Horror and exploitation movies from the non-CGI era reviewed semi-weekly
Sunday, March 8, 2015
#202: Angel of Death aka Commando Mengele (Andrea Bianchi aka A. Frank Drew White, 1987)
This post will probably be shorter than most of my reviews on this site because my normally pleasant day job is temporarily nuts, I've just worked 15 days in a row with another five (or more) to go, and I'm running on fumes, insanity, and titanic levels of both general and specific resentment, but I'm home now, having some beers, and listening to some music, so now is the time to tell you all about this fascinatingly awful movie I squeezed in to my tortuous week. Kablammo!
Regular readers may remember how terrible I thought The Amityville Curse was when I wrote about that turd a few months ago, and this movie is probably just as bad, if not worse, but it's got moxie, I tell ya. This is the kind of terrible movie that could only be made by eccentric goofballs. I'm going to tell you a little about it and then wrap things up, because I am exhausted and because it's the kind of movie that doesn't cry out for much, or really any, analysis.
The premise of Angel of Death is that infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele (Howard Vernon) is hiding out in a heavily guarded compound in Brazil, attempting to create a Fourth Reich in South America by getting involved in military coups, training a bunch of karate dudes, and performing a bizarre series of experiments where he attempts to create a race of supermen by injecting humans with genetic material from monkeys, assisted by his right-hand man Wolfgang (Christopher Mitchum), a disgruntled Vietnam vet who thinks fascism is the only way forward. Christopher Mitchum is Robert Mitchum's son, and he looks just like his dad, if you replaced his father's charisma and talent with a hypnotically bizarre mullet.
Mengele may think he's got Brazil in the bag, but a specialized team of Nazi fighters is about to mess up his week. They're a ragtag crew, but they've got a truckload of pizzazz. The organizational mastermind behind the group is a Jewish guy who was born in a concentration camp, where his parents were later killed. His girlfriend is killed by Mengele's goons at the beginning of the movie when he puts his ill-considered first plan into motion. That plan consists of taking his motorcycle to Mengele's compound and asking for a tour of the place. When they refuse to let a random stranger into their secret lair, the guy takes his bike behind the place and tries to get a good look. Mengele sends his goon squad out in his private helicopter and they shoot down our hero's lady from the sky, in a classic low-profile move. Our hero then decides on a better plan, after an insanely brief period of mild grieving.
The second plan involves assembling a team of specialists, the aforementioned ragtag crew with the pizzazz. The team: a gypsy circus performer named Mr. Agility whose father was killed by the Nazis, a surveillance and electronics whiz and his weird son, an explosives and ammunition expert, a karate teacher with an almost disturbing level of enthusiasm for karate (when our hero visits his karate school and asks him to join the team, the dude gets so excited he jumps in the air and karate kicks three or four of his students in the back, knocking them over like dominos), a guy who works for big-shot Nazi hunter Ohmei Felsberg (Fernando Rey), and a woman on the inside, a former nightclub employee handpicked by Wolfgang to be Mengele's female companion.
I'd just like to point out that the great European actor Fernando Rey is in this steaming pile. He looks like he knocked out his supporting role between lunch and dinner, but talk about being overqualified for your work. It's a bit like if Robert De Niro appeared in Bikini Car Wash 2, which I think we can all agree would be fantastic.
At any rate, Nazis and some of the good guys are killed, fantastically inept shot compositions abound, blood squibs explode in mass quantities, crossbows are shot, karate occurs, Mr. Agility climbs some shit, a monkey man looks unhappy, stuff blows up, terrible dialogue is spoken, 90 minutes go by. This thing is on YouTube if you're interested. Jess Franco cowrote it. Damn, I'm exhausted.
Dr. Mystery, aka Robot X, aka Raul "Sous Chef" Mendoza, aka Josh Krauter was killed in a brawl in a Pizza Hut parking lot after expressing his disappointment with the "Dippin' Strips" pizza. His skeleton was saved and inserted into an apesuit-wearing robot powered by an electrical current emanating from the still-beating heart of deceased actor Zero Mostel. He is also a limited liability company and writes the weekly advice column, "Pull Your Head Outta Your Ass," for the Vermont Luthiers Annual Newsletter.