Macaroni Combat #1: The Dirty Heroes (1967)

The Italian cinematography with all its ups and downs is pretty much known around the world, but today I was in a mood for something different than usual post-apocalyptic, horror or giallo movie. Yep, folks, I was craving some war action and there was a time nobody did them better (or worse, depending on the perspective) than our Italian filmmakers.

Macaroni combat movies is a category which doesn’t contain untold amounts of movies to discover. The amount of movies in this niche genre is rather small, definitely under 100 (more-less around 70), but they are vibrant and entertaining inputs into the world cinematography.

Director Alberto de Martino

I start my quest to discover these movies with 1967 thriller/actioner The Dirty Heroes, directed by Alberto De Martino, who, as it was quite customary for exploitation writers/directors, was also responsible for various other genre movies (suffice to mention his entries in peplum in the form of The Invincible Gladiator, Hercules vs. the Giant Warriors or Perseus against the Monsters, spaghettis Terrible Sheriff, Assault on Fort Texan, or Django Shoots First, eurospy flicks OK Connery, Special Mission Lady Chaplin, eurocrime The Violent Four, Crime Boss, or horror Holocaust 2000…).

The Dirty Heroes follow in the steps of successful Hollywood production of The Dirty Dozen (1967). The story is quite formulaic, GIs trying to steal important documents from German army. But to spice things up a little (just not to be a carbon copy of aforementioned Dirty Dozen), we have a little caper side-story here, when our “heroes”, who in the civil life are bank robbers, are after the jewels stolen by Nazis from the Dutch government.

Curd Jürgens (left) and Frederick Stafford (right)

Our actors here are quite a great bunch of exploitation actors one might know from other movies in different genres. The lead male actor is charismatic Frederick Stafford, who is also known from other macaroni combat flicks The Battle of El Alamein and Eagles Over London, but lovers of Italian exploitation movies might recognize him also from eurospy movies OSS 117: Mission For The Killer and Agent 505: Death Trap in Beirut (which I have mistaken for Our Man in Beirut), and others.

Daniela Bianchi

The lead female is absolutely stunning Daniela Bianchi, who is best known for her role as Tatiana Romanova in From Russia With Love, but who’s starred also in other eurospy flicks (for example, the aforementioned movies OK Connery and Special Mission Lady Chaplin). It’s just a pity she hasn’t acted in any other movies past her last one, the 1968 The Last Chance.

But we’re not done yet, friends! Added to the mix is the great John Ireland and I think he would probably deserve a whole section dedicated to him and the movies he starred in, so I will leave it for later.

Curd Jürgens and Daniela Bianchi

I am the first to admit I haven’t known much about the German actor Curd Jürgens, apart from his appearance in OSS 117: Murder for Sale, or his role in The Man from U.N.C.L.E TV series, but those older and wiser than me will remember this actor from many German movies of the era. In The Dirty Heroes he plays a role of German Wehrmacht general Edwin von Keist.

Similarly, I only know of Michel Constantin, here in the role of anti-Nazi German seargant Rudolf Petrowsky, for the Enzo Castellari’s movie The Inglorious Bastards, but a quick look to the IMDB reveals a loads of movies he’s acted in, so there’s some catching up necessary for me. Not that I object, of course.

Helmuth Schneider (civil photo)

The villain of the movie here is SS General Hassler, portrayed by Helmuth Schneider, but apart from his role in Angelique and the Sultan I haven’t seen him anywhere else, although the research shows him in some other macaroni combat flicks (namely, Battle of the Commandos and The Fifth day of Peace), so this is not the last time I’m mentioning him.

Adolfo Celi

But my favourite is Adolfo Celi, here in the role of “Fox of Armsterdam”, Luc Rollman, a thief and a member of Dutch Resistance, who is pretty known in the circles of Italian exploitation movies and casual moviegoers might remember him from Bond movie Thunderball with Sean Connery in a title role. Damn, now I am in the mood of rewatching Bond movies too! 🙂 But Celi is quite known from polittioteschi (e. g. eurocrime) movies, but the versatility of actors in aforementioned Italian exploitation is a known fact.

If you ask – is it worth watching? Well, the movie is little bit of everything (drama, thriller, caper, even with a bit of comedy thrown in) and that might be it greatest weakness, but if you are a fan of war movies which don’t take themselves very seriously, this one has filled one of my lazy afternoons quite nicely. And if for nothing else, for Daniela Bianchi it’s definitely worth a watch.

But all I can see is only an Italian language edition being available on DVD. For English dubbed, well, I am afraid you would need to check some gray market vendors…and I hate to say that, but that’s the fate of many great movies 🙁

A father to two little perpetuum mobiles called kids, Rudolf is a main force behind The Rubber Axe webzine, a bookworm, musick lover and a movie fan - not to mention his virgin forays into the comics and board/card games.

