Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Three Films Make A Post: THE ONLY WAY TO LOVE IS TO DIE!

Avenger of the Seven Seas aka Il giustiziere dei mari (1962): Domenico Paolella's adventure movie contains just about everything one could possibly hope for in an Italian film of its type and era: Richard Harrison! Pirates! The most evil British commanding officer in a film not made in the USA! Italians in brown-face playing cannibals! A giant man-eating plant! Exciting ship battles! Exciting land battles! Torture! Romance! People calling each other traitor for the most perfunctory of reasons so that DRAMATIC EMOTIONS can result!

And while Paolella does not present any of these elements with more than the strictly necessary verve, the resulting film is still very good fun, particularly because it clearly doesn't care that not all of its elements would traditionally belong together in one film.

13 (2010): Director Géla Babluani remakes his own 13 Tzameti with Hollywood talent, so Mickey Rourke is doing is usual shtick, Jason Statham wears a hat and his aggressively grumpy, a painfully fragile looking Ben Gazzara and his fake German accent chew scenery, and 50 Cent can't act for shit. I haven't seen the original, so I can't be as offended by the remake as everyone else seems to be. Instead, I think this is a fine film that uses its organized group Russian Roulette idea as quite obvious critique of capitalism. The film does suffer a bit from a tendency to meander where it would have been more effective for it to be concentrated, particularly because the characters of Rourke, 50 Cent and Gazzara all feel grafted on because the actors were available, and do not really seem to be organic parts of the film.

Maneater aka Evasion (1973): In Vince Edwards's TV thriller made in what must be one of the golden years of TV movies, Ben Gazzara and friends get in trouble with crazy Richard Basehart who defies their city-slicking ways (and gets his kicks from seeing people getting killed; and from ranting, obviously). That would be bad enough for them, but the good man also comes with an equally crazy henchman and two man-eating pet tigers. Soon a very special hunting trip through the wilderness ensues.

What also ensues is a fine little survival thriller (possibly co-written by Jimmy Sangster, though only the IMDB, not the film use his name) full of clever little flourishes. Actor Edwards turns out to be a rather good director, keeping things tight (sometimes consciously claustrophobically so) and letting his actors do the rest. The film's only problem is one I assume nobody involved is responsible for: the version of the film floating around is of a somewhat battered VHS recording (with bonus digital artefacts), and tends to be very very dark, which becomes something of a problem in the film's final third that takes place exclusively in the dark. It speaks quite well of Maneater and its director that it is still thrilling to watch even when you can't see what's going on in it.

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