• Massacre Mafia Style (Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack)



    Released by: Grindhouse Releasing
    Released on: March 10th, 2015.
    Director: Duke Mitchell
    Cast: Duke Mitchell, Vic Caesar, Lorenzo Dodo
    Year: 1978
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    You’re in, or you’re in the way. Passion counts for a lot. Duke Mitchell, born Dominic Miceli in Pennsylvania and raised in Brooklyn, NY, would eventually move to California and become Mr. Palm Springs, but it would seem, by all accounts, that throughout his life he remained a very passionate man. When it came time for the man to direct his first feature film, he may not have had millions of dollars behind him but that’s where that passion came in handy – a passion for music, a passion for his Italian heritage, a passion for family and a passion for cinematic violence!

    For the uninitiated, Massacre Mafia Style (originally titled Like Father, Like Son and released on VHS domestically by Video Gems as The Executioner - presented here in an eighty-two minute long director's cut) begins with an amazing scene where two sharply dressed men - Mimi Miceli (Mitchell) and Jolly Rizzo (Vic Caesar) – arrive at a lawyer’s office. They talk to the receptionist briefly and then shoot her down in cold blood, proceeding then to kill the lawyer and take out almost (but not quite) everyone else they came into contact with. While this is going on, the opening credits flash up on the screen to the tune of Mitchell singing an Italian folk song called Tik-A-Tee Tik-A-Tay.

    It turns out Mimi is the son of an exiled mafia don (Lorenzo Dodo) and he’s returned to American shores from Sicily to take over. He and Jolly make a name for themselves immediately by cutting off the finger of a prominent mobster and sending it to his fellow thugs – it’s a pronouncement of sorts. Mimi is here, and he means to become the man in charge. Of course, this doesn’t sit well with the other mobsters but eventually, through violence and intimidation, he makes his way up the ladder of the criminal underworld. He gets in on the prostitution racket after taking over the business of a black pimp named Super Spook (Jimmy Williams) and he gets himself a shapely girlfriend named Liz (Cara Salerno). Just as it looks like things couldn’t be going any better for Mimi, however, his ambition proves to be his downfall and those he has wronged on his way to the top come gunning for him.

    Every frame of this film belongs to Duke Mitchell. He wrote it, directed it, produced it and starred in it, playing the lead alongside family and friends recruited to fill out the modest cast. The songs that play throughout the film were his own recordings and the locations his stomping grounds. His personality shines through the entire damn movie and for that reason, this low budget mob-sploitation picture has more guts, more grit and way more character than 99.9% of any other movies you’d care to name. Duke’s stamp is so strong and so personal here that that aforementioned passions bleeds through in a big way. Say what you will about the guy’s range as an actor, and let’s be honest – he’s limited, but his screen presence is massive and he plays Mimi with such conviction that you can’t help but get swept up in all of this. Duke had acted before, most famously alongside Sammy Petrillo in Bela Lugosi Meets A Brooklyn Gorilla, but also in a few B-grade crime pictures like Don Siegel’s Crime In The Streets. With this film though, he takes things to a completely different level. Duke Mitchell doesn’t play Mimi, Duke Mitchell IS Mimi. So committed to this role is he that you won’t have a problem buying him jetting about with a woman half his age or taking on countless thugs and well-armed hooligans. We believe he can do it, because Duke believed he could do it. You can tell it in every word of the many impassioned soliloquies he wrote for himself in the film, the highlight being Duke’s treatise about the hard working Italian mother.

    The movie has a style all its own. It was shot cheap and it’s hardly the most polished picture ever made, but the raw sensibility behind it all works in the context of the story being told. The production values are good enough. Some swanky seventies homes are turned into great sets and we get a few really memorable set pieces that take place in the backrooms of fancy restaurants and in a meat packing plant. These are the types of locations you expect to see in a mobster film, Duke’s not breaking any new ground in that regard. But it works. More memorable is the use of music. Mitchell croons more than once on the soundtrack, and then there’s the wedding scene where an older gentleman entertains the revelers gathered aboard a yacht with a rousing rendition of a song about the glories of pasta!

