CRY OF A PROSTITUTE (1974) Blu-ray
Director: Andrea Bianchi
Code Red Releasing

The director of BURIAL GROUND takes on the mafia in the brutal CRY OF A PROSTITUTE, on Blu-ray from Code Red Releasing.

When a road accident in Sicily reveals that the child of a motoring couple was actually a corpse stuffed with heroin, mafia dons meet and place the blame on Don Ricuzzo Cantimo (Fausto Tozzi, KNIVES OF THE AVENGER), an American who has brought some objectionable practices with him and has waged war with the rival family of Don Turi Scannapieco (filmmaker Mario Landi, PATRICK STILL LIVES). The committee leaves it up to Don Cascemi (Vittorio Sanipoli, SINS OF ROME) to deal with Don Ricuzzo, but he goes one further and secretly hires American-raised Sicilian hitman Tony Aniante (Henry Silva, ALMOST HUMAN) to get rid of both Ricuzzo and Scannapieco. In the tradition of YOJIMBO by way of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, Tony – who of course has a personal motivation rooted in a traumatic flashback, as well as a whistle that references both ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST and FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE – takes up independent quarters in town an befriends both Cantimo and Scannapieco before setting about turning them against one another with a series of hits on their men and their operations. Tony's plans are complicated, however, by the revelation that Scannapieco has it in for Cantimo because the assassination of his son-in-law left his daughter Santa (Dada Gallotti, ESCALATION) mentally-unbalanced and his grandson Dino crippled, while Ricuzzo's alcoholic former prostitute wife Margie (Barbara Bouchet, DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING) tries to seduce him. Also caught in the middle of the conflict are Ricuzzo's youngest son Paolo (Pier Maria Rossi, MADELEINE: ANATOMY OF A NIGHTMARE) who is in love with Scannapieco's younger daughter Carmela (Patrizia Gori, HELGA: SHE-WOLF OF STILBERG). As Tony plays both sides, both Cantimo and Scannapieco wonder just where he will ultimately side, to which he replies, "Whoever wins."

Known in the United States as CRY OF A PROSTITUTE, the Italian title actually translates as THE ONES WHO COUNT which is referenced in dialogue late in the film as the unseen powers higher up that really influence the goings-on. Fans of director Andrea Bianchi's nuttier exploitation ventures like BURIAL GROUND and STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER may be surprised that he could lense a more straightforward genre offering, but the uncut version of the film has its share of excess with multiple bloody head-shots, a stitched-up child's cadaver on an autopsy table, an automobile crash decapitation, a corpse flattened by steamroller, and a vertical bandsaw head bisection (not to mention the brutality suffered by Bouchet's character). The plot seems pretty predictable at first, taking into account that there will be multiple double-crossings, only for the climax to toss some expectations out the window as Tony's personal code of honor seems to diverge from that of "The Man with No Name" and the survival of even the more sympathetic characters is cast into doubt. While CRY OF A PROSTITUTE is never so batshit crazy as some of Bianchi's other offerings, it is one of the more brutal and diverting entries in the Mafioso branch of the Italian crime genre. The usually elegant work of cinematographer Carlo Carlini (AUTOPSY, SEVEN DEATHS IN THE CAT'S EYE) is merely serviceable here, but he does provide some nice Sicilian vistas, while the scoring of Sante Maria Romitelli also seems on autopilot, contrasting some suspense cues with a score that seems to take off from his work on HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON and THE RED-HEADED CORPSE.

Released theatrically in the U.S. by Joseph Brenner in an eighty-three minute R-rated cut shorn of the most graphic violence and some exposition, the film was released uncut in Italy by Flamingo Video an anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen version in Italian-only. Code Red's 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 2.35:1 widescreen Blu-ray is reportedly missing a brief shot of a severed head and a dialogue sequence not dubbed into English, but it is considerably longer at 95:44 with scenes in English that remained in Italian on a fan-created dub from the Italian disc that had only the Brenner version as a source for the English audio. The title sequence is of course grainier and slightly faded, but those faults are baked into the opticals, and the boost in detail and colors are immediately evident following the director's credit. The Sicilian hillsides are lush, the quarry craggy, and blood boldly red against skin tones that are more healthily tanned than they are on the DVD (or the VHS-sourced unauthorized DVD of the Brenner cut from Substance). Extras consist solely of the film's alternate US opening credits (0:39) – which cites the cinematographer as "Corlo Carlini" and utilizes library music that is also heard on the menu screen – and the American trailer (0:33) from a poor video source. Bonus trailers include Umberto Lenzi's ALMOST HUMAN (under the title THE DEATH DEALER), Sergio Martino's THE VIOLENT PROFESSIONALS, Ferdinando Baldi's THE SICILIAN CONNECTION (not to be confused with Tonino Valerii's later crime film), and the American-made FAMILY HONOR. (Eric Cotenas)