El Enmascarado de Plata/The Silver-Masked Man (1954)

‘Just get up for a rabbit shot!’

A series of seemingly natural disasters sweep across Mexico, including a raging hurricane and flooding. These have been engineered by a masked supervillain who plans to hold the government to ransom. Fortunately, a wrestling crime fighter is out to thwart his dastardly plan…

Important early film in the development of the Mexican wrestling genre from director René Cardona and writer José G. Cruz. Originally released as a serial in the United States, it was trimmed to a two-hour feature for domestic audiences, and it’s only this version that survives today.

It’s a hard life being the ‘Man in the Silver Mask’. Fulfilling evil plans for world domination is a complicated business, after all, and it costs money, lots of it. So, not only do you have to invent and operate diabolical machines of destruction, but you also need to run a criminal gang to obtain the necessary cash. And that means planning robberies and dodging the police (not a problem) and masked wrestler El Médico Asesino (not so easy). Yes, a big, muscly man in doctor’s scrubs is his nemesis and the film’s hero. But, hang on, where is El Santo? Wasn’t the star of more than 50 movies, many directed by Cardona, known as ‘El Enmascarado de Plata’? And wasn’t he a hero? Of course he was. So what’s going on here?

Appearing in the ring as the silver-masked El Santo, by the end of the 1940s, Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta was arguably the most popular wrestler in Mexico. But his character was a villain, and it was necessary to turn him into a hero to capitalise on that success. Part of this process involved a series of comic books launched in 1952 and written by José G. Cruz. These were highly popular, and a movie seemed the next logical step. However, Santo passed on the project for reasons that seem unrecorded. Cruz was less than impressed with the decision and so tweaked his original screenplay to turn ‘El Enmascarado de Plata’ back into a villain. Another real-life wrestler, El Médico Asesino, was brought in to play himself as the story’s hero.

As we join the action, the villain’s diabolical plan is already in progress with the country devastated by his hurricane. Curiously, though, rather than blackmailing the authorities immediately, instead he focuses on masterminding a series of robberies. Perhaps forward planning isn’t one of his strengths, and operating his machines of immaculate destruction has taken him over his allocated budget. They do appear again later on, but then he only uses them to demolish a building, so I guess stories of their dreadful power may have been a little exaggerated.

These world-shaking events are followed by journalists Alfredo (Victor Junco) and Julio (Crox Alvarado), who are not only fighting over the next scoop but also the hand of the beautiful Elena (Aurora Segura). Both are strangely absent from the action every time El Médico Asesino saves the day, and the audience is invited to guess which one is beneath the mask and surgeon’s scrubs. Our grappling hero also gets himself a perky sidekick in the form of street urchin Freckles, played by the director’s son, René Cardona Jr.

But then, gasp!, things get weird when El Enmascarado de Plata dies halfway through the film! When he’s unmasked, it turns out that he’s just the head waiter from shady nightclub ‘The Paradise’. Cruz having another poke at El Santo for turning down the film, perhaps? Yes, the old silver mask was only the frontman for the real mastermind, the impressively masked El Tigre (you can’t have too many masked characters in a film). The arch-enemies lock horns for a final confrontation in the gripping conclusion. Who will win, and which of our heroes will Segura choose as her suitor (a somewhat less gripping outcome).

Leaving aside the slightly convoluted genesis of the film, this is an interesting halfway point between the US serials of classic Hollywood and the Mexican wrestling films to follow. From the former, we get the usual round of fistfights, narrow escapes and kidnappings, but there are fewer actual cliffhangers, which presumably made it easier to cut down the original episodes into a coherent feature. Fans of the Mexican films to follow will recognise the obsession with masks and secret identities (three!), although they may feel a little short-changed by the prioritising of fisticuffs over wrestling action. Despite being a real-life fighter in the square ring, El Médico Asesino seems a little slow and awkward compared to the more athletic fighters that followed in his footsteps.

Although the film does contain some genuinely enjoyable moments, it feels a fair bit longer than its two-hour running time as the story never really develops. This was quite probably down to its origins in the serial format, but the endless round of captures, escapes and repetitive fight choreography becomes a little wearing long before the final curtain.

It’s perhaps not surprising that El Médico Asesino made way for other more charismatic screen luchadors, although he did appear in all-star wrestling cavalcade ‘The Champions of Justice’ (1971). Cardona went on to a spectacularly long career in cult cinema with dozens of noteworthy features to his name, including ‘Santa Claus’ (1959), ‘Wrestling Women vs The Aztec Mummy/Las luchadoras contra la momia’ (1964), ‘Santo and Dracula’s Treasure/Santo en El tesoro de Drácula’ (1969), ‘Night of the Bloody Apes’ (1969), and ‘Santo and the Vengeance of the Mummy/Santo en la venganza de la momia’ (1972). His son soon moved behind the camera to join him and has a very similar directing pedigree. Spy thriller ‘SOS Conspiracion Bikini’ (1967) was followed by feline horror ‘The Night of a Thousand Cats/La noche de los mil gatos’ (1972), Jaws ‘homage’ ‘Tintorera’ (1977) and ‘El ataque de los pájaros’ (1987) a film about killer chickens.

A film for those interested in the evolution of the Mexican Wrestling movie phenomenon. Somewhat less than essential for everyone else.

7 Golden Women Against Two 07: Treasure Hunt/7 donne d’oro contro due 07 (1966)

‘Kissing you is not hygienic.’

A clue to the location of Nazi gold has been hidden in a Goya painting. A mysterious American attempts to obtain the canvas but soon finds out that there are multiple forgeries in existence, and many other people are trying to obtain the original…

Eccentric, multi-national comedy adventure from one-man-band Vincenzo Cascino that flirts with the conventions of both the caper movie and the Eurospy genre. The film has nothing to do with either the brief ‘7 Golden Women’ series or the Bond imprint, and it’s tempting to assume the title was imposed to try and salvage box office receipts. However, it could have been just another example of Cascino’s rather odd sense of humour.

A man carrying a painting is pursued through the early morning streets by two thugs on the instructions of a mysterious blonde. He is saved by American Mark Davis (Mickey Hargitay). The latter discovers that the man is an Armenian named Barbikan (played by Cascino) and identifies the blonde as Frenchwoman Marie Dupont (Maria Vincent). They’re both after the Goya painting just sold at auction by Geoffrey Copleston. Strangely enough, this dealer has been selling multiple copies of the artwork to beautiful women from all around the world. The buyers include Miranda, the Italian (Luciana Paoli), the African (Paola Mariani), the Spaniard (Patricia Méndez) and several other gorgeous lovelies identified in the credits only by the colour or length of their hair.

