Ricco the Mean Machine (1973)

I get it. This movie isn’t a giallo. But what is it, really? It was sold under so many titles, from the more horror-centric Cauldron of Death (complete with completely insane poster) to the more crime-oriented Gangland, the great Italian title Un Tipo Con una Faccia Strana ti Cerca per Ucciderti (A Guy With a Strange Face Is Looking for You to Kill You), The Dirty MobMean Machine and even O Exolothreftis (The Terminator) in Greece.

It was written by Jose Gutierrez Maesso, who wrote Django and was an uncredited writer for the magical Pensione Paura. He’s joined by Santiago Moncada, who wrote A Bell from HellHatchet for the Honeymoon and The Corruption of Chris Miller, along with Mario di Nardo (The Fifth CordFive Dolls for an August Moon). Directing all of this mayhem is Tulio Demichelli, who made the utterly insane Assignment Terror, as well as The Two Faces of Fear Espionage in Lisbon and the well-named There Is Someone Behind the Door.

Make no mistake — this is a movie awash with exploitation, gore, aberrant behavior and no real heroes. In short, it’s exactly the kind of movie you come to this site to read about.

Rico Aversi (Chris Mitchum) has just got out of jail, two years after Don Vito (Arthur Kennedy, the inspector from The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue) killed his father. Everyone wants Rico — notice that his named is spelled completely unlike the title of the movie — to kill the boss off, but Rico just wants to enjoy life outside of prison.

Malisa Longo (Cat in the Brain) plays his girlfriend — and who used to love Rico’s woman — and she enjoys sleeping with the hired help, which gets one unlucky member of the workstaff castrated in shocking detail. Then, his John Thomas gets shoved in his mouth and he’s dipped into acid and turned into soap. This movie is not interested in being unoffensive. Plus, you get Paola Senatore (Eaten Alive!) as Rico’s sister, whose death sets him finally on the path to revenge.

Robert Mitchum is one of my favorite actors ever, so it kind of pains me to admit this his son kind of slumbers through this leading role. But then again, everyone else in this movie is going to seem boring next to Barbara Bouchet, who pretty much sets the screen on fire, dances on the flames and sets it ablaze all over again in this movie. Anyone could show some leg to get the attention of some criminals. Bouchet goes all in, dancing nude on the roof of a car, covered in fog, giving her all no matter how grimy this scumfest gets. Without her, this movie would be passable. With her, it’s transcendent.

So yeah. It’s not a giallo. But man, if you’re coming in looking for bad behavior, gorgeous women and great clothes, it has all of that covered.


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