Every few years, 3D comes back in vogue. This 1981 film led a new wave of movies with enhanced depth and mostly stuff coming, well, at ya Dr. Tongue-style that included Parasite, Friday the 13th Part III, Jaws 3-D, Amityville 3-D, Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone and Treasure of the Four Crowns, which comes from the same people who made this movie.
It came about when Xerox salesmen Gene Quintano and Lupo took their office supply company into filmmaking, along with actor Tony Anthony, who had appeared in plenty of Italian Westerns like the increasingly, err, strange series of The Stranger films.
Filmed in a process called both SuperVision and WonderVision, the real star of this movie isn’t the acting or the story, but the very in your face 3-D effects. Even the actors joked about that, with Anthony saying, “You wouldn’t make Citizen Kane in 3-D. This is escapism. This is The Perils of Pauline. It’s a laugh. It’s enjoyment.”
They went so far as to have one of the film’s producers, Gene Quintano, play the film’s villain Pike Thompson. In 1981, he told The Washington Post that he appeared in the movie “mostly as a matter of economics. Tony is the star and he’s very good but this is not an actor’s film. I mean, Robert Redford is not going to be sweating it out. The real star is supposed to be the 3-D.” He would go on to write King Solomon’s Mines for Cannon, as well as Police Academy 3: Back in Training and Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol, as well as writing and directing Honeymoon Academy and National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon Part 1, two films that I missed out on during our week of Police Academy movies. Also, if he ever comes to Pittsburgh, he could probably get a beer at any bar for free just by telling them he wrote Sudden Death, which along with Night of the Living Dead and Striking Distance form pretty much the holy trinity of movies made here (you can also claim that Flashdance, Slap Shot, Dawn of the Dead, Creepshow, Martin, RoboCop, The Silence of the Lambs or Kingpin and could be on this list, but never Stigmata, which was actually filmed mostly in Vancouver. Also, ironically given Anthony’s quote, the original The Perils of Pauline was shot in Yinzer Country.). Man, I went off on a tangent.
Filmways bought this movie and it ended up becoming a minor success, easily using up the 90,000 3-D glasses they thought they’d need. 1981 was a big year for that company, as they bought out AIP and released The Fan, Blade Runner, Halloween II and Ragtime.
Bank robber H.H. Hart (Anthony) loses his wife (Victoria Abril, who would one day be in Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!) to kidnappers on the day of his wedding in a scene that feels like it had to have influenced Kill Bill. She ends up being sold as a prostitute to the evil Pike Thompson (Quintano) and our hero has to rescue her. That’s pretty much the whole story, but you’re really here, like we already said, to see stuff fly out of the screen and the film’s strange monochromatic style mixed with bursts of color.
Anthony and director Ferdinando Baldi had also worked together on Blindman — an Italian Western ripoff of Zatoichi — and the incredibly weird Get Mean.
If you listen carefully, during the bat attack scene, some of the screams have been recycled from Argento’s Inferno.
Anyways, like everyone has told you, this movie is really just about fun and not the idea that it’s going to change your world. If you want to see darts, snakes, guns, beans, rats, spears, hands, spiders, a bowling ball, bats, gun barrels, swords, cowboys, a yo-yo, a pinwheel, gold coins, apple peels, flaming arrows and a baby’s ass come at you, well, this would be the movie you are looking for.