It’s rather fruitless to try and explain the plot any further. The large, multi-national cast have a series of largely pointless interactions going from one place to another with little apparent rhyme or reason. Apparently, the secret of the painting is discovered at some point, so the canvases disappear from the story, only to return late on, but I’ve no idea what the secret was or why they go to the places they do. At one point, everyone visits a ‘haunted’ castle, but I suspect it was just because the location was available for filming for a couple of hours.

The film doesn’t even make an effort to establish the identities of its characters. Some synopses of the story mention that Hargitay is a secret agent, but it’s never mentioned in the film. On several occasions, auctioneer Copleston whispers apparently essential information to several of the principals in turn, but the audience never finds out what he was saying or how it affects the story. Action is limited to the odd bout of poorly choreographed fisticuffs and humour to the listless mugging of the cast, who wander through proceedings as if barely paying attention.

Cascino was an Argentinian industrialist who entered the film business in 1964 and departed three years later, having written, produced and acted in a total of four films. He also served as Production Manager on three of them and directed the final two. He also edited this one, making some very curious and hamfisted choices with his cutting. Similarly, as this was his first time in the director’s chair, perhaps his lack of competence in this department is somewhat forgivable, but it’s hard to work out just what he was trying to achieve with the film. Perhaps he envisaged it as a madcap chase comedy such as Stanley Kramer’s overblown ‘It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World’ (1963)? If that were the case, it falls hopelessly flat. Is it a caper movie? Not really. A Eurospy? Well, perhaps.

Additionally, the English dubbing is awful, with Vincent saddled with a ridiculously over the top ‘come to bed’ French tone and an English girl who makes Dick Van Dyke’s cockney accent in ‘Mary Poppins’ (1964) sound positively restrained. If all this seems like it might make for a deliciously bizarre 1960s free-form experience, then perhaps that was Cascino’s intention. Unfortunately, the lack of jokes and the absence of plot, action, stakes, form and logic leaves a flabby blob of a movie that goes nowhere and takes a very long and tedious time to get there.

An awkward and rather baffling experience. Unbelievably, Cascino’s fourth and final film was apparently a sequel.

False Faces/The False Faces (1919)

‘What is life? A prelude – perhaps an overture to death.’

During World War One, a reformed jewel thief enlists in the German Secret Service, intending to work as a double agent. His main objective is to take revenge on the officer who murdered his sister and nephew in Belgium and prevent the enemy’s acquisition of a vital secret document…

Silent spy thriller featuring the ‘Further Career and Adventures of the Lone Wolf’, gentleman thief and adventurer. It’s also one of the last pre-stardom films of horror icon Lon Chaney. Ironically, the film’s title does not refer to him or his role but the myriad identities employed by Henry B Walthall’s hero. Somewhat ironic for the soon-to-be ‘Man of a Thousand Faces.’

Opening during a barrage on the Western Front, Walthall’s Michael Lanyard (aka ‘The Lone Wolf’) makes the dangerous trip from the German lines to the opposing trenches. He has vital information about the war effort, mainly concerning the activities of his arch-enemy, Karl Eckstrom (Chaney). It seems the once uniformed soldier is now a big wheel in the espionage game and is planning to hijack a secret document being transported by an unknown courier to America on the cruise liner, SS Assyrian. Once onboard, Walthall encounters Mary Anderson (Cecilia Brooke), a woman apparently travelling alone. However, she seems to have struck up something more than a friendship with wounded veteran Lt Thackeray (Thornton Edwards). Chaney and confederates are also aboard, with a U-Boat lurking beneath the waves on the starboard bow.

Once Chaney has obtained the document, the sub opens fire and sinks the ship, the villains having escaped beforehand. Walthall clings to the U-boat after Chaney throws him overboard and becomes a passenger once he identifies himself with his German secret service designation. To his surprise, he finds that the craft is also on its way to America, heading for a secret base off the coast of New England. Meanwhile, Brooke has reached New York after surviving the sinking, and Chaney is also in town, preparing to deliver the stolen document to his spymaster.

Rock ’em, sock ’em espionage thriller that packs an awful lot of incident into its’ 98-minute running time (not 70 minutes as extensively quoted). It starts impressively with a darkened battlefield lit only by the flashes of shellfire and sweeping searchlights but comes to an abrupt halt when Walthall tells his tale to the French Officer. Beyond establishing his old persona as a famous jewel thief and his history with Chaney’s character, it has little effect on the events that follow, and it’s quite a lengthy dose of exposition so early in the film.

Things pick up when the action switches to the cruise liner and the document that is the object of everyone’s desire. This is a typical McGuffin, given that its contents aren’t even revealed at the end of the film; it’s just something to drive the action. The predictable romantic sparks fly between Walthall and Brooke, of course, and Chaney does his trademark heavy, accompanying villainous acts with a typical sneer. There’s nothing new for him here, but he did get to employ his skills with the makeup box, just not on himself, transforming actress Jane Daly into the ghost of a drowned woman who appears in the drunken visions of the U-Boat captain.

Although the work with the submarine is well-realised by co-writer and director Irvin Willat, all this action somehow fails to add up to anything of great consequence. It’s a predictable, workmanlike story, but it lacks creativity, although the script does dictate a clever fate for Chaney before the fadeout. The second act scenes on the ocean are the highlight, which unfortunately leaves the New York climax feeling like a bit of a letdown.

The character of ‘The Lone Wolf’ was created by American writer Louis Joseph Vance who starred him in a novel of the same name in 1914. A film adaptation followed three years later, and Willat’s film was based on Vance’s second book. The series ran for half a dozen novels more before the author’s death in 1933, and, by then, he was a fixture on the big screen, usually played by Bert Lytell. However, his most popular incarnation was in the person of suave American actor Warren William who starred in a series of 9 films for Columbia Pictures from 1939 to 1943. Gerald MohScarletover the role for three more features afterwards, before a transfer to the small screen in the 1950s, saw Louis Hayward star in 39 half-hour episodes as the gentleman thief.

