vrijdag 20 mei 2016



2013 - Director: David Twohy - Cast: Vin Diesel (Riddick), Matthew Nable (Johns), Jordi Mollà (Santana), Katee Sackoff (Dahl), Dave Bautista (Diaz), Bokeem Woodbine (Moss), Raoul Trujillo (Lockspur), Conrad Pla (Vargas)

It doesn’t happen very often that a sequel is superior to the original. We all know the exceptions (The Godfather II, The Road Warrior, Return of Ringo, a few more). I would like to add Riddick to the list, the third installment in the Riddick saga, featuring Vin Diesel as the titular hero. It’s by no means a perfect movie (it’s derivative and too much of everything) but it’s a helluva ride through a hell that is No Fury.

Riddick emerges from what looks like a natural grave on a desolate planet; he’s approached by a vulture-like creature that seems to take him for a happy meal, but the next moment the roles are reversed when Riddick grabs the scavenger by the throat. Ugh. We never learn the name of the planet, are only told - by Riddick himself - that it’s not his home planet, Furya. It’s a barren world, populated by carnivorous creatures - hyena-like dogs, scorpion-like swamp monsters - that are all hungry. Riddick is still one of the most wanted men in the universe, so he lures two teams of bounty killers ('mercs') to the planet in the hope to steal one of their space ships. He starts stalking both groups, eliminating them one by one, but is eventually forced to cooperate with the remaining members (those not yet killed) in order to fight off a new load of beasts.

Riddick feels very much like three movies for the price of one; most critics thought the first half hour - Riddick fighting the hyena’s and scorpions - was the best, but I thought the second part - Riddick stalking the bounty hunters - was equally good. In this second part Riddick becomes a creature in the dark, invisible most of the time, but a constant threat to those who have come looking for him. It’s a daring approach, turning Riddick into a supporting actor in his own movie, but it works thanks to contrast between the two bounty hunters, the buoyant Santana and the stoic Johns, and the presence of Johns’s second-in-command, female warrior Dahl (always good to have a woman around in those male chauvenist action movies).

The weakest link is, obviously, the third and final act, Riddick joining forces with the remaining mercs (short for mercenaries). It picks up the central idea of the first movie, Pitch Black, but it feels more like Jurassic Riddick, with velociraptor-like creatures attacking the stronghold in which Riddick and the mercs have taken shelter. Moreover director/screenwriter Twohy fails to come up with a satisfying conclusion. The Director’s Cut is about 8 minutes longer than the theatrical version (and a bit more revealing about how and why Riddick crash-landed on this remote planet and what happened to other key characters of the series, such as Vaako), but it all remains a bit inconclusive.

As said this is a derivative movie. There are shades from Predator, Aliens, Jurassic Park and - of course - the Mad Max saga (more and more Riddick is becoming the Milky Way warrior). Film buffs will also spot influences from classic movies as various as Howard Hawks Rio Bravo and David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia; the opening scene - the hand grabbing the vulture’s neck - was taken from one of Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan novels. But it doesn’t hurt the movie. Vin Diesel, who co-produced, seems to be at ease in this fancy world of matte paintings and fantasy creatures. His Riddick has become a character of flesh & blood, almost human, who domesticates one of the hyena-like predators and is really pissed-off when his companion is killed by one of the bounty killers. 

donderdag 5 mei 2016

Passi di Danza su una Lama di Rasoio


1973 - Dir: Maurizio Pradeaux - Robert Hoffmann (Alberto Morosini), Nieves Navarro (Kitty), George Martin (Inspector Merughi), Anuska Borova (Lidia Arrighi/ Silvia Arrighi), Simón Andreu (Marco), Sal  Borgese (Asdrubale Magno), Luciano Rossi (Richard) - Music: Roberto Pregadio

Oh, Italian genre movies and their titles. The original Italian title, Passi di Danza su una Lama di Rasoio, reads as Dance Steps on a Razor Blade. And what to think of the German title, Die Nacht der Rollenden Köpfe (that is: The Night of the Rolling Heads)? In comparison, the title of the international, English language version almost feels insipid : Death Carries a Cane. But note that Death once rode a horse in a spaghetti western. From horse to cane is big step for mankind, but a small step for Mr. Death.

A black-clad serial killer is terrorizing the city of Rome, slicing the throats of his victims with a razor blade. A young woman called Kitty accidently witnesses one of the murders through a telescope; she only catches a glimpse of the killer’s black gloves and black hat and is therefore not able to identify him. Police inspector Merughi has only one clue: the maniac is carrying a cane, so he must be a cripple ... Suspicions fasten on Kitty’s husband, Alberto, a professional photographer with a preference for the macabre. Alberto is limping because he recently sprained his ankle ... Did Alberto or didn’t he?

Passi etc. has an international (but predominantly Spanish) cast and most actors neither look nor behave Italian (and a pimped-up Martin looks more like a gangster than a police captain!), but the director and composer are Italian and with the Roman settings, black gloves and sharp blades the movie has all the visual and atmospheric characteristics of a genuine giallo. The mystery plot and the motivation of the killer might be a bit too typical, but these movies are more about style than about plot, and in sense of style, director Pradeaux does score a few points. The finale is particularly strong, with Navorro being trapped inside a glass house, the killer stalking her, the beams of his flashlight piercing the night like sharp knives.

The movie offers the ususual doses of nudity and blood, but some stock material was inserted to make the graphic killings look more convincing, but the effect is counterproductive; with their different color pattern and definition, the insertions give the slasher scenes an untidy, occasionally cheap look. Both Navarro and the virtually unknown Borova* - in dual role - are gorgeous, so I have no complaints about the nudity.


* According to IMDB this was her only movie appearance