Movie Fan Man: Cinema Connoisseur

Traditional, Artsy, Genre-Within-Genre: A Little Something for Everyone

Who Put the Hit Out on the Playboy?

by Tony Nash

(The Cycle of the Melodic Gialli: The Lenzi/Baker Edition 2)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(Review is of the original Italian language version)

Così dolce... così perversa (1969) - IMDb
Italian Poster (from the IMDb)

Cosi Dolce….Cosi Perversa (So Sweet, So Perverse) (1969) R ****

Carroll Baker: Nicole Perrier

Jean-Louis Trintignant: Jean Reynaud

Erika Blanc: Danielle Reynaud

Horst Frank: Klaus, the Hitman

Helga Line: Helene Valmont

Gianni De Benedetto: M. Valmont

Beryl Cunningham: Exotic Model Dancer

Written by: Luciano Martino, Massimo D’Avack, & Ernesto Gastaldi

Directed by: Umberto Lenzi

Synopsis: Wealthy industrialist Jean Reynaud finds himself in a peculiar adventure when he offers to aid a frightened and abused woman named Nicole. Nicole later confesses to Jean that her running to him was a ruse so her sadist ex-lover could earn a fee for the playboy’s death. Soon, it becomes apparent that someone clearly wants to inherit Jean’s assists and his company.

31 Days of Gialloween: So Sweet... So Perverse (1969) - Diabolique Magazine
An Intense Love Affair (from Diabolique Magazine)

Filmmaker Umberto Lenzi and actress Carroll Baker team up for the second time in a homage and unique take on French auteur Henri-Georges Clouzot’s classic psychological Thriller Diabolique. Keeping the story within the country of France, Lenzi and the screenwriting team have story move up from the secluded countryside to the bustling capital of Paris, where the wealthy enjoy luxuries with less than honest approaches to business and marriage is treated as an arrangement while extra marital affairs run rampant. While Clouzot’s story was centered on the type of suspense that bordered on the fringes of Horror, Lenzi’s version keeps the suspense tied to the realm of Mystery and Thriller, keeping the audience in the dark and uncertainty of what is really going on until the reveal time is right. The film centers on an arrogant and philandering industrialist in a marriage both he and the wife have regrets committing to, who soon finds his rather complacent lifestyle upended when he begins hearing arguments and crashing sounds from the apartment above his own. Upon discovering a clearly frightened woman trying to break away from a vicious lover, the man decides to try to help her escape. When she admits she’s a pawn in a scheme to have him killed, things turn even stranger as a series of double crosses, twists, and revelations begin a domino effect of crazy proportions. The Complete Lenzi/Baker Giallo Collection [Blu-ray]: Carroll  Baker, Jean Sorel, Evelyn Stewart, Lou Castel, Jean-Louis Trintignant,  Umberto Lenzi: Movies & TV
Clandestine or Choreographed? (from Amazon)
The Complete Lenzi/Baker Giallo Collection (Blu-ray Review) | Zombies DON'T  Run
The Beginning….of the End (from Zombies DON’T Run)

Carroll Baker, fresh off her success with fans in Orgasmo, gets to play a completely different kind of Femme Fatale in the role of Nicole. At first a recovering abuse victim, Nicole soon proves to be a woman who has two distinct faces: one of a manipulative con artist, the other a beautiful but tragic woman. Baker moves seamlessly between being for and against Jean, seamlessly moving him closer and closer to a very deadly outcome. The question soon becomes how much of a victim she really is, and who is pulling the strings. Baker’s Actor Studio training serves her very well for the duplicitous role. Jean-Louis Trintignant, a French actor who also did Italian films for about 12 years is his usual enigmatic self in the role of Jean, the rich playboy. From initial looks, Jean is the typical Bourgeoisie who rotates between his office, the varied clubs, and home, but in fact is in loveless marriage, and goes from mistress to mistress, spending most of his flings with a turkey-shoot partner’s wife. In spite of the lifestyle he lives, Jean is actually bored with his current situation, and suddenly finds himself in a unique situation when he believes spouse abuse is occurring in the apartment above his. Little does he know a sinister plot is being hatched against him, and even the woman he feels he can trust he keeps to a certain distance. While Jean has his shady side, even he doesn’t deserve that kind of end.

So Sweet, So Perverse: The Giallo Films of Umberto Lenzi, Part 1 -  Diabolique Magazine
Driven to the Breaking Point (from Diabolique Magazine)
Severin Films Reveals The Complete Lenzi Baker Giallo Collection
The Face of a Madman (from

Erika Blanc, an Italian model and actress who excelled at many genre roles, gets to do something different with the role of Danielle. Normally known for playing women who were strong enough to handle most tough situations thrown at them, Blanc’s Danielle is the complete opposite as a worrier and frail woman who’s afraid of her own shadow. While initially attracted to Jean because of his charisma and willingness to take chances, she soon becomes distant to him, not even caring when he fools around with other women, including a few of their friends. Somehow Jean’s dalliance with Nicole is the final straw for Danielle, especially when a sultry party game at their home results in Jean and Nicole kissing. How willing she’ll be to be rid of her husband will most assuredly be surprising to everyone. Horst Frank, a German actor who enjoyed success in both his native land and abroad, plays a very Kinski esque type in the role of Klaus (ironic isn’t it). Little is known about Klaus save his penchant for violent S&M style fantasies in the bedroom, and his knack for unique ways to kill. Exactly what sort of role he plays in the whole strange affair with himself, Nicole, Jean, and Danielle is left ambiguous until the final reveal.

Bobby Castro on Twitter: "'Così dolce... così perversa' / So Sweet, So  Perverse (1969) Umberto Lenzi… "
A (for the Period) Forbidden Affair (from Twitter)

While Lenzi’s previous hit Orgasmo had very frank depictions of bi-sexuality, lesbianism, and BDSM style trysts, this go around he is very subtle the sexual preferences of his characters. While there’s no secret in how said characters behave when it comes to love and lust, Lenzi’s writers go a little more in the heavily hinted innuendo route, particularly Sapphic undertones involving the two female leads around the middle mark of the film.

31 Days of Gialloween: So Sweet... So Perverse (1969) - Diabolique Magazine
One of Many Lovers (from Diabolique Magazine)

A Thriller that keeps its audiences in the dark until the very last minutes, the film offers quite the bevy of twists and turns, leaving the almost always unanswered questions of who is playing who, who’s really the victim.

(I can only partially recommend this film myself as while the majority of it is very well made, and does indeed keep you guessing, writers Ernesto Gastaldi, Luciano Martino, & Massimo D’Avack miss the mark on the final reveal/ending by almost a mile. This is very unusual for a writer of Gastaldi’s caliber, as he was one of the best when it came to the Giallo genre. Lenzi himself had admitted it was his not being involved in the script that killed the film’s ending really delivering the goods as he felt it was Martino and D’Avack’s attempts at keeping red herring after red herring going along with Gastaldi’s fine work made trying to come up with a suitable finish really difficult. Other than that, the film is well crafted an offers plenty of good early to mid twists. Severin Films audio and visual transfer of the film is pretty solid, along with extras including a Kat Ellinger audio commentary, and interviews with Umberto Lenzi and Ernesto Gastaldi. )

All images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

for more info…_So_Perverse…_cos%C3%AC_perversa

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From Severin Films
From Amazon

an addition will be coming from 88 Films’ Italian Collection line soon

Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

Swingers, Drugs, Booze, & Greed:

Many Twists at the Villa

by Tony Nash

(Cycle of the Melodic Gialli: The Lenzi/Baker Edition 1)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(Review is of the Uncut Italian language version)

Paranoia (1969) - IMDb
(Italian Poster)

Orgasmo (Paranoia) (1969) R ****1/2

Carroll Baker: Catherine West (Kathryn in US version)

Lou Castel: Peter Donovan

Collette Descombes: Eva Donovan-Stuart

Lilla Brignone: Theresa, the Maid

Tino Carraro: Attorney Brian Sanders

Franco Pesce: Martino, the Gardner

Jacques Stany: Det. Arthur Frank

Joseph Guilty: Arnold Cleever

Written by: Umberto Lenzi, Ugo Moretti, & Marie Claire Solleville

Directed by: Umberto Lenzi

Synopsis: A wealthy American widow rents out a spacious Italian Villa to recover from the tragic death of her husband. She becomes smitten with an expate and his sister, and invites them to stay with her for a week. Soon, she begins to wonder if a scheme is a foot to steal her money.