After beginning his acting career on the New York stage in 1901, Walthall entered the movie business eight years later. He made his debut in ‘A Convict’s Sacrifice’ (1909), directed by D W Griffith. Third-billing in the director’s notorious ‘The Birth of A Nation’ (1915) made Walthall a star, and further success followed in ‘The Plastic Age’ (1925) and ‘The Scarlet Letter’ (1926) with Lillian Gish. Moving into character roles when talking pictures arrived, he made memorable appearances in John Ford’s ‘Judge Priest’ (1934) and opposite Ronald Colman in ‘A Tale of Two Cities (1935). He also reprised his role as Roger Chillingworth in the 1934 version of ‘The Scerlet Letter’, this time with Colleen Moore. He died of an intestinal complaint in 1936.

Another small step on the road to stardom for Lon Chaney, and a decent, fast-paced spy drama, although it fails to add up to anything of significant consequence.

Hell’s Bloody Devils/Smashing the Crime Syndicate (1970)

‘What’s a groovy chick like you doing in the spy racket?’

A mob enforcer is sent across the country to link up with a neo-Nazi group offering to supply substantial sums in near-perfect counterfeit currency. Meanwhile, the federal authorities are on the case, targeting the German nobleman they believe to be the leader of the right-wing group…

This week’s ‘Bond on a Budget’ is American actor Mark Adams, playing Federal Agent John Gabriel, placed undercover with the mob. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get to swan around the glamorous capitals of Europe or play with any high-end gadgets because he’s appearing in a film from notorious low budget producer-director Al Adamson.

The federal authorities are concerned with an influx of counterfeit 20 dollar bills they believe to be the work of radicals attempting to fund a new Nazi movement back home. Agent Gabriel has already infiltrated the syndicate, and it’s the perfect coincidence when crime lord Joe (Keith Andes) sends him west to negotiate the wholesale purchase of the fake currency on offer. Although he’s tasked with breaking up the gang, his main objective is finding the original plates, which are believed to have originated in World War Two.

His mission is complicated by a whole array of local characters who may or may not be involved. There’s a local biker gang, the Hessians, the mysterious Count Otto Von Delberg (Kent Taylor), his girl Friday, Carol Bechtal (Vicki Volante) and rookie agent Jill Harmon (Emily Banks). He also begins an affair with dress shop owner Leni (Jacklyn O’Donnell), which seems to put them both in danger. Gabriel has to dodge the usual mixture of faceless assassins in sunglasses and suits while dealing with betrayal, double-cross, gunplay and conflicting loyalties before the final fadeout.

The main issue with Adamson’s film is the somewhat convoluted storyline. Characters are introduced without explanation, some have identities that are never clearly established, and others fulfil no function in the plot. The most obvious example is the biker gang, who are allegedly agents of the villainous Taylor. The film opens with them stopping a car on the highway and severely beating the two occupants. A piece of voiceover dialogue identifies them as ‘Commies’, and the Russians do get another namecheck later on in the film, but it’s their only (apparent) appearance. Also, the gang (or at least some of them) interact with only one other character in the film, Volante, who acts as their go-between with Taylor. This is because the biker footage was added later on to try and sell the movie, which initially failed to secure distribution. It also allowed the marketing department to put bikes on the poster and give it the tagline ‘They’re madmen on motorcycles!’

If this all sounds like a recipe for complete incoherence, that’s not the case. For once, Adamson papers over the cracks and inconsistencies pretty well, although there are more than a few moments when the scrappy, disjointed structure is rather obvious. There’s also a fantastic car chase where the protagonists stop at red lights and a cheap pen that doubles as a grenade/time bomb. There’s also a great scene when Adams takes O’Donell out on a (cheap) date to the local KFC only to have their romantic tryst interrupted by the real-life Colonel Sanders, who wants to check if they’re enjoying their delicious chicken meal.

We also get some Hollywood stars on their way down. As well as Taylor, Adams’ boss is played by one-time Oscar recipient Broderick Crawford! Despite first billing, he never leaves his office and has a total screentime of not more than five minutes. However, deputy Scott Brady does get in on the action at the end, even if he doesn’t have much in the way of dialogue, and that’s future cult film director Greydon Clark as a fellow agent. And, of course, here’s John Carradine popping up for his one-scene ‘paycheque cameo’ as a Pet Shop Owner offering twin blondes some salient advice about lovebirds with relationship issues. Fans of the original ‘Star Trek’ TV show will recognise Alyce and Rhae Andrece from their appearance in Season 2 episode ‘I, Mudd’.

Adamson was a prolific filmmaker from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s who favoured many of the usual exploitation genres. He tackled horror on several occasions, with cut-price flicks like ‘Blood of Dracula’s Castle (1969) and memorably awful patchwork outings ‘Blood of Ghastly Horror (1967) and ‘Dracula vs. Frankenstein’ (1971). He also delivered the monumentally appalling interplanetary adventure ‘Horror of the Blood Monsters (1970). However, in the interests of balance, Western ‘Five Bloody Graves’ (1969) and actioner ‘The Death Dimension’ (1978) are pretty watchable. Sadly, his life came to an end in August 1995 when he was murdered by a man he had hired to work on his house.

Although he can’t compete with Carradine (who could?!), Brady still has an enviable list of cult film credits to his name. Starting his career in undistinguished low-budget Noirs, a role for director Nicolas Ray in his dark fable ‘Johnny Guitar’ (1954) saw him typed in Westerns until the 1960s. Work on the range began drying up, and he diversified into science fiction b-pictures such as ‘Destination Inner Space’ (1966), ‘Castle of Evil’ (1966) and David L Hewitt’s intermittently interesting ‘Journey To The Centre of Time’ (1967). The association with Hewitt continued with an embarrassing encounter with ‘The Mighty Gorga’ (1969), although minor roles in more legitimate pictures came along occasionally, such as the astronaut drama ‘Marooned’ (1969). A lot of television followed throughout the 1970s before he capped his career as Sheriff Frank in ‘Gremlins’ (1984).

Underwhelming, low budget mash-up of crime and spy thriller from the notorious Adamson. Choppy and disjointed but just about coherent by the time the credits roll.

Oasis of Fear/Un Posto ideale per uccidere (1971)

Oasis of Fear/Un Posto ideale per uccidere (1971)‘She’s just expressing youth’s innate rebellion against authority figures in general.’

A young, free-spirited couple fund their international travelling by selling pornography. Getting into trouble with the police in Italy, they are told to leave the country but travel south instead. Subsequently, misidentified as bank robbers, they go on the run, taking refuge with a Colonel’s wife who offers them sanctuary. But is her offer of help as selfless as it seems?…

Fourth in a quartet of Giallo thrillers from prolific director Umberto Lenzi who also co-wrote this French-Italian co-production with Lucia Drudi Demby & Antonio Altoviti. Sadly, the law of diminishing returns had set in and yet another thriller centred around the machinations, and sexual interactions of two beautiful women and a handsome man holed up in a luxury villa can’t help but feel a little stale and over-familiar.

