The Film (3/5)
A violent gang of juvenile delinquents lead by a man named Pierro (Joe Dallesandro), is terrorizing Rome. The gang robs, rapes, and causes massive problems throughout the whole city. But they keep getting away with it, because they know how to trick the system. But one Commissioner (Martin Balsam) is determined to stop them and bring them to justice.
SEASON FOR ASSASSINS (1975, or under the German title DIE WILDE MEUTE) is something like a greatest hits package for Italian Crime films (or Euro Crime films in general), but ultimately lacks the punch of some of the classics like HIGH CRIME, THE BIG RACKET, and ALMOST HUMAN. Directed with some style by Marcello Andrei (EYE OF THE NEEDLE), the movie never does anything above average to stand out. Most of the movie is centered around the juvenile gang and their misadventures, which is all graphic and cruel. But then it tries to make us sympathize with them by showing some of their at home troubles. The main conflict of having Martin Balsam’s character go after the gang is also rushed and never sticks together. Some of the melodrama does pan out well thanks to the groovy score by Alberto Verrechia.
The tone for the rest of the movie is an uneven patch of bleak violence and some insane car stunts. Humanity is viewed in the bleakest way with endless violence popping up anywhere. One subplot involves a troubled love affair between Pierro and a young woman. Soon after she is almost forced to have an abortion and in the movie’s, most unpleasant scene, she is brutally raped. While light on action, SEASON FOR ASSASSINS does have some mind-blowing car stunts that knock out any modern CGI. The opening flipped car being the highlight.
Joe Dallesandro (BLOOD FOR DRACULA) is fine in his role as Pierro during the nastier bits, but once he tries to “clean up” his act, he loses me. Most of the movie he has a bright blood shot eye and even when he is falling in love he looks menacing. Martin Balsam (PSYCHO, the 1974 version of TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE) is always nice to have in a movie, but sadly here he seems to be in auto pilot. Balsam’s character is barely in the movie, and his sudden reappearance during the climax is sloppy. SEASON FOR ASSASSINS isn’t a bad movie per say, but it’s one of the weaker films in the genre.
SEASON OF ASSASSINS comes with two major audio options on this Blu-ray and DVD combo set. The first track is the German DTS-HD Master Audio Mono. The track is a little hollow at times. I don’t speak the language, but it seems the audio just peaks out at points. The Italian DTS-HD Master Audio Mono sounds more natural and balanced. No hiss or pops. German and English Subtitles are included.
The 1080p HD transfer looks a little soft at times. Backgrounds and faces seem to be the worst. Still the Transfer is sharp with some detail shown in close-up. Black levels are well balanced, and the colors pop out of the screen.
The main extra is alternate version of the movie called MAD MEN. The film print isn’t restored, but still looks alright. This could be called the “Grindhouse cut”, because of all the film burns and grain issues. There’s also a vhs styled cut of the film called DIE WILDE MEUTE, which matches up with the restored version. As for trailers, we get the two German ones and the original Italian one. There’s also a short image gallery. The coolest option is watching either the original or the MAD MEN cut with a grindhouse trailer reel. The reel includes German trailers for MRS. STONE’S THING (1970/73, aka: HEISSE FINGERSPIELE), Shaw Brother’s BATTLE WIZARD (1977, aka DAS BLUT DER TOTEN PYTHON), ORDER TO KILL (1974, aka MORDER-ROULETTE), LONELY VIOLENT BEACH (1971, aka ROCKER STERBEN NICHT SO LEICHT), and MS.45 (1981, aka DIE FRAU MIT DER 45ER MANGNUM). Rounding out the set is a 32-page booklet of liner notes and a small sticker.
SEASON FOR ASSASSINS isn’t terrible, but it is uneven and poorly paced. If you’re a big Italian Crime fan, then it’s a safe bet to say it may be worth a viewing. Subkultur’s Blu-ray is a joy to watch and if you pick up the disc, Grindhouse Mode is the way to go. Recommended for Euro Crime fans.