Code Red pairs the costumed action flick SUPER STOOGES VS. THE WONDER WOMEN with the sexy semi giallo AMUCK for this “Spaghetti Cinema” double feature, both films in presentations which outdo what previously available on DVD in the U.S.
Director Alfonso Brescia (better known under the easier-on-the-tongue moniker of “Al Bradley") was one of Italy’s masters of cinematic trash, dabbling in nearly every exploitable genre but probably best known for a series of sorry-ass plastic STAR WARS rip-offs made in the late 1970s. In 1973 he gave us BATTLE OF THE AMAZONS, a silly “sword and sandal” epic with enough doses of nudity, sex and blood to satiate audiences of the time and secure an “R” rating when released here by AIP. Soon after, Brescia did a sort of follow-up, which was known under as many alternate titles as Al Adamson’s HORROR OF THE BLOOD MONSTERS. AIP released this film here as well, with a name that you’d think would have made it a monster hit: SUPER STOOGES VS. THE WONDER WOMEN, but it went largely criticized or unnoticed, often playing on a double bill with Vincent Price in MADHOUSE.
After a rather violent opening which shows some Amazonian women competing against each other (and by compete I mean shooting deadly arrows at one another and wrestling over a bed of large knives), they set off to find a village god named Dharma to learn the secret of immortality through his sacred flame. The masked Dharma is actually a charlatan, and the part had been enacted by many men over the centuries to pacify the villagers. When the current Dharma is knocked off by the ruthless Amazons, the mask and cape are occupied by young Aru (Nick Jordan, aka Aldo Canti). Extremely athletic, Aru sets out to avenge his friend and stomp out the Amazons (who push around the poor villagers) with the help of two other able bodies; a brawny black man named Mug (former Harlem Globetrotter Marc Hannibal) and an Asian martial arts expert named Chang (Hua Yueh).
Produced by Ovidio G. Assonitis (BEYOND THE DOOR), SUPER STOOGES VS. THE WONDER WOMEN may be a misleading title if you’re expecting Moe, Larry and Curly Joe up against Linda Carter, but there is a great deal of slapstick and comic book violence that justifies a comparison to the tradition of the classic comedy team. As bad as you may have heard the film to be, the action hardly ever lets up with lots of fighting, pyrotechnics, and mini battle sequences. It’s also edited well, and with the help of being able to see it in widescreen, it looks more expensive than it really is (though many of the costumes and sets were most likely recycled). Aldo Canti was a busy stuntman for Cinecittà, and the producers even secured a genuine Shaw Brothers chop socky star in Hua Yueh, so this accounts for the proficient action sequences, which are no doubt enhanced by some off-screen trampolines. The Shaw Brothers also co-financed the film at a time when they were mounting productions with other countries (ala LEGEND OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN VAMPIRES will England’s Hammer Films).
With lots of beautiful Amazons in white cloth bikini tops and bottoms running about, Magda Konopka (SATANIK, WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH) is the evil leader, but looks unappealing in a curly black wig, and the English dubbing has her sounding like a loudmouthed Wilma Flintstone. Truly sexy is 1970s gorgeous Euro starlet Malisa Longo (RICCO) who plays the righteous love interest of Aru, and obviously she could hold her own in a wet t-shirt contest, as she goes for a swim with him (the water makes her white garb almost transparent). American actress Lynne Moody (SCREAM BLACULA SCREAM) plays the love interest of Mug, but she has very little screen time. Franco Micalizzi’s music score reinforces the film’s comedic nature, never allowing you to take it seriously (perhaps that’s the point of this oddball mix of peplum and costumed heroes) and almost sounds like something you’d hear in a Terence Hill/Bud Spencer western farce.
BCI previously released the film under its Rarescope banner, in a non-anamorphic source which looked like a fourth generation VHS. Code Red have now officially licensed it from Assonitis in a very attractive transfer with the onscreen international title “Amazons and Supermen”. Presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement, colors are quite nice, textures are smooth and detail is sharp. The overall transfer is very clean, though on occasion a slight jerkiness in the picture is detectable, likely due to a minor interlacing issue. The English mono audio is perfectly acceptable, but during the climax of the film, a brief exchange of dialog between characters switches to Italian (without a subtitle option), then going back to English.
Originally titled “Alla Ricerca del Piacere”, AMUCK concerns a beautiful young blonde woman named Greta (Barbara Bouchet, DON’T TORTURE A DUCKLING) who arrives in Italy to work as secretary for wealthy American writer, Richard Stewart (Farley Granger, STRANGERS ON A TRAIN) who lives in a secluded Venice mansion with his temptress wife Eleanora (Rosalba Neri, THE DEVIL’S WEDDING). The truth of the matter is, Greta has not only come to work as a secretary, but her main purpose is to investigate thr disappearance of Richard’s last assistant Sally (Patrizia Viotti, LOVE, PASSION AND PLEASURE) who happens to be her lover. During a kinky party, Richard screens an adult home movie version of Little Red Riding Hood (where she’s attacked by a rapist disguised as a wolf) and recognizes Sally in its final frames. During her stay, Greta is subjected to drugs and sex parties which sometimes involve a dim-witted brutish fisherman/handyman Rocco (Petar Martinovitch, the monster in LADY FRANKENSTEIN), nearly sinks into quicksand during a hunting excursion, and is easily seduced by both Eleanora and later Richard, whose latest pieces of writing strangely resembles actual deadly events happening in and around his home.
Hardly a giallo since the story centers around only one murder, AMUCK is still a mildly entertaining Euro thriller, and it doesn’t hurt that female leads Bouchet and Neri display a generous amount of nudity, even engaging in a slow motion lovemaking scene. The transfer here was taken from a print source, restoring the film’s original 2.35:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement. A previous unauthorized DVD released by a company called Eurovista some years ago used a full frame transfer culled from a video source, and although the print here (with the onscreen title MANIAC MANSION) runs shorter (84 minutes as opposed to 98 minutes), what’s missing is dialog and exposition, with all the meat and potatoes (meaning nudity) still present here. It’s nice to finally see this in its proper aspect ratio, with the print source being sharp and in decent enough shape, only showing any real roughness during reel changes. It’s likely the print had some serious fade and that some color correction was applied here, and it’s a respectable job with colors being stable overall if not robust. The mono English audio has some print-related scratchiness but is fine overall.
The U.S. trailer for AMUCK and an international trailer for SUPER STOOGES (as “Amazons and Supermen”) are included, and the disc opens up with a trailer for BROTHERHOOD OF DEATH. This “Spaghetti Cinema” double feature can be ordered directly from Code Red HERE. (George R. Reis)
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