Feckless Dick (Raymond Lovelock) and wild child Ingrid (Ornella Muti) are hitting the glamorous hot spots of Europe, living hand to mouth by selling pornography which they obtained legally in Copenhagen. They make a fortune, blow it on the high life, fall in with a biker gang and sell naked pictures of Muti taken in a photo booth. Eventually, they run afoul of the authorities in Italy and are told to leave the country.

Travelling south, they are misidentified by a gas station attendant as suspects in a bank robbery and forced to go on the run. Temporary sanctuary arrives in the unexpected shape of military man’s wife, Barbara (Irene Papas) who catches them siphoning petrol from her car. Rather than report them to the police, she invites them to stay instead and the younger couple are only too happy to agree to another slice of the good life.

However, when the Colonel fails to come home, Papas asks them to spend the night to keep her company. The evening turns into an impromptu drinking session and party with the older woman putting the moves on Lovelock. This doesn’t bother Sixties Child Muti too much until she discovers the two naked in bed later on. In the morning, Lovelock wakes up alone with a wad of cash in his pocket and a nasty surprise waiting in the garage when he and Muti decide to blow town.

This is a rather underpowered Gaillo from writer-director Lenzi that fails to bring anything new to the table and suffers in comparison with his earlier entries into the sub-genre ‘So Sweet…So Perverse’ (1969), ‘A Quiet Place To Kill’ (1970) and ‘Orgasmo’ (1969) which it most closely resembles. The plot is a little thin, and it’s not that hard to see what’s coming before the twists arrive. Similarly, although Papas is excellent, the script gives none of the principals all that much to work with to develop fully-rounded characters. This is particularly unfortunate for Muti and Lovelock, although Muti does take advantage of the limited opportunities she is given.

Lenzi might have given the younger characters a far stronger introduction if he hadn’t chosen to deliver the first twenty minutes of the film in a scattershot, almost cinema verite style. The action jumps rapidly from one scene to another in an almost bewildering, over-busy collage of images and camera zooms. Many tiresome counter-culture boxes are ticked; including acid rock, dissing the Man, a gang of bikers upsetting the ‘straights’ and some typically vague hippie philosophy about the outlaw lifestyle. Some commentators consider that the film is making a statement concerning youth versus the establishment but, given the lack of sub-text in Lenzi’s other outings, it would seem that it was probably unintentional if it’s present at all.

Lovelock was born in Rome to an Italian mother and a British father and took his first steps into the film industry with a notable supporting role in Giulio Questi’s odd Spaghetti Western-horror hybrid ‘Se sei vivo spara/Django Kill!’ (1967) and worked his way up quickly to more prominent roles, such as the lead in Sergio Capogna’s ‘Plagio’ (1969). He followed this film by joining the cast of hit musical ‘Fiddler On The Roof’ (1971) and, although this did not open the door to Hollywood, he enjoyed a long, successful career in Italian cinema. His most significant projects were probably cult horror ‘The Living Dead At Manchester Morgue’ (1974) and crime drama ‘Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man’ (1976).

This was only Muti’s third film, having made a sensational debut at 14 years of age opposite actor Alessio Orano in ‘La moglie più Bella/The Most Beautiful Wife’ (1970), which means she was barely 16 when this film was released. Given the number of nude scenes she has here, her age would have been a definite issue if the film had been made in certain countries. International recognition eventually followed as the irrepressibly sexy Princess Aura in Mike Hodges’ revisionist version of ‘Flash Gordon’ (1980) and later years brought a long line of starring roles in Italian cinema and multiple award nominations and wins.

Lenzi returned to the Giallo for ‘Seven Blood-Stained Orchids/Sette Orchidee macchiato di Rosso’ (1972), ‘Knife of Ice’ (1972), and ‘Eyeball’ (1975) before jumping on the horror bandwagon in the 1980s. This came with questionable jungle adventures like ‘Eaten Alive!’ (1980) and the controversial ‘Cannibal Ferox’ (1981) which featured actual animal killings and was banned in 31 countries.

Ultimately a disappointment, this is a passable thriller that may well try the patience of fans of Giallo who expect a little more bang for their buck.

Santo Vs Frankenstein’s Daughter/Santo vs. la hija de Frankestein (1972)

‘I’ve told you already; the red switch is there to blow up the lab if we’re discovered.’

The daughter of renowned scientist Dr Frankenstein needs the blood of silver-masked wrestler El Santo, for her rejuvenation experiments. She kidnaps the sportsman’s girlfriend so she can lure him to her secret laboratory and plans to use the creatures she has created to subdue him…

It’s time to head south of the border again with everyone’s favourite luchador as he confronts yet another mad scientist in the name of truth, justice and the Mexican way. Showing no sign of slowing down after ten years and more than 30 movies, el Enmascarado de Plata teams up with new director Miguel M Delgado to deliver the usual mix of monsters, fights and fun in a surprisingly efficient package.

Freda Frankenstein (Gina Romand) has a pretty decent work ethic. She’s stitched together one creature from the parts of seven corpses, created another by injecting a man with gorilla blood and kept herself and her colleagues alive for centuries with an anti-ageing serum. But she’s got problems. Truxon, the gorilla-man, is reverting too far to his simian roots, cut and paste Ursus won’t get up off his slab, and she needs her rejuvenation serum more and more often as she’s been using it for a very long time.

It’s this last problem that’s the most pressing, but there’s a solution at hand. Many years earlier, the doctor was ringside at one of El Santo’s matches and managed to harvest a sample of the great man’s blood. On analysis, it proved to contain the TR Factor, a super healing element that aids in the restoration of damaged tissues. Romand believes she can use it to spice up her special serum and who can argue with that after we see him despatch Argentinian opponent El Toro in the square ring? It’s an impressive victory considering that the cheat slips on an iron ring and beats our hero with it. The referee does take it from him (eventually!) but doesn’t bother with a disqualification or anything like that. Hell, he doesn’t stop the fight for a few seconds to give the man in the silver mask a chance to recover! But, no matter, Santo is unstoppable and wins the bout, which was an elimination for some world title or other.

