Janine Hendy

Janine Hendy in Thor the Mighty

Janine Hendy in Thor the Mighty

Aka Jannin Hendy | Jeanine Hendy | Jenny Hendy

Janine Hendy was one of the more prominent black actresses to work in Italian cinema during the early 1960s. Maybe not a star – certainly not like Kerima, for instance, who was able to generate interest in the mainstream press – but certainly familiar to those with an interest in Italian B-Movies of the time. Perhaps her best known roles were in the two Taur films directed by Antonio Leonviola in 1963, Taur, il re della forza bruta and more particularly Thor and the Amazon Women, in which she played the antagonist to the titular hero Joe Robinson.

As with so many starlets of the time, surprisingly little is known about her. Some sources, however, indicate that she was an American, born in New York, who came to Italy in the early 1960s to pursue her interest in cinema. Acting, however, wasn’t her only passion; she was also fascinated with antiques and, in tandem with appearing in films, she also worked as a set designer, which might well have been what she was doing when she was ‘discovered’ by Giorgio Simonelli, who gave her a small part in his Walter Chiari vehicle I baccanali di Tiberio. Several other films followed in close succession: an actress called ‘Gloria Hendy’ appeared in Fellini’s La dolce vita, and the fact that this ‘Gloria Hendy’ also appeared in films for Giorgio Simonelli (Robin Hood and the Pirates) and Antonio Leonviola (Mole Men Against the Son of Hercules), two directors with whom Janine Hendy would later work regularly, it’s not too much of a stretch to assume that the two actresses are one and the same person.

In some of her early films (Messalina, The Mongols) she played a dancer, indicating that perhaps she also worked in the vibrant Roman nightclub scene. But by 1962 she was starting to get more prominent roles: she has a meaty supporting part in Simonelli’s spy comedy I due nemici before appearing in the Taur movies. Thor and the Amazon Women featured her most prominent role, playing the ‘Black Queen’ an evil tyrant who has a liking for female gladiators and an understandable fear of musclemen.

As soon as her career seemed to be taking off, though, it ended. In 1964 she founded Hendy, a Antiques company specialized in a wide range of artifacts, from sixteenth and seventeenth African Sculpture to Pop Art, which had a couple of shops in Rome and specialized in furnishing villas and sets for films. She did appear in two more films – Quarta parete (68) for Adriano Bolzoni and La pecora nera (68) for Luciano Salce – before returning to her business, which was becoming increasingly successful and still exists today.

1960
Giallo club. Invito al poliziesco (TV Series) - Un giorno prima (1960)
La dolce vita (Woman in Via Veneto) (uncredited)
Robin Hood and the Pirates (Saracen Woman) (as Jeanine Hendy)
Messalina (Dancer)
I baccanali di Tiberio

1961
Che femmina… e che dollari! (as Jannin Hendy)
Mole Men Against the Son of Hercules (Queen’s Handmaid Playing the Harp) (as Jannin Hendy)
The Mongols (Harem dancer) (uncredited)

1962
I tre nemici (Zazà) (as Jenny Hendy)
Passport for a Corpse (Jeanine)

1963
Thor and the Amazon Women (The Black Queen)
Taur, il re della forza bruta (Afer)
The Hours of Love (as Jannin Hendy)

1968
Quarta parete (Pilla) (as Jeanine Hendy)
La pecora nera (as Jannin Hendy)

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I ragazzi della Roma violenta

Ragazza di roma violenta

Ragazza di roma violenta

Director: Renato Savino
Story: Renato Savino
Screenplay: Renato Savino
Cast: Gino Milli, Cristina Businari, Emilio Lo Curcio, Sarah Crespi, Marco Zuanelli, Paola Corazzi, Enrico Tricarico, Vittorio Sgorlon, Francesco Pau, Mario Cutini, Gino Barzacchi, Alicia Bruzzo, Stefania D’Addario, Renzo Rinaldi, Adolfo Schauer, Annunziata Gregori
Photography: Aiace Parolin
Music: Enrico Simonetti
Editing: Roberto Colangeli
Production: G.N. Cinematografica
Visa number and date: 68155 del 25-03-1976

