Like Rabid Dogs (1976)

In two days in September 1975, three men — architecture student Gianni Guido, medical student Angelo Izzo and Andrea Ghira, the son of the building contractor and former Olympic water polo champion Aldo Ghira — invited Donatella Colasanti and Rosaria Lopez to a party at Ghirain’s family home. The trio had been in trouble before, as Ghira and Izzo had served twenty months for an armed robbery charge and Izzo and two other friends had assaulted two women, a crime he never served time for. He also proclaimed that he admired the Clan of Marseillais, which used drug trafficking and kidnappings, making crime into an actual industry.

The three men and two women spent some time together and there was no incident or warning of what would happen next until Guido and Izzo made sexual advances. When turned down, they pulled guns and claimed they were kidnapping the women for the boss of the Clan, Jacques Berenguer.

For the next day and a night, the two girls were taken on a tour of hell that only ended when Lopez was drowned in a bathtub and Colasanti was strangled with a belt and hit with an iron bar. Pretending to be dead, she laid in the trunk of Guido’s father’s FIAT 127 while the trio drove to Rome to dispose of the bodies, laughing and listening to music.

Instead, the three men decided to have dinner, during which they got in a brawl with some young communists. That meant that they left the car unattended, during which Colasanti began screaming and striking the walls of the trunk. A security guard actually thought it was the sound of a cat trapped inside the car.

The media was there as she was removed from the car. Colasanti never truly recovered from the mental trauma of the evening. Izzo and Guido were arrested several hours later while Ghira was tipped off and ran, even sending a letter to his friends where he told them they’d soon be released, as well as threatening to kill Colasanti if she testified.

Izzo and Guido had hung a large stadium-sized banner that said “Corso Trieste 1972 – La Vecchia Guardia” in their cell. They also tried to escape in 1977, but by 1980, Guido had his sentence reduced by declaring that he was sorry, which was accepted by Lopez’s family. That really wasn’t true, as he escaped in 1981 and fled to Buenos Aires before he was caught. He escaped again in 1985 and spent nearly a decade before he was caught in Panama, where he was working as a car dealer.  He was finally released from prison in 2008. When Izzo was released from jail in 2004, he was already back to assault and murder within a year. He remains imprisoned.

As for Ghira, he fled to Spain and adopted the name of Massimo Testa de Andres and enlisted in the Spanish foreign legion. He was expelled for drug abuse in 1994 and supposedly died of a drug overdose that year, a fact that was only learned in 2005 when a body was exhumed and identified with DNA. However, many did not believe that report, as Ghira had been seen in Rome, Brazil, Kenya and South Africa in the years since he was supposedly dead.

Written and directed by Mario Imperoli, Come Cani Arrabbiati tells the story of rich kid Tony Ardenghi. His double life consists of being a student by day and by night, acting as the killer of prostitutes. Along with his friends Rico and Sylvia, they go from simple violence at soccer matches — a theme of these youth gone wild films — to drowning women in bathtubs in an echo of the real-life murder discussed above.

Inspector Paolo Muzi then gets an idea, assigning his lover Germana (Paola Senatore, Eaten Alive!Emanuelle in America) undercover, but he soon learns that the rich kids station in life prevents him from getting the justice that only a group of socialist protestors can.

Sadly, Imperoli — who was mainly known for sex comedies like Blue Jeans and Monika — died a year after this movie at the way too young age of 46. I would have loved to have seen where else his career would have gone.

This is a brutal and dark movie made about brutal and dark times. And it’s one I recommend that you see.

Savage Three is one of five movies on Arrow Video’s Years of Lead: Five Classic Italian Crime Thrillers 1973-1977. These films are great examples of the Italian poliziotteschi genre and the set includes high def versions of this movie, Savage Three, Highway Racer, Colt 38 Special Squad and No, the Case Is Happily Resolved. This disc has interviews with cinematographer Romano Albani, historian Fabio Melelli on Like Rabid Dogs and assistant director Claudio Bernabei. You can get it from MVD.

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