Being an evil fiend, rather than just asking El Santo for his help, Romand kidnaps his excitable girlfriend, Norma (Anel). She plans to lure the wrestler to her secret hideout and keep him in check with Ursus and Truxon (both played by Geraldo Zapeda) and her gang of henchmen, led by One-Eye (Carlos Suárez). El Santo races to the rescue, of course, accompanied by Anel’s bossy sister, Elsa (Sonia Fuentes) and the usual madcap mixture of action and grappling follows, accompanied by the inevitable exploding lab equipment.

The Santo series had descended into a well-worn and predictable formula by this point, and Delgado’s film, written by regular contributor Fernando Osés, rings very few changes to it. However, the film possesses an energy that’s quite a contrast to tired entries such as ‘Santo Faces Death/Santo frente a la muerte’ (1969) and the rather shabby (if hilarious) ‘Santo and the Blue Demon vs. the Monsters/Santo el enmascarado de plata y Blue Demon contra los monstruos’ (1970). Delgado gives the movie a very brisk pace, and there’s plenty of incident and action. Also, there’s a sense of decent production values here, with any budgetary limitations well concealed for a change. Interestingly enough, it’s one of only five entries in the series where El Santo himself has a producer’s credit.

One of the film’s main virtues is Romand’s performance as the mad medico. She’d already made an appearance in the series way back with a leading role in ‘Santo vs The Infernal Men/Santo contra hombres infernales’ (1961), one of the two films shot back to back in pre-revolutionary Cuba that kickstarted the whole franchise. Here, she seems to be revelling in the nastier aspects of her character. Having granted her followers a much-extended lifespan, she holds the withdrawal of the serum over their heads as the ultimate threat, keeping it from one of them as an example to the others. Of course, he ages rapidly and becomes an instant mummy, being interred upright in an open coffin beside the remains of others who had presumably displeased her. She even recruits new followers by administering her concoction to old men desperate to regain their youth. Rather than chew the scenery, she plays it entirely straight throughout and, although that means fewer laughs, it does give the drama more grounding than usual (if you can use that term about a Santo movie!)

Strangely enough, the film was thought lost for many years and only resurfaced around the Millenium. Director Delgado was a veteran filmmaker who had previously specialised in comedy but went on to take the megaphone for some of El Santo’s subsequent adventures: ‘Santo and Blue Demon vs. Dracula and the Wolf Man/Santo y Blue Demon vs Dracula y el Hombre Lobo’ (1973), ‘The Vengeance of the Crying Woman/La venganza de la llorona’ (1974) and ‘Santo and Blue Demon vs. Dr. Frankenstein/Santo y Blue Demon contra el doctor Frankenstein’ 1974). Screenwriter Osés has many ties to the series and was an ex-warrior of the square ring himself. He wrote and or acted in more than 20 of them and performed the same function for El Santo’s hombre, The Blue Demon, during his parallel movie career. Going further back, it was Osés who played masked hero La Sombra Vengadora (The Avenging Shadow) in a quartet of films in the early 1950s, which are generally regarded as paving the way for the whole Mexican Masked Wrestler movie phenomenon.

An entertaining 90 minutes in the company of everyone’s favourite silver-masked luchador. Yes, it ticks all the usual boxes in precisely the way you expect, but it has a lot of fun doing it and takes the audience along for the ride.

Goliath Against The Giants/Goliath contro i giganti (1961)

‘It’s more difficult to understand a woman than to defeat an army.’

After a long campaign, Goliath and his army are looking forward to some peace, but instead they find out that their king has been muderered back home and a usurper is on the throne. A message concerning their return has already been despatched, so Goliath decides to try and outrun the courier by returning across the sea…

More muscleman adventures from Italy as US actor Brad Harris takes up the gauntlet from Steve Reeves, who had previously played the part in ‘Goliath and the Barbarians/Il terrore dei barbari’ (1959). This adventure was directed by Guido Malatesta and scripted by Arpad DeRiso, Cesare Seccia and Gianfranco Parolini, who was soon to become a prolific director of genre cinema and, according to some sources, worked uncredited in that capacity here.

After a bloody five-year campaign, victorious general Goliath (Harris) heads back to his homeland Beyruth, but the fighting isn’t over yet. Bad news came hard on the heels of the fruits of conquest;
good King Augustes lays dead back home, and usurper Bokan (Fernando Rey) has seized the throne. This intelligence comes too late; Harris has already despatched a messenge back with news of their victory and imminent return. Realising this courier must be intercepted, he commandeers a ship, selects a crew and sets out via the swifter ocean route.

Unfortunately, nothing goes according to plan. First, the ship is becalmed, and then Harris has to deal with young stowaway Antheus (Franco Gasparri). Stopping in for freshwater supplies at a deserted island, they find Princess Elea (Gloria Milland) staked out on the ground. Harris takes her aboard, but is she friend or foe? She does try to kill him with a snake but soon finds the big man’s noble character and his muscles to be an irresistible combination. Later on, it turns out that she had been duped into the role of assassin by Rey and his scheming mistress Diamira (Carmen de Lirio), convinced that Harris was responsible for her father’s death.

The voyage gets progressively more perilous as they are battered by a typhoon and attacked by a giant sea lizard. Harris defeats the monster, but the ship, and nearly all the crew, are lost. Washed up on the shores of Beyruth, our heroes escape in the nick of time from a tribe of Amazon warriors and finally reach their destination. But there’s still plenty of work to be done. Harris’ fight card fills up with Rey’s royal guard, a gorliia in the dungeon, some unfriendly lions and an extra couple of giant lizards. What about the giants? After all, they are in the movie’s title. Well, they do turn up eventually, about six minutes from the end of the film. Unfrotunately, they are not exactly impressive, being played by half a dozen burly blokes in beards and animal skins. When Harris briefly fights with a few of them, it’s obvious they’re no taller than him.

As you may have gathered, the story here is nothing special, simply being the usual ragbag of Peplum cliches. However, there are so many of them that they give Malatesta’s film its most significant advantage: pace. There’s little let up in the action right from the get-go when the audience is thrown straihght into the final stages of the five-year war. The sword play may not be the best, but it’s enthusiastic and the battle scenes have a good sense of scale, thanks to the impressive sets and the sheer number of participants. Coming at the beginning of the muscleman cycle, the production values are still relatively high and this does grant the film a stamp of quality lacking in some of the later examples of the genre.

