RICCO THE MEAN MACHINE
Reviewed by: JimmyO
What's it about
After being released from jail, Ricco comes home to find a sister wanting him to stay out of crime, and a mother wanting revenge for their murdered father. It takes a whole lot of boobs, guns and an acid bath to get Ricco searching for bloody vengeance. But once he does, he is one mean machine.
Is it good movie?
Ricco The Mean Machine is a rough and tumble little nasty from Italy’s early Seventies film culture. It boasts an exciting cast with two absolutely drop dead gorgeous femme fatales (Barbara Bouchet and Malisa Longo) who reveal most of their assets. And it also boasts Christopher Mitchum who is the son Robert Mitchum who was a major star back in the day if you are unaware (he‘s also a damn fine actor). Chris was a pretty big star himself in Italy at the time thanks to Summertime Killer). His long blonde hair and very slim frame make for an odd action hero. And he is surrounded by some nasty tough guys like Arthur Kennedy who really look like they could kick this scrawny kids ass. But thanks to some less than excellent fight choreography, Ricco does a little kung fu fighting when he needs.
This is a simple revenge saga that is tweaked just a tad. This poor kid Ricco, just gets out of jail for a couple of years, and finds his mom telling him he must avenge his fathers death. And the dude who most likely killed pops is a bad ass with an even badder mustache named Don Avito. Avito is one mean muther, if you piss him off, he’ll throw you in a vat of acid used to make soap. It makes you wonder what is in that stuff you shower with eh? And in one scene that had been cut in most prints of the film, there is a nasty castration with a switchblade knife. The camera lingers on this dudes penis and balls being cut off and shoved in his mouth. And then, off to the acid bath. Although it sounds really gruesome, it really doesn’t look all that shocking now considering how far we’ve come in terms of special effects. It’s still damn effective. Less than effective are the actual fight sequences. You can barely see the punch hit but you do see the fists flying and feet kicking everywhere.
Still, Ricco The Mean Machine (at one time it was released as Cauldron of Death!) is an entertaining little exploitation revenge picture. The women are sexy as hell and drop their tops as often as possible. Ms. Bouchet even gives us a lovely strip tease that will likely entertain any red-blooded American man, or any other man for that matter. And when the gore comes, it is gruesome enough, considering this was 1973. Even Chris Mitchum has a unique charm to him. I wouldn’t say that this is a good performance, it’s just the fact that he is such an strange anti-hero, that it makes you wonder what would happen if studios would be more creative with their casting choices. Hey, it worked for Elijah Wood in Sin City… he was creepy in that.
Video / Audio
Video: While not the best possible quality, this 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen transfer is good enough and certainly better than those other choice… watching the edited version on a grainy VHS tape.
Audio: Not a whole lot to be said in regards to the Dolby Digital and 2.0 Mono. The bad English dubbing for most of the actors has better audio than what we’ve had in the past though.
Come on baby… we could have had more extras than this. All we get is Mitchum the Mean Machine: Featurette with Christopher Mitchum (18:00) and he is a blast to listen to. He is much more animated here than he is as Ricco. He tells a story about being blacklisted while working with John Wayne because of The Duke’s support of the soldiers in Vietnam. He also talks about his film career and of course, the castration shot. OUCH! But this is a solid little interview.
Other than that we get the Trailer for the film. It’s too bad because this is as much a part of cinema history as anything else. It just would have been nice to see this disc get a little more love.
This is the kind of cinema that was vilified during it’s initial release. By today’s standards, it’s relatively tame… and I did say relatively. There are a ton of T’s and a few A’s plus a nasty cut off wanker. It is exploitation and pure cinematic fun. Christopher Mitchum is an odd choice for the mean machine but he is kind of likable as the man with few expressions and the scrawny physique. And it’s all done with that classic b-movie’s of the Seventies charm with a ton of zooming in and out and free love feeling. If you like movies of this ilk, this will certainly be a worthy addition to your DVD collection.