"Massacre Mafia Style"
Weird Wednesday Screening Information: 10:15 p.m. Feb. 18 at the Alamo Ritz
Running Time: 79 minutes
“Tonight we eat, tomorrow we shoot,” declares Duke Mitchell’s Sicilian-American wise guy in his 1974 crime thriller Massacre Mafia Style, which Grindhouse Releasing has restored for a Blu-Ray release and will screen Feb. 18 at the Alamo Ritz as part of the Weird Wednesday series. Directed by the late Mitchell, a performer who was once half of a musical comedy act that rode the coattails of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, the so-serious-it’s-ridiculous Massacre Mafia Style features one montage after another of Mitchell and his partner-in-crime Vic Caesar blowing away fellow mobsters, pimps, bookies, and innocent bystanders in L.A. Mitchell does this in the name of his father, a Mafia boss whose business has suffered since being deported to Italy. Mitchell only puts a pause on the violence to sit down and eat, cuddle with his girlfriend, and deliver rambling monologues about how a certain book and film has made a mockery of the Italian-American community. It’s hard to tell what Mitchell intended to achieve with Massacre Mafia Style, also known as The Executioner and Like Father, Like Son. One minute Mitchell seems to want to restore the Italian-American community’s good name as a result of its negative portrayal by The Godfather; the next, he’s lamenting that other criminal organizations in L.A. view the Mafia as obsolete and a joke. What makes the otherwise ham-fisted Massacre Mafia Style so compelling isn’t its relentless and well-staged violence but Mitchell’s unwavering commitment to whatever position he takes at a given time. When he delivers one of his speeches, he does so with such passion that it’s easy to assume that he’s speaking his mind through his infuriated sociopath. That Mitchell’s voice bears an uncanny resemblance to that of Tony Curtis’ only makes his constant use of racial epithets all the more uncomfortable. Mitchell’s limitations as an actor and a director are glaringly evident whenever he’s not engaged in murder and mayhem or speechifying. But Mitchell’s passion cannot be doubted, even if Massacre Mafia Style may not make much sense or offer a desirable defense of Italian Americans in the wake of The Godfather’s commercial and critical success. But, at the very least, it does leave us waiting in anticipation for Grindhouse Releasing’s release of 1975’s unfinished Gone With the Pope to see what chaos Mitchell caused when he took on the Catholic Church.
Aired: Feb. 12, 2015
Web sites: http://grindhousereleasing.com/?page_id=104 and http://drafthouse.com/austin