Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Raro Video - IGUANA and STUNT SQUAD on Blu-ray ""

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Raro Video - IGUANA and STUNT SQUAD on Blu-ray

IGUANA (1988; Monte Hellman)
Monte Hellman is a fella that I count among my favorite filmmakers. Between TWO-LANE BLACKTOP (one of my favorite films) and his westerns, he has really put some interesting cinema out into the world. IGUANA was one of his films I'd never gotten around to seeing. Always meant to and I even acquired the old Anchor Bay DVD (twice!). It was not a movie I ever expected to see on Blu-ray though. Hats off to Raro for continuing their tradition of putting out odd and interesting films and for having the wherewithal to make it a nice special edition with extras. One thing I will say for the decline of physical media is that it seems to be allowing for more marginalized movies to get snapped up and put out on Blu-ray and this is a glorious thing.
My associations with Everett McGill begin with the 80s classic Stephen King adaptation SILVER BULLET. He freaked me right out when I saw him in that as a youngster. Something about his eyes and the shape if his face were menacing in the way I'd only ever seen Jack Palance be on ocassion. In fact, McGill slightly resembles Palance in some strange way. IGUANA's multi continental cast also includes Fabio Testi (looking a hell of a lot like Sean Connery here) and Michael Madsen. The story of IGUANA seems like something of fairy tale, but more in the vein of Cocteau than Disney (by Hellman's own admission). It is a dark tale of a quite unsympathetic but still slightly compelling monster (played quite well by McGill) and those that get caught up in his makeshift kingdom.
Monte Hellman is credited as editor on the film and I was quite intrigued by many of the choices he made. There are many somewhat abrupt ending to scenes or just general crosscutting that is as first a bit disorienting, but ultimately help give the film an extra added layer of unease.

Special Features:
This Blu-ray features a new 20-minute interview with director Monte Hellman conducted by Elric Kane (Inside Horror, Killer POV Podcast). It's more of a free flowing conversation between Hellman and Kane and it's an enjoyable one. Hellman apparently had a pretty horrible experience making this film, but he is nonetheless quite engaging and intelligent as he speaks about the production and his process dealing with the myriad problems and pitfalls he ran into throughout. 

STUNT SQUAD (1977; Domenico Paolella)
From Kino's Website:
"Shopkeepers have been terrorized by a protection racket in Bologna, and the racketeers have found sneaky ways of planting explosives in the businesses of those who won't pay. Police Inspector Grifi (Marcel Bozzuffi, THE FRENCH CONNECTION) tries to get information from witnesses and criminal informants, but they're all brutally murdered before he makes any headway. Grifi has no choice but to form a special squad -- one not bound by the red tape that restricts other cops -- who chase the racketeers with their daredevil stunt driving and fight them with their precision gunplay. Co-written by Dardano Sacchetti (DEMONS, THE BEYOND), STUNT SQUAD will satisfy viewers, whether they want thoughtful, provocative storytelling or crazy action sequences."You gotta love the fact that Eurocrime films basically have no concept of taboo to their portrayals. Case in point - STUNT SQUAD (aka ELIMINATION FORCE) opens with a telephone bombing of a small shop which kills among other people, an old lady. It's almost an automatic in a film like this wherein you see a character to which your immediate response is , "Oh they wouldn't kill HER", and that is a character that you can be sure is certainly toast. STUNT SQUAD is an alright/functional as far as Italian crime films go. I must admit to being not completely won over by the genre at this point. I was impressed and entertained early on with my experiences with several films by Fernando di Leo and I must admit to having been chasing that high ever since. There have been a few isolated gems I've come across in my travels, but mostly they've impressed me as average films with a few isolated crazy moments or action scenes. STUNT SQUAD suffers from a title that carries some expectations with it if you are a goof like me and expects an Italian film to deliver on its title. The music was interesting (as composed by Stevlio Cipriani). Cipriani would also do TENTACLES the same year, followed by CONCORDE AIPORT '79 and PIRAHNA II: THE SPAWNING in quick succession. 
Bottom line for this one is that it may be just the ticket for Italian crime completists, but left me wanting a little.

Special Features:
Raro's STUNT SQUAD Blu-ray features an excellent little 6 minute introduction from Mike Malloy (the gent behind the EUROCRIME documentary and a general all-around movie genius). He really puts the film into context here and speaks to some of the techniques that filmmakers and producers of this era in Italy would employ to make their films more accessible. A lot of it has to do with casting certain actors that look like certain other actors, but Mike sums it up quite well.
Mike also has an essay in the booklet which comes with the disc which is great as well.

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