Plot: What’s it about?
Nanni Vitali (Helmut Berger) has just escaped from prison, complete with three violent cohorts and he has some devious intentions. No, he isn’t just looking for simple freedom, as Vitali seeks to settle the score with the man who put him behind bars. In fact, freedom played a minimal role in his escape plans, as he simply wanted to track down his foe and extract his revenge, so much so that he risked his life to return to the streets. The man who sent Vitali into prison is Santini (Richard Harrison) and while Vitali is on the watch for him, Santini is also looking to track down Vitali, to have him locked up once and for all. But Santini wouldn’t be too upset if Vitali were to be shot down either, just as long as the criminal is rendered undone in some fashion. In addition to his trio of thugs, Vitali soon enlists a beautiful woman named Giuliana (Marisa Mell) and after he beats & rapes her enough, she submits to help him in his efforts. A poor decision to a jewelry store owned by the woman’s father results in immense bloodshed, as his fellow criminals all wind up either captured or slain in the bold attack. Now Vitali has new focus however, as he moves to kidnap Santini’s father and sister, to lure the police officer into his lethal traps. But can Santini somehow outwit and then defeat the maniacal Vitali?
The final film from director Sergio Grieco (Sinful Nuns of Saint Valentine), Beast with a Gun is a solid, but flawed crime/exploitation picture. The story has been cobbled together from pieces of other movies, but it all works out well enough and on the whole, Beast with a Gun has a solid, acceptable storyline. As you’d expect, the movie hinges on the performances of the leads and here, we have Helmut Berger and Richard Harrison on deck. Harrison turns in a good effort all around, but Berger steals the show and delivers a high octane, off the hook performance as Vitali, which drives the movie’s success. The rest of the cast fares well also, with Marisa Mell offering some decent, but over the hill sex appeal. The downside here is that the visuals come off as rushed and sloppy, so the camera isn’t used well and that’s a let down. I know we don’t expect a visual masterpiece from this kind of movie, but I do think basic, solid camera use and good editing is expected, neither of which is found here. But regardless, Beast with a Gun is well acted and directed, plus it has some highly memorable moments of sex and violence. In other words, fans of brutal crime epics and exploitation cinema shouldn’t hesitate to nab this release.
As I said in the above paragraph, the main force behind Beast with a Gun is Helmut Berger, who is out of control within his role here. I mean, his character is a total madman of course, but Berger plays it even more off the handle than you’d expect, with a wild and often insane effort that’s always fun to watch. If he had been more reserved or less over the edge, I doubt the character would have lost much, but thanks to his work, Beast with a Gun plays like a bonfire, as Berger gets more and more fiery as time passes. His interactions with the others around him are priceless, especially the more violent ones, but even small scenes are improved, because Berger simply pulls every ounce of madness from his character. Other films with Berger include The Damned, The Garden of the Fitzi-Continis, The Bloodstained Butterfly, and The Vicious Ones. The cast also includes Richard Harrison (Vengeance, Kronos), Marisa Mell (Perversion, Danger: Diabolik), and Gigi Bonos (Frankenstein 80, My Name is Trinity).
Video: How does it look?
Beast with a Gun is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. As usual, Anchor Bay has found some great looking materials and issued a terrific transfer, though as should be expected, the visuals aren’t pristine. The print is clean from marks and such, but has some consistent grain present, which softens the elements somewhat. But with a movie like this, we should know some flaws will be evident and this is a smooth, solid treatment all around, so I see no reason to complain much. The colors look a tad faded and contrast isn’t as stark as it should be, but all things considered, this is a very nice visual presentation.
Audio: How does it sound?
In terms of mono, the included track isn’t too bad, so long as you don’t expect too much in the end. I think the music sounds pretty good in this mix, but the limits of mono and the age of the materials do hinder it somewhat. But while it might sound a little dated, the music is still cool and adds a lot to the atmosphere of the picture. Not too much to speak of in the realm of sound effects, but what is present sounds decent enough and never overpowers the other elements. I was pleased with the dialogue clarity & volume also, as no problems were evident in the least. This might not be a memorable audio option, but it gets it all done without too much trouble.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer.