly recommended.
Tony Arzenta (Big Guns) (1973)
an electrifying torrent of cinematic savvy!
'Tony Arzenta' is a truly absorbing euro-crime from expert genre director Duccio 'Puzzle' Tessari. Not too sure why this cracking yarn doesn't get mentioned in the same bated breath as 'High Crime', 'Violent Professionals', or 'Violent Rome' as it is clearly on par with them, and in some specific area's it actually usurps them. Having the ice-cool, Gallic master of understatement, Alain Delon as your vengeful hit man is a casting godsend, and as our idiosyncratic, enigmatic arbiter of righteous retribution makes it nigh on impossible to take your eyes away from his blazing a balletic trail of brutal revenge deep into the swollen underbelly of the Cosa Nostra. I readily admit that the premise of a hit man wishing to break free from their nefarious clutches is a well-thumbed conceit; but when said coda is interpreted by the likes of Delon/Tessari and propelled by a lively, infectious score from the woefully underrated, Gianni Ferrio, any hint of formula is quashed beneath an electrifying torrent of cinematic savvy.
Un condé (1970)
a violent existential nightmare!
Tough-as -Cop thriller from a clearly not-so-belle France, directed with a real flair for capturing gritty urban violence by Yves Boisset, whose muscular direction translates into suitably grimy thick-ear entertainment. Michel Bouquet is genuinely chilling as the hard boiled copper whose amoral and brutal journey to avenge the fruitless death of a fellow officer leads him deep into a violent existential nightmare.
'Un Conde' is a magnificently bleak, philosophical euro crime from France which works brilliantly as a savage expose of police barbarity, dealing unflinchingly with the ultimate societal conundrum; must one become like the beasts in order to deal with the beast? The only thing that mars this fabulous Gallic treat is that the source VHS print is a trifle muddy. A lush full-monty DVD-Bluray needs to be organised for this fine example of French Nihilism.
doesn't quite live up to its blood an' thunder moniker.
Incestuous bedfellows, Umbeto Lenzi and Tomas Milian team up again for the bellicose Cops an' Robbers mash up ' Sydicate Sadists', while this isn't on par with the legendary sleaze-fest 'Almost Human' it still manages to deliver the requisite amount of gonzoid thrills an' spills that fills chat rooms far an wide with gibbering fan boy praise. Plot adheres rigidly to formula; with Milian playing ex-cop biker, Rambo! whose penchant for revenge is most apropos since he is given ample opportunity for bullet spattered, jaw-cracking retribution after he discovers his brother has been killed; which engenders some relentlessly gritty crime funk grooves by veteran Franco Micalizzi, nutbag bike chases, and all manner of ubiquitous Italian crime overkill. All in all 'Syndicate Sadists' is an entertaining, exploitative riff on, Dashiel Hammet's Red Harvest, and Lenzi/Milian heads are unlikely to be disappointed, although it doesn't quite live up to its blood an' thunder moniker.
La banda del gobbo (1978)
Another worthwhile lenzi/milian euro crime collaboration
Another worthwhile lenzi/milian euro crime collaboration with a particularly demonstrative performance from the legendary milian playing a duo of misfit siblings. Happily he dons the same pimp fright wig from stelvio massi's 'destruction force' thus allowing the viewer to swiftly differentiate the aesthetic and moral differences betwixt the two titular characters. Milian obsessives and euro crime addicts will find this particularly rambunctious entry in Lenzi's extensive poliziottesco pantheon to be well worth the effort. I feel it would be an injustice to not mention the utter crime funk brilliance of Franco Micalizzi's monstrously effective, and wildly funky soundtrack.
L'ultima chance (1973)
a deluge of righteous funk riffs from the funk-master Luis Bacalov
For some obscure reason most reviews of the profoundly entertaining 'Motel of Fear' (aka) 'L'ultima Chance' seem to be somewhat dismissive; which I find hard to understand as this is primo, Italian schlockball entertainment with solid performances from both fabio Testi and Eli Wallach as a couple of hardboiled crims on the lam. Admittedly Andress has always been a dud, and she certainly doesn't disappoint here; since a tin of congealed magnolia gloss could emote with greater eloquence; but, who cares; 'L'ultima Chance' is all about Wallach/Testi, and the deluge of righteous funk riffs from the grand master of euro-crime soundtracks Luis Bacalov. While much of the film does feel a tad familiar; this ultimately works to its advantage, as it's familiar in all the right manner of heady euro crime cliché. Good Times!
