Reviewed by Patrick Cooper
From Apprehensive Films comes a double dose of ’70s Italian sleaze: Super Bitch and Black Cobra Woman! Both films were previously available from Apprehensive, and now they’re packaged together for some reason! Super Bitch is a badass poliziotteschi crime film while Black Cobra Woman is a mildly amusing serpentine sexploitation staring Jack Palance! You figure it out!
Ivan Rassimov plays Inspector Cliff Hoyst, a cold motherfucker working as an undercover narco for the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. Hoyst is tasked with infiltrating a drug smuggling operation that fronts out of a London escort agency. Posing as a client, he meets Joann, an escort who quickly flips for this smooth, Clint Eastwood-looking American. Joann’s played by British sex icon Stephanie Beacham, who spends a good chunk of the movie rolling around topless.
The leader of the drug ring is Mama the Turk, played by Patricia Hayes (Urgl from The NeverEnding Story). For not a lot of screen time, she delivers a sadistically electric performance. It reminded me of the immortal Ruth Gordon. She’s got a loyal gang of goons, mostly young dandies in velvet pants. You’d think the head of an international drug smuggling business would hire some real muscle, but all she’s got is these goofs and a gypsy guy who’s always playing guitar and singing songs about Mama. It’s no wonder Hoyst breaks up their organization like a cannonball to a Jenga game.
The film globe-trots from the ruins of the Roman temples, to Lebanon, London, Beirut, Paris, and finally New York. Lots of the Italian cop films (or “poliziotteschi” film) tropes are present, including messy squibs, car chases, shootouts galore, and police as crooked as they come. Several Italian genre directors piggybacked on the success of Dirty Harry in 1971, so it’s no surprise Hoyst is a sleazy exaggeration of Eastwood. Rassimov plays a great scumbag cop who’s a bit more animated than Harry Callahan. He’s smiling when he’s pulling the trigger and laughing when the bodies drop.
The film begins with a nice assassination scene that’s shot damn well at the ruins in Rome. From there the action slows down a bit. There’s lots of swinging, threatening, and some blackmail involving a politician getting his furry on. When there are bursts of violence, they’re brutal and bold, with bloody flourishes across the screen. One particularly nasty scene involves a bunch of hoods dragged out of a poker game, mowed sown in a salvo of sensational slow-motion squibs, and then covered in cement. It’s certain to satisfy any bloodthirsty viewer.
Director Massimo Dallamano was an accomplished cinematographer by the time he helmed Super Bitch. He had shot the first two films in Leone’s The Man With No Name Trilogy and a bevy of other spaghetti westerns and some giallos as well. Unfortunately, he died in a car accident in 1976. If Super Bitch were his only contribution to mankind, he’d still be sitting in the upper tiers of exploitation heaven.
Black Cobra Woman
Directed by sexploitation icon Joe D’Amato, 1976’s Black Cobra Woman is a bizarrely humorous tale of a slithering lesbian and the Jack Palance who loves them. D’Amato made over 200 films during his career and I can’t front, I haven’t seen any of them. I have seen plenty of exploitation films though, and Black Cobra Woman suffers from some of the genre’s worst blemishes: miserable pacing and editing, sleepy actors, and drawn out, softcore kink.
It does manage to be mildly entertaining thanks in part to Jack Palance’s deadpan performance. He plays Judas, a wealthy snake enthusiast living in Hong Kong. Inside his penthouse he keeps a myriad of snakes in glass cages. For someone who loves his snake children so much, he doesn’t bother putting any warm lighting or bedding in the cages. It’s pretty dick.
His brother Jules (Gabriele Tinti) invites Judas to go see a high-class strip show. At first Judas doesn’t want to go, but then Jules tells him the stripper dances with a snake and Judas is all like “AWWW YEEAA, BRO!” The stripper Eva (Laura Gemser) knows Jules somehow so they all start hanging out. Judas pretty much asks to buy Eva and even though she’s obviously creeped out by his snake fetish, she agrees. Following his purchase of Eva, there’s a bunch of swinging parties, some more stripping, softcore sex, snake bites, and through it all Palance never changes expression. It’s just plain unsettling at times. Maybe they were going for unsettling? Who knows.
It’s not a very interesting or entertaining film, but there are some nice location shots and Palance is an unintentional riot. There’s also some very real snake cruelty, so if that stuff makes you squeamish, stay away.
Apprehensive Films presents Super Bitch in 1.85.1 fullframe. The source must’ve been in good shape because the clarity and color looks really good considering the film. Black Cobra Woman looks awful. It’s letterboxed and looks like it was sourced out of Jack Palance’s colon. It’s misframed, cut-off in parts, and there’s loads of damage. Both films are presented in Dolby Digital Mono, English dubbed. Super Bitch sounds better than Black Cobra Woman, but both are nothing to write home about.
Trailer for other Apprehensive Films DVD releases.
Overall Score: 3.5/5 for Super Bitch alone.