I know that I’ve said the phrase ‘it’s difficult to give a plot summary for this film because… there isn’t one’, or something of the like, many times before.  I must now confess, it’s not entirely true.  On some occasions this is because there is simply so much plot, all of which is unrelated and knitted together in such a fashion that there seems to be nothing cohesive about it whatsoever.  This would be true of most films by Demofilo Fidani, for instance.  At other times, it could well be that the whole thing is so astoundingly boring that I simply can’t be bothered to elaborate upon it – as with anything by Gianni Crea, Alfonso Brescia or Derek Jarman (sorry all Jarmanites out there).  Well, with I ragazzi della Roma violenta I am glad to report that, in this case, there really is no plot.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  I’ve wracked my brain and I simply can’t come up with anything whatsoever.

What there is are about 85 minutes of unhesitatingly sordid events running into one another, none of which have any consequence, repercussions or prelude.  They all revolve around the activities of one Marco, an ugly geek who looks something like Leo Sayer crossed with a hobgoblin (Leo Satan, perhaps?).  He heads up a gang of fuckwits who seem to believe that they are neo-nazis, although what they mostly do is cruise around raping women, beating up men and making pathetic attempts to carry out robberies (that inevitably fail because they’re such a bunch of troglodytes).  At one point it does look as though some kind of narrative is about to emerge – when a young girl commits suicide after becoming one of their victims – but this is promptly dropped in favour of allowing the degradation to carry on unhindered by such fripperies as character motivation.  The whole thing ends in a suitably bathetic fashion when Marco drives off a cliff for no apparent reason.

I guess that this ostensibly belongs to the same subgenre of crime films – spoilt youths in too-tight sweaters running wild – as Romolo Guerrieri’s Liberi, armati, pericolosi (76), Marino Girolami’s Roma, l’altra faccia della violenza (76, see review) and Sergio Grieco’s Violence for Kicks (77).  However, where it differs is that whereas these are primarily concerned with the activities of the police in attempting to capture the hideous adolescents, I ragazza doesn’t feature anything remotely resembling the law whatsoever.  There is never any hint that anyone is even after the anarchistic protagonists, and if they are there’s definitely no indication that they’re ever going to capture them.  The teenagers here are literally running wild, and what a sorry-complexioned and morally retarded bunch of reprobates they are.

Ragazza di roma violenta

Ragazza di roma violenta

It also has to be said that this is possibly the most extreme of its type that I have seen – and that’s saying something in the macho world of the Italian crime film.  It is, basically, a catalogue of brutality – especially against women – and it really does leave you feeling in desperate need of a shower.  This is heightened by the fact that there is absolutely no-one on the side of ‘good’, however warped that righteousness might be.  You’re left just hoping for a Maurizio Merli to stand out of the shadows and blow the little buggers away.

I’m truly at a loss to work out what director Renato Savino was hoping to achieve with this.  In some ways it could be argued that this is entirely honest in it’s obsession with ugliness, both ethical and aesthetic – a Salo of the genre.  Unfortunately, it’s more likely that it was an attempt to push the sleaze values as far as they could possibly go – and he certainly succeeds in that.  Unfortunately, it’s just not very good.  The porn film production values and complete absence of pacing leave you bored more than uneasy.  The uniformly dismal cast doesn’t help. Mario Cutini, who specialised in bottom of the drawer sleazefests such as Roberto Mauri’s The Porno Killers (80), is probably the best known performer involved.  Many will also remember chubby Marco Zuanelli as ‘Wobbles’ in Once Upon a Time in the West.

Fortunately, the best thing about I ragazza is that it’s complete obscurity means that you’ll probably never have to sit through it.  Thanks god for small mercies.