It also helps that Fernando Ray is terrific value as the despicable Bolkan, although he’s so flaky its hard to believe that he could hold onto a throne, let alone steal one in the first place. Of course, he’s stuffing the treasury by levying exorbitant taxes on an increasingly rebellious population and holding games in the arena where even the winner gets an arrow through the neck. Why did he order one of his flunkeys to kill this nameless gladiator? No reason, just a bit of fun. When will all these usurpers, Grand Viziers and dark princes learn to employ a sensible tax policy anyway? Stop at a level just before the populace gets angry enough to do something about it, and give them reasons to blame each other for their collective poverty. Race and colour are usually reliable ones. It’s Government 101, really.

Some of the more familar elements of the genre are all present and correct too. Slaves are turning a big wheel (although it is attached to somethiing for once!) The Lost Kingdom Dancing Girls continue their never-ending tour with an appearance at the royal court. Guards on the steps of the palace uncross their spears when someone approaches and then cross them again once the visitor has gone through. Harris just wanders up behind Rey on his throne at the arena and puts a blade to his throat.

One of the film’s greatest strengths lies in its location work. There’s a beautiful sequence where our heroes walk across a desert and the valley of Janopah where the giants live is an impressive mixture of bleak crags and volcanic ash. The scenery is often spectacular, and the cinematography of Alejandro Ulloa helps evoke an ancient world, assisted by a stirring score from Carlo Innocenzi. Some of the monsters are somewhat immobile and don’t bear too close scrurtiny but director Malatesta sensibly doesn’t let his camera linger on them for more than a few seconds at a time.

Harris sports a short, blonde beard and a haircut with just a suggestion of an Elvis quiff. He is not very charasmatic here but still won the title roles in similar offerings ‘Samson’ (1961) and ‘Fury of Hercules’ (1962). Later on, he often starred for Parolini, once the latter became a full-time director. The two collaborated most famously on the ‘Kommissar X’ Eurospy films, and, by that point, he was more assured in front of the camera. He was also a martial arts expert who often choreographed fight sequences and toted a six-gun as Spaghetti Western heroes Django and Sabata. None of these skills was probably required for his occasional appearances in the 1980s on US super soap ‘Dallas.’

Malatesta was a writer and a director who worked in various genres before latching onto the Peplum craze with this film. ‘Maciste contro i mostri/Colossus of the Stone Age’ (1962), ‘Maciste contro i cacciatori di teste/Colossus and the Headhunters’ (1963) followed in short order. He also worked as a writer on ‘Zorro contro Maciste’ (1963), which was inexplicably re-titled Slave Queen’ for the American market. Ventures into Eurospy territory came next with scripts for ‘Spies Strike Silently/Le spie uccidono in silenzio’ (1966) and ‘Operation Apocalyspe/Missione apocalisse’ (1966), and he returned to the director’s chair to deliver dreary, slow-burn caper ‘Mission Phantom/Come rubare un quintale di diamanti in Russia’ (1967). Two jungle adventures closed out the decade: ‘Samoa, Queen of the Jungle/Samoa, regina della giungla’ (1968) and ‘Tarzana, the Wild Woman/Tarzana, sesso selvaggio’ (1969), both featuring the up and coming Femi Benussi in the title role.

A somewhat formulaic and familiar outing enlivened by a swift pace and a budget that allows for a solid level of spectacle.

The Fifth Cord/Giornata nera per l’ariete (1971)

The Fifth Cord/Giornata nera per l'ariete (1971)‘Don’t bother to express your sympathy; poor Sofia was a living corpse.’

A handsome young teacher at a language school is brutally attacked and hospitalised on his way home from a New Year’s Eve celebration. The following month another party-goer is found strangled to death and thrown down the stairs in her home. A black leather glove is discovered next to both victims, leading the police to suspect the same culprit…

Smooth, professional Giallo from director Luigi Bazzoni with some fine technical credits and a standout performance from star Franco Nero. Under the influence of Dario Argento’s international smash ‘The Bird with the Crystal Plumage’ (1970), the sub-genre was beginning to conform more closely to the template it’s recognised for today. Specifically, a serial killer with black gloves, a twisted plot lining up a series of suspects and the big reveal of the killer’s identity and motivations at the climax.

It’s just another New Year’s Eve, and drunken journalist Andrea Bild (Franco Nero) is propping up the bar trying to catch the eye of ex-lover Helene Volta (Silvia Monti). Lovers Edouard Vermont (Edmund Purdom) and Isabel Lancia (Ira von Fürstenberg) wrestle each other across the dancefloor, and Doctor Riccardo Bini (Renato Romano) tries to ignore his invalid wife Sofia (Rossella Falk). Meanwhile, John Lubbock (Maurizio Bonuglia) is headed for the vomit comet in the Gentleman’s facilities. And it gets worst for Bonuglia from there as he’s beaten with a length of pipe in an underpass on the long walk home, an attack interrupted by track driver Walter (Luciano Bertoli) who’s been racing the engine of underage prostitute Giulia (Agostina Belli) nearby.

The Fifth Cord/Giornata nera per l'ariete (1971)

‘Half a gallon of whiskey is not a working expense…’

The police are no closer to finding the culprit a month later when Falk is murdered in her home, but link the cases due to the single black glove left at each scene. Nero begins to investigate the situation, using it partly as an excuse to spend time with old flame Monti. His initial enquiries reveal that brand new widower Romano is paying off Bertoli for unknown reasons and that Bonuglia was upset by the announcement of von Fürstenberg’s engagement to Purdom. It also turns out that Bertoli’s sister is none other than Nero’s sometime live-in girlfriend Lu (Pamela Tiffin). Worse still, after another suspicious death, Police Inspector Haller (Wolfgang Preiss) has the journalist pegged as his prime suspect.

This is a complex scenario with events focused on this small, intertwined group of acquaintances, and moving quickly throughout the film’s tight 91-minute running time. However, after the final reveal, audiences could be forgiven for concluding that most of these complications and blind alleys are little more than meaningless diversions. The core mystery is pretty simplistic, to say the least, and not particularly creative. In short, the plot is a little messy, and the killer’s motivations, such as they are, are thin and barely explored. Elements in the final act such as astrology and a young child in danger seem to have been almost thrown in at random with no foreshadowing, adding to the vaguely shambolic feeling.