Trailer: THE COMPLETE LENZI BAKER GIALLO COLLECTION Coming from Severin  Films - Dread Central
The Threesome That Began the Tragedy (From Dread Central)

Umberto Lenzi, one of Italy’s more prolific, but underestimated (thanks to Gore Horror buffs) filmmakers, tackles one of his earliest Giallo successes with Orgasmo. Inspired by a short story in a Mystery/Thriller anthology book about a young man who terrorizes a wealthy lady painter for her money, Lenzi took this concept and built a more complex, and visually stunning, story of greed and deception. The film plays a little more to the psychological end of the Thriller genre, where a battle of wills is soon to be waged, one with several surprising outcomes. 1969 was considered the height of the Swinging 60’s, and the fashion, music, and atmosphere reflect that generation that was on its way  Giallos at this period were made sporadically here and there, and were at times a little on the lurid end, but with Orgasmo, Lenzi took the Mystery Suspense film back to the classy boudoir, and mixed in enough erotica to give the piece spice without going into territory that would be deemed classless. The film also began a lifelong friendship between star Carroll Baker and Lenzi, whom he would work with three more times, citing her as one of his favorite actresses to work with.

So Sweet, So Perverse: The Giallo Films of Umberto Lenzi, Part 1 -  Diabolique Magazine
One of Catherine’s Hallucinations (From Diabolique Magazine)

Lenzi got help in making this film very akin to American Thrillers of the 30’s and 40’s he loved with the aid of novelist and occasional screenwriter Ugo Moretti. Moretti, having done a series of detective fiction himself, (often under a pseudonym to maintain his standing among the more serious literary circles) had a keen eye to what were good motifs and themes for the Mystery/Suspense genre, and was able to help Lenzi constrict a script that was very similar to works of such authors as Dashiell Hammett, Raymond, Chandler, and James M. Cain. Moretti was also sympathetic to the mod youth of that period, and a good chunk of his time writing before meeting with Lenzi finalize things was spent fleshing out the devious couple played by Lou Castel and Collette Descombes. The Complete Lenzi/Baker Giallo Collection [Blu-ray]: Carroll  Baker, Jean Sorel, Evelyn Stewart, Lou Castel, Jean-Louis Trintignant,  Umberto Lenzi: Movies & TV
Catherine Close to the Breaking Point (from Amazon)

Carroll Baker, an American actress who found a second wave of success in Italy, is fascinating and compelling as Catherine (Kathryn) West. Baker ended up in Italy after she rebelled against the demeaning parts being offered to her by Hollywood producers, and ended up having some of her best work in those early days of exile. Seemingly shook over the sudden and tragic death of her wealthy husband, Catherine looks forward to a period of rest and relaxation in a secluded Italian villa before getting on with her life. At first content to be by herself with only a loyal maid and deaf gardener as company, Catherine’s life seems to get a new spark when she meets the young and handsome Peter. At first happy with a hide n’ seek liaison with him, she eventually offers to let Peter stay with her at the villa until the lease is up, and ends up with both Peter and his sister Eva. After a time, Catherine discovers Peter and Eva aren’t blood related, and that they’re beginning to play with her mind, Baker soon has the Catherine character going through fits of paranoia, fear, and desperation, thanks to both Baker’s physical personification and the voice of actress/dubber Rita Savagnone, as there seems to be no way out of her situation without the fear of a scandal via her menage a troi with the couple.

Paranoia (1969) a.k.a. Orgasmo
French Film Poster Card (From Critical Condition)

A real boost for Baker in her Italian period, was her willingness to go totally nude for some of the scenes in the film. Initially Eleanor Powell was up for the lead of Catherine, but Lenzi managed to convince the producers to cast Baker instead, and the film ended up being much better because of Lenzi’s insistence on Baker. Not too many American actresses, whether at the twilight of their careers or in their prime, were willing to do anything that even hinted they were stark naked in a scene, but Baker was still young enough in her career that she had no qualms about “baring” all if need be. This was a combination of her wanting to take risks with parts and that she had an immediate rapport with Lenzi who was known to be very flexible with his casts. Lenzi has gone on record saying they liked each other so much Baker knew he would never ask her to get nude for no reason.  

The Italian Horror Blogathon: Orgasmo (1969) • She Blogged By Night
Catherine Offering Peter a Place to Sleep (From She Blogged by Night)
Picture of Colette Descombes
Eva as the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (from Listal)

Lou Castel, a Swedish actor born in South America who made his career in Italy, is a scum infested pleasure as Peter Donovan. Having made a career of playing slimeballs, perverts, psychos, and all-around unlikable characters, Castel doesn’t have to dig too deep in his acting training to pull off the character of Peter. At first coming off as a ne’er-do-well living a bohemian existence in the Italian countryside, Peter slowly reveals himself to be a money hungry gigolo and lady killer, as he calculatingly and methodically leads his fireball lover into a state of madness and fear. Collette Descombes, a little-known French actress recommended by Lenzi, is the feminine opposite of Castel in the role of Eva (Stuart) Donovan. At first masquerading as Peter’s stepsister, Eva soon reveals she and Peter have had a sexual relationship since early adulthood, and admits to Catherine she wants to be her lover along with Peter. More conniving in her actions than her brutish male companion, Eva is no less deadly.

The Italian Horror Blogathon: Orgasmo (1969) • She Blogged By Night
Theresa the Maid Knows Something’s Amiss, but Can’t Prove It (From She Blogged by Night)
Orgasmo | Trailers From Hell
Sanders the Attorney Seems too Confident (from Trailers From Hell)

Noted Italian character performers Lilla Brignone, Tanio Carraro, & Franco Pesce play the supporting roles of Theresa the maid, lawyer Brian, and Martino the gardener respectively. All are oblivious to the deadly games going on, and that Mrs. West is in grave danger from people who want her inheritance, and for one, the truth of the situation that eventually reveals itself, will be far too shocking.

Orgasmo (1969) - SpookyFlix
The Key to Freedom? (from SpookyFlix)

Lenzi and Baker keep the tension and suspense at an all time high in the film: Lenzi keeping the motives of his antagonists a mystery until the very end, and Baker’s fine performance as a woman slowly teetering the fine line between sanity and utter despair paranoia. That the characters are very rarely seen outdoors, save for the garden/patio of the villa adds to the slowly increasing tension, the claustrophobic and confined space making the situation all the more dangerous and frightening. The frank sexual innuendos and dialogue between the characters was very tantalizing for the time and soon became a source of liberation for the youth of the era.

(I highly recommend giving this film a look at when the opportunity presents itself as Lenzi paints one of the most original forms of Murder/Mystery in the early stages in the Giallo period. It does get a little tedious in the middle and early parts of the end, but the finale is very well worth the pay off and it totally comes out of left field and the viewer never sees the revelation coming. The US Cut of the film, which is the only film of the early MPAA system to retain the “X” rating (though it is really R rated even by the standards of the 80’s onward) removes key essential story and character points, making it far too straightforward and losing the intrigue Lenzi and his co writer Moretti intended. The Blu Ray from Severin Films offers a pristine restoration in audio and visual quality of Lenzi’s original cut of the film along with well translated English subtitles of the Italian audio track [I highly recommend watching the film in the original Italian, as the uncut version has scenes that were never dubbed into English, and do sporadically go from English to Italian when viewed in the dubbed track]. Two audio commentaries are offered: the uncut version with Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, the US cut with Giallo historian titans Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson. Also available is a nice interview with Umberto Lenzi, focusing mainly on his inspiration for the film, his relationship with actress Carroll Baker, and how Film-Noir influenced his golden age period with his Giallos and Poliziotteschi.)

All images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

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Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

Take a Film Dare Challenge: A Fun Little Game for the Lock-down

From Tony Nash

Hello to my followers, those I’m following, and all curious visitors

With things still up in the air thanks to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), I figured I’d try making up a nice little game to stifle some of the boredom of being indoors most of the time

I’m calling this game “Take a Film Dare Challenge” and the object is for people to pick out some Word-Pressers who follow you and try to think of a film they would like, but for whatever the reason, haven’t talked about them before. Once the film is viewed, do however long or short a write up you would prefer about your thoughts and impression of the film, and whether you’d check out other films from that genre or similar films The object of course is to have fun and also to see if extra spark can be found for new types of films and genres. I’ll start out by picking some of the folks I find very cool to read. To make the inaugural round interesting, I’ll be picking titles for these WP users via my personal collection of Blu Rays and DVDs.

