Friday, November 04, 2016

113. Mad Dog and 114. Savage Weekend

Jump to Savage Weekend (1979)

113. Mad Dog aka La Belva Col Mitra (1977)
Director: Sergio Greico
Writer: Sergio Greico
From: Cult Cinema; Drive-In

The notorious Mad Dog killer escapes from prison and is out for revenge against the people who ratted him out and the judge who put him away.

Oh, this is a grim pairing and right before the election at that.

Mad Dog breaks out of prison with three co-conspirators, taking a guard hostage. Supercop, who has a real name but I don’t care, goes after him with all the gusto of a man picking up his dry-cleaning even though he doesn’t really have to. There’s a shoot-out, supercop somehow shoots the driver in the head, but his own car is shot, goes off the road, and explodes. Supercop, though, had jumped out.

Then we get the backstory: villain bad, hero good. All caught up? Let’s make it personal then. Supercop is the son of the judge that convicted Mad Dog. That’ll matter because Mad Dog wants revenge, but it won’t matter for a good hour because that’s not the plot.

Instead, supercop goes into background as Mad Dog finds the guy who testified against him. The informant and his girlfriend, Giuliana, are taken to the middle of nowhere. Mad Dog rapes Giuliana then beats the informant to death. Then he tells her to keep quiet.

Supercop tracks down Giuliana, but she gives him the brush-off. He leaves suspicious and completely unaware of Mad Dog hiding in the same room dressed as Father Guido Sarducci. Mad Dog rapes her again, since he’s basically keeping her as a sex slave, and tells her the details of the next job they’re pulling—one that she’ll have to be involved in.

Do the rapes make you uncomfortable? Don’t worry, they’re all played out as extended sex scenes, but violent.

Giuliana, despite her fears, goes to the cops anyway and reveals the plan to rob a factory where her estranged father is the head security guard. Supercop tells her he’ll replace all the workers with cops so the whole thing will be a set-up and then sends her back to Mad Dog. The heist goes off, but when the cops show up, Mad Dog takes all the women working the line hostage and stuffs them into a van. Giuliana drives it while Mad Dog gets into a separate getaway vehicle.

Unsurprisingly, Guiliana kills the crook riding with her and saves all the hostages. Mad Dog is stopped at a road block, his cronies get out of the car, and Mad Dog escapes when he realizes Giuliana betrayed him.

The only reason this brutally violent idiot is a threat is because his nemesis, supercop is even dumber.

Supercop expects Mad Dog to try to kill Giuliana, so he puts her under surveillance, but somehow misses the sniper’s nest with easy access to her room. Fortunately, Giuliana notices it just as Mad Dog takes a shot at her and so only takes a bullet in the leg. This is the end of Guliana’s role in the movie. Wave good-bye to the person who was actually heroic.

Now it’s Mad Dog vs. supercop. Mad Dog kidnaps supercop’s dad and sister, supercop figures out where they are by pure luck—no skill or detective work for this man, and pummels Mad Dog until the rest of the police arrive. The End.

This is, I think, the sleaziest movie I’ve watched so far in this project. There’s so much sexualized violence and the movie is delighting in it. The rape scenes are supposed to be enticing. When Mad Dog kidnaps supercop’s sister, he takes her top off and starts cutting her. It’s an excuse to show tits, but has that edge of sadism added to it.

Compare this to something like Driller Killer which also has a lot of violence and a weird sexuality to it. That film, though, seemed to have some thought to it. The violence comes from somewhere and is never framed as entertainment. Likewise, the sex in that movie is highlighting or emphasizing the strangeness of this character and his situation. That’s a film about depravity, this is a film that’s merely aspiring to be called “depraved,” but it’s not even that.

If a student turned in a story like this to one of my classes, I’d roll my eyes and call them “Junior Edgelord Supreme” to myself for the rest of the semester. This is a film that’s eager to shock, to be included amongst the work of the people working in the realm of Grindhouse cinema, but it’s not there. The best of Grindhouse pushed boundaries to tell new stories. This is just delighting in showing people get hurt.

And that’s the key. Supercop’s ostensibly the protagonist, the hero, but the movie wants you to think Mad Dog is super-threatening and cool. And he’s not. He’s just a brutish idiot. He’s not even interesting as a monster.

No surprise, I don’t recommend this. I didn’t bother to check if it was public domain; this was originally an Italian production and many of those got GATT’d. On top of that, there’s a Mill Creek Bug throughout so I couldn’t upload it anyway. No loss.

