A Mafioso member is gunned down in a nightclub with some pretty formidable Spencer Davis Group / Doors psychedelia going on. So far so good. A bit of rage, a bit of death = Death Rage. As Homer Simpson says, “I’m a rageaholic, I cannot live without rageahol.” A little rage is good. This rage, not so much.
Flash forward to a Neapolitan racetrack in which a 25-1 long-shot comes through. Unfortunately for the winner (another Mafioso type), he’s gunned down in a hail of lead before he can collect his big payout.
And a competing mob group wants revenge!
So here we are.
Not just in genre movie territory but in Anthony M. Dawson / Antonio Margheriti land, he of the spectacular Yor: Hunter from the Future (please see our podcast) and Andy Warhol’s Dracula/Frankenstein. We’re also in “Poliziotteschi” territory, a subgenre of crime and action films that emerged there in the late 1960s and reached the height of their popularity in the 1970s. It is more popularly known as Euro Crime. (See the excellent doc, Eurocrime! The Italian Cop and Gangster Films That Ruled the ’70s, featuring the likes of John Saxon, etc for more on that genre.)
In Death Rage there are fedoras, cigarettes, raincoats, menacing stares, fixed races (a low-level crook is in the business of shooting favorites with an air-gun), sleazy nightclubs, nudity, and great locales. There’s also a nifty chase through the Naples subway. Unfortunately, that’s about it. Pretty stilted stuff.
Anyway, the aggrieved mafia parties enlist the services of Peter Marciani (played by the legendary Yul Brynner, barely exerting any effort being this unnecessarily charismatic — must be nice) who’s left the criminal underworld and living a life of peaceful existence, fishing under the Brooklyn Bridge (!). Perhaps he figures he’s cheated death so much, he’s not worried about courting it by eating whatever comes out of the East River.
They want to get even with one Gennaro Gallo, who’s responsible for the assassinations above.
Leonard Maltin uncharitably said “all this film kills is time,” but there’s a saving grace: lots and lots of Barbara Bouchet (Moneypenny in Casino Royale).
** (out of 5)