Thursday, March 5, 2015

MASSACRE MAFIA STYLE (1978)

MASSACRE MAFIA STYLE (1978) 

Label: Grindhouse Releasing
Region: A
Rating: R
Duration: 83 Minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono 1.0, Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) HD
Director: Duke Mitchell
Cast: Duke Mitchell, Vic Caesar, Louis Zito, Cara Salerno, Jimmy Williams

Mimi Miceli (Duke Mitchell) is the son of the powerful New York crime boss Don Mimi who has been exiled to Sicily by the American authorities for what I assume to be mob related activities. Mimi is eager to resume the mafia lifestyle and leaves his son and father behind in Italy to pursue a life of crime in Hollywood, California. Once in Hollywood searches for his childhood friend Jolly (Vic Caesar), whom he finds tending bar at a local dive. Reunited the two quickly carve a path of violence and murder through the streets Hollywood. The first order of business is to kidnap and ransom the West Coast Mafia Boss, Chucky Tripoli (Louis Zito). After the successful ransoming the duo with balls of brass crash the wedding party of Tripoli's daughter and raise a toast. Afterward Mimi runs off with one of the wedding guests, a voluptuous brunette named Liz (Cara Salerno) whom remains his companion for the duration of the film.

The movie is quite a wild ride from the first scene and over-the-top massacre that begins with Mimi and Jolly entering an office and abducting a handicap man in a wheelchair. After forcing him into a bathroom stick hos foot in the urinal and attach electrical wires to the brace on his leg before plugging it into a wall outlet. Afterward they blast their way through fourteen more victims. Strangely none of whom thought to flee when they heard the shots ringing out from the duos hand cannons, the death throes of a few of the victims are pretty funny, they're either overly exaggerated or a bit too subdued, but that's what happens when you recruit your friends for a low budget mafia film, you get what you get.

On their way to top of the L.A. food chain Mimi and Jolly take on a pimp named Super Spook (Jimmy Williams) in an attempt to takeover his lucrative whoring trade, apparently this smooth pimping cat has forty white broads making $500 each a night and the Sicilians want in on that sweet action. When the acquisition doesn't go quite as planned Mimi is forced to pursue more legitimate business opportunities, that is if you consider the porn industry to be a legitimate enterprise. Their adventures in the skin trade are short lived it does serve to treats viewers to some soft core girl on girl action out on a boat. It's not too long before the mafia-blooded Mimi and his loyal strongman are at it once again, committing violent acts within the mob community in L.A. which angers his mafia boss father back in Sicily. Advertised as the most violent film ever made the home-made mafia movie falls a bit short of the hyperbole but certainly entertains with a blend of action, violence and b-movie mayhem.

I thought Duke Mitchell was pretty fantastic as the amped-up Mimi, a charismatic character who in equal measures both craves and condemns the mafia lifestyle with weird little monologues, the dialogue in the film is wonderfully colorful and often racist. One such verbal delight emerges with Mimi holding the hands of an old woman while at dinner with Tripoli. He laments that "the Italian hasn't been disgraced, you and I disgraced it", to Tripoli, going onto say that Italian women have given the world some of the most appreciated foods in the world, but in return, "we gave her violence, we have her death, we gave her dishonor, we gave these hands the ability to fondle the rosary beads and to pray for us while we are in jail facing the electric chair ..." and on and on it goes, the gift that keeps on giving, these monologues and voice over narration are just as much apart of the charm of the movie as the violence dealt throughout the film, every word is a treasure to be cherished by b-movie maniacs for many years to come.

There's little doubt that Duke Mitchell was an amateur filmmaker but he was also a bit of an auteur with a unique perspective and keen ear for dialogue informed by years of interacting with Italian Americans while crooning at the clubs over the years. While t was inspired by the enormous success of the Godfather it's safe to say that Massacre Mafia Style stand alone unto itself. Some of the later crime films out of Italy in the '70s were more violent but none were as strangely weird and wonderful.


A wild crime movie loaded with plenty of action, trashy dialogue and mafia-fueled violence with a high body count that leaves absolutely no one unscathed. Written, produced and directed by a lounge crooner turned low-budget filmmaker this one captures your attention from the first frame and will not let go, right up till the violent last scene, this one's a keeper.

The new restoration from Grindhouse releasing is superb with nicely managed grain, a surprisingly crisp image and robust color saturation through and through, the restoration afforded to this wild slice of mafia cinema is pretty astounding when you think about it. The colors are vibrant color, and the depth and clarity accentuate the sweet 1970s aesthetic from the texture of the corduroy to the fine detail of those kitschy paisley shirts.

The DTS-HD MA Mono 1.0 track comes through mostly clean due to the limitations of the source material. Nothing too offensive, just some oddly recorded dialogue here and there. Love the use of David Mitchell's original songs throughout, particularly the upbeat song "Tic-a-Tee, Tik-a-Tay" at the top of the film during the massacre at the office building, which if you know anything about the film is pretty much the entire trailer for the film we've been seeing for years, and it's still my favorite scene. .

Not unsurprisingly Grindhouse have gone all out for the bonus content on this 2-Disc Deluxe

Edition beginning with a 43-minute version of Like Father, Like Son documentary put together by Duke's son Jeffrey, a musician in his own right. It's an intimate portrait of his storied father with tales of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and hos father's sometimes violent temper in addition to a few stories from his own life including working for English music producer Mickie Most in the UK and playing with Suzi Quatro and studio sessions with the Bay City Rollers and Hot Chocolate. 

There's also interviews with exploitation producer Matt Cimber and actor Jim LoBianco (Gone with the Pope) who discuss Mitchell and the film, plus nearly an hour of home movies featuring Duke Mitchell accompanied by the crooner's own songs, including a an entire 52-minute performance from 1960 with the Keith Williams Orchestra. The Blu-ray disc is finished up with a theatrical trailer, four radio spots, extensive image galleries and filmographies for both Mitchell and actress Cara Salerno featuring select trailers, most notably Salerno's vintage porno Space Thing, whoah.

Exclusive to the Blu-ray disc of the set are the inclusion of the feature film Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla presented in black and white and it looks quite nice, much better than the many public domain versions I have watched. There's also a trailer for the film and an image gallery. Additionally we get what looks to be some sort of TC special, An Impressionistic Tribute to Jimmy Durante with the lounge crooner impersonating one of his childhood heroes Jimmy Durante, and performing his songs. These seems to be sourced from videotape but the accompanying 16mm dailies from the special look fantastic.

Additionally there are a few Easter Eggs hidden away on the discs too, plus over half an hour of sweet Grindhouse Releasing previews and a 12-page collector's booklet with rare photos and poster art and new liner notes by author David Szulkin, the booklet features a variation on cult artist Dave Lebow's cover art. On the 
DVD-Rom are two versions of the treatment and script for the movie, plus handwritten notes about the narration including an Italian to English translation of common Italian phrases used during the making of the film. 

Special Features:
- 2 Disc DVD/BD Combo Pack
- Incredible new hi-definition digital restoration of the original director’s cut
- Stunning digital restoration of the original mono soundtrack
- Like Father, Like Son Documentary (43 Mins) Interviews with Jeffrey Mitchel, Frankie Ray, George Jacobs, Jim LoBianco, and exploitation legend Matt Cimber
- Matt Cimber and Jim LoBianco Interview (10 Mins)
- Almost one full hour of never-before-seen Duke Mitchell Home Movies (52 Mins)
- Theatrical Trailers (2 Mins)
- Radio spots (3 Mins)
- Still Galleries (283 Images)
- Duke Mitchel Filmography with trailers for Gone with the Pope (2 Mins) and Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (2 Mins)
- Cara Salerno Filmography with trailer for Space Thing (4 Mins)
- Grindhouse Releasing Previews (33 Mins)
- Disc Production Credits
- DVD Rom Extras
- Bonus Movie: Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (64 Mins)
- Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla Trailer (2 Mins)
- Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla Still Galley (36 Images)
- Bonus TV Special: An Impressionistic Tribute to Jimmy Durante (37 Mins)
- An Impressionistic Tribute to Jimmy Durante 16mm Dailies (7 Mins)
- Glossy booklet with rare photos and liner notes by author David Szulkin
- Spectacular new cover painting by renowned Los Angeles cult artist Dave Lebow


Massacre Mafia Style (1978) might just be one of the most cult movies ever made, a wildly entertaining piece of crime cinema dripping with mob violence, revenge and a tiny pinch of b-movie camp. Kudos to Grindhouse Releasing for the dusting off this forgotten gem with a gorgeous restoration and the exhaustive bonus content, a very high recommend for any enthusiast of crime and cult cinema.

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