Saturday, 17 January 2009

Una Donna per sette bastardi / The Sewer Rats

With both the One Woman for Seven Bastards and Sewer Rats titles proving apposite, this is one nasty little film from first - a sequence including a POV shot from the perspective of a man being buried alive - to last.

Based on a story by star Richard Harrison, it plays a bit like a contemporary riff on Greed, crossed with A Fistful of Dollars - the film which Harrison turned down, to the eternal detriment of his career, which I suspect The Sewer Rats can't exactly have done much for either - and elements of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, Cut Throats Nine, Django Kill and McCabe and Mrs Miller.

Indeed, were it not for the fact that Harrison's mysterious crutch-using stranger arrives in the no-horse town after his car breaks down on the road or that there's J&B whisky in the bar, the film could easily be taken for a western filmed on some extremely run-down Spanish or Italian set.

Even the J&B bottle looks beaten up

Pleasantville it is not, with the nameless place perhaps resembling nothing so much as Hammett's Poisonville instead in the effect it has on all the existing inhabitants, each of whom has their own story and secrets, and the newcomer whose arrival threatens the already precarious dynamics between them.

Antonio Casale plays Carl, the jealous husband who owns the tavern and forms the only point of contact with the outside world, making regular 300km trips in his pick-up to stock up on J&B, beer and other necessities. He's also, in possible reference to The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, in possession of a stolen strongbox.

Casale, disreputable looking as ever

Gordon Mitchell plays Gordon, an ex-military man wanted for desertion or other offences, whilst Luciano Rossi plays a harmonica playing mute with a penchant for spying on Carl's wife, Rita.

Rita in defiant mood

She, meanwhile, is incarnated by the beautiful Dagmar Lassander in full-on tramp mode, taking great pleasure in turning on the men, in both senses of that term, whilst fully enjoying her effects upon them and pursuing her own agenda.

The film is replete with the kind of scenarios that implicate the viewer in whatever dubious pleasure he takes from them

Even without the scuzziness of the Danish-subtitled VHS sourced presentation under review, this is the kind of film that leaves you wanting to take a shower afterwards. As such, Roberto Bianchi Montero, the director of The Slasher is a Sex Maniac, is perfect for it. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the music, which adds neither atmosphere nor tension.


Nigel M said...

as always keith, you introduce me to new stuff- I know we are taking a similar journey through films but the stuff you write has shown me loads.

Again, though I have a quick question- genre wise where does this fit? and you mention scuzziness, is that buio omega type scuzziness? and would the two work together as a double bill?

you certainl wetted the appitite here but just curious mate.

K H Brown said...

I wouldn't say it's Buio Omega scuzzy/sleazy, though it a low budget production where the dominant colour is a drab brown and everyone looks as though they could do with having a bath. It could work with Buio Omega, though I'd say Cut Throats Nine might be a better choice.

Genre wise, it's primarily a drama, I guess, with intermittent moments of action. Besides the spaghetti westerns I mentioned, another reference point might be L'ULtima chance.

Hope this helps

Anonymous said...

Don`t know if you`ve seen it or not, but I`d say BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK was a huge influence on this film. The protagonist of each is physically challenged in some way, the small, unwelcoming town hides a dark secret...No doubt SEWER RATS takes the sleaze potential and runs with it but the similarities are pretty striking. Good stuff here as usual.


K H Brown said...

I had thought of Bad Day at Black Rock, especially with Harrison's character being better in a fight than you'd expect him to be, much like Spencer Tracey's character in Bad Day. But it's been so long since I've seen Bad Day that I couldn't remember how ambiguous Tracey's character was before his mission / motivation is revealed.