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Between God, the Devil and a Winchester

Between God The Devil And A Winchester

Between God The Devil And A Winchester

Aka Anche Nel West C’Era Una Volto Dio (Italy), Entre Dios Y El Diablo (Spain)
Italy/Spain
1968
Produced by Marino Girolami for Circus Film (Rome) and R.M (Madrid)
Director: Dario Silvestri [Marino Girolami]
Story: Liberally based on ‘Treasure Island’ by Robert Louis Stevenson
Screenplay: Marino Girolami, Amedeo Sollazzo, Tito Carpi, Manuel Martinez Remiz
Cinematography: Pablo Ripoll, Alberto Fusi {Technicolor, Techniscope}
Music: Carlo Savina
Editor: Antonio Jimeno
Art direction: Nicola Tamburro, Cruz Baletzena
Original running time: 96 minutes
Cast: Richard Harrison (Father Pat Jordan), Gilbert Roland (Juan Chasquisdo), Dominique Boschero (Marta), Folco Lulli (Colonel Bob Ford), Enio Girolami (Marco Serralbo), Roberto Camardiel (Pink), Humberto Sempere (Tommy), Raf Baldassarre (Batch), Rocco Lerro, Gonzalo Esquiros, Mirella Panfili, Jose Luis Lluch Uncredited: Luis Barboo (Zed)

Considering that Richard Harrison was one of the major stars of the Spaghetti Western, it’s pretty hard to believe how average most of the films he appeared in actually were. With the possible exception of Antonio Margheriti’s Vengeance and Leopoldo Savona’s El rojo, he cannot be said to have appeared in any particularly good – and definitely no particularly significant – genre entries. Taken in that context, Between God, the Devil and a Winchester not only has a fantastic title, but is also a pretty solid film. It does borrow heavily from it’s peers, admittedly, but is assembled in a capable and functional fashion – much as one would expect from a capable director such as Mario Girolami, whose credits span from 1949s La strada buia to L’insegnante di violoncello in 1986.

Deep Lake City is a pretty miserable place; the only people passing through are those either escaping into, or escaping out of, the desert (strangely, considering it’s arid location, it is also always raining). It’s not too strange, then, when a fat, uncommunicative fellow, Ford (Folco Lulli), turns up at the local tavern and demands a room. One of the customers, Chasquisdo (Gilbert Roland), is pointed out to him as the best scout in the area, but when asked refuses to take him to Santa Blanca (a notoriously desolate place) unless he’s paid in advance. Ford can’t do this, as he has no money; what he does have is a treasure map – but until that is transferred into gold it can’t be used to buy anything.

Unfortunately, a motley group of bandits led by Pedro Batch (Raf Baldassarre) are also after the treasure map, and it doesn’t take them too long to turn up on his trail. Whilst trying to escape from them Ford is accidentally killed, but not before passing the invaluable parchment on to Tommy (Humberto Sempere), the young nephew of the tavern-keeper. Tommy entrusts it to his saintly new friend, another stranger called Pat Jordan (Harrison), who reveals that Ford was an ex-confederate Colonel who had turned bad. After the cessation of hostilities he had stolen a chest of jewels from a mission, the hidden whereabouts of which is pinpointed by the map. When confronted with this information, Chasquisdo decides to revise his views and agrees – for a price – to guide them into the heart of the wilderness.

Gilbert Roland in Between God, the Devil and a Winchester

Gilbert Roland in Between God, the Devil and a Winchester

From the above synopsis, it’s easy to figure that this is another film with a post-war setting (see also Acquasanta Joe, Shango etc etc) which utilizes the central MacGuffin of a ‘search for a hidden treasure’. Of course, the grand-daddy of it’s type was Leone’s The Good, the Girl and the Ugly – and Girolami’s production remains entirely in that films thrall, despite even namedropping Robert Louis Stevenson’s timeless classic Treasure Island as a source. Similarly, it is much more concerned the multitudinous ways in which the disparate set of characters attempts to interact, betray and – inevitably – kill each other.

