Saturday, August 18, 2012

El Professore Movie: Massacre Mafia Style (aka The Executioner) (aka Like Father, Like Son)

An amazing, no budget legend of a film that became a huge Grindhouse theater favorite in the '70s and a video fave in the '80s.

Director: Duke Mitchell
Starring: Duke Mitchell, Vic Ceasar, Lorenzo Dodo
* * * *
This was the labor of love of one Duke Mitchell (real name, Dominic Miceli). Duke was initially a popular lounge singer in the '50s (where he was known as Mr. Palm Springs). He was also part of a Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis imitation act with Sammy Petrillo (Duke played Dean). In 1952, they appeared together in the notorious comedy, 'Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla'. That film probably deserves it's own blog entry... or maybe not.

Full review after the jump.

The team of Mitchell and Petrillo eventually broke up. Duke continued his gigging as a popular nightclub act, but ultimately wanted to make movies. In 1978 (though some say it was actually lensed several years earlier) he got the chance by writing, directing and starring in his gangster opus, 'Massacre Mafia Style'.

In it, Duke plays Mimi, the son of a first generation don who was deported back to Sicily. Now in his 50s (ish), Mimi returns to California to restart the 'family business'. Teaming with a childhood friend, our industrious duo set about causing all manner of gory mayhem (which includes offing all of their rivals, harassing and then some the local black pimp, and briefly considering entring the porn biz. All this really ends up doing is enraging the local crime bosses who are trying to run a nice quiet business...

Often seen as being influenced by 'The Godfather', this film's true inspiration seems to be 'Mean Streets' in it's depiction of it's ugly, small time underworld. Nowadays, it actually plays like a no budget variation of 'Goodfellas'... as directed by Ed Wood. Indeed, 'Massacre Mafia Style' is in many ways the 'Plan 9 From Outer Space' of 70s gangster/action pics. Indeed, the dialogue by Duke is easily as circular and just plain strange as anything in Ed's repertoire. Case in point, when a severed finger is sent by Mimi to the local bosses during a kidnap scheme, one of the bosses exclaim's, "That's his finger alright, I've seen it on him a million times!". Duke goes on from there to conduct some looong sermen/diatribes (including the plight of the Italian woman) that though obviously coming from the heart, leaves one scratching his head (in much the same way as the 'Solaranite' explanation in 'Plan 9"). This combined with some of the grungiest, goriest, yet most head shakingly awkward action scenes ever seen (including the crucifixion of the black pimp which is sure to send one's jaw dropping to the floor) as well as some patented Duke Mitchell crooning (often played over the action) and you have 79 minutes of of Grindhouse goodness that you will not soon forget and will be tempted to revisit sooner rather than later.

Here's the amazing trailer which is actually an edited version of the opening scene, believe it or not:

As a footnote, one of Duke's gigs was as providing the singing voice of Fred Flintstone. Here he is as 'Hi - Fye', killing it as only Mr. Mitchell can:

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