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Weekly Alibi "Death Rage" and "Invasion of the Flesh Hunters"

By Scott Phillips

MAY 11, 1998: 

Death Rage (aka Blood Reckoning) (1976)

My friends Pat and Scott have an old 8 by 10 of Yul Brynner, stark naked and looking like he's ready to kick the crap out of somebody. As if the very existence of this picture weren't strange enough, there's the added element of Yul's unbelievably enormous balls. His Kong-like scrotum seems to force his legs apart in the same manner a canned ham strapped to one's groin might affect a normal fellow's stance. And, try as I might, I couldn't put that photo out of my mind the whole time I was watching this Italian crime flick, in which Yul stars as a retired New York hitman who heads to Naples for one last job--and to avenge his brother's death. Directed by "Anthony M. Dawson" (Antonio Margheriti), Death Rage was even more difficult to follow than your average spaghetti-bending mobster movie, thanks not only to the aforementioned mammoth sack, but also to the fact that the cops and the bad guys all look alike. I mean, half of 'em are sporting Frito Bandito mustaches! When Yul arrives in Naples, he's met by a young fellow named Angelo--yet another reason I couldn't quite get a grip on this flick's plot. See, Angelo is sort of the Jimmy Olsen of gangsters, eager and cheerful and ready to shoot a horse in the ass with a BB gun to affect the outcome of a race. But what threw me was the issue of his allegiance--when we first meet him, he seems to be working for the mob, but later he's hanging out with police chief Martin Balsam, then he chases down Yul and wants to be his little pal. In fact, he goes so far as to ask stripper Barbara Bouchet to sleep with Yul (sending visions of that big ol' bag of nads whirling through my terrified mind). She refuses--at first. While Yul leaves the strip club before he's properly introduced to Barbara, he runs into her at the fish market (!) the next day, and I swear to God, for a few seconds the movie turns into the video for "Hungry Like the Wolf" as Yul strides wide-leggedly through the crowd in pursuit of the lovely stripper. Before long, the terry-cloth enrobed Yul and the startlingly naked Babs are hanging out in a fancy hotel room, sharing a tender moment. Their reverie is interrupted as Yul's eyedrops arrive (according to Yul's eye doctor, a traumatic experience can burn itself into one's eyes and cause recurring pain). Yul narrowly avoids even greater pain, as he discovers his refreshing drops have been replaced with acid! Things proceed sort of confusingly toward the bullet-spewing climax, but the "twist ending" was almost spoiled by the fact that the tape ran out before the movie was over. It's scroterrific! (Sterling)

Invasion of the Flesh Hunters (aka Cannibals in the Streets) (1982)

What the hell, let's make it an Anthony M. Dawson double-feature--but while Death Rage is just so-so, this one is fookin' great, as the Irish might say. The flick opens during the Vietnam War, where Green Beret (and "Videodrome" fave) John Saxon leads his commando squad on a mission to rescue some POWs. As our boys kick ass on Charlie, one of the bad guys falls into the pit where the prisoners are held--and is promptly devoured by the hapless G.I.s! As Saxon moves to help the fellas outta the hole, he gets chomped himself. Jumping forward, we find the Sax living with his wife in Atlanta, where, oddly enough, those flesh-eating ex-P.O.W.s are locked up in the nervous hospital. One of them, named Charles Bukowski (!), is released and wants to meet Saxon for a few beers. Sax has his hands full thwarting the advances of the teenage trollop from next door and begs off, much to his old pal's chagrin. Bukowski heads to the movies, where he watches a greasy chump maul his bimbo squeeze all over the seats in front of him. Unable to stand it any longer, Bukowski takes a bite outta the gal's neck and escapes to a nearby flea market, where he grabs a shotgun and starts killin'. Once he's been nabbed, the cops realize he was eating his victims. Y'see, somehow these POWs were infected with a cannibal virus, which they then spread by sinking their choppers into innocent folks--and the Sax is startin' to feel the old bloodlust! With the help of an infected doctor, Sax busts his pals outta the hospital and the cannibal gang heads for the sewers and a final showdown with the cops. But our boy Antonio doesn't stop there--he manages to throw in a twist ending, a tender finale and another twist ending! Pretty damn cool. (Vestron)

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