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Drowning: Lost City Riders (a 2008 TV movie review)

Lost City Riders, well, its title, has caught my attention almost immediately. I admit, I am a sucker for “lost city” stuff.

I’ve watched the movie once before, but I don’t remember anything of it, which is usually a bad sign, however, with the plethora of movies (and other spare-time-killing activities) available, that’s not really something to go along with – and you probably agree, you remember movies from your childhood, but hardly something you’ve watched a month ago on Netflix.

That might have to do something with the overall quality of the modern cinema, but I guess I am digressing here a bit..so let’s get back to our flick.

The movie was directed by Jean de Segonzac, mostly known for directing episodes of various TV series, and starring James Brolin, Ian Somerhalder, Bettina Zimmermann, Jamie Thomas King, Elodie Frenck, Michael Mendl, Jeremy Crutchley and Benn Cross,

Well, Lost City Riders is not a movie you’re gonna remember. A co-production between German TV channel ProSieben and Sci-fi Channel (before its rebranding to SyFy Channel), you’ve seen the plot rehashed a million times before (and couple hundreds after 🙂 ).

The global warming caused the flooding of the Earth, only 10 % of the surface is habitable, and we’re encountering our – you’ve guessed it – Lost City Riders, a family unit (a guy with two adopted sons), raiding the submerged buildings for profit.

Our family unit planning the entering and escaping.

Unbeknownst to his two adopted sons Jack (Ian Somerhalder) and Thomas (Jamie Thomas King), their stepfather John Kubiak (James Brolin) is on the mission of finding the legendary scepter of Sobek, Egyptian god of Nile, who – according to legend – controlled by it the rising and falling down the waters of the great river.

And as it’s usually the case, he’s not alone! Enters Nicholas Filiminov (Ben Cross) as a nefarious businessman trying to claim the scepter for himself to – well, you’ve guessed it again – make money!

Our villain Nicholas Filiminov (Ben Cross) confronting Giovanna Becker (Bettina Zimmermann)

To complete the picture, we have Bettina Zimmermann as Giovanna Becker, Jack’s old love, and because it would be bad to leave the other boy alone, here comes the rescue in the form of Elodie Frenck (Cara Cahill).

You know how it plays, right? Yes, it’s pretty straightforward, with a bad underwater CGI effects, the story doesn’t allow for any twists or surprises, but the scenes in the Chinese cave (yes, we are all over the world, from Vatican to Dresden to Chinese cave system) with the secret room built in it got me in stitches. The acting there was on the level I’ve expected it turning to a scene from a adult video movie any second! Anyway, don’t shoot at the pianist for the piano not being in tune, as they say.

Putting the rod into the hole…or something like that.

I am not sure if it’s me getting old and more tolerant of everything, but I myself was surprised to actually watch the whole movie without any interruptions. I think I can safely state it was due to the level of watchable silliness on the TV screen, quite certainly unintentional by the creators of the movie.

But it’s about entertainment, right? In that case, they’ve succeeded.

Not that I’m gonna re-watch it any time soon (if ever).

Official trailer:

Fragment Soul – Axiom of Choice (a review)

The link for these Greek doom melancholics arrived to my mailbox a long time ago, and I’ve almost forgotten about it. Yes, I know. Im am irresponsible sometimes.

However, I’ve started my spring cleaning also in my accounts and so I’ve come across Axiom of Choice – and what a beautiful album it is.

4 long compositions in 3 seconds over 42 minutes, that’s the progressive doom dessert from Greece. No feta cheese, though, that’s for sure.

You might know already that my musical tastes are all over the place, and although some might argue it won’t allow me to concentrate fully on a particular genre, I think it gives me an opportunity to enjoy music without too much of a comparison.

And therefore I can enjoy Fragment Soul and their work of art for what it is. And it’s a beautiful, melancholic, gloomy collection – however, not a depressive one, I’d say. It’s something you would play during the rainy day, laying alone in your bed and just floating in space of your thoughts and memories. For the fans of Draconian it might be pointed out, that Heike Langhans collaborated on this album, and there’s also a guest person – Egan O’Rourke from Daylight Dies.

I like it a lot. For a seasoned fans of the doom genre it might not be earth-shattering, and I’m not gonna argue it is. But if you want to spend 42:03 minutes of your life with an aural balsam for your ears and soul, this might be something you might like to check.

Album stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQupuFFlbOo

Malauriu – Malauriu (a 2022 album review)

Recently I’ve lent my ear to some nice black metal releases, so when I’ve got this promo from Italy for a review, it’s been only a matter of time when it will attack both my ears.

…and the day has come.

