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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Reel Bad Cinema: Amazons & Supermen (1975) review


Nick Jordan (Aru), Mark Hannibal (Moog), Yueh Hua (Chung), Malisa Longo (Akela)

Directed by Alfonso Brescia (Al Bradley)

The short version: One of the absolute worst movies I've ever witnessed. The movie could also be titled AWFUL ACTING, AWFUL DIRECTION, AWFUL PRODUCTION. Shame on the Shaw Brothers for partaking in this travesty. SUPERMEN AGAINST THE ORIENT must have been popular SOMEWHERE for them to return to this kind of nonsense. With virtually no plot to get in the way of the story, how enjoyable the viewer finds this will depend on tolerance and a great deal of patience.

The dubbed dialog reaches a poignant pinnacle as the heroes plan their massive onslaught against the awesome power of the amazonian army...yeah, right

A horde of violent amazonian warriors attack peaceful villages around the countryside until three superheroes come together to fight them.

Amazons just wanna have fun

That's the best synopsis I can come up with for this brain dead, mindless and mentally deficient action comedy kiddie flick. Very similar to Brescia's BATTLE OF THE AMAZONS from the previous year, this picture pays more attention to infantile comic scenarios complete with lots of senseless acrobatics and often painfully goofy antics. The movie is focused on the most base level of funny business several tiers down from the oft imitated THEY CALL ME TRINITY (1970). It's endless scenes of badly overdone pratfall comedy "enhanced" by cartoon sound effects. Brescia's movie is one of the absolute worst I've ever laid eyes on. However, it's strangely compelling in a disturbing sort of way, but manages to get woefully tiring as it wears on.

Just when you think it couldn't possibly get any worse, it does, and it just keeps getting worse and worse. It's so awful, it's as if that were the intention of the filmmakers to make the most atrocious picture imaginable. This Italian-Hong Kong co-production is weak in all departments. The fight scenes, the acting, even down to the production. It all looks like it cost a few hundred dollars. The whole thing looks ugly and there's not even much violence to elevate this shit above middle school level. I'm curious as to why they even bothered shooting in 2.35 widescreen. The camera offers nothing of interest to look at. Everything is shot in a valley, or some wooded area.

Look to the left and spot the crewmember sporting a fedora giving the tank an extra push

But widescreen can be a bitch sometimes it often reveals mistakes such as one at the end where you can see the director, or some other crew member helping push the FLINTSTONE style tanks the heroes use against the amazons.

The bulk of the $35.00 budget went to the construction of these elaborate battle tanks. Around a dozen technicians were employed to make these non mechanical marvels mobile.

The opening segment where a group of amazons fire arrows at each other atop small platforms in a ritual that resembles the barbarian version of the western gun duel is about as gruesome as it gets. There's not even any nudity to perk things up. The closest you get is some wet T-shirt slo mo action in a river.

To learn about this films production would be a fascinating endeavor to try and comprehend just what the reasoning behind it was. I would assume this, like a lot of Shaw's co-productions, weren't meant for the Asian market in the first place. The filmmakers repeatedly hurl whatever ridiculous crap they can at the screen in a painful effort to see if something will stick. It's definitely one of those movies where it looks for all the world like it was made up as it went along.

Also, like other international movies with Shaw's association, the box office on this picture was painfully low in Hong Kong. The previous year, the Shaw's were also involved in SUPERMEN AGAINST THE ORIENT, an entry in the bewilderingly popular THREE SUPERMEN series from Italy. That movie was also a huge failure in Hong Kong. But since that series of films was obviously popular in European territories, I would assume STUPID MEN AGAINST THE AMAZONS is supposed to be some kind of wretched spin off.

Yueh Hua must have drank a lot of wine while shooting this picture.

Yueh Hua is the only Shaw star on hand. Most everyone else is Italian, or other European nationality. Yueh Hua does the best he can with the material, but even he is incapable of creating a reasonably convincing kung fu caricature. He was good as the fake kung fu master in MONKEY FIST, FLOATING SNAKE (1979), but fares badly here as a traveling swordsman. The fights all look like rehearsal and not the actual filming. Hua does look like he's enjoying himself, although he could be under the influence. Did I mention how awful the fight scenes are? Yueh Hua is impressive in his swordplay movies, but here, he looks like his limbs are paralyzed at times.

