• Fango Bollente (The Savage Three)



    Released by: Camera Obscura
    Released on: September 20th, 2017.
    Director: Vittorio Salerno
    Cast: Joe Dallesandro, Gianfranco De Grassi, Guido De Carli, Enrico Maria Salerno
    Year: 1975
    Purchase From Diabolik DVD

    The Movie:

    A fairly insane Italian cross between A Clockwork Orange and Falling Down, Vittorio Salerno’s Fango Bollente opens with an interesting scene of foreshadowing. In the laboratory of a faceless corporation headquartered in Turin, a computer programmer named Ovidio Mainardi (Joe Dallesandro) speaks to a lab technician about the rats living in a large, subdivided plastic box. The tech tells him that when there are dividers keeping the rats from getting too close to one another, they live peacefully but if the dividers are removed, they’ll attack one another. When the tech turns his back, Ovidio removes the dividers and sees that the tech was telling the truth. The tech then asks him if he saw which rat started biting the others first – there’s always one that starts it, he tells him.

    This scene of seemingly real rat on rat violence sets the stage for what’s to come. Ovidio and his two friends/co-workers Giacomo (Gianfranco De Grassi) and Peppi (Guido Di Carli) are easily bored. We see this at a soccer match when, just for kicks, they start a riot that leaves several injured. When they leave the stadium, they steal a Ferrari that they use as a getaway car only until they then decide to knock over two female motorcyclists and subsequently swipe their ride. They’re unhappy at their work where their manager scolds them for errors and where they live under the constant fear of being replaced by machines. Their home lives aren’t much better – Peppi’s apartment is overcrowded with a constant stream of relatives, Giacomo can’t stand the noise made by his neighbors and Ovidio shares his place with his wife (Martine Brochard), an ambitious doctor not beneath giving her supervisor a blowjob if it means landing that promotion.

    As these three become more and more disenfranchised with the world around them, their crime spree turns to murder, rape and more murder – leaving a tired and aging cop (Enrico Maria Salerno) working the case without any cooperation from his commanding officers.

    Co-written by Salerno and Ernesto Gastaldi, this is more than just eighty-five minutes of anarchy. The script is smart, clever enough to make sure we understand why these three young men are lashing out at everyone around them, even if we certainly understand in no uncertain terms that they’re wrong to do so. Anyone who has worked a day job, especially for a large company where you’re really little more than a cog in a much bigger machine, will be able to relate to some of what we see the three men experience here. This humanizes them, even as they’re clearly setup as antagonists rather than antiheros. The movie also makes some interesting comparisons between Ovidio and Enrico Maria Salerno’s world weary cop. Both are men unhappy with their lot in life and intent on changing it – the big difference is in how they go about doing that, with one man trying to disrupt and destroy and the other trying to set things right.

    The film is not short on suspense or strong content. There are a few bloody set pieces here, a rather nasty rape/murder and plenty of abuse hurled by our three leads at anyone unfortunate enough to cross them. This gives the movie a pretty unpredictable turn and that carries through right to the end of the film.

    Performances are pretty solid here. Enrico Maria Salerno isn’t stretching as an actor in this picture but he’s nothing if not dependable when playing a detective. Gianfranco De Grassi and Guido Di Carli are solid here as well, perfectly believable as the rat bastards that they’ve been tasked with portraying. Di Carli in particular has a really memorable scene where, as things are closing in on him, he essentially panics and breaks down. He’s got fairly manic eyes that are put to good use here. Martine Brochard is well cast as Joe’s wife. We see both sides of their marital problems – she’s driven and wants more in life and is willing to work hard and even offer up sexual favors to get it. He, on the other hand, lashes out, takes it out on others. There’s a very telling scene where the two of them go to her boss’ estate for a hunting party, the tension that exists between husband and wife in this scene is unpleasant and Joe Dallesandro really plays ‘angry’ well. He’s solid in the dramatic scenes but also pretty intense in the action scenes too, a perfect example being the scene where he gets into a brawl with a truck driver that he almost drives into (while an old man in a car in the other lane simply watches, not wanting to get involved).

    Quick in its pace, nicely shot on location in Turin and making good use of a fuzzed out guitar heavy score (though the main theme is fairly repetitive and overused), Fango Bollente is really solid stuff, a hard hitting polizieschi picture shot with plenty of style and performed by a very capable cast.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Fango Bollente arrives on a 50GB Blu-ray disc from Camera Obscura framed at 1.85.1 in AVC encoded 1080p high definition in transfer that is on par with most of the labels other Blu-ray releases – which is to say that it looks really good. The movie is pretty grainy but there’s very little print damage to note. Colors look nice and lifelike hear, never oversaturated, and we get really good black levels too. There’s plenty of detail in pretty much every frame – not only will you marvel at Salerno’s eyebrows but you’ll be able to pick out some of the grit on the walls of the buildings in the town square and fingerprints on the windshields of cars. No issues to report here, compression is fine, DNR is never a problem and the picture is seemingly completely free of edge enhancement. This is very film like and it looks great in motion.

    The only audio option on the disc is a DTS-HD Mono track in Italian with optional subtitles offered up in German and English. The audio here is equally solid. Levels are nicely balanced, hiss and distortion are non-issues and the subtitles are clean, clear and easy to read.

    Extras start off with a commentary track featuring Pelle Felsch and Christian Kessler that’s spoken in German but which is offered with English subtitles. The track is really nicely paced, lots of information and analysis offered up here with a sense of humor that makes it fun to listen to but that never seems disrespectful to the film itself. They cover Vittorio Salerno’s directing style, make some observations about the frequency that we see those long, almost festishized shots of seventies era computers and offer up some thoughts on the politics that no doubt inspired the picture. They also provide some input as to the merits of the picture’s score and of course, what the cast members each bring to their respective roles.

    Also on hand are two featurettes, the first of which is Rat Eat Rat, a forty minute pieces that interviews both director Vittorio Salerno and actress Martine Brochard about the film. Salerno talks about working with Dallesandro as well as the other actors, how this film came to be, what inspired the picture and yes, comparisons to Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. Brochard, interviewed separately, speaks about her character, her thoughts on the film and her experiences on set. This is pretty in-depth and well put together. The second featurette is The Savage One, a forty-one minute interview with Dallesandro where he talks about how he got his start as an actor, churning out films for Warhol and The Factory, working with Paul Morrisey, winding up in Europe and then eventually making films in Italy for a while. He has some seriously great stories here and isn’t one to hold back, which makes this as entertaining as it is interesting.

    Menus (in English and German) as well as chapter selection are provided on the Blu-ray. The disc is also packaged with an insert booklet containing an essay on the picture from Robert Zion that’s printed in both English and German.

    The Final Word:

    Camera Obscura gives Fango Bollente an excellent Blu-ray debut, presenting the film completely uncut, in great shape and with some excellent supplements to accompany the genuinely compelling feature attraction.

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