I’ve wondered before and I’ll wonder again why Mills Creek chose a particular movie for its Fifty Chilling Classics collection. I watched Death Rage, Yul Brynner’s penultimate movie.
Hence, the Buffy Summers quote as a title. Actually, the quote describes the movie pretty accurately, just replace English with Italian. I don’t know why a crummy mafia movie was part of a chilling collection. It wasn’t particularly scary or thrilling. It mostly featured the lushest, most seventies Italian-eist mustaches I’ve ever seen.
My theory is that Yul Bynner went on vacation in Italy, couldn’t pay his bill, and offered them this movie in return. Hey, that theory could also explain Hellbound. Chuck Norris, Yul Brynner, you sly devils.
Yul Brynner plays Peter Marciani. He saw his brother die as part of a mob hit and hasn’t been the same since.
I guess this makes him dress like a priest throughout the whole movie and deliver one of the most wooden performances ever committed to celluloid.
This movie is a confusing mess. People come and go and we never know who they are or what they want. Plus, the principles all look-alike and have similar names. As far as I can tell, this is what happens.
A guy is at a disco eating popcorn and watching another guy in a white polyester suit doing what I call the “going-mental dance.”
Then there’s a chariot race in Naples and people who we don’t know who they are are shooting each other.
Some guy named Gennaro Gallo killed Peter Marciani’s brother. Peter spends his time fishing off of NYC. But then a guy that I don’t know who he is being shot convinces him to get out of retirement and go to Naples. I guess…?
Peter goes to the races and Angelo, an Alex P. Keaton look-alike offers him his services. I don’t know why Angelo is so desperate to work for him, maybe Peter gives good references. Or maybe an internship with him is really prestigious. Maybe he can’t get into Harvard Law if he doesn’t get an internship with a cold-hearted mafia guy.
Angelo gets him to go to a burlesque show where we meet Peter’s eventual love interest, Annie. She does a burlesque act on the saddest stage ever.
Doesn’t that balloon arch just scream wedding at the Elks lodge?
Peter meets Annie and after two days they are totally in love. There’s a market chase and then a car chase and somehow Peter and Annie are in a warehouse and Angelo says, “You had two hoods following you.” This is followed by the most awkward and insipid sounding laughter afterwards.
It’s revealed that Peter has eye problems. It’s supposed to be some big metaphorical thing that’s bothered him since he saw his brother die. Anyway, this leads to him getting eye drops delivered to his hotel room. But there’s acid in them! Don’t worry, he isn’t hurt, that would be interesting.
Some mafia guy is arrested and a guy goes into his police cell, saying he’s a lawyer. But he’s actually a hit guy and he shoots him. No one hears this because he used a silencer. That’s not how a silencer works! You’re still going to hear the shot if it’s in close proximity.
There’s approximately one exciting moment in this movie. Some thugs attack Annie and ask her where Peter is. She doesn’t know. But then she’s rescued by an old lady.
The movie ends with Angelo going to kill the guy that killed Peter’s brother but then Peter shows up, tells Angelo that he knows that Angelo couldn’t kill someone, and then he shoots the guy himself. Then why did he spend his time with all those hitman lessons with Angelo? Peter ends up shot and dying.
Finally, Angelo shoots a guy in broad daylight in front of a crowd at Peter’s funeral. Then he’s offered a chance to join the mafia. It’s that easy? I had no idea. I guess that’s supposed to be the chilling part, that Angelo, a guy whose worst crime is rigging horse-races is on the road to becoming a hit man. I know I should care but I can’t. All I know is that the movie is over and I don’t have to listen to anymore “walk-a-chicken” music.
This movie wasn’t scary and was barely thrilling. It was worth it, I guess, just to see Yul Brynner phone it in. Plus, I got a chance to use the word “penultimate.” I’ve been waiting to do that since I read The Penultimate Peril by Lemony Snicket. So I guess this was successful. I just wish I knew what it was successful at.
- Scarina--the authoress and editrix of this site. I like scary movies and have dedicated my free time to cataloging horror--the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sometimes there are books too.
There's film criticism, literary criticism, and humor here. I can be highbrow but there's lots of pop culture too. And feminism.
I fervently love "Twin Peaks" and wish it were a real place so I could move there. I can't list my favorite scary movies because they change depending on my mood, the season, and how much coffee I've had.
I'm an artist looking for ways to blend creepy with cute. I try to channel my childhood nightmares, my love of horror, and my experiences with sleepy paralysis.
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