Rampage of Evil (1961)

Rampage of Evil Poster 1 ResizeYou know what was on a rampage in this movie? Talking. And planning. And talking about planning. And talking about planning about what do with a bunch of mutinous Slavs.

Sure, you had your adrenaline-fueled moments of our hero going undercover as a goat shepherd (whose herd was made up of exactly one goat) where he fooled three drunken Slavs with a beard so fake that no one but a trio of Slavs who can’t hold their liquor would be fooled.

And when the Slavs stab our hero’s only goat for no apparent reason, we all held our breath to see if our hero could muster anything sufficiently resembling vague confusion at the wanton act of goat-cruelty so that his cover wasn’t blown.

Sadly though, such memorable scenes revolving around unfortunate farm animals were vastly outnumbered by Captain Hans whining to the evil count that all his underpaid thugs were on the verge of rioting unless they came up with a way to meet that month’s payroll.

The plot is a fairly simple affair that the film unsurprisingly takes forever to put into motion. Captain Hans’ despised Slav allies have lucked into capturing a Papal emissary who’s carrying letters of credentials which will allow him to pick up a large amount of treasure and transport it back to the Holy See.

You almost can’t help but feel sorry for Captain Hans during all this when he is forced to admit to his evil count buddy that he can’t read the letters! I say almost because how you can feel sorry for anyone who’s rockin’ a black leather vest with a butch beard and haircut like the deliciously surly Hans?

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Everything goes according to the dull plan (the count impersonates the emissary and has his men steal the treasure during transport), but there’s just one little loose end named Captain Brunello who’s going to make Captain Hans, the count, those treacherous Slavs and the audience sorry they were ever born!

Brunello is left for dead after the attack, but he recovers enough to go after the treasure and the captured emissary. But he’s not going to do it alone! For a mission this tedious, I mean, arduous, he’s going to need some back up! And this is the kind of back up that can only come from his oldest and most awesome friend!

I always love a good recruiting scene! The old timer or the guy who quit the business has to be hunted down and convinced to do one more job for God, country, and all the guys who got left behind!

Usually they’re found retired on their farm or doing some menial task in an effort to forget all the crap that haunts them from the old days. Sometimes you find them at the bottom of a whiskey bottle in some dive and every so often you have to make special arrangements to have them released from the brig to go on your mission!

Brunello’s old running buddy? He’s busy having his portrait painted!

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Look out Captain Hans! This is going to be a rampage of brushstrokes!

Lest any of you unsophisticated types out there equate going into retirement from being a kick ass swordsman and spending your golden years sitting for a portrait is some sort of sissy endeavor not worthy of a great action hero, remember what Charles Dickens said about it: “there are only two styles of portrait painting: the serious and the smirk.”

That describes the exact sort of brawny taciturn bad ass you want hunting down Captain Hans and his faithless Slavs! That Brunello’s pal told Brunello he’d have to wait a few hours so that the portrait could be finished up only confirms what a serious business this painting is!

The painting sequence isn’t just an excuse to pump up Brunello’s pal’s credibility as an expert fighter who has the good sense to immortalize his over-the-hill looks before all his teeth fall out though. It also provides that moment of sheer coincidence that these sorts of movies trade in so the plot can kick into gear for the last half of the film!

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While perusing the artists other paintings, Brunello recognizes the evil count and the artist tells him his name which allows Brunello to finally track him down, thus setting the scene for the completely routine finale of using a secret passage to enter the castle, getting caught, sentenced to death the next day, having his pal go undercover as a priest to rescue Brunello from the executioner’s axe, and battling Captain Hans to the death in a fairly lackadaisical sword fight. (The count is stabbed in the guts by a woman he earlier defiled in the movie’s lame and quite late effort to make the count truly despicable instead of just being a greedy dope.)

If all the emphasis on painting pictures, slashing goats, worrying about the loyalty of Slavs, and typically moronic plans to invade the castle single-handedly makes it sound like there was a decided lack of emphasis on traditional action scenes (i.e. scenes where people move more than just their lips) you are the observant perfectionist type that this movie wasn’t made for.

For the rest of us who like soothing Italian swashbuckling affairs that won’t aggravate our high blood pressure caused by sumptuously buff dudes in black leather vests who huff and puff angrily about, Rampage of Evil is the perfect balance of boring chatter, undistinguished story, and unattractive and nondescript characters.

© 2012 MonsterHunter

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