Malauriu are certainly no new-comers, haling from the Italian underground since 2013. I am not familiar with their previous output, but with the opening track, “Morto Era L’oro”, it is clear what they meant by “a new chapter of experimentation between dark ambient and Mediterranean sound”, which was the description they’ve used in the promo e-mail. Well, they haven’t lied.

The album contains 4 long compositions, the shortest one clocks in 10:52 (“Corpo Tempio), the longest will stay in your aural orifices for almost 12 minutes (11:50 long “Specula”).

A mix between ritualistic darkwave and a poetry reading, lyrics in Italian, along with the music itself, evoke the best moments of watching Italian horror/occult/supernatural movies – minus the video segment, of course.

Not much of a black metal per se, nevertheless, this is right in my comfort zone, as I’ll never say no to the atmosphere inducing soundscape.

The album will be released on April 1st, 2022, in a CD and digital format via the Italian label Nero Corvino, so if that’s your kind of music, you definitely won’t go wrong getting it.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/malauriuofficial

Costectomy/Nyctophagia – “Drone Hunting Missionaries For Sport” (a 2021 split review)

After some time spent checking not so usual music with my other webpage Indokult, dedicated to the Indonesian music , I’ve started craving some more unhinged underground music again. To be precise, good old goregrind and gorenoise. No, I won’t call it a “fix”, haha, but truth is – sometimes it’s just what the doctor has ordered. You know…going full circle and so forth…

Now, with the genre selected, the next important question was – with so much to choose from, what to play? For that, I’ve checked a Olga Lazarus’ new label Strangulation Furrow on Bandcamp. You might remember Olga from the interview I did with her for the Rubber Axe webzine here. Since then she’s relocated to the USA and started a new label, it’s only logical to show her some support! Yes, freaks, some support!!!

Olga is a busy bee and so far she has released some nice releases (mostly tapes, but also a CD and a 7” EP), plus she’s printing the t-shirts herself. Talk about some dedication here!

So, with that being said, I’ve chosen to review a split between Costectomy and Nyctophagia titled “Drone Hunting Missionaries For Sport”. 14 groovy tracks in total.

A tape version from Strangulation Furrow label

First to offer the putrid sonic fruits is Costectomy, which is Chud’s (Ulcerated Offal, Cystoblastosis, ex-Hit-Run Drivers etc.) project based in Eliot (Maine, USA). 6 tracks in total of great sounding goregrind (yes, the aforementioned groovy kind), enriched by the samples from the horror/gore movies, exactly the way I like it. You know, I love intros/outros! Damn, thinking about that, I am pretty much easily pleased, haha! Well, it’s true. However, when you are faced with stuff like this, that’s not so hard. Great stuff here. Oh, not to forget, the last song is a cover of Dysmenorrheic Hemmorage, “Affliction”.

The rest of the release belongs to Nyctophagia, currently an 1-man unstoppable grinding machine from Ohio and if you can count on your rotten fingers, you know that means 8 tracks left to enjoy!

Unlike Costectomy, Nyctophagia plays more of a little faster death/grind, more of a bulldozer than a groove, however I can’t complain here neither and so won’t you. Really, what’s here not to enjoy?

The split is over almost in no time – which is probably the only negative I can say about it. For those collectors of the physical release, this was released in 2021 on a pro CD-R by Costectomy Records (but according the info it’s already sold out) and Olga’s label has released it on in a tape version. Go check and grab it while you can!

Bandcamp: https://strangulationfurrowrecords.bandcamp.com/album/costectomy-nyctophagia-split

VA – Gorenoise megasplit vol. 1

It’s been quite a while since I’d reviewed anything gorenoise related. Gorenoise Megasplit volume 1, the compilation I’m going to write a few words about, was sent to me by our friends in the Italian label Nosevomit Records quite a long time ago, and I am ashamed to have waited for so long before reviewing it. Well, time to wait is over, let’s have a look how ugly this boy turned out to be!

Opening the compilation is Italian gorenoise project Bronchospasm with the track “Pneumoconiosis”, the cool 4:05 track and it’s quite interesting, not the typical blasting sh*t I’d expect, it’s more like an experimental noise track, with drums beats here and there, but straight away, I am impressed and I need to check this project little more closer. And, by the way, they are associated with this little record label: https://www.facebook.com/unauthorizedsurgeonsclub/

The second to dissect is another Italian pathology combo – Conforming To Survive – with the three tracks, “Severed Mutation of the Upper Limbs”, “Gnawing the Intestines” and “Cursed Flesh Grimoire”. Rehearsal recording, with a rather goregrind/noise chaos, and again, I am revelling in this! Building from the shortest track to the longest one (which clocks in 3:39), there’s plenty of filth to like here!

