Tuesday, 16 October 2012

A Violent Professional by Kier-La Janisse

The definitive book on the films of Italian screen icon Luciano Rossi.  And yes "icon" is definitely pushing it.  He's more like the Kurtwood Smith of Spaghetti Westerns; the JT Walsh of Poliziotteschi; or the Harry Dean Stanton of Giallo.  Him out of thingy, except in crazy Italian genre films.

In fact, Rossi's so unknown the author can't even find out if he's alive at first.  No-one in the industry seems to know what happens to him.  When she finally does track him down to the town he grew up in, it turns out he died a few months earlier.  His last known movie is 1987's Long Live the Lady, and the author can't even tell which one is Rossi.  Sad, but also surprising, considering his unusual appearance.  Blond, progressively hunchbacked and generally creepy.  But he's not without his admirers, not least Janisse herself, who awards each of his movies stars for how good he is in them, and hearts for how cute he looks.

So, this is a love letter to a small time actor in cheap Italian b-movies - how cool and romantic is that?  And it's beautifully put together, with tonnes of amazing stills and posters.  It's also a revealing look at the film industry there in the 60s, 70s and 80s.  From sword and sandals to spy thrillers; from westerns to horror films and from crime movies to Nazi films (some genres were more peculiar to Italy than others.)  Janisse has a love of this kind of trash, as do I, and her movie reviews are always interesting and funny.  And it's given me a long list of movies I really want to see.

Just a short review this, so I'll end with some of my favourite movie titles of Rossi's films:  Get the Coffin Ready; Run, Man, Run; Django the Bastard; Five into Hell; Heads I Kill....Tails You're Dead; Death Walks in High Heels (giallo); So Naked, So Dead (well done if you guessed giallo again); Free Hand for a Tough Cop; SS Experiment Camp (nazi movie); Red Nights of the Gestapo (yes! Also nazi.)

Good luck getting any of those on Blu Ray.  And thanks to the Frightfest people for giving this book out free last year - much better than a free book about a forgotten actor in a lot of probably godawful foreign movies has any right to be.


McK said...

I really liked this book. Made me want to watch a bunch of Italo-Trash. It was better than the free movies we got.

Joe said...

Yes, thanks for the recommendation. A lot better than the movies. Manson Girl was enough to put me off the old piggy killer completely (only joking Charlie - I still love you.)

The books at Frightfest this year were a bit disappointing. Bryce said the first half of the werewolf book was good. But really - who's going to get excited for James Herbert's Lair?