114. Savage Weekend (1979)
Directors: David Paulsen, John Mason Kirby
Writer: David Paulsen
From: Cult Cinema; Drive-In

A stock broker brings his friends to his house in the country for a weekend getaway, but there’s an extra member of the party looking to kill.

Another late-70’s writer/director effort with no likable characters and really weird sexual politics. Is 2016 over yet? Can I do something else?

We open at the end of the movie with Marie running through the forest while a banjo song plays on loop. She runs into Otis, a dazed man holding a chainsaw, and is terrified.

Flashback for the rest of the goddamn movie. Marie is getting ready to her boyfriend Robert’s country house with her sister Shirley, Robert’s friend Jay, and their gay friend Nicky. I’m not speculating, they’re pretty open about it, and about as weird about it as you’d imagine from 1979. They’re just waiting for Marie’s ex-husband Greg to come by and pick up the kid. He’s not happy about what’s going on, but they don’t care because, while he used to have political power through his job, now he’s unemployed and a joke.

On the way to the country house, they stop for gas and Nicky goes into a nearby bar. The customers are vaguely homophobic, but Nicky actually picks a fight and basically wrecks the place. Our heroes?

We arrive at the house and Jay is creeping on Shirley, but he was also invited to hook up with her. Nicky stalks them and watches them screw from a distance. Meanwhile, Robert and Marie are on a boat with local handyman Mac who tells them about Otis—a local Robert has hired to help him build a giant boat. Turns out Otis took a fancy to a young girl that was visiting a few years back, but got mad when he saw her with her boyfriend so Otis killed him and branded the woman with an “H” on her chest for “whore.” Otis ain’t too good at spelling.

So, I get it, the movie’s setting up Otis as the killer or just a general threat. But then Mac sets Robert up to step on a fishing hook and then starts creeping on Marie. So maybe there’s a city-folk vs. country-folk dynamic being set up. But that doesn’t work because we don’t like any of these people.

Jay, turns out, is a scumbag cheating on his wife, Nicky is a jerk who’s only character trait is he’s gay, Robert is a rich POS who just buys his way into everything, and Marie, our main character, is seemingly using all the men around her for sex, or to sexually humiliate them, or something. Sex in this movie is way strange. Whenever Marie and Robert have a sex scene, she’s imagining he’s someone else or imagining her ex-husband watching so that he’s getting cuckolded. She tries to seduce Mac a bit, but then loses her nerve, but it still results in a weird scene where she’s erotically milking a cow and then he makes her drink the milk.

No, if you’re confused, I described it right. The movie is way weird.

Anyway, everyone’s awful, someone grabs a Halloween mask and starts killing the jerks in the house. Jay is the first to go, then Nicky. Shirley is tied to a table saw, but the power doesn’t work so she’s just left there. Robert gets killed and then the killer unmasks himself and it’s Greg, the ex-husband, who felt emasculated by losing his job and no longer being powerful enough to prevent people from laughing at him. He takes Marie out into the woods for a murder-suicide, but she starts to run.

Meanwhile, Mac comes to the house, wanders around, maybe kills Shirley by turning on the power (there’s no sound effect to indicate that), and then hears Marie in the woods. He finds them both, fights Greg, and then Otis shows up and kills Greg with the chainsaw. We freeze on Otis’ smiling face then cut to him visiting the graveyard. The End.

It’s always satisfying when a movie sums itself up in one line of dialogue. Shirley gets mad at Jay for reasons that aren’t explained and don’t happen on-screen, and tells him, “I thought you had imagination, but turns out you get all your ideas from girlie magazines.” There’s the movie for you.

Whereas Mad Dog feels sleazy, this feels like it desperately wants to be sleazy. Jay first hooks up with Shirley when he sees her sunbathing naked in a field and just strips down and walks up to her. Nicky watches from a distance closing his fist around barbed wire. Mac and Marie have the weird not-quite-sex-scene with the cow’s milk that’s just whatever, and the story of Otis attacking the couple is shown in flashback including Otis stripping the woman and locking her between the posts that hold the cows. I’m sure this is someone’s fetish, but it’s not mine.

And really, that’s the feel of the entire movie, like someone’s winking at you going, “Eh? Pretty intense, huh?” when it’s not. Ever. While it wasn’t obvious that Greg was the killer, it should have been because this is exactly the kind of film that thinks, “The character you haven’t seen who isn’t part of this movie is actually the killer!” qualifies as a twist. See also, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning.

So it’s not a recommend: the characters suck, the story doesn’t matter, and there’s a smugness to its pretensions of transgression that get old within the first 15 minutes. I think it’s PD, but, again, Mill Creek Bug all over it, but I don’t care.

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