Friday, December 28, 2012

The Haunted World of 42nd St. Pete: Reviews from the Grindhouse master!

I`m very pleased to announce that the grindhouse legend himself 42nd Street Pete is now reviewing for Gorehound Mike`s. 

Grindhouse Action Double Feature at The Rialto: The Wrath of God and Dark of the Sun

The Wrath of God 1972 Starring Robert Mitchum, Frank Langella, Victor Buono, John Colicos, Ken Hutchison and Rita Hayworth. Directed by Ralph Nelson(Soldier Blue)

Robert Mitchum was one actor who's star never faded. Here he is as Father Oliver Van Horne, phony priest, or is he? He carries a bag housing a Tommy gun and $53,000 in cash. He meets an Irishman, Emmett (Hutchison) who is running a truckload of liquor for a con man named Jennings (Buono). Emmett helps the good father ,who's car is stuck. He then delivers his goods, but finds out the person he is supposed to meet is now hanging by his neck in a store room. Realizing he's now in a world of shit, Emmett is about to leave when this crew of scum decides to rape an Indian girl. Emmett intervenes, but is jumped and about to taste the noose until Van Horne shows up with machine gun in hand . Blasting the patrons of the bar into the promised land, Emmett & Van Horne take off only to be captured by Col. Santilla's men. Seems the truck was full of guns, not booze and they are thrown in a cell with Jennings, who was also captured.

They are sentenced to die before a firing squad, blindfolded, the guns fire, but no one is shot. That was Santilla's way of saying he holds their lives in his hands. He has a deal for them. They have to kill a dictator/bandit, Thomas De La Plata,(Frank Langella) who is holding a town in a grip of terror. Jennings will pose as an official from a mining company, Emmett is his "mining engineer", and Van Horne is a priest. Real problem is that La Plata hates priests and has killed the last two sent to his town. If the threesome can pull this off, they get to split up Van Horne's $53,000 and go free. La Plata welcomes Jennings & Emmett, but warns Van Horne to get out. Van Horne , however, has an unexpected supporter in La Plata's mother(Rita Hayworth). 

Van Horne re opens the town's church. Jennings & Emmett go to the mine with Senora La Plata. A cave in traps the Senora and a couple of miners. Van Horne helps rescue her and stays to give last rights to a dying minor. Van Horne admits he was a priest. " I studied five years to become one" he says "but when I tried to do what I was taught, I was told that the poor will always be with us, but the rich fill the collection plates". So he went into business for himself. La Plata now knows the three are working together and leads an attack on the church. Santilla supplied the men with a couple of machine guns & grenades. They cut down most of La Plata's men and wound him in the process. La Plata has a group of people held hostage, including the Indian girl that is now smitten with Emmett. His segundo, Jurardo( Gregory Sierra) shoots Van Horne's alter boy down and tells Van Horne that all hostages will die unless he surrenders to La Plata. 

Van Horne agrees, but has a gun hidden in his bible. La Plata appears on a balcony, he makes sure Van Horne drops the bible. Van Horne takes his crucifix, which is a big switch blade, and puts it through La Plata's chest. But that La Plata is a double. The real La Plata has the now unarmed Van Horne tied to a stone cross with barbed wire. Jennings & Emmett lead the villagers to attack La Plata. Jennings was supposed to drive Van Horne's car through the front gates. He starts having second thoughts, but then charges the gates . Firing the machine gun he bursts though the gates mowing down La Plata's men.La Plata & Jurado mortally wound him, but Jennings, grabs a hand grenade and Jurardo. Jennings tell Jurado that life is full of little surprises, then pulls the pin. Emmett frees his girl, but not without soaking up some lead. La plata is just about to shoot Emmett when he is shot by his mother. Falling next to the stone cross, he is down , but not out. Van Horne makes the huge cross fall on La Plata, crushing the life out of him. 

This is one film that keeps your interest from start to finish. The guy to watch, however is Victor Buono as he shamelessly steals the show. This was Rita Hayworth's last film. She was thought to be having problems with alcohol, but was really suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Rumor has it that Mitchum pushed hard for her to be in the film. Mitchum, who started acting in the 40's and stayed on top until his death in '97, is a true legend. At the age of 14, he was arrested for vagrancy and escaped from a chain gang in Georgia. His marijuana bust & short prison term in 1949 would have destroyed any other actor, but it just seem to enhance his bad boy image that appealed to both women & men. By the 50's he was a true supper star and never lacked for work. He did a small role in Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man and his last film was a TV movie James Dean : Race with Destiny

Dark of the Sun 1968 Starring Rod Taylor, Yvette Mimiieux, Peter Carsten and Jim Brown Directed by Jack Cardiff ( The Mutations)

Rule of thumb with double bills was to put something that had proven drawing power with something new. That way, if the film on top sucked, the crowd wouldn't feel cheated. Jim brown was red hot in '72, so why not take a film that he was fourth billed in, put his name on the marquee and pair it with a western/action film? Well, it worked. Dark of the Sun is a violent tale of mercenaries in Africa. Curry (Taylor) and Ruffo (Brown) are contracted to get a bunch of people out of harms way. Seems the Simbas have been dicing up settlers and Curry needs a train to get them out. But he also has to get $25 million in diamonds out too. He has Captain Henlein pick 40 mercs for the job. Henlein is a former Nazi and he & Curry hate each other. That fact is driven home when he tries to slice up Curry with a chainsaw. Curry holds Henlein's head under the wheels of the train before Ruffo stops him. 

They get to the town, but there is a problem. The vault that the diamonds are in has a time lock and it won't open for three hours. Just enough time for the Simbas to get closer. As the vault opens, the Simbas attack in force. The train is getting away until a mortar shell hits the train, breaking a coupling and sending that part of the train, the passengers, and the diamonds to the Simbas. The Simbas slaughter, torture & rape the passengers in a violent bloodbath. Curry tries to get the diamonds back. Ruffo drags Curry into Simba central like he is a prisoner. Once inside they toss a few grenades and grab the diamonds. Henlein knows about the diamonds and kills Ruffo while Curry is away. Curry pursues Henlein into the jungle. They battle it out tooth & nail until Curry decapitates him. Curry return and places himself under arrest for Henlein's murder. 

This was one violent movie for it's time. It was Jim Brown's 3rd feature film as he debuted in Rio Conchos in '64, then the Dirty Dozen in '67. Rod Taylor started acting in '51 and his last film to date was Inglorious Bastards where he played Winston Churchill. His bar fight with William Smith in Darker than Amber set the bar for fight scenes in films. Director Jack Cardiff was better known as a cinematographer on over 80 films. Great double feature with two films that still pack a punch today.

Thanks again Pete! Looking forward to your next grindhouse masterpiece. 

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