It also means that there are lots of scenes in which people wander around in glorious landscapes while nice music plays on the soundtrack, which is always a pleasure. As for the characters, Gilbert Roland’s Chasquisdo stands out. A wily old goat, he portrays himself as being ‘one of the people’, but is in fact far more intelligent than 99.9% of ‘the people’, and knows it only too well. His earthy superficialities hide a rather complex and melancholy individual. Unfortunately, his humanity is brought out Tommy the brat, who would bring most people out in hives. It’s not too far removed from Roland’s role in Enzo Castellari’s Go Kill and Come Back, another film in which he’s extremely effective. In Go Kill and Come Back, however, his main foil was played by George Hilton, who is a much more effective performer than Richard Harrison, who’s Pat Jordan remains an entirely bland concoction.

Overall, then, a slightly above average effort, which is thankfully free from the twin genre curses of bad humour and bad pacing. There’s also a hugely entertaining ‘tragic’ sequence in which the cook is shot whilst trying to save his favourite pot: “That pot was just sitting there…I’d made a real good dinner…bleurg…”

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Sandokan the Great

Umberto Lenzi's Sandokan the Great

Umberto Lenzi’s Sandokan the Great

Aka Sandokan, la tigre di Mompracem
Directed by Umberto Lenzi
Produced by Solly V. Bianco, Joseph Fryd
Written by Víctor Andrés Catena, Fulvio Gicca Palli, Umberto Lenzi, Emilio Salgari
Cinematography: Aurelio G. Larraya, Angelo Lotti, Giovanni Scarpellini
Edited by Jolanda Benvenuti, Antonietta Zita
Release date: 19 December 1963
Running time: 105 minutes
Italy
Cast: Steve Reeves (Sandokan), Geneviève Grad (Mary Ann), Andrea Bosic (Yanez), Rik Battaglia (Sambigliong), Mario Valdemarin (Tenente Ross), Leo Anchóriz (Lord Guillonk)

Emilio Salgari is a curious writer. Immensely popular in Italy, he’s little known in the English language world today, even though his boys own style adventure stories have proven hugely influential, not least to Sergio Leone, who was apparently inspired by Salgari’s pirate heroes when making his spaghetti westerns. One of the best known of these pirate heroes was Sandokan, the ‘Tiger of Malaysia’, a prince and rebel who fights against the Dutch and British empires that have annexed his homeland.

Umberto Lenzi’s Sandokan the Great wasn’t the first film adaptation of his work – these had gone back to the silent era – but it’s one of the best, a hugely enjoyable romp starring Steve Reeves – then at the pinnacle of his fame – as the protagonist and Andrea Bosic (an underrated Yugoslavian character actor) as his Portuguese friend Yanez. As well as all the expected derring-do, this also features a lengthy jungle sequence which anticipates Lenzi’s later, more notorious work such as Eaten Alive and Cannibal Ferox; the jungle, it seems, was something that he was fascinated with well before the vogue for cannibal gut munchers took off in the 70s. Perfect Sunday morning fodder, Sandokan the Great was successful enough to spawn one official sequel and several unofficial ones as well.

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Jim Dolen

Jim Dolen

Jim Dolen

Not many people know the name of Jim Dolen, even among the true aficionados of Italian cinema. And, admittedly, he was hardly the most important of figures to have made his career in the Italian film industry during La dolce vita period. He was, however, another of the numerous foreigners who made their living in the successful dubbing industry of the 1950s and 60s, and he also appeared as a character actor in over half a dozen movies between 1958 and 1963.