    Fast paced, bloody, violent and about as politically incorrect as you could hope for, Massacre Mafia Style has had a checkered past on home video. All of that changes NOW. Details? Read on… we’ve got a long way to go yet.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Massacre Mafia Style finally makes its long awaited and highly anticipated Blu-ray debut framed at 1.85.1 widescreen in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition presentation that should, by all accounts, be a revelation to those familiar with the film. The previous DVD release (which was put out as ‘The Family Edition’ by Duke’s son Jeffrey) was open matte – the widescreen framing here takes a bit off of the top and bottom but adds more to the left and right sides without chopping off peoples’ heads or anything like that. Clarity and detail are VASTLY improved over what has come before, be it the VHS or the DVD that was basically recycling that same VHS transfer – you will see this in pretty much every damn frame of the movie. Colors look quite nice here, black levels are solid and texture is strong. There are no problems with flaky contrast settings nor is there even a trace of edge enhancement. A fairly obvious amount of film grain is present throughout but that’s ok… this was shot on film after all. Minor print damage does show up here and there but never to the point where it really ought to bother anyone. The encoding on the disc is solid, there aren’t any compression issues. Yeah, this looks good. Damn good.

    For a comparison between the old ‘DVD’ release and this new Blu-ray release, click here!




    Audio options are provided for the feature in DTS-HD Mono and Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono. The lossless track is, not surprisingly, the better of the two. The lower end is strong without getting muddy so the gunshots pack a stronger punch and the dialogue just sounds a little bit more full and natural. There aren’t any problems with hiss or distortion here, the levels are nicely balanced, and that music? Beautiful.







    Moving on to the extras for this Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack – and pay attention here because THIS is where Grindhouse has really gone the extra mile – we start off with a documentary called Like Father, Like Son. This originally appeared on the 2009 ‘Family Edition’ DVD release (the one sourced from a tape) but it’s definitely worthy of being carried over to this special edition. This thing runs just under forty-four minutes and it’s a fantastic look back at the life and times of Duke Mitchell made up of loads of archival stills and photographs as well as interviews with Jeffrey Mitchell (Duke’s son) and a bunch of his friends and cohorts like Frankie Ray, and George Jacobs. Jeffrey talks about his father’s work as a nightclub singer, noting that he was a singer before he was a filmmaker/actor. Known as ‘Mr. Palm Springs’ he famously appeared alongside Sammy Petrillo in Bela Lugosi Meets A Brooklyn Gorilla (where they did a Martin/Lewis type of act) and would later be featured as the singing voice of Fred Flintstone. We learn how he moved to Palm Springs and really took to the place, about his stage show and his stage presence, what made his live act special. We also learn what he was like off stage, how he might have been a man of small stature but how he ‘didn’t take any shit.’ Apparently Duke was a bit of a scrapper. Jeffrey talks about performing with his dad, Frankie and the rest share countless anecdotes about Duke, and of course, we learn a more than just a little bit about Massacre Mafia Style as well – BUT… this is more about Duke the man, not Duke the movie star. The focus here is about his life and about his stage career, the same career that saw him hanging out with Frank Sinatra and that saw him EARN the title of Mr. Palm Springs. This version is shorter than the version on 'The Family Edition' (which also featured some commentaries and an insert not carried over to this release) but if you haven't seen it, this is absoutely worthwhile.









    Up next? A featurettes called Matt Cimber and Jim Lo Bianco that runs just over ten minutes. Cimber, the director behind The Witch Who Came From the Sea and Hundra (among others), goes first and he talks about Duke Mitchell being ‘overwhelmed’ by The Godfather because it hit so close to home for him. He then talks about Massacre Mafia Style being made on a low budget, about his thoughts on seeing the movie for the first time in pieces (not fully assembled), and how he wound up distributing it under the Massacre Mafia Style title. Jim Lo Bianco, who was a family friend and who starred in Mitchell’s second film, Gone With The Pope, shares his thoughts on the film, noting how it was completely different than other mafia movies made prior, using the scene with ‘the black kid in the elevator’ as an example of how Duke defied audience expectations throughout the picture. The featurette then switches back to Cimber talking about the violence in the film, the sense of humor in the movie, how the movie did theatrically and the importance of the film’s poster and radio spots in terms of marketing it.









