Fast Money, Tromeo & Juliet, Albino Alligator, and Blood and Black Lace
AUGUST 4, 1997:
Fast MoneyD: Douglas Holloway (1981)
with Sammy Allred, Sonny Carl Davis, Marshall Ford, Doris Hargrave, Lou Perry.
During the recent weeks, as you've been perusing the endless ink dedicated to Sammy Allred of KVET-AM's Sammy and Bob Show, one question has no doubt been raging above all others: "But can he act?" Unfortunately, this film isn't likely to give you much of an answer. Despite his topping the list of credits (did someone think the Geezinslaws would make him a sure-fire national box-office draw?), Allred only appears onscreen for a total of about five minutes, and in his role as a laid-back drug-smuggling pilot, pretty much all he has to do is sit in a cockpit and be Sammy Allred. That's actually a good part of the charm of this so-called adventure flick, though Holloway has turned out a film that has more in common with Richard Linklater than Robert Rodriguez, with a natural sense of pacing and little overacting. From the start, it seems as if this film is a guaranteed turkey, shot on film so grainy you have to fight to keep the mice away from it, and Holloway doesn't try to pull off any El Mariachi-style miracles; instead, he works with the strengths of his low budget. Fast Money, the tale of a group of buddies who try to make it rich smuggling drugs in from Mexico only to find that fast money isn't necessarily easy money, concentrates on its three-dimensional characters, and doing so, shows Holloway has a sharp sense of the sociology of the doper (another similarity he shares with Linklater). The movie is low-key and genial and is more concerned with the fate of the drug-smuggling pals and their troubles than with car chases and violence. That's not to say there's no action, of course, but I'd have to call Fast Money an afternoon movie, one that makes a perfectly good diversion to pass an hour and a half in front of the tube with a Lone Star or a joint at hand. A pleasant surprise, to say the least. -- Ken Lieck
Blood and Black Lace
aka Six Women for the Assassin
D: Mario Bava (1964)
starring Cameron Mitchell, Eva Bartok.
By the mid-Sixties, the Italians were well on the way to defining the giallo, their hyper-violent version of Hitchcock-style murder mysteries. In this murder-Italian-style thriller, Cameron Mitchell and Eva Bartok run a fashion salon where models keep turning up dead. One of the models kept a diary of illicit love affairs, cocaine dealing, and other decadent happenings, and the murderer wants it real bad. Plot twists abound; in a Sixties Euro-mystery it's a safe bet that Cameron Mitchell is the killer, but here he's a mere red herring. Bava's artistic background shows through in his use of color, with whole scenes drenched in over-saturated washes of primary hues. The high-fashion setting complements his stylistic flourishes, many of which will be recognized by fans of shock director Dario Argento, who has cited Bava as an influence. The black-gloved masked killer also became an Argento staple, though the plot of Blood and Black Lace is much more linear, without Argento's wild, dreamlike leaps of logic and self-referential asides. There are two unfortunate problems that typify Sixties giallos: weak acting and stiff dialogue, but try to ignore those and concentrate on the visual style -- there's one surreal, beautiful scene where a model goes to a house to look for her boyfriend (and gets knocked off, of course). Shot on a two-story set (built open like a dollhouse), the camera roams and tracks the action through the whole house, with red and blue lights bathing the entire segment. This is a flawed but stylish thriller with far grislier scenes than anything Hollywood would touch in '64. (Vulcan Video has a good letterboxed, Japanese-subtitled print). -- Jerry Renshaw
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