His first role came in Totò nella luna (58), in which he played one of a pair of secret agents (alongside fellow dubber Richard McNamara) who, due to a series of misunderstandings, becomes convinced that the idiotic Ugo Tognazzi is a natural born astronaut. There was another good role in Antonio Margheriti’s Battle ofthe Worlds (61), in which he played the experienced sidekick to space commander Bill Carter. These were followed up, though, by a series of small, uncredited parts: in the big budget Barabbas (61), one of those films which seems to feature 50% of the American actors in Rome at the time; as a priest in the early Mario Bava thriller The Evil Eye (63); and in Gidget Goes to Rome (63), which also featured other dubbers like Rodd Dana and John Stacy.

Jim Dolen in Battle of the Worlds

Jim Dolen in Battle of the Worlds

There were two further films in 1963. In The Fall of Rome (63) he was reunited with Margheriti for a mid range peplum also featuring Carl Möhner; and Margheriti called him back for his gothic horror / giallo film The Castle of Terror (64), in a decent role as an FBI agent.

As far as biographical information is concerned, little is known about Jim Dolen beyond the fact that he was born in 1918 and died in 1965. There is some indication that he was English rather than American, although this is unconfirmed at present.

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Siberian Education

Siberian Education

Siberian Education

Aka Educazione siberiana
2013
Original running time: 110 minutes
Italy
Based on the novel by Nicolai Lilin (ed. Einaudi)
Produced by Riccardo Tozzi, Marco Chiminez, Giovanni Stabilini for Cattleya and RAI Cinema
01 Distribution
Release date: 28-02-2013
Director: Gabriele Salvatores
Cast: Arnas Fedaravicius (Kolima), Vilius Tumalavicius (Gagarin), Eleanor Tomlinson (Xenja), Jonas Trukanas (Mel), Vitalij Porsnev (Vitalic), Peter Stormare (Ink), John Malkovich (Nonno),
Story: Nicolai Lilin (novel), Sandro Petraglia, Stefano Rulli
Screenplay: Stefano Rulli, Sandro Petraglia, Gabriele Salvatores
Cinematogrpahy: Italo Petriccione
Music: Mauro Pagani

Coming from Oscar winning director Gabriele Salvatores and with a script by Stefano Rulli and Sandro Petraglia (who were behind Romanzo criminale and My Brother is an Only Child among others), Siberian Education is something of a disappointment. Based on the autobiographical novel by Nicolai Lilin, it tells the story of a young boy, Kolyma, who grows up in the criminalized society of an encampment of Siberians who have been exiled to a misbegotten town specially created to house ‘antisocial elements’ in the arse end of Russia, alongside several other equally unwanted minority groups (Georgians, Jews, etc).

It’s a fascinating situation, and the story starts well, as Kolyma (an artistically minded kid) and his friends Gagarin (the trainee psycho), Mel (the fat one) and Vitalic (the one with glasses) are introduced to the Siberian way of life: thievery, disrespect for the Russian authorities, honour among their tribe, getting as many tattoos as possible. Their teacher for much of this is Grandfather Kuzya (John Malkovich, having fin with his most unlikely accent to date), ably assisted by Ink (Peter Stormare). But then the boys start growing up, and things become more complex.

So far so Romanzo criminale, and that’s great. But from this point things start to go a bit wrong. Kolyma befriends a childlike girl called Xenya (Eleanor Tomlinson), many characters spend time in one jail or another and the melodramatic content comes to the fore. It all ends up with a thoroughly underwhelming finale as Kolyma and Gagarin come to a climactic showdown in the Caucasus mountains.

John Malkovich and Peter Stormare in Siberian Education

John Malkovich and Peter Stormare in Siberian Education

There are some great moments in this, and the care with which Salvatores and his crew depict the Siberian home and lifestyle is admirable, but unfortunately the film is hidebound by its over complex structure. The flashbacks become rather intrusive and could have done with better management; and by being too weighted to events at the beginning of its character’s lives rather than leading up to the end. A bit more attention given to the falling out of the two protagonists and the events afterwards would have aided the pacing, and many important characters (Mel, Kuzya, Ink) are discarded towards the end. It starts well, in other words, but doesn’t quite develop into what it could have developed into.