The Fifth Cord/Giornata nera per l'ariete (1971)

‘This Blade Runner sequel is bound to be great…’

But while the story may not be the best, the film scores very highly in many other departments. Director Bazzoni and award-winning cinematographer Vittorio Storaro combine to create a highly atmospheric visual package, highlighted particularly during the climactic confrontation on an abandoned factory site. There’s another classy score from Ennio Morricone, and a selection of striking locations, including the overgrown wasteground beneath the road bridge where the killer stalks Belli. This is one of the film’s outstanding suspense scenes, only surpassed by the early sequence where the invalid Falk is trapped in her house, which Bazzoni turns into a real tour de force.

However, it’s the outstanding Nero who catches the eye, giving a performance of rare intensity and conviction. His drunken journalist is a man on the edge of disintegration, battling the bottle with a weary fatality that’s ever-present in his eyes and drawn features. His chemistry with Tiffin is also terrific, playful and caring for the most part, but with the potential to explode into sudden violence without warning. Again, it’s played just right, providing insight into his fractured state of mind without compromising his role on the side of the angels or overshadowing the mystery. It’s a balancing act and one that Nero seems to accomplish without effort.

The Fifth Cord/Giornata nera per l'ariete (1971)

‘I’m sorry, this is not the beginning of a beautiful friendship…’

Bazzoni had less than half a dozen feature credits in his short career. However, these included outstanding early Giallo ‘The Possessed’ (1965) (a co-directing credit with Franco Rossellini) and the potentially stunning ‘Footprints On The Moon’ (1975) a film fatally compromised by its dreadful twist ending. Storaro also worked on the latter before picking up Oscars for ‘Apocalypse Now’ (1979), ‘Reds’ (1981), ‘The Last Emperor’ (1987) and ‘Dick Tracy’ (1990) as well as many other international awards. He has created a new 35mm film format with the intention of its adoption for both television and film as a universal aspect ratio and developed a series of custom colours gels for cinematographers that bears his name.

Nero was no newcomer to the Giallo, having appeared in early example ‘The Third Eye’ (1966) but was launched to international stardom of the back of his title turn as ‘Django’ (1966). He played Lancelot du Lac in Joshua Logan’s all-star musical ‘Camelot’ (1967), where he met wife-to-be, Vanessa Redgrave. He’s appeared in such diverse projects over the years as Luis Buñuel’s ‘Tristana’ (1970), ‘Enter the Ninja’ (1981) and ‘Die Hard 2’ (1990) with Bruce Willis. When working on this film, he flew to England and back on weekends to shoot his scenes for Otto Preminger’s ‘Saint Joan’ (1972). He has recently won several prestigious ‘Best Actor’ awards for his role in ‘La Danza Nera’ (2020).

Technically, a Giallo out of the top drawer, but all those qualities are somewhat undermined by a weak mystery and untidy story development.

The Phantom of Crestwood (1932)

‘Take it easy, bright eyes; you’re taxing your brain.’

A gold-digger decides to turn over a new leaf when a young suitor commits suicide after finding out she was only after his money. However, a new life takes cash, so she makes blackmail demands of four prominent citizens at a weekend house party. Unfortunately, one of the guests has murder in mind…

Dreary, implausible ‘old dark house’ mystery that can claim to be the world’s first multi-media entertainment project. The story was launched as a radio serial on NBC’s ‘Hollywood of the Air’ slot in Autumn 1932, and the show finished with the mystery unresolved. The audience was then invited to submit their own solutions, with prizes on offer for any used before the official answers arrived via this RKO feature film.

This unique approach to storytelling is explained at the film’s start, direct-to-camera, by NBC’s Graham McNamee. He also introduces our main characters. Jenny Wren (Karen Morley) is quite the girl about town, bestowing her favours on one rich man after another. Ultimately, however, she decides to quit the life after young Allen Herrick (Tim Douglas) throws himself off a cliff when she reveals her true nature.

But quitting takes money, so she blackmails bank manager Priam Ames (H B Warner) to set up a weekend party at an isolated ranch with some of his wealthy friends, who just happen to be some of her old boyfriends. These include senator-in-waiting Herbert Walcott (Robert McWade) and lumber merchant Will Jones (Gavin Gordon), who is about to marry into high society. To complicate matters, Warner’s young nephew, Frank (Matty Kemp), has fallen in love with Morley’s sister, the nieve and innocent, Esther (Anita Louise).

Early on, there are some warning signs that her scheme may not go quite to plan. For a start, Warner has invited the sinister Mr Vayne (Ivan F Simpson) along to the party, and the mysterious Mr Farnes Barnes (Ricardo Cortez) is also hanging around outside. So when Morley is suddenly menaced by a strange figure that resembles her dead lover, it’s no surprise it turns out to be the prelude to her murder. With the road washed out and a house filled with suspects, it’s Cortez who investigates the killing. He’s not a cop, by any means, but a pretty rough crew of comrades comes with him, so he has no difficulty assuming the necessary authority.

As is evident from the title, there are hints of the supernatural running all through director J Walter Ruben’s picture, but the events and resolution of the mystery have their feet firmly on the ground. The spooky elements are rather crowbarred into the narrative, much in the same way as Cortez’s character. Is he supposed to be a private detective? The way he refers to himself makes him sound more like a minor criminal, and his reasons for being on-site and tackling the mystery are thin at best. If the story or characters were engaging, these contrivances could be forgiven, but the plot is mundane and the characters one-note. The cast members do their best, but most of them have very little to work with, although Morley makes the most of what she’s given.

One of the most notable aspects of the production is the presence of Max Steiner as head of the music department, which, in effect, means he chose the music for the film from the studio library. He’d been at RKO since 1929 but had found his time there largely unproductive. He was even in discussions about leaving to take alternative work in both Moscow and Peking. But, after intervention by producer David O Selznick, he stuck around and, after this assignment, landed the gig writing the music for ‘King Kong’ (1933), the film that made his name. In subsequent years, he became one of Hollywood’s most celebrated composers, winning three Oscars and scoring ‘Gone With The Wind’ (1939), ‘Now, Voyager’ (1942), ‘Casablanca’ (1942), ‘Mildred Pierce’ (1945), ‘The Big Sleep’ (1946), and ‘White Heat’ (1949), among many others.

There is no evidence that legendary producer Selznick was directly involved with this film, aside from his ‘executive producer’ credit, although the multi-media concept smacks of his type of showmanship. The film was released in mid-October 1932, by which time Selxznick’s contract with the studio was about to expire, and he was considering an offer from his father-in-law to return to MGM to head up his own film unit. He was also a brand new father, with his first prestigious film project, ‘A Bill of Divorcement’ (1932), new in theatres on the last day of September. So it’s unlikely that he had all that much input into such a minor thriller. Still, it’s possible that the radio-movie tie-in and attendant publicity campaign was his idea.