MMC! (Make Mine Criterion!): I’ve got to admit at first I thought I wouldn’t be able to find anything for MMC! as his knowledge and interest in film is vast and I’m pretty sure there isn’t too much he hasn’t seen. I quickly realized I shouldn’t be thinking about what he hasn’t watched, but what he hasn’t discussed in his writings he’d be eloquent with. For this reason I’ve chosen Jacques Demy’s Une Chambre en Ville ( A Room in Town) from 1982 as his challenge.

Une chambre en ville

Demy’s salute to Opera doesn’t come close to recapturing the magic of his classic Le Parapluis du Cherburg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) but it does capture the magic and style of such composers as Puccini, Verdi, Wagner, Leoncavello, and many others. MMC!, I think you’ll enjoy this one.

Mikes Take on the Movies: Like with MMC!, Mike has a pretty eclectic taste in varied film genres and movements, so this one had to be really special. I haven’t heard Mike talk too much about Musicals, and I believe I’ve found one that would peak his curiosity. I’m sticking with Demy on this one, and Mike’c challenge is Demy’s 1970 Musical Fairy Tale Peau d’Ane (Donkey Skin).

Donkey Skin

Mixing bizarre, whimsical, and enchanting as only Demy can, this little fable has both the charm of the kind of stories told to children, and the qualities only adults would truly understand. Mike, I believe you’d get a lot of enjoyment out of this for both the visuals and storytelling.

Debbi’s I Found it at the Movies: I couldn’t decide on just one film for Debbi as she’s very eclectic as well in her viewing pleasures, so I’m giving her the option of doing two films, or picking the one that intrigues her the most. I’ve seen her talk about quite a lot from the classic era of movies, but I’m unsure of how much Japanese cinema she’s experienced, so I’m giving her double dose of Samurai action films in Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo from 1961


and the Italian Western influenced Kill! by Kihachi Okamoto from 1968


Both films offer a wandering samurai taking on outlaw gangs, one in a more philosophical sense, and the other leaning more towards tongue-in-cheek humor. Both are on the dark comedy side when it comes to giving viewers a chuckle, but aren’t offensive in any way.  Both are also action-packed and offer great thrills along the way. Debbi, I’m sure you’ll enjoy either of these.

The Wee Writing Lassie: At first I wasn’t sure whether to include the Lassie in this game as I believe her blog deals a little more in books, travel, and theater, but I know she enjoys a good film like the rest of us, so hope you enjoy ride Lass. Since I know she enjoys a good mystery from time to time, I figured Lassie would enjoy an early Italian Giallo thriller that offers the same thrills and intrigue without the sleaze and exploitation frills that would come to dominate it from the 1970’s onward.

The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion Blu-Ray image 1

I thought Le Foto Proibite di una Signora per Bene (The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion) from 1969 would be something that keeps you guessing, but not worrying about how much skin or sleaze gets in the way. Lass, I hope you enjoy and maybe find something new to explore as you try things out.

Master Mix Movies: This dude is one of my more recent followers, but I’m already very impressed with his material so I decided to include him here. So far from what I’ve seen he likes films that mix a lot of stuff together to form a solid whole that makes for good entertainment. With this in mind, I’ve picked two titles and, like with Debbi, can choose to both, or pick the one he likes the most.

First off, we have Henri-Georges Clouzot’s, the man who gave Hitchcock a run for his money, Le Salaire de la Peur (The Wages of Fear) from 1952

The Wages of Fear

A tense, and at times both cynical and nihilistic, Thriller as 4 desperate expatriated men try to get money to escape poverty in a rural South American town. Yves Montand and Charles Vanel have great chemistry and represent two separate generations, one on the way out, the other on the rise-but still with a lot to learn.

Then we have Francesco Rosi’s underscored hit, Salvatore Giuliano from 1962.

Salvatore Giuliano

This film mixes both documentary style filmmaking, Murder Mystery Thriller, and Crime Drama, as Rosi traces the life of the notorious Sicilian outlaw and the forces many believe silenced him from telling the truth.

Now I’m gonna be taking part in this myself, but I’ll leave my pick as a surprise. I can tell you it’ll be posted at the end of September when I complete a special I’ll be starting next week, which I’m sure many of you will get a kick out of.

Now if any of you I’ve picked don’t have access to the films I’ve picked for you, please let me know and I will gladly pick something else out, this is meant for pure fun and to do something unique and different.

I hope those I have picked will enjoy this experiment, have fun with it, and pick out some folks to give it a try themselves.

Filed under: Annoucements, Film & TV: Potpourri, Film: Special Topics

A Filmic Acid Trip

That Also Defies Definition

by Tony Nash

(Obscure & Unique)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers to Spoiler Free)

(Author’s Note: Few images exist of this film and since there’s quite a bit of nudity, not many images will be shown)

The Lady Kills (1971): Mondo Macabro Blu-ray

Perverse et Docile (The Lady Kills/Wild & Willing) (1971) **** NC-17

Carole Lebel: Françoise Fremond

Albert Simono: John Greenfield

Christian Duc: Christian Belmont (as Christian Duke)

Paul Descombes: Karl Mohr

Claude Beautheac: François Ficheux

Charles Martin: The Roman Fashion Designer

Katia Tchenko: Hina

Written & Directed by: Jean-Louis van Belle

Synopsis: A group of men gang up on a woman and proceed to rape her repeatedly. About 20 years later, these same men are being killed in very unique fashion by a mysterious woman named Françoise Fremond. Why she is doing this is unknown.

NSFW Gallery: The Lady Kills (Mondo Macabro Blu-ray) Screenshots ...
Still From Mondo Macabro

Jean-Louis van Belle, a French-Belgian underground filmmaker who became a hit with the Swinging Sixties audiences with his funky Sci-Fi Horror film Le Sadique aux Dents Rouges (The Sadist with Red Teeth) and his mockumentary Paris Interdit (Forbidden Paris), proved at that same period he could be thought provoking and artistic while also entertaining with Perverse et Docile. Mixing Mondo documentary films, Giallo Suspense, Travel films showing the sights, and avant-garde cinematography, van Belle concocts a very unusual story of machismo run amok and the revenge that comes about when this psyche goes too far. By having the audience follow his heroine as she goes from country to country, eliminating a series of men who were involved in a horrid act of rape, van Belle not only shows off the beauty of the various countries he was able to film in, but also shows an independent woman’s fierce determination to bring the masculine domination of European society down a very harsh peg. Combining inventive cinematography, including an x-ray style opening credit sequence, with the traditional storytelling, Belle takes his viewers through a vignette style journey. The Lady Kills / Pervertissima [Blu-ray]: Carole Lebel ...
Still from Amazon

Carole Lebel, a Belgian model and actress, takes the lead in her final film before retiring as the seductive and mysterious Françoise. Almost nothing is known about Françoise, even as the camera follows her as she kills man after man for seemingly no reason at all. All audiences know is that she can’t stand men who take advantage of women in such fashions, and even more disgusted that they live such hedonistic lifestyles. Lebel proves herself a capable actress as she plays it calm and cool, never showing emotion until the crucial moment as she lures her prey into false senses of security and safety, nearly perfectly embodying a Black Widow spider. In order to keep the murders as isolated and unrelated as possible, she kills each man differently, using an array of weapons from a gun, to acid, to knives, to bombs. She also uses a series of aliases, wigs, and personalities so the men are easily stunned by her charms, never knowing until practically too late what is about to befall them.

NSFW Gallery: The Lady Kills (Mondo Macabro Blu-ray) Screenshots ...
Still from Cultsploitation

The remainder of the cast is made up of local area Belgian and French actors/actresses, playing the victims and other characters that make up the world Van Belle paints. Not much can be said about these performers as they’re only seen for maybe 10 minutes per vignette and all that can be gotten from those brief moments is their careers and preferred sexual escapades. The little info per the IMDb on the performers at hand is that they mainly and briefly acted in French and Belgian television, only Albert Simono having had a 30 plus year career in both TV and films, albeit in small roles. The Lady Kills / Pervertissima [Blu-ray]: Carole Lebel ...
From Amazon

While Van Belle entertains with a Mystery in travelogue documentary form, he also takes a scathing stab at male patriarchal chauvinism that seemed to be at a height in Europe in the 60’s and 70’s. Second Wave Feminism was in full swing, and even in Europe women were beginning to assert themselves as individuals and breaking the shackles of the once viewed as norm roles they were expected to take. That Van Belle mixes this with entertainment makes the film all the more interesting and worthy of getting wider appeal. While at times non-linear in going into the lead character’s motivations, and even a little on the psychedelic in terms of cinematography, the film still captures attention and interest.

