Dark Sky Films // 1973 // 89 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 21st, 2008
"I'm going to have to hurt you." -- Ricco
Is it possible for a movie named Ricco the Mean Machine to suck? Yes, my friends, sadly, it is.
Christopher Mitchum is Ricco, a paroled convict who comes home to find out his father has been whacked and his girlfriend Rosa (Malisa Longo) is kidnapped. The culprit? A powerful mob boss who has no idea what he's brought down upon himself.
Infused with a healthy sense of youthful rage, Ricco travels to Rome to track down the dirtbags who are responsible for screwing up his life. Along the way, he joins forces with an elderly counterfeiter and his bra-less daughter and rides around in a Fiat that is way too small for his lanky frame.
And then he talks a lot. And eventually shoots some people with his gun. Meanwhile, there are nipples.
I can't remember the last time I've been so forlorn. Just take a look at that box art. Awesome, huh? Dude is lounging in a chair, a bikini-clad girl draped all over him, explosions all around him, a nude woman fondling her silky coiffure -- oh the possibilities!
Alas, squandered they were. Ricco the Mean Machine is dreadfully boring and aside from one relatively shocking sequence, which I'll talk about shortly, the film is dead weight. See, Ricco is less a mean machine and more a talking machine. He wanders from place to place entering into endless dialogue with characters and inches -- and I mean inches -- ever so closer to his prey. When he finally bust opens that promised can of whoop-ass, we're 10 minutes away from the end credits. And even then, we're talking like eight gunshots and then it's over.
Yet what prevents the flick from being completely forgettable and dispensable is one sequence and it's so gratuitous and outrageous it might barely be worth enduring the rest of the film's torturous runtime to see it. Ricco's girlfriend Rosa is a nubile young woman who never hesitates to bare her breasts to any man in the immediate vicinity. Unfortunately, one of the big boss's henchman succumbs to her seduction and the two engage in some methodical boinking and they're caught and -- SPOILER AHEAD! -- the henchman has his genitalia sliced off with a switchblade, which is then stuffed in his mouth and he's dumped into a vat of acid! And this is all presented up close and personal, prop wang and all. It really is crazy, even crazier when you see it, and as moronic and tedious as the film is as a whole, I won't soon forget Ricco the Mean Machine because of it.
But, really, there's nothing else of note here. And that's what makes the neutering/acid-dump even more surprising. There is literally an hour's worth of nothing happening until this point and suddenly I'm watching some of the nuttiest stuff I've ever seen on a DVD.
That's all I've got to say about Ricco and there's nothing else Ricco has to say to us. Goodbye Ricco.
Dark Sky Films did put some effort into the DVD release. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen is sharp considering the film's age, and the color work holds up strongly throughout. A dubbed 2.0 mono mix is efficient and not much else. The only feature of note is a Christopher Mitchum featurette featuring a lengthy interview with the actor.
I had high hopes for this one. But they were dashed upon the rocks. And I wept so.
This Machine is seized.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Dark Sky Films
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 1973
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Theatrical Trailer