Aldo Canti, formerly a supporting actor in gladiator movies and an acrobatic Indian and military man in SABATA and FIVE FOR HELL (both 1969) respectively. Canti pretty much plays the same role here, too. Everyone seems to be having a grand time even if none of the performers stand out over anyone else. One thing AMAZONS & SUPERMEN does that you would think would be an impossibility is that for its near endless onslaught of action, it makes fight scenes boring as all hell.

Yueh Hua (left) looks confused from the language barrier in this scene shared with an Italian and an American.

A terrible movie all around, this operates under the same parameters as the 3 SUPERMEN series that was bewilderingly popular in Europe. A bad movie from start to finish, it contains an ear piercingly atrocious score by Franco Micalizzi that will be an endurance test for bad movie buffs. Still, unlike Brescia's THE MAGNIFICENT GLADIATOR (1965), this monumental misfire is all "original" and no stock footage from better movies. The original Italian title (SUPERMEN, SUPERWOMEN, SUPER BLOWS) should translate to STUPID MEN, STUPID WOMEN & THIS SHIT BLOWS.

This review is representative of the Italian region 0 PAL DVD from Stormovie. There's both Italian and English options on this disc.


Fazeo said...

I have this film on one of those multi film sets from Rarescope but I've yet to watch it yet. Your review makes me want to see it sooner than later. Thanks again for another compelling review.

venoms5 said...

Hi, Fazeo. Although I didn't buy the BCI/Rarescope bootleg, I heard the picture quality was terrible as it was from a VHS source. Amazingly, this movie seems to be available on DVD pretty much everywhere else legitimately.

I Like Horror Movies said...

As bad as this one may be, I have to admit the production looks pretty impressive! At least they could afford some skimpy costumes ;)

venoms5 said...

I had posted a handful of behind the scenes photos from the film in one of the 'Assorted Bits & Pieces' posts and waited to see it till I got this Italian disc. I heard such bad things about the BCI release I stayed away from it. It's kinda fun, but it gets old fast. I do know people who like the film a great deal, though.

dfordoom said...

I'm a big fan of Brescia's sci-fi movies, specially Cosmos: War of the Planets. They're bizarre but great fun. And The Beast in Space is even more bizarre, but bizarre in a weirdly fascinating way. The man was clearly insane, but I don't hold that against him.

But having said that I have to admit that Amazons vs Supermen doesn't work. It tries to combine too many genres, and genres that are mutually incompatible. It doesn't help that the humour is mostly slapstick and I really don't like slapstick at all. So I pretty much agree with everything you said in your review.

If you ever decide to give Brescia another chance try Cosmos: War of the Planets or War of the Robots. You'll need a high tolerance for high camp though. I love campy movies so it isn't a problem for me.

I'm not sure I'd really recommend The Beast in Space. For most people it's just much too weird. I liked it, but then I'm possibly much too weird as well!

venoms5 said...

I stay away from Italian sci fi most of the time, D. However, I recently copied two Margheriti sci fi flicks off of TCM a couple months ago I hadn't seen in years (WILD, WILD PLANET and WAR OF THE PLANETS) and also have his all star cast TREASURE ISLAND IN OUTER SPACE (1987). Those are pretty good.

But Brescia is hit or miss and mostly miss for me. BATTLE OF THE AMAZONS was decent trash, but stuff like MAGNIFICENT GLADIATOR and KNELL THE BLOODY AVENGER are horrible movies. The former would be better if it weren't for all the stock footage. THE CONQUEROR OF ATLANTIS is also bad, but fun and one of the more tolerable Kirk Morris movies.

The only movies he's done I can say I thought were watchable and good are two of the westerns he did--DAYS OF VIOLENCE and .32 CALIBER KILLER.

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