(I do highly recommend giving this film a viewing as while there’s a lot to find incoherent and down right bizarre in some of the shots, it does in fact have a linear narrative that once the ending begins to roll, everything will come into a clear perspective. Van Belle is grossly underrated as a filmmaker, and while his work is definitely low budget is the work of a man with a lot of passion, determination, and talent, so only his avant-garde underground style seems to be what scares off people from looking into his work. The Blu Ray from Mondo Macabro offers up an immaculate transfer in both audio and visual quality, everything looking pristine as if it was just made and released to the public. As a nice bonus there’s a 30 minute documentary about Van Belle that was filmed at a retrospective in France honoring his contributions to cinema, featuring comments from critics, Van Belle’s favorite crew members & actors, and from Van Belle himself, who for some reason asked to not have his face shown on camera.)

All images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

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Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri, Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

The Croc From Hell Returns

by Tony Nash

(A [Belated] 45th Anniversary Celebration of Jaws Part 2)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(Review is of the Italian language version)

Killer Crocodile 2 (1990) - IMDb

Killer Crocodile 2 (1990) R ***

Richard Anthony Crenna: Kevin Jones, Activist (as Anthony Crenna)

Debra Karr: Lisa Post, Reporter

Ennio Girolami: Joe, the Croc Hunter (as Thomas Moore)

Terry Baer: Paul, Miami Chronicle Publisher

Hector Alvarez: Mr. Baxter, Land Developer

Written by: Fabrizio De Angelis (as Larry Ludman), Giannetto De Rossi, & Dardano Sacchetti (as David Parker Jr.)

Directed by: Giannetto De Rossi

Synopsis: Eco Activist Kevin and Croc Hunter Joe reunite to find Kevin’s reporter friend Lisa who has discovered a land developer has lied about promising to fully decontaminate an area of the Caribbean riddled with illegally dumped toxic waste, instead planning a huge resort on top of it. Kevin soon finds another mutated croc is out killing tourists and locals, and when Joe ends up a victim of the beast, he and Lisa must save the populace and then expose the truth.

Killer Crocodile 2 Blu-ray Review with HD Screenshots

While a sequel to the original, Killer Crocodile 2 was in fact filmed simultaneously with its predecessor. Fabrizio De Angelis was behind the helm of both films, but decided to give the directorial credit of the sequel to special effects man and burgeoning filmmaker Giannetto De Rossi. Like the original Killer Crocodile being a pseudo remake of Jaws, KC2 was a pseudo remake of Jaws 2 in that both dealt with the uneasiness of major resorts being built in areas that might still be infested with dangers, only the danger this time is a mutated crocodile and loads of hazardous toxic waste instead of crazed man eating shark. Giannetto De Rossi himself stated in an interview that while much fun was had making both films, the overall product could be less than stellar at times, but he none the less enjoyed the challenge of trying to make a realistic looking giant crocodile with the little budget they had to work with.

Film Review - Killer Crocodile 2 (1990) - Tuesday Night Cigar Club


American actor Richard Anthony Crenna (credited as Anthony Crenna) and Ennio Girolami (credited as Thomas Moore) reprise their respective roles of activist Kevin and hunter Joe in the film. Kevin is still out trying to save the world, but hard learned truths have made him wiser in that some things are just too dangerous to let roam around free as they cause as much, if not more, destruction than the most harmful materials around. Kevin still believes in saving the world, but has learned new ways that allow him to maintain his ideals, and stop harmful elements that need stopping. Croc Hunter Joe has also learned some lessons from his encounter with the original croc. He too is wiser, and has learned he himself has limits as his fight with the croc cost him the use of his one arm. Kevin’s activism influenced him as his survival skills influenced Kevin in that he’s a little more careful of what he uses to make his food, and understands both ends of the arguments over environmental safety. Sadly, his loss of his edge costs him his life when he’s unable to predict where the croc is.

Killer Crocodile 2 (1990) / AvaxHome

Debra Karr, a very briefly lived actress in the late 80’s, early 90’s, is quite the surprise as the spitfire reporter Lisa. A very independent woman via the 2nd wave Feminist Movement, Lisa knows how to take care of herself, and is able to survive the dangers of the croc and jungles where others have fallen victim. Certain the land developer Baxter is covering up lost toxic waste, Lisa stays on the trail even when Baxter pays off goons to threaten her.

Cool Ass Cinema: Killer Crocodile 2 (1990)

The beauty of the Caribbean islands is once again on display in the film, and even a few shots of Miami Florida come into display. Mixing both the classical beautiful scenery and the more exotic rural areas, De Rossi and his crew make the best use of locations to help hide the meager budget at hand.

Killer Crocodile 2 Blu-ray Review with HD Screenshots

Not as interesting as the original, but still offers an intriguing story-line involving lies, deceit, and political based cover-ups, KC2 is still a very interesting ride to experience and enjoy.

(As I said earlier, the sequel can’t compare to the original, and while at times the story seems a little up in the air of where it wants to go, the acting of Crenna, Girolami, and Karr make up for the loose ends that couldn’t be fixed during the shoot or in the editing room. De Rossi himself claims the film wasn’t the preferred way to start his career as a director, but did enjoy the challenges of the limitations at hand, and the confidence given him by writer-producer-director Fabrizio De Angelis. Two Blu Rays exist of the film, one from the US company Severin Films, and the other from the UK’s 88 Films. The Severin Blu Ray is a limited run extra, while 88 Films has the full on rights to distribute it as a single feature. Like with the Original, 88 Films wins out on the visual and audio transfer, and on the price as well. It can be bought either on the Killer Crocodile Box Set, or as a single edition that will be coming out late August, early September.)

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The Monster From Jaws Survived – To Become a Giant Croc in Italy

by Tony Nash

(A [Belated] 45th Anniversary Celebration of Jaws Part 1)

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(Review is of the original Italian language version)

Killer Crocodile (1989) - IMDb

Killer Crocodile (1989) R *** ½

Richard Anthony Crenna: Kevin, Ecologist Team Leader (as Anthony Crenna)

Sherrie Rose: Pamela, Ecologist Team Member

Pietro Genuardi: Mark, Ecologist Team Photographer (as Julian Hampton)

Ennio Girolami: Joe, the Croc Hunter (as Thomas Moore)

Van Johnson: The City Judge

Ann Douglas: Jennifer, Ecologist Team Biologist

Bill Wohrman: Mr. Foley, Businessman (as Wohrman Williams)

John Harper: Bob, Ecologist Team Member

Franklin Dominguez: The City Pathologist

Written by: Fabrizio De Angelis (as Larry Ludman) & Dardano Sacchetti (as David Parker Jr.)

Directed by: Fabrizio De Angelis (as Larry Ludman)


Synopsis: A team of environmentalists somewhere in the Caribbean jungles discover crooked businessmen have been dumping toxic waste material into a local river, threatening the ecosystem and the livelihoods of the local communities. When locals encounter a crocodile that has mutated from the spill the environmentalists put aside their ideals to team with the local croc hunter to stop it from harming anymore people.

Top 10 Killer Crocodile Flicks! | Arrow in the Head

From the mid-1970’s to 1990, the Italian film industry had a period of killer animal films inspired from the 1975 blockbuster film Jaws. Along with sharks, the Italians also told stories of killer fish, bugs, amphibians, and crocodiles. Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive had come out around the same time as Jaws and equally ushered in an interest in Thrillers about the elusive creatures, and the Italians found crocs to be the most doable for their special effects teams. The genre fizzled about 1989, but producer Fabrizio De Angelis decided to send the craze out with a bang in the form of Killer Crocodile. Environmental Activism had taken hold around the world as illegal dumping of hazardous and dangerous materials were being uncovered, and De Angelis, along with regular Lucio Fulci collaborator Dardano Sacchetti, crafted a screenplay with these real-world happenings as the backdrop for the tale. By having the main group of ecologists come into conflict with preserving their ideals and protecting the environment in all its forms vs the loss of human life that will definitely happen if action isn’t taken makes for very interesting drama.

