(Review by Justin Decloux)
It's surprising (compared to the current state of its industry) that thirty years ago Italy nearly dominated the cinematic genre landscape - flooding theatres with a never ending supply of shamelessly homegrown, flavor of the month rips offs, hell-bent on entertaining the crap out of an audience. Horror and Spaghetti Westerns may be their most well-known exports, but a few genres that fell through the cracks have been quietly gaining a cult following over the years. The new documentary Eurocrime! The Italian Cop and Gangster Films That Ruled the 70's focuses on illuminating one of the best - The Poliziotteschi.
Poliziotteschi films are simply Italian made cops and robbers films. Inspired by The Godfather and The French Connection these films took the basic seventies action formula and twisted them into increasingly over the top explosions of fun. The robbers are sleaze personified, the cop will always go rogue in retaliation of a corrupt system, and bloody violence shall reign supreme. It's a gritty genre that never got the international attention it deserved, but thanks to director Mike Malloy, Eurocrime! is here to announce the Poliziotteschi's bullet riddled existence to the world.
I don't envy the guy. It can't have been easy to put together a feature length documentary about a cult sub-genre (at best), but Malloy bucks expectations, and makes it one hell of a fun ride. The presentation is a mixture of groovy graphics tracing the subject's history, rapid fire action packed clips, and a giant pile of interviews featuring every important living figure that worked in the genre. These interviews range from gigantic stars like Franco Nero, to Troll 2 director Claudio Fargasso (!!??), with everyone else in between (featuring some actors I would have sworn were long dead!)
It could have been easy for Eurocrime! to turn into a messy series of unconnected anecdotes, but Malloy creates a wholly coherent piece of work about Italy's Crime Film Renaissance - from the process of creation to its political context. At the same time, it's not just a specific genre analysis, but a good example of how Italian Exploitation films of that period were made in general: The quick and dirty shooting schedules, the exiled Hollywood stars moonlighting in Europe and the nature of dirt cheap productions (Why not just fire REAL bullets at the actors?).
It's not quite as visually slick as Not Quite Hollywood, but Eurocrime! is still brimming with infectious enthusiasm and passion. A little long at two hours, the visuals on display at least mix it up and the pitch perfect music by Calibro 45 give things a propulsive feel. Interested in hearing how internation exploitation films were made in the golden days? Want to discover a fantastic new batch of films? You owe it to yourself to check out Eurocrime!. Oh, and don't forget to bring a pen and paper, because you'll want to be jotting down all of these amazing titles for your not-soon-enough viewing pleasure.
Eurocrime! The Italian Cop and Gangster Films That Ruled the 70's screens at Fantasia on Sunday, July 29.