Convoluted, unconvincing mystery, remarkable only for its unique presentation over two separate entertainment formats.

The Man with Icy Eyes/L’uomo dagli occhi di ghiaccio (1971)

The Man with Icy Eyes/L’uomo dagli occhi di ghiaccio (1971)‘Listen to me; your world is full of lunatics, from Rasputin to crazy operas.’

A senator is murdered, and the police catch a man fleeing the scene. An arrogant young journalist’s work helps secure his conviction, and he is sentenced to the death penalty. However, one the day of his execution, the reporter receives evidence that throws the man’s guilt into doubt…

Noir-ish Giallo thriller from director Alberto De Martino that tries to update the one style, without fully committing to the other. As a result, it’s partially successful and has its moments, but it doesn’t make for compulsive viewing, the final act piling on the action with a breakneck speed that severely harms its credibility.

Senator Robertson meets the end of a bullet on his doorstep and Mexican activist, Valdes (Giovanni Petrucci) is the man in the wrong place at the wrong time. The police can’t find the dead man’s missing briefcase, but the gun was ditched in a nearby bush, and Petrucci and the politician have a history. Hot-headed Sentinel reporter Eddie Mills (Antonio Sabato) gets the story for his paper, and sub-editor, John Hammond (Victor Buono) is impressed with his work, even if there’s no love lost between them.

The Man with Icy Eyes/L’uomo dagli occhi di ghiaccio (1971)

‘Before this night is out, I shall revel in the sight of a big, crisp, polyunsaturated bat!’

The evidence to convict Petrucci is strong but circumstantial, the prosecution alleging that he passed the briefcase to a confederate in a car, who drove off in a panic. Sabato does the round of his contacts on the street and digs up naked model Anne Sachs (Barbara Bouchet) who, after initially refusing to help, places herself near the scene and witnessing the car just before the murder. Petrucci is convicted and sentenced to die in the gas chamber.

Returning home on the day of the execution from assignment in New York, Sabato discovers that new evidence has come to light and begins to believe that the condemned man is innocent, after all. But witnesses are nowhere to be found or are turning up dead, and there are only 12 hours to go before Petrucci’s rendezvous with the gas chamber. It’s a desperate chase for Sabato as he tries to get at the truth and catch the assassin.

The Man with Icy Eyes/L’uomo dagli occhi di ghiaccio (1971)

‘No, I’m not doing another ‘Star Trek’. Not if it means kissing Shatner again…’

The concept of the smart-talking, wise-ass reporter chasing down a killer is as old as talking pictures. Although we’re spared any of the tiresome comedic elements that usually came with such a character in the golden days of Hollywood, this is still the essential core of De Martino’s film. It’s been modernised with a grounding in the realms of the conspiracy thriller, but we’d be firmly in Film Noir territory if the action took place on the black and white canvas of downtown LA rather than the sunlit streets of New Mexico.

Several of the main protagonists are typical Noir archetypes, most notably Sabato as the self-serving newshound starting to grow a conscience and Bouchet as the femme fatale-love interest whose motives are open to question. Unfortunately, neither character is written with any more complexity, leaving both actors struggling to make much of an impression. The acting plaudits belong to Buono who, despite having his familiar voice dubbed, still manages to bring a sly, sardonic humour to his role, linking up with Sabato as an unofficial sidekick/partner in the slightly silly closing stages.

The Man with Icy Eyes/L’uomo dagli occhi di ghiaccio (1971)

‘Stop looking at Babs, I was in this movie too!’

Buono was joined by two more notable US actors on the film, as De Martino manfully attempts to convince the audience that they’re watching an American movie. Keenan Wynn has a supporting role as the newspaper’s editor, mostly hiding behind thick glasses and a cigar (the dubbing really doesn’t help his performance) and Faith Domergue scores in a couple of scenes as the accused man’s wife. She’s almost unrecognisable from her roles in such midnight movie favourites as ‘This Island Earth’ (1955), ‘Cult of the Cobra’ (1955) and ‘It Came From Beneath The Sea’ (1955). She’d had a similarly small role in Lucio Fulci’s stand-out Giallo ‘One On Top of the Other/Perversion Story’ (1969) and only made three more films before retiring in the mid-1970s.

One aspect of the film that remains curious is astrologer, Isaac Thetman (Corrado Gaipa). Sabato consults him on the case because he and the senator were connected. The two don’t hit it off, and Giapa predicts the reporter’s death, which will occur at the very moment of Petrucci’s execution. Apparently, that’s the sort of thing you can get in your horoscope because ‘astrology is akin to the occult!’ Really? Ok. Having said that the fortune teller’s presence does lead to the film’s most inventive moment when he inadvertently reveals a crucial clue by walking under a neon sign.

The Man with Icy Eyes/L’uomo dagli occhi di ghiaccio (1971)

‘It’s all about the bone structure, dahling!’

De Martino collaborated on the screenplay here as he did on all his films, including quite a few cult titles, although these were not always of the best quality. These included cheesy Peplum ‘Perseus Against the Monsters’ (1963), above-the-fold Eurospy ‘Upperseven, l’uomo da uccidere’ (1965), undistinguished Giallo ‘The Insatiables’ (1969), Omen rip-off ‘Holocaust 2000’ (1977) and, best of all, the hilariously ridiculous adventures of ‘The Pumaman’ (1980). Sabato made the usual range of Spaghetti Westerns and crime pictures and starred in Umberto Lenzi’s Giallo ‘Seven Blood-Stained Orchids’ (1972) and Alfonso Brescia’s dreary ‘War of the Robots’ (1978).

Apart from the wonderful Buono, whose best days were already behind him, the real success story here is Czech actor Bouchet. After starting in bit parts for major Hollywood studios and appearing on episodes of ‘Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea’, ‘Tarzan’ and ‘Star Trek’, she returned to Europe to build a meaningful career via Gialli such as ‘Black Belly of the Tarantula’ (1971), ‘Amuck’ (1972) and ‘The Red Queen Kills Seven Times’ (1972). She regularly worked for the rest of the decade before her career began to slow down in the mid-1980s. In recent years, she has returned more often to the big screen, including a part in Martin Scorsese’s ‘Gangs of New York’ (2006), and is still active in the Italian industry as of 2020.

A rather tepid thriller which takes too much time to get going and then tries too hard to make up for it in the last half-hour.