Friday, August 17, 2012

There’s Always Room for Giallo! : Italian Spiderman

so awesome

This past weekend the Baltimore Metro Gallery’s Filmish Fantasmagorium struck once again with another insane masterpiece to rival the amazingness of last month’s The FP – Italian Spiderman.

Made by crazed Australians in 2007, Italian Spiderman presents itself as a “lost” Italian action movie from 1964. The titular character is a hilariously inaccurate Spiderman adaptation who behaves more like some kind of playboy millionaire secret agent. He is presented as a virile womanizer despite his constant smoking and greasy pudginess, and he makes constant use of his poorly defined superpowers such as teleportation, throwing smoke bombs that make Ducati motorcycles appear from nowhere, and mentally dominating chickens.

You may have noticed from that clip another awesome thing about Italian Spiderman: The masterful post processing job they did to capture that real 60s/70s exploitative Giallo feel. The “foreign movie from the 60s” conceit very smartly turns their low budget and poor production values into a strength, drawing attention to them and playing them for laughs. They take this even further with the subtitles (all dialogue is spoken in what I can only assume is terrible Italian), playing with them in various ways for comedic value (subtitling onomatopoeias like “UIA!!!” for example). They really embrace the Giallo setting, hilariously exaggerating the sexism and graphic violence that was prevalent in cheap Italian action movies of the time.

The plot is very simple - the evil Captain Maximum (a guy wearing a suit and a luchador mask) has kidnapped Italian Spiderman’s friend Professor Bernardi (“Excuse me, I was just doing some science!” he says during his first appearance) and is forcing him to extract a serum from a fallen asteroid that duplicates people so Maximum can make an army. See, simple! What this really boils down to is an excuse for Italian Spiderman to shoot a bunch of people, have a motorcycle chase, and throw his mustache at a man, causing that man’s head to somehow explode.

Alrugo Entertainment, the comedy filmmaking collective responsible for Italian Spiderman, very wisely kept the running time to a brisk 39 minutes which results in a very satisfying viewing experience. The film feels highly concentrated, with any given moment offering up a joke or an awesome action scene right up until the hard cutaway to a title card saying “DA CONTINUARE (TO BE CONTINUED)”.

Sadly, the saga of Italian Spiderman will not be continued, as Alrugo Entertainment dissolved as an organization in 2008. The good news is that some of the principal members got the band back together this year to create the equally brilliant 60s/World War II mashup web series DANGER 5, which is a thing that you should really be watching.

The next Filmic Fantasmagorium is at the Metro Gallery on September 23, where they will be showing the French animated film The Illusionist as well as a real life 60s Italian action movie- the Tarantino-inspiring spaghetti western Django. They have a great bar and free popcorn- it’s a pretty amazing way to watch a movie and I highly recommend it.

By the way, you can watch Italian Spiderman in its entirety on Vimeo here. You need to do that right now. 

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