Thursday, November 04, 2010

Colt 38 Special Squad (aka Quelli della Calibro 38) (1976) - movie review

Tell those pussy's in the Magnum Force to suck it, this is Colt 38 Special Squad!

Colt 38 Special Squad is a poliziotteschi from the mid 70s, and definitely one of the more enjoyable examples of this wild genre.
Sort of the predecessor to the HK action movie craze of the 80s, the poliziotteschi (for those not yet in the know) were Italian cop/crime films from the 70s that are known for being ultra-violent, gritty and paced faster than a Septic Death song. The genre started as rip offs... er being "influenced" by successful US crime and cop flicks of the early 70s (think Dirty Harry), and, while still seeming to have some of the heavy handed anti-facist anti-violence social messages as their american counterparts, these flicks were often directed by the very same people involved in the better known (now at least) giallos and horror flicks of the same eras
so of course they took the action, violence and gore to ridiculous (and highly enjoyable) extremes that usually upped the anti far beyond that of their American inspiration... and like I said, Colt 38 Special Squad is a prime example of this ass kicking film genre.

Directed by the late Massimo Dallamano (actually his last film before he passed away) who was a successful Italian cinematographer (his credits include Clint Eastwood/Sergio Leone classics "For A Few Dollars More" and "Fistful Of Dollars") before moving on to the directors chair, where he helmed various giallo-esque thrillers ("The Night Child", "Devil
In The Flesh" and "A Black Veil For Lisa") as well as a successful Italian version of "The Portrait of Dorian Grey" before venturing into the exploding poliziotteschi scene. Although most of his earlier flicks contained elements from several genres and are a bit hard to classify, his final films fall squarely into the poliziotteschi genre. Obviously inspired by the Clint Eastwood flick "Magnum Force", "Colt 38 Special Squad" involves a similar group of violent, highly trained cops who answer to (almost) no one, but instead of ending up being the villains, they
are straight up glamorized super heros here, and the characters and acting are actually a little more interesting than the cops in most of these kinds of movies.

Starting off with a serious bang, the Special Squad's leader, Inspector Vanni (played with bad ass perfection by Marcel Bozzuffi) is seeking revenge on the infamous "Black Angel" and his gang (the Black Angel played by the supremely sinister Ivan Rassimov who comes off as a cross between Lee Van Cleef and Snidley Whiplash dressed up as a leather clad giallo killer) who has murdered his wife (in front of
his son in a particularly brutal opening scene) to try and keep the cop in line, who has been cracking down on his operations nefarious criminal activities. At his wife's funeral he is given the go ahead to start his 38 Special armed cop squad, who he immediately begins training in an AWESOME scene involving the cops riding suped up dirt bikes over jumps, around a track and then firing their cannon sounding handguns and blowing apart bad guy shaped
targets on little tracks as Vanni chain smokes and watches approvingly. This is one of the best training montage scenes I think I've ever seen, and would make this movie worth checking out even if the rest of it wasn't good. Luckily, that's not the case. This movie is totally fucking sweet.

The action/missions pick up instantly (did I mention how great the pace is?) as the Special Squad takes down several groups of baddies, including bank robbers and some guys who dare to dine and dash from their favorite restaurant (apparently
a much more serious crime in Italy!). Knee caps are blown off, heads are exploded and muscle cars are jumped and smashed into hostage filled stunt cars as the Special Squad mows through sleazy Italian bad guy after sleazy Italian bad guy until the inedible crack down comes from above, as the high ups of course don't like the unorthodox way the special squad do things (including the filed down dum dum bullets
they blow apart several suspects legs with, as they stick to their often repeated "aim for their knees!" motto).

Of course, the gang is re-instated and given a chance to redeem themselves after the Black Angel and his gang steal a shitload of dynamite and blow up a train station (in a particularly violent and disturbing scene). The bad guys are equipped with a super car that has all kinds of remote control explosion detonators and hi-tech 70s gadgets that's pretty fucking rad, and , I don't want to spoil the whole thing, but the end pay off is predictably bad ass and will not leave you disappointed.

The movie is shot really well actually, and the dvd looks great, really showing off the fantastic cinematography with it's widescreen presentation, flashing around the awesomely gritty crime riddled streets of 70s Italy. It's pretty fun to see these flicks since they give the city such a different vibe than the creepy one most genre fans are probably used to from all the giallos and horror flicks that are more widely seen nowadays. The remastered soundtrack with Italian/English subtitles or the dubbed English audio track, and the typically FANTASTIC score courtesy of Italian soundtrack legend Stevlio Ciprianni also is completely well done, and the tunes have some moments that will stick in your head for a while after watching (especially if you track down the score which I highly recommend doing). There's a particularly bizarre Ciprianni song sung by Grace Jones, who dances around and horribly lip synchs the cut in the back ground of a sleazy disco tech that you may want to rewind and watch twice just because the song is so fucking weird. It actually reminds me of that disco song those "sexy" alien girls with the three mouths sang in the Battlestar Gallactica pilot, especially when the overdubbed multi-tracking of Grace Jones' out of key, yet strangely cool sounding vocals begin. Grace Jones is by far more disturbing than any multi-mouthed alien chick could ever be, and after you see her singing debut, I'm sure you'll agree.

All in all, it's a really cool fucking 70s cop flick, packed with action, violence, awesome stunts, badassery galore and a high level of quality in the production values that makes this one of the better poliziotteschi flicks I've seen. If you like these kind of movies and have somehow missed out on this one, pick it up! If you are new to the genre, get on it! This is a great place to start. 10 out of 10 fucking Oscars

now playing -
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Autopsy - "The Tomb Within" 12 inch
Contagium - "Archaic" LP
Ghoul/Brody's Militia split 7
Riz Ortolani - "Mondo Candido" OST, 180 gram LP
John Carpenter - "In The Mouth Of Madness" OST
Griffin - "Protectors Of The Lair" LP (just kidding, it's mp3s...)
Demolition Hammer - "Tortured Existence" LP


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