Vallanzasca Gang, The / La banda Vallanzasca (1977)

4.0 out of 5

An extended prison opening is suitably grim and gritty and, while extremely violent, the film forgoes the genre familiar car chases but instead concentrates on shootouts, betrayals and the framing of countless shots of strategically placed bottles of J and B.

This film, which features an excellent shootout finale on an abandoned Spaghetti Western set, will no doubt have an appeal for those who enjoy titles such as Weapons of Death or Violent Naples or even one of the many contributions to the kidnap crime film subgenre such as La orca.

The lead and kidnap victim, Stefania D'Amario, will be familiar to fans of Lucio Fulci's Zombi 2 but La banda Vallanzasca also features a gutsy performance from Hell of the Living Dead S.W.A.T team member Franco Garofalo as a sleazy sex pest of a captor.

Loosely based on the story of Vallanzasca the film does take enough artistic license as to suggest that maybe another title would perhaps be more appropriate. Nevertheless the movie does, as is clear from the downbeat conclusion and subsequent monologue, attempt to address the political climate of the day by drawing parallels between the situation in Italy and the eve of the Uruguay coup d'├ętat of 1973.

Possibly the greatest crime is that such a gritty and yet enjoyable kidnap themed crime thriller such as this one, from Mario Bianch, is too frequently overlooked.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics