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Cult Sci-Fi Classic – THE 10TH VICTIM

THE 10TH VICTIM is a fully loaded double-BRA-relled sci-fi satire.

One of a handful of movies that came out in the 1960’s and sought to capture the pulpy spirit of sci-fi paperbacks and underground comics, Elio Petri‘s The 10th Victim (1965) may not be as popular as the later Danger: Diabolik and Barbarella, but it definitely has plenty to offer on its own merits. Based on a Robert Sheckley short, it’s an engaging off-kilter satire on the spirit of capitalism, the tale of “The Big Hunt,” a global competition in which hunters assassinate one another in a televised ritual which has become a substitute for the wars of the previous (our) century. When we first meet our two protagonists – ace hunters Marcello Polletti (a blonde Marcello Mastroianni) and Caroline Meredith (Ursula Andress) – they are both wrapping up their latest kills (hers involving a bullet-firing-bra later referenced in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me). But it soon becomes apparent that the two are headed into a battle of not only wits but also of sexual charisma – and that they sorta like each other. What follows is a fun artsy romp through a 60’s version of the future that feels a lot like Jean Luc Godard-lite, couched not in any real activism or moral indignation but instead in the spirit of speculation for it’s own sake – like those ridiculous Tex Avery target=”_blank”>”House of Tomorrow” cartoons. Hey look It’s the Futurecomic books are now considered great literature! People are born in “Fertilization Centers” rather than to parents! Streets are named after Italian directors! And whatever else we can think of! The killings themselves are tame and bloodless – like the playtime pantomime of children – but the truly biting satire revolves around the presence of the insidious Advertisers, who target each kill as an opportunity to convince the Hunters to recite their product’s slogan after killing their rivals – with the Colosseum as a backdrop if possible. It’s this view of ad-men as parasites that makes the film truly subversive, and why it works on a level deeper than the eye-pleasing glimpses of a futuristic Manhattan and Italy set to the ear-pleasing sounds of Piero Piccioni‘s amazing soundtrack. Highly recommended!

Here’s the Italian trailer, which you might not understand…

And the American one, which you might understand but which does nothing to explain the plot…

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October 6, 2011   No Comments

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