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EUROCRIME! THE ITALIAN COP AND GANGSTER FILMS THAT RULED THE ’70S (2012)
Directed by Mike Malloy, “Eurocrime! The Italian Cop and Gangster Films that Ruled the ’70s” is a documentary exploring the cop thrillers (or ‘poliziotteschi’ movies) which exploded from the Italian film industry during the 1970s. The film is usefully split into chapters charting the rise, fall and revival of the genre and providing some background into the faddist nature of the Italian business and its earlier Spaghetti Western and Giallo trends. All of this is illustrated by a pretty staggering array of clips and interviews with the likes of Italian stars Franco Nero, Luc Merenda and Maurizio Merli, as well as the Hollywood actors who also headed over to try their luck on the continent, including Richard Harrison, Christopher Mitchum and others.
It’s a tribute to how effective “Eurocrime!” really is that the viewer genuinely needs no prior knowledge or even interest in poliziotteschi movies, Malloy having done an excellent job in making the documentary both fascinating and entertaining in surprisingly universal fashion. Directed and compiled with flair and showing a great eye for clips, images and music which are both amusing and illustrative, the film fairly flies through its two hour running time, feeling both informative and fun. Malloy successfully juggles facts and personal anecdotes throughout, and the film gets a huge amount of mileage out of comparing the Italian films with their bigger budgeted (but clearly less enjoyable) Hollywood peers and from working in some shocking on set tales of real life mayhem and chaos behind the cameras.
All of this combines to make for one of the best and most engaging documentaries about the industry for some time, and a film definitely worth seeking out, even for non-genre aficionados.
OUTPOST 2: BLACK SUN (2012)
Director Steve Barker follows up his 2008 debut chiller with “Outpost 2: Black Sun”, offering more Nazi zombie carnage and Fourth Reich fear. Basically picking up where the first “Outpost” left off, the film now sees Catherine Steadman as a Nazi hunting investigator on the trail of evil German scientist Klausener and his dead-raising field physics machine. Her trail leads her to the bunker in Eastern Europe, where she runs into a fellow Gestapo chaser (Richard Coyle) and a Special Forces unit charged with stopping a sinister enemy threat which has been killing everyone in the area. Soon enough, they come face to face with the undead Nazi’s Storm Troopers and with time running out try to figure out how to stop them and destroy the machine.
“Outpost 2: Black Sun” is a modest film which delivers pretty much exactly as expected, no more, no less. Barker does a solid job in the director’s chair, channelling early John Carpenter atmospherics and pleasingly eschewing anything too over the top or daft. Indeed, the film’s greatest strength is its down to earth approach, the horror and science fiction elements gelling neatly, and Barker never going for the obvious splatter gags or humour usually associated with the always popular Nazi zombie subgenre.
The production values, effects and performances are all perfectly adequate, and whilst there’s nothing particularly memorable, original or impressive here, the film as a whole is entertaining and gruesome enough and makes for a pleasant hour and a half’s diversion.
PAURA 3D (2012)
Italy’s Manetti Bros., who recently impressed with their fun science fiction “The Arrival of Wang”, return with the hotly anticipated horror “Paura 3D”. A stripped down throwback, the film revolves around a young mechanic and his two ne’er-do-well friends, who on learning that a wealthy client is going to be out of town for a few days decide to use his luxury house for the usual girls and partying. Unfortunately for them, the weird noises they hear lead them to the basement and the discovery of a shocking secret, resulting in a night of murder and terror.
Although “Paura 3D” has been described as a neo-Giallo, this is probably being a bit generous, as the film is stalk and slash at its most basic. There really is very little indeed to the plot, which follows the 3 unlikeable and thinly sketched young men as they try to avoid being offed by the usual killer, the Manetti Bros. strangely deciding to avoid innovation or surprises of any kind, aside from a daft and predictable final twist. This in itself might not have been too much of a problem if the execution had been better, but at 104 minutes the film feels woefully over stretched, not least since it takes more than half of this to actually get started on the scares. Even then, the gore scenes aren’t anything to write home about, and there’s a lot of time wasted with characters simply wandering around or adhering to horror clichés by doing the wrong thing, with only a few frights here and there to keep the viewer awake.
Whilst on the plus side the 3D is surprisingly effective, there’s little else here to make “Paura” worth watching, and though the Manettis are definitely talented enough to suggest an interesting career ahead, it never feels like anything more than an overdone short or a half-baked time filler that was shot over a weekend when the directors had a handy location and nothing better to do.