Killer Crocodile (Fabrizio De Angelis, 1989) – Offscreen

Composer Riz Ortolani does the closest thing to a direct rip-off of John Williams’ classic theme of the shark from Jaws with his primary piece that shows when the croc is around and/or ready to strike. The theme is still very good, and is in reality done as a sincere form of flattery, and Ortolani’s overall score is very effective in supplying atmosphere and tension. Special Effects man Giannetto De Rossi is very inventive and creative, and comes up with a fairly realistic looking crocodile for the film. While the obviousness of the croc being animatronic is visible via the eyes not moving at all, De Rossi’s magic touch made the crocodile one of the better practical effect animatronic animals in an age when Italy had a lot of low budget fare coming out in terms of genre cinema.

Killer Crocodile | Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

Cool Ass Cinema: Killer Crocodile (1989) review

Richard Anthony Crenna, son of character actor Richard Crenna, got one of his rare opportunities at a starring role in the part of ecologist team head Kevin. Adopting the stage name Anthony Crenna to distinguish himself from his famous father, Crenna plays Kevin as the typical activist in that he has high moral ideals, very little time to see that both sides have a point, and is take charge. While he’s very right in that the pollution of rivers by less than honest business type people must be put to an end, he learns the hard way that not all victims of such atrocities are innocent and worthy of protection. It’s not very long before he must decide where and when to use his ideals, and when it is time to fight for the good of the people. Van Johnson, an iconic leading man of the 1940’s and 50’s in Hollywood, plays a small, but still important role of the authoritative head of the village. Known only as The Judge, Johnson’s character is the quintessential corrupt and crooked politician who has sold his soul and integrity for money. His conscious does get the better of him when he learns the dumping of the waste has caused a crocodile to become massive and size and begins to wonder what else has affected the area. Whether he can be redeemed is left uncertain.

Killer Crocodile (1989)

Ennio Girolami, credited under the Anglo pseudonym Thomas Moore, an actor noted for both his work and being the brother of famed director Enzo G. Castellari, plays Joe, the local croc expert. Joe is a little like the Quint character from Jaws in that battling crocs is his passion, almost at times bordering on an obsession, and has the scars to prove he’s tangoed with the apex predators and lived. Unlike Quint, he’s sane and more humane in his actions, only killing the beasts when absolutely necessary, and never in any excess that would be considered dangerous to nature and the ecosystem. He respects the law of the jungle and does his best to keep everything in balance.

(Author’s note: I actually preferred Girolami’s character over the group of ecologists as he made far more sense than they did, and came off right away as far more likable.)

Killer Crocodile Blu-ray Review with HD Screenshots

The film’s location scenes were done entirely in the region of Santo Domingo in the Caribbean islands, and show off both the beauty of the area and the local flavor that’s rarely shown in other films. The majority of the extras were played by citizens of the area, so the viewer knows they’re exactly in the Caribbean and the authenticity of the setting is preserved.


A times cheesy given some of the acting, the film is genuinely entertaining and offers quite a bit of unique thrills. While the toxic waste dumping part of the story takes secondary precedent once the croc comes into play, it does serve as the catalyst as to how the beast came into being.

(Believe it or not, I do recommend give this croc flick a try as despite its low budget, has really good production qualities, didn’t take any short cuts to make things safe, and has a good set of character performers, including Hollywood icon Van Johnson. Even De Rossi’s croc is really well done in spite of the eyes being plastic and never moving. The film has two Blu Ray releases, one from the US company Severin and the other from the UK’s 88 Films. The 88 Films release wins out here as it has much better visuals and audio, and offers both the original Italian language as well as the English dub. The special features are virtually the same, save for Severin getting to interview star Richard Anthony Crenna, but what really clenches the deal is the price. 88 Films has both Killer Crocodile films on Blu Ray in a nice set for 25 GBP while Severin only has the rights to the first film with the sequel as a limited offer for $30 plus depending on where you purchase it from. This isn’t to say Severin doesn’t do a good job with their releases, but 88 just had a little more to offer. It’s all a question of which you the viewer prefer.)

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Shakespearean & Grecian Tragedy: Italian Style

by Tony Nash

(A Part of Western Wednesdays)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(Review is of the Italian language version)

Keoma (1976) - IMDb

Keoma (1976) ****1/2 R

Franco Nero: Keoma Shannon

William Berger: William Shannon

Woody Strode: George, Keoma’s Ally

Olga Kariatos: Liza Farrow

Orso Maria Guerini: Butch Shannon

Joshua Sinclair: Sam Shannon (as John Loffredo)

Donal O’Brien: Caldwell, Raider Leader (as Donald O’Brien)

Antonio Marsina: Lenny Shannon

Gabriella Giacobbe: The Old Witch

Wolfgango Soldati: Caldwell Raider Member

Written by: George Eastman (as Luigi Montefiore), Mino Roli, Nico Ducci, & Enzo G. Castellari, with dialogue by Joshua Sinclair

Directed by: Enzo G. Castellari

Synopsis: Keoma Shannon, a man with White and Native American blood, returns from the Civil War to find the town he grew up in ravaged by a plague. A Confederate Renegade and his band have taken over the town under the pretense of keeping the epidemic under control, all the while stealing and selling much needed commodities as the sick die. With the help of his father and a faithful retired ranch hand, Keoma decides to help the town that shunned him against both the Renegades, and his evil stepbrothers, who’ve sided with the Renegades.


By 1975, the Italian Western genre was a shell of its former self and was completely overwhelmed with ultra-low budget fares that at times could be entertaining and comedies that were at times an insult to the genre. Genre star Franco Nero and Enzo G. Castellari, one of the key directors of the genre, decided it was time to bring the genre back to its roots with the hopes that it could be revived and kept going. Italian Western supporting player George Eastman at this period was beginning a second career as a screenwriter under his Italian birth name, and he wrote a story centering on a man considered an outcast by his adoptive brothers and the community they live in, and upon returning from an unnamed war, must save the town from his brothers. Castellari was intrigued by Eastman’s initial treatment and bought the rights from Eastman and began the screenplay. What came from Castellari and his co-writers was a story of a half Indian-half Anglo-Saxon man (these types of characters were usually portrayed as half Indian-half Spanish), facing prejudice from all sides, his only allies being his father, a dying pregnant woman, a ranch hand, and a dutiful doctor, and must face down evil one last time.

Keoma (1976) Review |BasementRejects

Castellari, Eastman, and the other screenwriters drew inspiration from playwrights of old like William Shakespeare, Sophocles, Euripides, etc, for the film, Keoma’s relationship with his brothers is very reminiscent of the relationship between Polynices and Eteocles in Oedipus at Colonus, the three daughters in King Lear, and any of the relationships among the gods and mortals in the varied stories in Greek Mythology. Sibling rivalry and racism is the main point of the film as Keoma was the favored son of his father, and the constant enemy of his step brothers as they feel his mother being Native American stains the family name. It’s only when the father confesses that Keoma is in fact blood related to one of the others, and thus keeps them from killing Keoma as that would leave the mystery sibling guilty of legitimate fratricide. Hatred of Native Americans and those of Mixed Ethnic roots were still shunned regularly in the Old West and rarely was anyone willing to speak up for those who were different.

Franco Nero as Keoma in Keoma (1976) | Once Upon a Time in a Western

Franco Nero, in his third to last Western, gives a heartfelt and memorable performance as the title character of Keoma Shannon. Keoma is probably Nero’s most complex role ever, both in genre cinema and art house cinema, a man filled with conflicting emotions and uncertain of where life will lead him. A man born to two different worlds, that of European Caucasians and the Native American tribes, and belonging to neither in that he accepts both the cultures he has roots in, Keoma is given no other choice but to wander the land trying to do what he believes is right and stand up for those who can’t help themselves. Much of his idealism was lost while fighting for the Union during the Civil War, even going so far as to ask his father if certain aspects of the conflict were really worth all the death and chaos. Keoma doesn’t necessarily try to be heroic, as he knows no one will ever give him the credit for helping, but his sense of honor and integrity won’t allow him to stand by while suffering and violence is happening. That he must battle both his racist half brothers who loathe him more than anything, and the Confederate Raiders they’ve sided with because they felt the town never took them seriously. Keoma will soon have to face a journey of both spiritual and emotional proportions if he intends to go on living and learns to live with the imperfections of those around him.

William Berger and Woody Strode make up two of the only people that have accepted Keoma for who he is and love him dearly.

William Berger as William Shannon in Keoma (1976) | Once Upon a Time in a  Western

Berger, an Austrian actor who acted all over the world, plays William Shannon, the father of Keoma and his half brothers Butch, Sam, and Lenny. The senior Shannon is a war hero and successful rancher who faces Shakespearian difficulties when he has an impassioned affair with a Native American woman that leads to the birth of Keoma. His other sons, firmly believing in their Caucasian roots from his first marriage constantly torment Keoma because of his mixed heritage, and the Shannon Patriarch only prevents all out bloodshed when he tells his other sons one them is also the product of his relationship with Keoma’s mother, but his refusal to tell which brother is blood related to Keoma is what in facts stops the more lethal bullying. (This aspect was more prominent in George Eastman’s original treatment, but only hinted at in the final script.) While he loved all his sons, William knew Butch, Sam, and Lenny were far more spoiled and acted out aggressively, leading to their eventual turning as outlaws, and leaves him right in the middle of the feud Keoma has landed himself in with his brothers and the evil Renegade leader destroying the town.

Woody Strode as George in Keoma (1976) | Once Upon a Time in a Western

Woody Strode, the football player turned actor, and the first African American to really feature prominently in the films of the 1960’s thanks in part to his friendship with John Ford, plays George, a former worker on the Shannon ranch turned drunken vagabond. It’s never really made clear if George was a slave that William Shannon later freed and kept him on as a paid employee, or if he was a free black man with whom Shannon hired in regular fashion to work on his ranch, but it is clear he was treated very well by his employer, and acted as Keoma’s tutor and protector, teaching him the art of music, the skill of the bow, and many other necessities of living deep in the country. How and why George became a drunkard is never fully explained, but it’s strongly hinted he suffered quite a bit of bad luck over the years and this led to much misfortune that broke his spirits for a time. When Keoma returns and decides to get rid of the Raiders and his brothers, he also inspires George to clean himself up and help him out, reliving some of his glory days and earning back his self-respect.

Joshua Sinclair as Sam Shannon in Keoma (1976) | Once Upon a Time in a  Western

US expate actor and writer Joshua Sinclair who plays Sam Shannon in the film, and would later rise to fame with his finely detailed biodrama trilogy novels of the story of Shaka Zulu and the Zulu people, did uncredited work on the film’s dialog. Since the film was a mix of traditional genre storytelling, Art-House style imagery and photography, and poetic dialog from writers of ages past, Castellari felt, after sampling some of Sinclair’s writings, would be perfect to hone the casts lines and mannerisms and give it the feel of a Shakesperian or Grecian Tragedy, which both Castellari and star Franco Nero felt was greatly achieved by Sinclair’s help.

Keoma (1976) Review |BasementRejects

Religious Symbolism also plays a huge role in the film. Keoma sometimes comes off as a Christ-like figure in his dignity, honor, and commitment to peace, but his experiences in the Civil War and the various discrimination he suffered throughout the years have him fairly weary of other people, thus giving this reference a bit of complexity. Liza, the sole main female character of the film also has her place in this use of Symbolism. The baby she’s about to give birth to acts as the representation of a new generation of people to come in the wake of the loss of many due to the war and the various sicknesses that came after. The characters of Keoma, his father, his brothers, George, and even the Raiders represent the dying era of racism, bigotry, and old-world values that were slowly becoming irrelevant and out of touch. The child represents a chance to start afresh and learn from the mistakes of the previous generations so such evils may never grow into what they were in the past.

Keoma (Blu-ray) : DVD Talk Review of the Blu-ray

Keoma was seen from the get-go to be a comeback film for the Italian Western genre, to show it could return to the prosperous period it had enjoyed in the 60’s, and was a genre that wouldn’t die out. In spite of a very compelling story, creative cinematography, subtle mixtures of symbolism and relevant materials of the day and so on, the film’s chaotic switching from Art House style to genre style so frequently that both audiences and critics were uncertain of how to classify it.

(I do highly recommend this late era Italian Western as its one of the few outside Sergio Leone’s style of film-making that can pull you in emotionally as well as be entertaining. That you can feel for the characters on so many levels even with the chaotic crisscross of genres and cinematic style is a feat in-of-itself as at times as a viewer its hard to pinpoint how to view the film. The music by the De Angelis brothers, while good on many levels, suffers a little from an unusual style of singing that, while viewed by many of the genre as a weak point of the film, actually helps guide the viewer through the story, acting as an unusual folk ballad. Arrow Video once again outdoes itself with its usual immaculate audio and visual restorations of the film. The film keeps its 70’s vibe will looking very pristine at the same time, an d both the English and Italian audio ring loud and clear. A slew of extras including interviews with Nero, Castellari, George Eastman, and others are a real treat to have and offer really nice insight into the making of a late era classic.)

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A New Django, A New Vendetta

by Tony Nash

(A Part of Western Wednesdays)

(Mild Spoilers)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Review is of the Italian language version)

W Django! (1971)

W Django! (Viva! Django/A Man Called Django) (1971) PG-13 ****1/2

Anthony Steffen: Django

Stelio Candelli: Jeff

Glauco Onorato: Carranza

Donato Castellaneta: Paco

Chris Avram: Capitan Gomez (as Cris Avram)

Giovanni Cianfriglia: Jeff Gang Member

Riccardo Pizzuti: Thompson

Simonetta Vitelli: Inez (as Simone Blondell)

Esmerelda Barros: Lola

Benito Steffanelli: Ibanez

Remo Capitani: Sam

Written by: Nino Stresa

Directed by: Edoardo Mulargia (as Edward G. Muller)

Synopsis: After four bandits rape and murder his wife, gunslinger Django goes on a quest to find them and take his revenge. After freeing a Mexican horse thief from a lynch mob, Django learns three of the men are now: a respected businessman, a captain in the Mexican Federales, and the leader of a gang of smugglers. The horse thief keeps quiet about the fourth man, raising questions as to if he knows more than he’s willing to say.

W Django! AKA A Man Called Django! 1971 | Download movie

By 1971, the Italian Western was beginning its slow decline into a comedic shadow of its former self. There were some films however, such as Prega il Morto e Ammazza il Vivo (Shoot the Living and Pray for the Dead), Condenados a Vivir (Cutthroats 9), Su la Mani, Cadavere! Sei in Arresto (Hands Up Dead Man! You’re Under Arrest), Lo Chiamavano King (His Name Was King), and W Django, that were still quite good and held firm to the traditions and themes that made the genre great. W Django is probably the best of the bunch in that it took the formulaic story of murder and revenge and did an imaginative take on it. This go around has the famous gunslinger Django (many fans still debate if this is an official sequel to the Franco Nero original or not) on the pursuit of four criminals who broke into his home and killed his wife, but not before savagely raping her in the process. Django’s only clue is that one of the four men is currently leading a band of smugglers selling arms to both revolutionaries and the Mexican Federales. With the aid of a Mexican thief whom he saved from a lynching Django goes from place to place looking for the men who ruined his life. That the main character has only vague ideas of what the majority of the men he’s after look like, save for one, and must rely on a man who claims to have knowledge of where he can find his quarry make trust a very difficult thing as Django must constantly wonder what’s around the corner.

A Man Called Django (1971) | Once Upon a Time in a Western

Anthony Steffen, of the many icons of the Italian West, plays the title role of Django. Normally known for being stiff and wooden in his acting, Steffen actually delivers a very effective performance of a man whose life has lost all meaning after a horrible tragedy. The loss of the woman he loved has left Django a shell and void of the lust of life, but before resigning from the human race, must avenge his wife so she can have peace. Steffen’s stone face is perfect for the loner who has little to say and has only one single goal in mind, but still manages to convey some empathy for the character in that the loss of his wife was very hard for him. While his single thought is revenge, that one of the killers/rapists has a dominant hold over a town for his own nefarious purposes gives Django a chance to do one last big thing right, even if it’s really only an afterthought to his original intention.

A Man Called Django (1971) | Once Upon a Time in a Western

Glauco Onorato, an Italian character actor known equally for his dub work, particularly of fellow Italian Bud Spencer, offers a fine performance as the bandit Carranza. Resembling Eli Wallach from his roles as Tuco and Calvera, Carranza comes off initially as a low-level criminal who simply had the misfortune of being caught in the act of horse thieving. When it looked like he was gonna be lynched for the act, his life is surprisingly saved by the mysterious Django. Seemingly looking to repay Django’s aid, Carranza mentions he believes he knows where to find the men Django is looking for, and offers to accompany him in case his quarry has men around to protect his savior so he can have his revenge properly. Carranza, though, seems a little too willing to offer a hand, and soon the question becomes of what is he not telling Django about the case at hand. Whether he truly can be trusted or whether he knows more than meets the eye, or even protecting someone will only come to light when the time is right.