    From there, we move on to Duke Mitchell Home Movies which is, just as it sounds, a collection of home movies shot throughout Duke’s life. There’s twelve sections here, starting with Tic-A-Tee Tik-A-Tay where we see a young Duke take off his shirt and enjoy some rest and relaxation while boating and water skiing to the sounds of his version of the song used over the opening credits for Massacre Mafia Style. Duke’s a pretty good water skier – who knew? It kind of just goes from there and we see Duke playing ping-pong, cruising around the poolside in a cowboy hat, playing around on a sailboat, playing tennis, playing with a poodle (!), fishing, driving in a sweet car, hanging out with various family members, attending a carnival and riding a Ferris wheel, and more. Around the half way mark we start seeing a montage made up of black and white photos taken from throughout his career mixed in with other random stuff – pictures of celebrities, etc. – and then we go back to Duke hanging out with his family members, walking the streets of Palm Springs, playing a little bit of golf, jet setting about, shooting some pool and just flat out living the life! This material was used in Duke’s stage show at some point, which is why there are double exposures and other editing tricks of sorts included in the material. There’s also some very cool live footage of Duke on stage in here too. All fifty-two minutes of these home movies plays out over Dolby Digital Mono versions of a bunch of Duke’s music: Tic-A-Tee Tik-A-Tay, Cholo joe, Crazy Heart, I’ll Be With You In Apple Blossom Time, Bella Bruna, Armen’s Theme, Pagan Love Song, The Careless Years , Sonny Boy, I’ll Love You In Apple Blossom Time (with Jeff Mitchell), Pagan Love Song (with Jeff Mitchell) and last but not least, a live bit called Duke Mitchell Live At The Black Bull. This was recorded with the Keith Williams Orchestra on June 9th, 1960 and here Duke does Mona Lisa, interacts with a live audience (“in the key of C”), and then cranks out a few other favorites (including a very politically incorrect version of Love And Marriage – God bless ya, Duke!). The live bit makes up about twenty-seven minutes of the running time in this section and it’s absolutely fantastic.











    Rounding out the extras on the Blu-ray are two radio spots under the Like Father, Like Son title, some audience member testimonials (”too much blood”… “it just didn’t make much sense”), two radio spots under the Massacre Mafia Style title, a massive selection of still galleries (Production Stills And Materials, Color Stills, Theatrical, Home Video and Duke Mitchell), a Duke Mitchell Filmography (with bonus trailers for Gone With The Pope and Bela Lugosi Meets A Brooklyn Gorilla), a Cara Selerno filmography (with bonus trailers for Space Thing and a Cara Still Gallery), a selection of Grindhouse Releasing Previews, disc production credits, animated menus and chapter selection. There’s also at least one Easter Egg hidden here, if not more.















    But wait… there’s more! What’s listed above? That’s just the ‘Extras’ section. The disc also includes two Bonus Features, the first of which is the complete version of the notorious Bela Lugosi Meets A Brooklyn Gorilla. Not only is the entire film here but so too do we get a still gallery and a theatrical trailer for it. It’s presented in standard definition but the fullframe black and white image looks alright. This public domain staple has been released quite a few times over the years but it’s pretty fun to revisit it here and compare Duke’s work in this film to the later Massacre Mafia Style performance.















    More important is the second bonus feature – An Impressionistic Tribute To Jimmy Durante! This was made sometimes in the late 1970’s and it features Duke dressed up in strange makeup appliances to make him look like Jimmy Durante singing in Durante’s style. It runs just a hair over thirty-seven minutes and it’s a fairly bizarre but fascinating piece. Mitchell really does do his damndest to impersonate Durante here, both physically and musically, and here we’re treated not only Duke as Jimmy doing his thing in a night club but also some equally nutso footage of Duke backstage prepping for his performance. There’s a lot of polyester here and at one point Duke refers to Durante as ‘Schnozzola’ and then goes on to talk about his vision for this tribute. He spends some time on the stage behind a piano with his hat crooked over to the side, he does another version of I’ll Love You In Apple Blossom Time, and generally he just does a ridiculously good (and insanely entertainingly) Jimmy Durante tribute for the better part of forty-minutes. That passion of Duke’s we talked about earlier? This is another amazing example of it.

















    Accompanying this is a selection of Durante 16mm Dailies, which is six and a half minutes of raw footage from the shoot accompanied by Duke singing in Durante’s style. The feature production itself is in standard definition but these outtakes are in HD. Here he hangs out with a little blonde girl and goes to the zoo to eat ice cream and check out some rhinos. Why? Why not!

    For those with a DVD-Rom, pop that disc into your PC and check out some PDF format bonus material – a document noting the narration (with some hand written notes all over it), two early versions of the script, and two early version of the treatment. On top of that, inside the clear keepcase we get a full color booklet containing liner note from David Szulkin that offer up a concise history of the film and make the case for its importance with some nice stills and artwork accompanying the text.