Shot in Lithuania with a largely local cast, Salvatores also proves to be another director who’s not entirely at home filming in English as opposed to his native Italian. The rhythm of the dialogue is all wrong, and it plays like a film which has been not-particularly-well dubbed rather than one which was shot in English (in other words, it probably works better if you watch the dubbed Italian version with English subtitles, which isn’t the way it should work).

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Walter Brandi

Walter Brandi plays the hero in BLOODY PIT OF HORROR

Walter Brandi plays the hero in BLOODY PIT OF HORROR

Just who was Walter Brandi?  Well, to some people he’s best known as an Italian b-movie star of the early sixties, a solid if not particularly inspiring presence in numerous gothic horror films and historical adventures.  But in the Italian film industry he’s probably better known as the producer, often using the pseudonym Walter Bigari, who was behind numerous successful, low budget releases throughout the 1970s and 80s.  Zombie Creeping Flesh?  That’s one of his.  Scalps?  That one too.  Also Aenigma, Getting Even, Miami Cops and many, many others.  Most of these were solid video shelf fillers, some of them took off an were worldwide hits.  Just about all of them are of interest to cult film fanatics. His film career began with a couple of uncredited roles in big budget peplums, Carmine Gallone’s Messalina (51) and Mario Camerini’s Ulysses (54).  He appeared in another half dozen films throughout the 1950s, with the size of his roles gradually increasing.  More importantly, he made contacts: Sergio Bergonzelli was an uncredited actor on Messalina, Roberto Mauri the star of Retaggio di sangue (56), Erno Crisa and Amedeo Trilli, both of whom would work repeatedly with Brandi, were his co-stars in Due selvaggi in corte (59).

Walter Brandi in THE VAMPIRE AND THE BALLERINA

Mmmm, a large ham! Walter Brandi in THE VAMPIRE AND THE BALLERINA

By this time, he’d fallen in with a group of actors and directors who would often appear in each others films, almost like a cinematic workshop: Mauri, Luigi Batzella, Alfredo Rizzo, Giuseppe Vari, Renato Polselli.  In the early sixties, Brandi became their leading man of choice, despite – in all honesty – not really having the screen charisma to justify such a lofty position.  It’s not that he was a bad actor, he was passable if not particularly talented, but he’s often a somewhat heavy presence in these films, without much in the way of warmth of likability.  sometimes this works, sometimes not. Anyway, during the early part of the decade he made numerous films in varying genres.  He starred in a couple of early crime films, Mauri’s I mafiosi (59) and Edoardo Mulargia’s Le due legge (62), both of which co-starred Erno Crisa.  Le due legge is particularly interesting, a proto-spaghetti western filmed in Sicily with a largely unprofessional cast, in which he plays a vengeance crazed farmer out to track down and kill the man (Crisa) who killed his brother.

