posted 00/00/2010

Directed by:
Massimo Pupillo

Mickey Hargitay ... Travis Anderson
Walter Brandi ... Rick
Luisa Baratto ... Edith
Rita Klein ... Nancy

Country: Italy, USA
Runtime: 87 min
Original title: Il boia scarlatto
AKA: A Tale of Torture,
Crimson Executioner

This film is based on the writings of the infamous Marquis De Sade, who was the world's first Saw franchise fan, however I assume that the script by Robert Nathan and Robin McLorin holds only a tenuous link to that sadist's literature. Directed by Max Hunter (Massimo Pupillo's American disguise) and brought to us in Psycho-vision, this is high class 60s sex mod and sadism at its most memorable.

The Crimson Executioner is put to death in a sword-studded blue coffin for his barbarous acts and left to rot in his castle in the Italian hills for centuries. That is until a group of photographers and their sexy young models show up to use the castle's interior as the perfect backdrop for their photo shoot. The house is currently owned by a strange, OZ-like man who has two henchmen in matching blue and white stripped shirts at his beck and call. At first he doesn't want them there, but when he spies one of the girls through a hole in the wall, he changes his mind and allows them to spend the night. The group takes the opportunity to get their shoot started, and in the process they unlock the blue coffin holding the skeletal remains of the Crimson Executioner. At the half hour mark the first death occurs when one of the guys is caught under a pendulum of knives that suddenly swings free of its own accord. The owner of the castle shows up to explain the legend of the Crimson Executioner (or C.E. for short) and we find out that his real name is Travis Anderson and that he used to be engaged to one of the models, Edith, and that is why he allowed them to stay. She tries to speak with him, but people start dropping like flies, and the hunt is on for the killer, who shows up in a red cowl and pants and a Robin, the boy wonder, mask.

Edith and Rick, the main guy, stumble upon one of the girls strapped onto a giant spider web. There is not only a dopey-looking mechanical spider inches from her face, but a series of arrows pointed at her and connected to strings that crisscross the room in front of her, making rescue impossible. Fortunately, impossible is Rick's middle name, and he manages to snake in under the wires and rescue the girl before the retarded, wire-strung spider stings her to death or makes us laugh to death. Everyone tries to get out, but the doors have been locked, and the Henchmen have turned on them. Edith is kidnapped and we find out that our host, Travis, is actually the red-masked killer. Incidentally, Travis is played by famed bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay, who not only appeared in a ton of other Italian epics, but was the husband of Ms. Jayne Mansfield and was played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie about Ms. Mansfield. Travis has sequestered himself in the mansion to avoid human emotion and abandoned Edith because she and the rest of the world would have corrupted his perfect form. He found kinship in the C.E. legend and has decided to continue his reign of terror and his noble crusade against sin.

Rick is hit over the head and tied to a bed as a wall of swords lowers on him. He escapes in the nick of time and fights off the C.E.'s two henchmen in battles that go on way too long. Meanwhile the C.E. is down in his dungeon having a hell of a fun time torturing the remaining gals and one of the managers. He teases their boobs with swords (this fucker loves swords!!!), stretches them out on the rack, pours cold water on their naked back (???), locks the guy up in a cage and sets him on fire, then pours boiling metal on the back of the girl he was pouring ice water on! Edith makes it to the basement and tries to save the girls, but she sucks and fails miserably, falling to the whims of the C.E. Rick shows up and he has another long fight with C.E., but this one is pretty good and doesn't immediately feel staged. Eventually C.E. falls prey to one of his toys and Rick and Edith survive their night in the Crimson Executioner's castle of sadistic terrors. Plus they have some cool pics to sell when they get back into town and no one left to split the proceeds with so that's good.

I don't know how many of you (if any) will remember a show that ran back in the 90s for a very short while called Reel Wild Cinema hosted by the queen of weird faces Sandra Bernhardt. Anyway, she would show capsule versions of obscure 60s and 70s horror and exploitation films and the first time I ever heard or saw any of this movie was on that show. She fast-forwarded to the good parts (or the OK parts) but I finally got to see the whole thing, and I have to say I was a little disappointed. The film has a great sleazy 60s feel to it, but there is no nudity! Also, our crazed maniac doesn't really do much till the end of the film. It's basically a slow-paced murder mystery until the end. However, I didn't hate the film, and I would most likely watch it again. It gets 3 coffins because of the setting and some clever camera work. I would recommend that you guys go out and find this one. It had a dvd through Something Weird Video, and you can probably still track that one down. Is it awesome? No, but it's got style and I found myself strangely drawn to this mediocre torture fest. Maybe you will too.

- Jose Prendes


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