“Eurocrime!”: Mike Malloy’s 70s-era Italian “poliziotteschi” cinematic movement doc gets a VHS release

By on June 18, 2016

Tough-guy film expert Mike Malloy’s feature-length cinema documentary Eurocrime!: The Italian Cop And Gangster Films That Ruled The ’70s — about the violent Italian ‘poliziotteschi’ (a literal translation is “policesque”) cinematic movement of the 1970s — has just been released on VHS tape (yes, VHS!). You can purchase it here.

Although more casual viewers can stream it on Amazon Prime or pick up the DVD, diehard fans may want to buy the deluxe VHS release of the documentary Eurocrime!, And why not? After all, videocassette is how some of these obscure cop and gangster films, which were never as popular as the Spaghetti Westerns that preceded them, first hit American shores.

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Malloy researched, wrote, directed, produced, edited and even contributed a small amount of instrumental funk to the score, which features interviews with Franco Nero, John Saxon, Henry Silva, Antonio Sabato, Luc Merenda, Fred Williamson, Richard Harrison, Chris Mitchum, Enzo G. Castellari, Leonard Mann, Joe Dallesandro, Michael Forest, Claudio Fragasso, John Steiner, Ottaviano Dell’Acqua, Mario Caiano, Nicoletta Machiavelli, John P. Dulaney, Salvatore Borghese, Ted Rusoff, and Aaron Stielstra.

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Here’s a colorful description for the doc at Celluloid Apocalpyse‘s product page:

Eurocrime! tells the story of the violent ‘poliziotteschi’ cinematic movement of the 1970s which arose from Italy in the wake of the success of American crime films like Dirty Harry and The Godfather. Hundreds of cheaply produced yet highly entertaining and fast paced films created a genre that found cult appeal in audiences outside of Italy.

The rushed methods of production – stars performing their own risky stunts, the practice of ‘stealing shots’ in public, filming without live sound – and with a dangerous bleed-over between real-life and on-screen crime, these movies offered a tough, gritty world of moustached, macho men killing each other brutally and racing their tiny cars down tiny alleyways…and as this documentary demonstrates, the behind-the-scenes stories were no less colourful!.”

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The documentary project began in 2007, when Malloy’s interest in the Eurocrime genre spurred him to make a three-minute demo video on the topic, which was presented to an acquisitions VP at a major cable broadcaster, who expressed interest in premiering his documentary when it was completed.

Malloy had already finished a cinematic biography about the great Spaghetti Western actor Lee Van Cleef, and had been writing for newspaper services (AP, Knight-Ridder, Sunday Paper), movie magazines (Flaunt, Filmfax, Video Watchdog and others), but decided that documentary films might be a better place to share his commentaries about cinema, and he’s been transitioning from print to film ever since.

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In this interview he did in 2012, he explained to the late Philip Nutman (British correspondent, author, screenwriter, comic-book scribe, actor, etc.), writing for ATLRetro, that he loved the over-the-top violence of Eurocrime films, telling Nutman that he loves “cinema that rings true to life.”

“And it may seem strange to say this,” Malloy said, “considering the Eurocrime genre’s over-the-top violence and action, but these movies are about as real as it gets. And that’s because of the way they were made. Sometimes the organized crime down in Naples got involved in producing these films, so you got a pretty hairy blurring of real-life crime and movie crime. And because the leading men of these films – even big international stars – performed their own dangerous stunts, the action had a certain authenticity to it too.”

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Mike Malloy

Here’s the ending to Malloy’s Director’s Notes that appear in the accompanying 48-page, full-color booklet in the release. The beginning of these Notes details Malloy’s outrageously colorful experiences making this epic labor of love with a bunch of aging tough-guy action stars. Sorry for the tease, but you’ll get a kick out of reading the full, gossipy Notes, if you buy the release:

“… And I’m not trying to tell tales out of school. I’m not trying to embarrass anyone. These are just the stories that naturally arise when you make a documentary about the toughest, sleaziest, grittiest, macho-est subgenre of action movies! There just couldn’t possibly be a dull moment….unless it’s the entire year’s worth of dull moments, when I was editing the documentary, alone, in the upstairs of my girlfriend’s parents’ house (yeah, this project cost me my ability to pay rent in 2011).”

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“See, I knew that even though we had assembled an impressive line-up of interviewees, and even though I had done a mountain of research, I needed to put in the hours and carefully edit / structure the doc in a way that could (a) keep things moving briskly while (b) allowing me to densely pack in as much book-style info as a feature-length doc would allow. I’ve already got you in your chair to watch the doc, I ‘m not just going to beat you over the head with some forgettable fluff. Sure, an endless parade of disconnected anecdotes might be entertaining, but you’d forget what little you learned by the time you drunkenly hit the cockfights later that night.”

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“And furthermore, I wanted to enhance the doc with tons of motion graphics, not only to aid in storytelling, but also to offset how shabby looking some of the interviews ended up! (Would it have killed us to spray some wrinkle releaser on those backdrops?).

Now, thanks to affordable DSLR cameras, anyone can make a cult cinema doc. Plenty of people are. But remember, the good ones take years – and years off the filmmaker’s life. That’s as it should be.”

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.