Monthly Archives: March 2011

Fernando Di Leo Crime Collection – film review

Fernando Di Leo Crime Collection
4 stars
Actors: Gastone Moschin, Mario Adorf, Henry Silva, Jack Palance, Barbara Bouchet, Gisela Hahn
Director: Fernando Di Leo
Studio: Raro Video
DVD release: 15 March 2011
Runtime: 410 minutes (4 discs)
Format: Box set, Color, DVD, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Four films: Caliber 9; The Italian Connection; The Boss; Rulers of the City; in Italian with English subtitles, with an additional version dubbed in English; booklet containing a candid interview with the director; each disc contains additional interviews, documentaries and photo galleries.

DVD cover - Fernando Di Leo Crime CollectionMore whiskey, more scantily clad women, more cars and, definitely, more guns – those are the constantly recurring images in this collection of films by one of Poliziotteschi’s (Italo-crime) greatest directors, Fernando Di Leo. Add to that the incredible locations and Luis Enriquez Bacalov’s cool, noir-funk musical score, and this box set of four mob films is a feast for the eyes and ears.

Di Leo, who died in 2003, was the king of Italian crime films. If the mafia was going to exploit and corrupt the working class by infiltrating and coercing union bosses and shopkeepers for protection money, then Di Leo was going to exploit that trend by splattering it across the big screen. And splatter it does: in these four films, there might be five minutes goes by without a fist fight (including women getting socked in the mug), a shoot out (including kids being gunned down), or a car chase through city and country. And in those five minutes, there will surely be macho posturing as partners in crime double-cross one another.

These films aren’t about the forces of prescriptive law overcoming those of evil. Here, crime most assuredly pays and the winners are the outsiders — prostitutes, freelancers — who confront and defeat the organized mobs.

Di Leo laid down the blueprint for future directors of action and crime flicks. Quentin Tarantino, among many others, cites Di Leo as a key influence and Pulp Fiction bears a striking resemblance to The Italian Connection, included in this collection. He also provided a home for has-been American actors, like Jack Palance, who plays a mob boss in Rulers of the City.

Carefully restored and remastered, and loaded with tons of bonus material, this quartet of pictures is a treasure trove for lovers of action cinema as well as film history buffs.

Alien from the Deep movie review

3 stars

Alien from the Deep
Actors: Daniel Bosch, Marina Giulia Cavalli, Robert Marius, 
Luciano Pigozzi, Charles Napier
Director: Antonio Margheriti AKA Anthony Dawson
Studio: One-7 Movies
DVD release: 8 March 2011
Runtime: 102 minutes (1 disc)
Format: Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD, Full Screen, HiFi Sound, NTSC
DVD Features: In Italian and English; image gallery with stills,
lobby cards, box art; opening credits for the Italian version 
of the film

alien deepA hot babe, Jane (Marina Giulia Cavalli), and some guy named Bob (Daniel Bosch) who isn’t nearly as hot, are environmental activists roaming the jungle looking for do-badders. They find the evil ones in the green depths: E-Chem corporation is conspiring to dump toxic waste into an active volcano. Dumping toxic chemicals into a volcano is, in some sense (which one, though, is not at all clear) brilliant. After all, one thing real-world toxics producers want to do to get rid of their vile putrescences is incinerate them. So why not turn to Mother Nature’s Milk of Magma to settle a toxic stomach? But let’s overlook the logistics of building a complex waste-disposal facility in the bowels of a volcano and move right along to the snake milker.

The snake milker is, like all snake milkers, milking snakes for their venom. It’s a profitable business and the milkman maintains a laissez-faire attitude toward the toxics-dumping E-Chem folks who are, apparently, just a few steps away from his hangout in a crashed airplane-cum-bunker. If they’d had a couple tin cans and a piece of string they could have set up a jungle telephone system. But I digress.

After an initial run-in with the baddies under the volcano (it’s all very Malcom Lowery-ish), the luscious Jane bumps into the milkman and, um, his snakes. So there’s your love interest come a-bubbling up like boiling crude. (I’m mixing my hot-liquid metaphors, I know, but this is a low-budget review of a low-budget made-for-Italian-TV movie, so whadya ’spect?). Jane wants the milkman to help her rescue Bob, who is lost under the volcano.

All of this moves along at a fairly leisurely pace until the viewer is left wondering: is this a jungle conspiracy-romance thriller or a sci-fi monster movie? As Jane and the milkman enter the volcano, we move into the creature feature portion of our film. Continue reading