Stello Candelli as Jeff, giving orderrs to his men in “A Man Called Django” (1972)

Chris Avram as Maj. Gomez, one of the men Django's seeks in “A Man Called Django” (1972)

Riccardo Pizzuti as Thompson, one of the men Django seeks in “A Man Called Django” (1972)

Italian actors Stelio Candelli and Riccardo Pizzuti, and Romanian actor Chris Avram portray three of 4 men Django is looking to get for murdering his wife. Avram and Pizzuti’s characters have become respectable since committing the heinous act, Avram’s guy rising through the ranks of the Federales into a high level of command, though he still commits crooked acts here and there and Pizzuti’s guy is now a successful, albeit still devious, businessman. When they each meet with Django one stays the coward he is while the other accepts his fate, but won’t go down without a fight. Stelio Candelli’s character is still very much a crook and has gone a step further as an unscrupulous mercenary selling weapons to both the Fascist Federales and the rebellious revolutionaries looking to take over Mexico. Unlike his compatriots, he fails to recognize Django who has been looking for him to kill him at first, but even then arrogantly doesn’t see him as a threat. When they finally settle face to face, it becomes intense.

W! Django (1971) *Greek Subtitles* part 1/2 - video dailymotion

While very standard in its storytelling, W Django is still a very action-packed film that offers up amazing choreography in said scenes, a interesting array of characters, and a nice twist that, while not entirely unexpected, is still surprising in how it’s revealed.

(I highly recommend this early Late Era Italian Western as, while it came in that time period when the genre was beginning to deteriorate and falling into the hole of Comedy parodying and comic tales, it manages to retain the Golden Era style and themes that made it popular from the get go. The story in kinda generic in a way, but at the same time is told in a very interesting fashion that avoids the film being labeled as repetitive and copycatting, giving it its own voice. Anthony Steffen gets one of his rare opportunities  in this film to show he wasn’t a completely wooden actor and could deliver a fine performance when given enough room and chance. There are two Blu Ray releases of this film, one from Japan’s Orustak Pictures and the other from France’s Artus Films. I have the French Blu Ray Digibook and the restoration is very crisp and clean, looking much  like it did back in the day. The audio, which is only offered in Italian and French, are still very good to listen to and don’t appear to have much age or wear damage present in them. the extras aren’t English friendly either, but are still very interesting to have as they offer a new and different take on the genre. I haven’t seen the Japanese Blu Ray myself, but I do know it’s Italian language only with Japanese subtitles. The Japanese do fairly well in their Blu Ray and DVD restorations from what I’ve heard and seen as far as stills go and offer up the best product they can, so it’s a safe bet to go for, but the price differential can be tricky.)

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Family Drama and Revenge in the Old West

by Tony Nash

(A Part of Western Wednesdays)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(Review is of the Spanish language version of the film)

Hands of a Gunfighter (1965) - IMDb

Ocaso de un Pistolero (Mani di Pistolero/Hands of a Gunfighter/Hands of a Gunman) (1965) PG-13 ***

Craig Hill: Dan Murphy (as Graig Hill)

Gloria Milland: Miriam Murphy

Carlos Romero Marchent: Pat Davis

Jose Guardiola: John Castle

Piero Lulli: Davey Castle

Raf Baldassarre: Deputy Sheriff Mack (as Ralph Baldwin)

Jesus Puente: Sheriff Robert Rogers

Lorenzo Robledo: Slim Castle

Hugo Blanco: Charlie Castle

Francisco Sanz: Alex Dixon (as Paco Sanz)

Conchita Nunez: Margaret Dixon Davis

Francisco Huetos: Andy Rogers Murphy

Written by: Joaquin Romero Marchent (as Joaquin Romero Hernandez)

Directed by: Rafael Romero Marchent

Synopsis: Dan Murphy, a gunman attempting to go straight, sees his world shattered when his infant son is accidentally killed by his rival Sheriff Rogers. Acting on an eye for eye, Murphy takes Rogers infant son away from him, raising the boy as his own. When Murphy must come to the aid of his friend Pat Davis, a young and recently married farmer, against the vicious Castle brothers, Rogers’ blindly loyal deputy threatens to arrest Murphy for his past sins unless Rogers’ son is returned to him. With two threats facing him, Dan is forced to take a long hard look at himself.

Ocaso de un pistolero/Hands of a Gunfighter/Mani di pistolero ...

Rafael Romero Marchent and Carlos Romero Marchent, the sons of filmmaker Joaquin Romero Marchent, make their debuts as director and actor respectively in Pistolero, written by their father. Continuing the family tradition of telling stories about gunmen having to face down their pasts as they try to do right by their loved ones, the senior Marchent crafted a story about a gunman who’s so hated by the town sheriff that the man blindly fires his gun at him, killing the gunman’s infant son. When the gunman pays back the sheriff by kidnapping his infant son so he and wife can raise the child they were robbed of, questions of right and wrong come into play and if some actions are truly justifiable. A nice side plot also includes the reforming gunman trying to help out his neighbors, a recently married couple, when one of a quartet of vicious brothers takes an interest in the young bride, recreating a classic element of both American and Italian Westerns.

Hands of a Gunfighter / Ocaso de un pistolero (1965) / AvaxHome

Craig Hill (credited as Graig Hill), a Mid-West born American actor who suddenly found himself without work after the hit series he starred in, Whirlybirds, ended, went over to Europe to star in his first Western. Dan Murphy is a bit of a mix, having elements of both American West tragic heroes and Euro West tragic heroes, as he wants to do right by his family and friends, but at the same time feels as if Destiny is against him and must do what he can to attain even the tiniest bit of happiness. Even at the beginning of the film he was getting his life on track, only to have it go on a dark path when his enemy the sheriff, who wouldn’t leave him alone, accidentally shoots his baby son, leading to revelations that show certain characters for who they truly are. When he’s hit with double trouble in the form of his good friend needing help in protecting himself and his wife from the less than honorable Castle brothers and the even less honorable sheriff threatening to ruin his life if he doesn’t get the son he never even tried to track down before back, the only grip Dan had left on his hopes and sanity begins to crumble, and even begins to believe his wife is turning against him.

Hands of a Gunfighter (1965) — The Movie Database (TMDb)

Hands of a Gunfighter (1965) | Once Upon a Time in a Western

Ocaso de un pistolero | SincroGuia

A slew of characters including Piero Lulli, Jesus Puente, Raf Baldassarre, Gloria Milland, Lorenzo Robledo, Francisco Sanz, and Hugo Blanco all make up the various characters in Dan’s life, whether they be allies, family, or enemies. The notable exceptions in the cast are Lulli as Davey Castle and Puente as Sheriff Robert Rogers. Lulli plays Castle as a slimy menacing type who instigates some of the feud between his family and Pat Davis and Dan Murphy by forcing Pat’s father to take up a gun when he and his brothers look to intimate Pat and his family after Pat is forced to kill the one brother when he attempted to sexually attack his wife. Puente’s Sheriff Rogers appears to be little more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing as while he seems to have some remorse in killing Dan’s infant son, he never the less threatens to make Dan and his wife’s lives miserable even though he was the cause of all the misfortune. That he waits years to finally ask for his son back puts his fatherly love and devotion into serious question as he apparently knew for years where Murphy and his wife had taken his son and never bothered previously to try and get him back or at least plea to be given a chance at making things right. That he comes off right away as someone who acts in haste seems to make that point true.

Hands of a Gunfighter (1965) Download YIFY Movie Torrent - YTS

While more American in its story, theme, and characterizations rather than Italian or Spanish, Pistolero is still an intriguing early stage Euro Western that offers up some interest. The closest the film gets to the burgeoning Italian style that was finding its roots in the wake of Sergio Leone’s success is when Dan begins going after the Castle family when they go too far in terrorizing Pat Davis and his wife. His systematic eliminating of the brothers so they can’t get the drop on him is very much in the Leone style and is the most exciting part of the entire film, while the rest seems to have more of the feel of a Frontier Drama rather than a traditional Western.

