Thursday, January 21, 2010

Assorted Bits & Pieces: A Eurocult Favorite Rides Off Into the Sunset...Supposedly...

George Hilton (1934-????)

Well, it turns out this particular bit of information was untrue. Odd that it was also mentioned on actress Edwige Fenech's facebook page (and has since been removed). A thread about it can be found here...,2473.40.html

It's relieving news that Hilton is still alive, but frustrating that individual(s) would spread that he has died. I'll still leave this mini bio of Hilton up although I've tweaked it slightly.

Hilton was born in Uruguay July 16th, 1934. After featuring in a large number of showbiz productions in his homeland, Hilton moved to Italy in the early 1960's where he would soon find himself extremely busy featuring in films such as THE MASKED MAN AGAINST THE PIRATE (1964) and DESERT BATTLE (1969). But it was his spaghetti westerns that brought Hilton the most recognition abroad.

Trapped and surrounded by hundreds of soldiers in a Chang Cheh style ending from the excellent and violent Italian western, A BULLET FOR SANDOVAL (1969)

Hilton painted a wonderfully memorable picture of himself in the film MASSACRE TIME (1966) for director Lucio Fulci. In that film, Hilton successfully stole the show totally away from then burgeoning mega star, Franco Nero. George played his drunken gunslinger, Jeff Corbett, to the 'Hilt' (haha) creating a lively and fun character that likewise rivaled the sadistic villain essayed by Nino Castelnuovo. Hilton would soon become associated with comedic roles in his westerns. He occasionally got the chance to shine in a serious role and arguably none were as stunning as his tragic hero in A BULLET FOR SANDOVAL from 1969. More westerns followed and when THEY CALL ME TRINITY (1970) begat a surge of comedy westerns, Hilton was there to partake in a slew of like minded oaters such as HEADS I KILL YOU...TAILS YOU'RE DEAD! THEY CALL ME HALLELUJAH (1971) and its sequel. He also headlined the two slapstick westerns, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST...THERE WAS A MAN CALLED INVINCIBLE (1973) and its sequel, THE CRAZY BUNCH (1974). Other Hilton westerns include ANY GUN CAN PLAY (1967) and THE GREATEST ROBBERY IN THE WEST (both 1967), THE RUTHLESS FOUR and THE MOMENT TO KILL (both 1968).

Hilton as "Tricky" Dickie Luft from ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST...THERE WAS A MAN CALLED INVINCIBLE (1973), a Looney Tunes style comedy western

Like most popular European genre actors, Hilton made the transition to other Italian styles of cinema such as crime pictures with SEVEN HOURS OF VIOLENCE (1973) and BLAZING FLOWERS (1978). He also featured in a handful of Giallo movies such as CASE OF THE SCORPION'S TAIL (1971) and MY DEAR KILLER (1972) among several others. He has a cult following in the United States and even moreso overseas.

Trapped (1982) review

Henry Silva (Henry Chatwill), Nicholas Campbell (Roger Michaels)

Directed by William Fruet

"...desperation, no matter how intense cannot possibly justify the act of taking another human beings life..."

***WARNING! This review contains pics of nudity***

Four young college students head out into the Tennessee mountains for a weekend excursion. Stumbling upon a hillbilly commune deep within the timberland, the group witnesses a murder by the crazed Henry Chatwill and a group of rednecks. The four students are soon captured and terrorized. One of them manages to escape and after the police strangely refuse to help, the stage is set for a conflict with the psychotic Chatwill.

One of the roughneck rednecks gets skewered by an antennae

Frequent horror and exploitation director, Fruet helms this curious and obscure hixploitation movie starring one of my favorite actors, Henry Silva. It's another in a long line of 'Crazy Rednecks Attack' movies. It's not as artsy as DELIVERANCE (1972) or SOUTHERN COMFORT (1981), nor as gruesome as HUNTERS BLOOD (1987). It's a fairly average film punctuated by occasional instances of violence and brutality, a few scenes of nudity and a total scene stealing performance by Silva.

