A young man fresh out of prison discovers that his Mafioso father has been murdered. Embarking on a journey to discover who is behind the slaying, he finds himself entangled in a web of betrayal and violence.
Talk about misleading marketing. Ricco is often advertised under its alternate title The Cauldron of Death, complete with a wonderfully ghastly poster that wholly betrays what the film is all about. While this manner of sensationalism was typical of exploitation films at the time, in this instance the prospective viewer will likely be lead to believe this is some sort of grotesque horror outing rife with nubile young ladies getting melted down in a cauldron of acid before one’s very eyes. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. While Ricco does boast its fair share of striking imagery and sordidity, there are no horror aspects whatsoever. Instead, the film exhibits more similarities to Fulci’s Contraband with its often overly brutal deaths and organized crime hijinks.
Ricco (Christopher Mitchum; Faceless, The Executioner Part II), having just been released from prison returns home to his family where he soon discovers that his father has been murdered by rival Mafia boss Don Vito (Arthur Kennedy; Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, The Antichrist). To make matters worse, not only is Vito now controlling the mafia business, but he’s also banging Rico’s girlfriend Rosa (Malisa Longo; A Cat in the Brain, Elsa Fräulein SS)! Aided by the beautiful Scilla (Barbara Bouchet; Amuck, Don’t Torture a Duckling) and hell-bent on revenge, Ricco carves a swath of violence through mafia goons-a-plenty in an effort to remedy the situation with extreme prejudice.
Christopher Mitchum (second son of the legendary Robert Mitchum [The Night of the Hunter, Out of the Past]) is hardly a shining example of a movie tough-guy; his fight scenes are awkward and stilted, mostly involving him Karate chopping thugs into submission as he bumbles about waifishly. His boyish looks make him seem more likely to be a victim rather than a steely-eyed action hero. That being said, Mitchum does manage to bring the character of Ricco to life with nervous aplomb which allows the audience to believe in the strength of his resolve at the very least. The action scenes are plentiful and spaced carefully enough throughout the film to prevent things from feeling stale or boring, and there’s an abundance of gunplay to counterbalance the aforementioned silly chop-fests.
Ricco is nothing if not a shining example of 70s Eurosleaze – packed full of sex and violence and a reserved plot that manages to keep one entertained on a variety of levels. There are naked sluts-a-plenty; most notably the wonderful assets on display courtesy of Mmes. Bouchet and Longo who spend a good chunk of their screen time looking as slutty or nude as possible. The violence (apart from the horrendous fight scenes) is well crafted and often brutal; more than one poor sod meets their grisly end in the dreaded acid vat, with one even having his cock and balls sliced off and stuffed in his mouth first. It’s elements such as this that set Ricco apart from the standard run of the mill action outing. Also of note is the excellent score by Nando De Luca (The Killer Must Kill Again) which is exemplary of the era/genre and definitely one of the most enjoyable elements of the film.
Those who enjoy a bit more sleaze and gore with their Eurocrime epics would do well to check out Ricco. You can’t go wrong with the amount of sex and violence on display here. Worth seeking out.
Official COSDS Nunspank Rating:
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Duane co-founded The Church of Splatter-Day Saints in 2005. When not immersed in film he's enjoying good whiskey, smoking meat in the backyard or thinking about sluts. He makes a damn fine habanero fire sauce.