Thursday, 2 November 2017


Umberto Lenzi, director of classic Euro mayhem such as Nightmare City, Hell's Gate, Eaten Alive, Spasmo, etc., and sadly no longer with us (passing away on October 19th this year at 86), took a swing at the swords and sandals subgenre with Ironmaster in 1983.  Expelled from his tribe, caveman and Italian exploitation regular George Eastman (Luigi Montefiori) wanders into the vicinity of an erupting volcano where he accidentally discovers that solidified volcanic deposit makes a formidable weapon.  Using this to his nefarious advantage, he moves on to asserting control over tribe after tribe with his newfound instigator of fear.  Meanwhile a former tribesman makes efforts to settle a grudge between the two of them.
Clearly a bit lunatic, missing a few bolts and all that, Ironmaster's male cast look mostly ludicrous (and probably help to sell the film to gay audiences, where male flesh, often muscular, is on display in abundance throughout) - a musclebound near-nude male in a loincloth does not look nearly as convincing as an athletic female wearing the same!  Warping a view of history-in-the-making somewhat, there can be elements of entertainment found within, but on the whole the film is lodged firm within its time and place, sitting alongside the likes of the Luigi Cozzi Hercules outings from the same period, albeit with less supernatural goings-on.  I was impressed with the score by Maurizio De Angelis, who produces an effective concoction of The Beyond and folk amongst some other atmospheric stabs that elevate the experience, providing an emotional core that might not otherwise have been present.  He'd created a number of memorable scores elsewhere with the likes of Alien 2 and Mountain of the Cannibal God.

A cheap and cheerful release from 88 Films (part of their Italian Collection), I guess you can't expect a huge amount of work to go into an item expected to sell probably by the hundred.  The image is widescreen, reasonable looking and backed up by English only audio (eschewing the trend of the range, there's no Italian language option).  Contained are both a Blu-ray and DVD, although comparison between the two reveal only modest improvements with the former (still the preferred choice in any case).  The package itself has an essay/insert and reversible cover - both sides feature attractive and quite different artwork.  Once cut on its initial UK video release by 24 seconds by the BBFC, the censorship now on the new disc extends to only 8 seconds (a boar's death).  Not really necessary in this day and age but to be honest I can live without watching a few moments of real-life animal suffering.  A contemporaneous US release by Code Red is uncut and better specified in terms of extras (interviews), however, it will also cost non-US based customers substantially more, so you have to weigh up how important those points are when choosing.

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