Un uomo da rispettare (1972)
an unsung poliziotto gem!
Master Touch (aka) Un Uomo Da Rispettare is what can be genuinely described as an unsung classic of poliziotto. Outside of 'Escape From Death Row' (1973) this appears to be, Michele Lupo's only foray into the grimy idiom of Italian crime cinema, and by Jove what a dashed shame, as this brisk, stylish actioner is up there with the very best. Premise is simple and stylishly handled: Steve Wallace (Kirk Douglas) is a seasoned heist expert who is encouraged to attempt a seemingly impossible blag of removing $1.000.000 from what initially appears to be an impenetrable fortress masquerading as a bank. What separates this from many other similar titles is the weathered, enigmatic presence of veteran actor, Kirk Douglas, whose roguish, insouciant exterior belies the heart of a truly exemplary, meticulous thief. As Kirk's better half the delightful, Florinda Balkan has little to do outside of sporadic brooding followed by a soupcon of crotch-expanding smolder, but her preternaturally sultry visage has improved many a euro cult offering, and 'Master Touch' benefits exponentially by her ravishing physiognomy; and the woefully underrated, Giulino Gemma excels as the nimble trapeze artist who is recruited to construct what appears to be a vacuum-tight alibi. The film's manifold delights include a destructive, hair raising, cacophonous car chase through the dank streets of Hamburg and the beautifully handled heist is a veritable Boy's own dream. It would be remiss not to mention the low key, atmospheric score by Ennio Morricone which adds a terse piquancy to all the sweaty-browed, Alpha Male theatrics.
Il consigliori (1973)
'Il Consigliori' is a must for Mob film and euro crime obsessive's.
'Il Consigliori' is a tough mafia actioner starring Euro Crime alumni, Martin Balsam, this time playing, Don Maggadino, a powerful San Francisco mob boss. His consigliori (lawyer) played by the legendary, Tomas Milian, recently finished his jail sentence, and while he is happy to see his Don once again makes a seemingly optimistic choice to go straight. Needless to say, Maggadino doesn't approve, but reluctantly allows him to go his own way. A short while later, Garafolo played by euro cult hero, Francisco Rabal becomes unhappy with the status quo and decides to orchestrate his own crime family, thus engendering a bloody war between the rival factions. The consigiliori cannot bear to see his Don go down and, Milian armed to the nines prepares to defend him once again. This movie is a stone groove from the get-go containing all the gonzoid elements of a poliziotti plus many entertaining motifs of a gritty mafia expose; including great sit-down meetings in restaurants, numerous shoot-outs, two exhilarating car chases, and the requisite revenge bloodbath. The relationship between the always excellent Balsam and Milian in a more subdued role here is excellently realised. Great use is also made of urban San Francisco and rural Sicily for a truly rousing finale. Riz Ortolani provides yet another lush soundtrack and Albert De Martino ('Blazing Magnum') again, proves himself to be a very capable director of exploitative fare. 'Il Consigliori' is a must for Mob film and euro crime obsessive's.
Io ho paura (1977)
Classy, adult thriller from the vastly underrated auteur, Damiano Damiani
Classy, adult thriller from the vastly underrated auteur, Damiano Damiani, whose output of gialli/poliziotteschi tends to deal with character and moral complexities, rather than more immediate haymaker thrills an' spills. Shop-worn Bodyguard, Ludovico Graziano (played to perfection by the enormously talented actor, Giani Maria Volante) gradually finds his life spiraling into ever murkier, dangerous waters after accepting the far from routine position of bodyguard to Judge Cancedda; the internecine, political squabbles eventually escalate to life threatening dread where Graziano is forced to confront a terrifying reality.
Blutiger Freitag (1972)
plentiful bouts of splenetic, bone-breaking violence!
'Blutiger Freitag (1972) (aka) 'Bloody Friday is an atypically 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 legendary crime epic 'The Squeeze'.
With a ballsy, genuinely frightening performance from the muscular and enigmatic actor Raimund Harmsdorf; who's bellicose, and hugely misogynist character allows him to indulge in plentiful bouts of splenetic, bone- breaking violence; all the while looking resplendent in grungy 1970's leather-jacketed chic. Throw in a sinuous crime-funk score from the estimable Francesco 'new york ripper' De Masi, and you have an all-time Goliath of grindhouse madness that delivers bravura, hardboiled 70's thuggery unlike any other German film from then or now.