Axe versus crowbar during the big finale

When the action does arrive, it's impressive for such an obscure film; the last 15 minutes in particular. Up to that point, the movie hasn't been all that overly terrifying, nor very grim especially when compared to other similar productions. What sets the film apart is Henry Silva. His fight at the end with the protagonist is very exciting. Most of the people living in this out of time community are simple, normal folks and only a couple of them follow the deranged Henry Chatwill.

Henry's horny wife looks for some prospects

At first, the audience believes he has lost his mind after catching his beautiful, horny wife in bed with a 'man from the city'. Later, it's revealed he has murdered others that have happened upon their shantytown.

The film tries to deliver a relevant message about civilized individuals resorting to murder to survive, but this is forgotten about until the closing moments when a voiceover reminds us of a line from the beginning of the movie. There's also a lot about 'Backwoods Law', small communities far from the travails of modern society who settle matters by their own rules. The police try to cover it up especially an officer who is Henry's brother.

Silva has his hands full during the opening moments of TRAPPED

Silva's redneck character has issues with his promiscuous and lustful wife getting her kicks from other men, but yet, during the opening moments, he is seen having a sexual encounter with a busty young lady presumably a member of his community. Others question his methods, but he's so intimidating, only a couple ever step forward and pay for their interference. He runs the town and its obvious a good number of its occupants are afraid of him since he can snap at any time. Silva gets lots of screen time and he makes the most of the role. It's definitely par for the course for the screen tough guy even if it is a different type of role for the celebrated actor.

The general store blows up real good during the conclusion

Towards the end, a group of the run down hamlet decide to let the escaped Roger battle it out with Henry in an effort to free his friends. What's interesting is that the group (including Henry's sister) know the only way out for the young interlopers is to kill Henry.

William Fruet was a good director at delivering cheap thrills on low budgets. His films also attracted some fine actors and familiar faces from popular B pictures. Fruet also directed the violent 1976 LAST HOUSE clone, DEATH WEEKEND (aka HOUSE BY THE LAKE), the star studded actioner SEARCH & DESTROY (1979), the occasionally riveting giant snake creature feature SPASMS (1983), the bizarre beyond belief KILLER PARTY (1986) and the forgettable 50's monster throwback, BLUE MONKEY (1987). His films may not be great movies, but each of them are entertaining and even the lesser ones have their share of memorable moments.

Henry Silva made a long and wonderful career out of playing tough guys and he was often most memorable playing psycho's. He portrayed the demented 'Chink' in THE TALL T (1957) starring Randolph Scott and another crazy villain in the Italian western classic, THE HILLS RUN RED in 1966. He also had a memorable duel with Frank Sinatra in the supreme classic, THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (1962). That film was one of the first instances that martial arts had been seen on screen in an American production. Silva found an incredible amount of fame in Italy playing both heroes and villains in numerous Italian crime pictures such as the extremely violent FISTFUL OF DOLLARS fashioned as a Mafia movie, CRY OF A PROSTITUTE (1974). He can also be seen in the 'Violent Cop' style of Eurocrime flicks such as WEAPONS OF DEATH (1977) and CRIMEBUSTERS (1976) among numerous others.

Henry Silva is great whether he's a good guy or a bad guy. He's most comfortable playing villains, though, and TRAPPED is a change of pace for his typical bad guy turn.

Silva also played the lead villains in the uproariously awful MEGAFORCE (1982) and also in ESCAPE FROM THE BRONX (1983), Castellari's sequel to his own 1990: THE BRONX WARRIORS (1982). Silva can also be seen as bad guys in the women in prison favorite, CHAINED HEAT (1983) and in a smaller capacity in THE CANNONBALL RUN 2 (1984).

While it has a few exciting moments including some car stunts and explosions as well as a bravura ending. TRAPPED (1982) offers some cheap thrills to less demanding drive in movie fans. It never gets too overly violent or gory, but there's worse movies you could watch. Fruet's minor entry into the hixploitation subgenre is a decent time waster for those seeking something off the beaten path and most especially if you're a fan of Henry Silva. He's the main attraction and a rare chance to see him do a hillbilly accent.

This review is representative of the Code Red DVD

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