Walter Brandi in THE VAMPIRE AND THE BALLERINA

Walter Brandi in THE VAMPIRE AND THE BALLERINA

There were also numerous historical adventures.  Il segno del vendicatore (62) was a Zorro film in which he had a small supporting role, Flag of Death (63) an entertaining enough pirate movie in which he was the foil to star Richard Harrison, Zorikan the Barbarian (64) a Saracen movie starring Dan Vadis and Three Swords from Rome (64) an Ancient Roman adventure with Roger Browne and Mimmo Palmara.  All of these were directed by Roberto Mauri, a director who was expert in eking out decent product from limited budgets.  His films might not be masterpieces, but they’re more than serviceable, and he was certainly a more talented filmmaker than either Angelo Dorigo or Piero Regnoli, with whom Brandi made a couple more swashbucklers, La grande vallata (61) and The Hawk of the Caribbean (62). More often than not he was relegated to supporting roles in these films, giving center stage to more athletic performers such as Johnny Desmond, Harrison or Browne and playing villains of one type or another. Brandi is undoubtedly best known, however, for the performances he gave in the six horror films he made between 1960 and 1965, making him something of the Italian equivalent of a Christopher Lee… or maybe Anton Diffring… or maybe Mike Raven.  The first of them, The Vampire and the Ballerina (60) was directed by cult filmmaker Renato Polselli and established the template for many of the low budget horror films that were to follow: a group of sexy dancers and their slightly comic manager end up in an isolated village near an ornate but run down castle where they come across an ageing countess (Maria Luisa Ronaldo) and her dubious servant (Brandi), both of whom are vampires.  Needless to say, much blood-sucking and low-key eroticism ensues.  Polselli’s films were always made with limited means, but this is one of his best and looks pretty good for its restricted means.  But that didn’t prevent it from experiencing distribution problems and it wasn’t released until 1962.  In the meantime, Brandi starred in Piero Regnoli’s The Playgirls and the Vampire (60), which featured – stop me if you’ve heard this before – a group of sexy dancers and their slightly comic manager ending up in an isolated, ornate but run down castle, where they come across a strange Count (Brandi) who might or might not be a vampire.   Then there was another film for Roberto Mauri, The Slaughter of the Vampires (62), in which Brandi and Graziella Granata play a pair of newlyweds who fall under the spell of a sinister stranger (Dieter Eppler), who might or might not be a vampire and another Renato Polselli film The Vampire of the Opera (64), in which a group of sexy actresses end up in an ornate but run down theatre where they come across a strange aristocrat who’s definitely a vampire.

Walter Brandi in THE PLAYGIRLS AND THE VAMPIRE

Walter Brandi in THE PLAYGIRLS AND THE VAMPIRE

If all of these films seem similar, well… they are.  But Brandi’s final two horror films were slightly different.  Terror Creatures from Beyond the Grave is an extremely enjoyable slice of gothic horror from Massimo Pupillo, in which Brandi plays a lawyer paying a visit to a country village after being summoned to draw up a will for a doctor who lives there.  Only trouble is that the doctor’s been dead for a year, people are dying all over the place and apparently some ghosts of evil sorcerers are terrorizing everyone who is still alive.  He re-teamed with Pupillo for the Bloody Pit of Horror, which returned to more familiar lines by featuring a group of sexy models and their slightly comical manager who end up in an ornate and run down castle where they come across a reclusive actor (Mickey Hargitay) who might or might not be a crazed muscleman dressed in a Zorro mask and with a personalized torture chamber who is known as ‘the Crimson Executioner’.  Ok, so the plots pretty much the same as Brandi’s earlier film, but this is crazy stuff, hugely enjoyable, and Brandi wears a nice cardigan while playing the hero. There were two final films before Brandi gave up his acting career.  Island of the Lost Girls (69) saw him play the ‘secret’ head of a white slave ring in a late entry in the successful Kommissar X series of films starring Tony Kendall and Brad Harris and there was a small role in Bruno Mattei’s Private House of the SS (77).  But by this time he was concentrating his efforts behind the camera.  In fact, he’d been producing films since 1964, when he worked behind the scenes on Zorikan the Barbarian.  Before long, he was working on films he didn’t also star in, although many of them were directed by previous collaborators: A… come assassino (66) and Un colpo da re (67) for Angelo Dorigo; Eva, la Venere selvaggia (68), Wanted Sabata (70) for Roberto Mauri. It was in the 1980s that he became better known as a producer, partially because most of the makers of low budget, populist entertainment – people like Fortunato Misiano – had fled the industry.  Using the pseudonym Walter Bigari and often under his A.M. Trading International company, he was one of the few producers who was still prolific enough to become a familiar name, along with the likes of Joe D’Amato and Fabrizio De Angelis.

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