    The Final Word:

    Massacre Mafia Style is a film that simultaneously deals in clichés and defies expectations. It’s a picture like no other, a low budget mobster picture filtered through one man’s vision in which guts and ambition matter more than money. It’s insane, it’s wonderful and it’s endlessly entertaining – and how it’s been given the special edition treatment its fans have wanted for the better part of two decades. Consider this one essential.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!























































    Comments 26 Comments
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      BONER. That is all.
    1. Raf A.'s Avatar
      Raf A. -
      Hoping to read about The Beyond next.
    1. Zane C.'s Avatar
      Zane C. -
      I want this, as in, yesterday.

      I am looking forward to this as THE genre release of the year, besides, of course, GONE WITH THE POPE.

      One minor gripe with this release from what you mention in the review: the carrying over of the "LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON" doc. A different, new doc would have been nice. I know there are other new ones, but still. I know also that I'm being selfish as a fan on this account. Given the amount of time this has taken to finally be released, though, it's a small disappointment.

      The picture looks AMAZING, though. I'm absolutely buying this at the first opportunity I have. This is THE release we've been waiting for, it looks like.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      I would've liked a new doc as well, but at this point im just happy to have the film.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Now that the amazon price has jumped, and since amazon canada sucks for everything.....i ordered it from importcds for 17 us. Shipped to ontario translates to about 30 bucks canadian.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Oh, GWTP is the same price.
    1. Zane C.'s Avatar
      Zane C. -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mark Tolch View Post
      I would've liked a new doc as well, but at this point im just happy to have the film.
      It's true! This release has been such a long time coming that it's just a relief we're getting a disc in our hands at all, for sure.
    1. Zane C.'s Avatar
      Zane C. -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mark Tolch View Post
      Now that the amazon price has jumped, and since amazon canada sucks for everything.....i ordered it from importcds for 17 us. Shipped to ontario translates to about 30 bucks canadian.
      Yeah, Amazon Canada has their ups and downs, and is usually pricier. They've had some decent deals lately, though, mostly on other stuff.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Everything I've looked for lately has been "ships in 1-2 months" or stupid overpriced.
    1. Jimmy Simard's Avatar
      Jimmy Simard -
      You should have pre-order GWTP when I posted it on my FB wall Mark. It was 25,19$ when I did my pre-order at Amazon Canada the 19/02. I pre-order MMS a long time ago at Diabolik DVD for 30,49$ (shipping included) and I hope they will get it soon.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      I don't preorder off of amazon.ca anymore, Jimmy. They never even come close to street date when i do.
    1. Alison Jane's Avatar
      Alison Jane -
      Why don't you just wait and see if .com goes down?
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Why? Import CDs was already lower than the .com preorder. And their shipping is very reasonable. Our dollar eats it like Rooney right now, though.
    1. Paul L's Avatar
      Paul L -
      Nice review. Really looking forward to getting my hands on this release.
    1. Ian Miller's Avatar
      Ian Miller -
      Just got the discs today, wow. Top notch release, and THE BEYOND trailer looks amazing in HD (as do most of the others, CAT IN THE BRAIN especially), guess I'm in a bigger hurry for that than I thought!
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Man Mine's in the mail. Stupid Canada. Can't wait.
    1. Ian Miller's Avatar
      Ian Miller -
      It's basically a Criterion-level tribute to Mr. Palm Springs. Even the menu screens are amazing!
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      I haven't been into Exploitation films as long as most here so I wasn't aware of MASSACRE MAFIA STYLE until I caught the trailer on one of Grindhouse Releasing's discs (most likely THE BIG GUNDOWN or CORRUPTION). My first thought was that there was no way the full feature could live up to the 3 minutes of awesome I had just witnessed. Even after reading all the enthusiasm for its release I was still fairly certain the film would be a turd. Boy was I wrong. It has its faults but its pretty fucking amazing for 82 minutes. I had a hard time understanding why certain people wanted Duke dead but that didn't keep me from enjoying the film. I really like how the guns sound on the lossless track. Impressive stuff. Wow...Just wow.


      Why the hell isn't the MASSACRE MAFIA STYLE trailer on one of my many trailer compilations? I can watch that trailer on a loop.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      The first time I saw it was when I was visiting Ian, and he bought the I DRINK YOUR BLOOD DVD from Grindhouse. He put the disc in, hit the trailer menu, and we watched Cannibal Holocaust, I Drink Your Blood, blah blah trailers....when MMS came on, we were both like, WTF is going on here????? I think we watched it about 10 more times that night and twice when the movie was over.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      IT'S HERE!!!!! IT'S HERE!!!!!!!