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Movies From the Black Lagoon: Ricco: The Mean Machine
Movies From the Black Lagoon
Ricco: The Mean Machine - 1973, Unrated
An ex-con sets out to avenge his father's murder in this graphic Italian crime thriller that takes a little while to get started (roughly an hour and eighteen minutes).
Christopher Mitchum, second son of Robert, stars as Ricco. As the film opens he is just being released from jail, going there because he attempted to assault his gangster dad's murderer - Don Vito. Ricco gets out of jail a year earlier than expected due to good behavior (okay so he's not that a mean machine). He gets a ride home from two policemen who had intended to arrest him but are won over by his pleasant personality (actually he's sort of an agreeable machine). When Ricco gets home he's met by his sister and her husband who are so happy to see him that the three cavort on the ground while 70's la-la music plays in the background (alright he's a downright goofy machine).
Ricco's mom is also happy and immediately sets in on how Ricco can now get some revenge for the family as she whips out a pistol from under her shawl. It isn't long before Ricco's having flashbacks about his father. As it turns out, Pop was a soap factory owner/gangster who was always trying to toughen up Ricco by sending warehouse goons around to rough him up. Ricco managed to defend himself with some awkward kung-fu moves but it's not the kind of flashback, which endears any of the characters to you.
Ricco decides to strike back in his own fashion and enlists the aid of a female grifter, played by Italian super model Barbara Bouchet, to help him steal money from Don Vito's enforcers. Apparently, the plan is to just annoy the guy but it goes awry when Vito figures out who he is up against. He gets old school on our hero and wipes out his family, which finally energizes Ricco into coming after him.
The final showdown is fast, gritty, and violent with bullets flying like may bugs as just about everyone goes down in a hail of gunfire.
This one works because there are just enough thrills injected into the proceedings to keep any Sam Peckinpah fan glued to their couch. First, you get some wild gun fights that give the effects guys a chance to squib just about every body part as characters are shot in their heads, torsos, and even posteriors. This one also features the most brutal on screen castration sequence ever committed to celluloid (it even out-grosses a similar bit from Bob Guccione's "Caligula"). There's also a little something here for 70's purists who will marvel at the fashion disasters on display here that includes Ricco, who likes to rock a tangerine turtleneck and visit discos where the locals dance like they've been injected with industrial strength ex-lax. Old Hollywood fans will also appreciate this for the return of the Mitchum dynasty as well as a solid turn by silver screen veteran Arthur Kennedy, as the sadistic Don Vito who uses his soap factory to melt down his rivals into fragrant bars of product. Good fun for gore hounds but if you're a stickler for little things like dramatic tension and classy production values then you are advised to seek your brand of thrills elsewhere.
Best Line: "Don't you know by now that I can't stand soap or men who sweat."
Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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