JOE D’AMATO MONTH: Tough to Kill (1979)

Look, if you’re going to rip off a poster…

Rip off the best, because one of the posters for this film — for Titanes del le Guerra, the name it played under in Spain — takes its inspiration from Blazing Combat #1, which was painted by Frank Frazetta.

Of course, Warren would rip themselves off by the end, endless reprinting their old stories and art, so that cover ran again on Creepy #89, an issue that reprinted several of the Blazing Combat stories. It’d get to the point where you had no idea how many original Warren stories you’d get in an issue or if you’d read them all before and you know, that sounds very much like Joe D’Amato.

Anyways, Tough to Kill is all about Martin (Luc Merenda, Puzzle, Pensione Paura), a hitman who joins Haggerty’s (Donald O’Brien, who ends up in nearly every Italian genre movie made from 1978 on, but he’s in a banana hammock in one scene in this) mercenary group to take on the suicide mission of blowing up a dam in enemy territory. But one of the men has a price on his head and Martin intends to collect, which means that he wants to make sure his team survives.

Along the way, the Stelvio Cipriani soundtrack recycles A Bay of Blood, one of the soldier’s pet bunnies gets laced with cyanide and fed to someone, someone says “you were at each other’s throats like wild geese” giving away what movie D’Amato is ripping off, O’Brien’s character testing his men by dropping a grenade between them and seeing what they’ll do when he isn’t making them salute the flag until they drop a log in their pants, an obstacle course that makes Takeshi’s Castle seem downright polite, a nod to Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia and somehow, D’Amato making a war movie without much gore and no nudity. Part of me is thinking that a lot was cut out of this movie, but I kind of know that he was coming down off the high that was Emanuelle and the Cannibals, which had to be like injecting heroin directly into his dick.

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