(This Western is middle of the road in terms of interest, but is still worth checking out as it’s a unique example of the genre in it’s early stages, showing how they used American Westerns as the basis, and worked their own style and magic in. Craig Hill in his debut Italian Western role is very effective and compelling, showing he was a talent that Hollywood didn’t give much of a chance to grow and flourish. He certainly had leading man looks, but even if he’d only done character parts in both Hollywood and Europe he’d still have been a success. The Blu Ray from Koch Media’s Italian Western line is exquisite looking, offering a clear and crisp transfer of the visuals, and clear audio via Spanish, German, and English soundtracks. Some of the English track is missing and English subtitles are available for the spots were the audio reverts to the original Spanish language. The extras are an interview, theatrical trailers and a gallery.)

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The Euro Western Take on The Dirty Dozen

by Tony Nash

(A Part of Western Wednesdays)

(Mild Spoilers)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(This review is of the Italian language version)

Kill Them All and Come Back Alone (1968) - IMDb

Ammazzali Tutti e Torna Solo (Kill Them All and Come Back Alone/Go Kill Everybody and Come Back Alone) (1968) R ****1/2

Chuck Connors: Clyde McKay

Frank Wolff: Captain Lynch

Franco Citti: Hoagy, Gunman

Leo Anchoriz: Deker, Explosives Expert

Giovanni Cianfriglia: Blade, Knife Thrower (as Ken Wood)

Alberto Dell’Acqua: The Kid, Acrobat Fighter and Gunman

Hercules Cortes: Bogard, Strongman

Antonio Molino Rojo: A Sergeant

John Bartha: The Union Prison Camp Captain

Written by: Tito Capri, Francesco Scardamaglia, Joaquin Romero Hernandez, & Enzo G. Castellari

Directed by: Enzo G. Castellari

Synopsis: A Confederate General asks a known criminal and his motley crew of mercenaries to steal a cache of Union Army gold to help buy arms for the Confederacy. The raid is successful, but soon allegiances are torn apart by greed, duplicity, and the revelation someone involved in the plot may not be who he says he is.

Ammazzali tutti e torna solo

1968, hailed as the boom year for the Italian Westerns, had its mixture of ground-breaking films, and simply well told “B” films that audiences just sat back and enjoyed. Enzo G. Castellari already had a hit with Quella Sporca Storia nel West (Johnny Hamlet/The Dirtiest Story in the West), a Western adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but he wanted to also have a representation of the fun, tongue-in-cheek, action-oriented style films he enjoyed making. With this in mind, Ammazzali Tutti e Torna Solo was born. The recent success of Robert Aldrich’s The Dirty Dozen was inspiration enough for Castellari and his regular collaborator Tito Capri to take the idea of a rag-tag group of trained men and transplant them from WWII Europe to 1880’s Southern Borders. The one difference Castellari and his co-writers inserted in was that while the Dozen in the States had a code of honor they stuck by regardless, the gritty group in this one are shown to have no honor at all, even to each other. What Castellari finished with was a highly action-packed thrill ride that still had its flaws in order to allow for certain special effects to be used, but still came off as totally believable fun. Watch Kill Them All And Come Back Alone | Prime Video

Chuck Connors, an American TV star with two hit shows, The Rifleman and Branded, already under his belt, decided to break away from the images formed from those shows by taking the role of the untrustworthy criminal mercenary Clyde McKay. Taking a complete 360 degree turn from the stoic, kindly, and fatherly Lucas McCain, and to a lesser extent the stoic, kind, and honorable Jason McCord, Connors plays McKay as a man with a very adjustable conscience, little morals and scruples, letting little, if anything, stand in his way.  McKay makes no secret he’s a bad dude, and would probably sell out his cohorts to save himself, when someone hires for a job, he honors the contract and expects his clients to honor their side too. While having worked with the men he recruited before, McKay still doesn’t fully trust them, but knows for any amount of money, they’ll sell their skills to anyone. When he tries to double-cross them for his own greed, McKay is forced to rely on his soon to be former allies when the Union Army catches up with them. Upon finding someone has sold them all out, McKay is forced to rely on his wit and tricks to stay alive.

Un film-cult stasera sulla tv in chiaro: AMMAZZALI TUTTI E TORNA ...

Frank Wolff, one of the most respected and utilized American actors working in Europe, plays one of his most devious roles in the part of Captain Lynch. While trusted by his commanding officer and some of the other members of the Confederate Army, Lynch is really more than what he appears to be, and his motives aren’t as loyal to the cause as it looks. Clyde McKay takes an initial dislike to Lynch, and this gut feeling is what shows Lynch as a man not to be trusted. He’s eventually revealed as a triple agent, a thief posing as a Union Officer posing as a Confederate officer, so he can steal the gold for himself, and blame it on McKay and company. As shifty as he is crafty, Lynch works to turn the group against each other, playing up each man’s individual greed as his main weapon. But with McKay already not liking him, and having a feeling he isn’t a man to take at face value or his word, Lynch must constantly be on his guard.

Franco Citti as Hoagy, the expert gunman, in Kill Them All and ...

Giovanni Cianfriglia (Ken Wood) as Blade, the knife expert, in ...

Leo Anchoriz as Decker, the dynamite expert in Kill Them All and Come Back Alone (1968)

Alberto dell'Acqua as The Kid in Kill Them All and Come Back Alone (1968)

The always reliable character actors Franco Citti, Giovanni Cianfriglia (credited as Ken Wood), Alberto Dell’Acqua (sometimes credited as Robert Widmark), and Leo Anchoriz, all make up a fine bunch of swine in their respective roles of Hoagy, Blade, the Kid, and Deker. They all have their own specialties in the art of thievery and fighting, hence why McKay picked them for assignment of stealing the gold. Hoagy and Deker look to be the least trustworthy of the group as Hoagy is merely a gun for hire while Deker is an expert with explosives who has the ability to double-cross the gang whenever he likes. Blade and the Kid are equally not to be trusted, but they at least have a type of honor code ethics that turn up when it looks like McKay intends to screw over them and the Confederacy by stealing the gold for himself. But since all of them have a common hatred of authority, they agree that the War Between the States is, for people like them, a matter of looting and self-gain.

Hercules Cortes as Bogard, the strongman in Kill Them All and Come ...

For fans of 50’s to 70’s style professional wrestling, Alfonso Carlos Chicharro, better known professionally as Hercules Cortes, plays the role of Bogard, the last of the mercenaries. Cortes’ main bit in the film is to act as the brute strongman who takes out 10 to 20 men at one time for the group to even the odds, but he also shows pretty solid acting skills in some scenes. Sadly, this would be his only major role in a film as he died from injuries suffered in an auto accident while touring the US and Canada as one half of the American Wrestling Association Tag Team Champions.

Kill Them All and Come Back Alone (1968) / AvaxHome

Even with Castellari going a little over the top in the action and special effects scenes, the film is still very entertaining and allows the viewers to sit back and have the time of their lives. The story might be a little thin at times, but is certainly solid enough to be followed continuously and smoothly. The cast, especially Chuck Connors, Frank Wolff, and the actors playing the other mercenaries, all give good performances, and Connors was soon to begin his alternate career as villainous characters in both film and television until his passing in 1992 from cancer. In spite of overshooting for solid action driven plot and setting, Castellari shows the Italian Western could be equally fun and gritty at the same time.

(This a great example of letting your mind relax and enjoy the ride and while there is a nice twist, it’s one viewers can safely guess correctly on without having to think too much on it. Filmmaker Castellari is a director who can do both serious plot and character driven films and ones that are purely for fun and amusement, and mixes both to a certain extent here. Chuck Connors, in his only Italian Western ever, proved he could not only play against type, but do it in a fashion where the viewer both likes him and disagrees with him. It’s quite the shame he wasn’t able to do more of them, though his entrance in the genre came at the tail end of it’s Golden Age. There are two Blu Ray releases of this Western Cult Classic, one from Germany’s Koch Media and the other from Kino in the US. The German Blu Ray has a slightly better transfer in audio & visuals and offers some extras including an interview with co-star Giovanni Cianfriglia [aka Ken Wood]. Kino’s Blu Ray does offer a subtitle translation of the original Italian audio and an audio commentary from filmmaker and Italian Western fan Alex Cox, though many stalwart genre aficionados rightly question how much of a fan Cox really is. Both are English friendly, and while Kino does have a subtitle option for those who prefer the original release Italian language, the Koch Blu Ray wins out because of the effort put into making it quality.)

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