But then…it’s a gorenoise proper! American project Hydroencephalocystocele steals the show with its “13 Traxx Untitled” and for all those looking for a really cool gorenoise, now it’s the time. Bubbles and noise, what can go wrong, right? I’d welcome more variability here, but otherwise, can’t complain.

Mucopurulence’s section opens with a cool intro, which intro-duces (lol) us to to f*ckin awesome goregrind track “Copro Corpse Copulation”. This stuff raises the dead! Mucupurulence hails from Finland and because they kick ass, they offer 5 tracks here – Copro Corpse Mutilation, Putrid Bile of Shit, A Collection of Colons and Entrails, Ceaseless Violent Defecating, Choking on Swollen Tongue and Vomit – all the future classicks, I am sure! Not too long, not too short, they are perfect! I really enjoy these, and the song titles remind me of the times we used to come up with the most insane titles too!!!

This nice compilation closes with 5 gorenoise tracks (Adiction, Another Disease; Ear Atrocities, Head Hole, Inhuman Glass and Taenia Solium) from Saccopharynx. This Mexican project offers an interesting mix of blasting drums, bubbling, gurgling vokills…and probably even a kitchen sink thrown in for a good measure, and it works.

The whole compilation can be heard on the Nosevomit’s Bandcamp, and what’s even better, you can get a CD-R of it too!!! What are you waiting for then?

https://nosevomitrecords.bandcamp.com/album/gorenoise-megasplit-vol-i

Where fire burns eternally: Eternal Kingdom of Fire, volume 5 (digital promo review)

Those of you who read the Rubber Axe regularly, will might recall the review I’ve written for a previous release of this compilation series, namely volume 2.

Well, time flies and a few days ago a new batch has arrived to my mailbox, this time it was the latest invocation, namely the volume 5.

10 bands, 10 songs. However…what songs these are!

Opening this compilation tape is Winter Eternal from Greece (lately of Scotland, according to available information) with the song “Crown of Stars” (also on this project’s 2021 full length “Land of Darkness”). F**king brilliant tune, I can hardly think of a better opening. Interesting, well thought of, well played. And a well received here, that’s no doubt about that. I like the use of instruments and the melodies.

Russian strikeforce Ophidian Malice, on the other hand, take no prisoners and relentlessly bash the listener with their furious black metal vibe. “Saviour” is the song from their debut 2021 full-length “Disgusting Ritual” and it definitely shows the band in the good (un)light.

So far, I am really enjoying the comp.

With Skorbvstr, the raw black metal ferocity from Kentucky (USA) we have first exclusivity here, as I think their song “Diskusjonen er avsluttet” is available here only. I might be wrong though. I am little surprised with the use of, what is it Norwegian language?…but the guy might be from Scandinavia, so there’s that. As for the music, I have to admit I am starting to develop a certain liking for the raw BM (which, as many might know, is not one of my favourite subgenres), and there are some elements I really enjoy here.

“Pain Enshrouded Dirge” from Desecration Rites is our very next song, and the second longest offering from this compilation. I’d say there’s a certain inspiration from old Burzum (which is not a bad thing, what do you think?), and even it delivers the goods (so to speak) even with the simplicity of melody, riffs and hypnotic drumbeat. Well, you know…the old school, the good way.

Alpgeist hails from Bavaria (Germany) and presents to you their hymn “Moor in der Todtenau”. Yes, I can definitely say I like this approach a lot more than the raw BM subgenre. Dark, melancholic and melodic, I really like the guitar riffs here…the whole song is one welcoming energy boost in my current depressive mood. Can a black metal song be viewed as a positive booster? I’d say so, so this applies. I am really loving this one.

Zmyrna can be classed as Alpgeist’s neighbour, as guys come from Czech Republic, and their “Pagus Maledictus” offers yet another fascinating look into the black metal subgenre – guys not only sing about mystical stuff and medieval life, their music also evokes the fires of the dark ages and the suffering through the ages. This song is certainly a weird one, very unexpected, but as I’ve said – fascinating (in a good sense). The song itself comes from their only material to date, the 2021 self-titled EP.

And now, ladies and gentlemen – the longest track of this compilation. Necrodes and “Swept Away”, from its 2021 full-length “Isolation”. Wow, what a vocal! Imagine maniacal, hysterical cries with some gurgling and you might start to have an idea. Although, I guess the best bet is to have a listen. However, I think more of DSBM than atmospheric BM here, but that’s just my opinion. Unfortunately, these days I am rarely fond of long compositions and I’ve got a little bored here, sorry.

Necrocarnation hails from Germany now, but from what I could find, they are from Argentina, and on this nice compilation they bring to your attention their black/death metal sacrifice with their song “Antarctic”, which is also the opener of their 2020 EP “Fragments of Dark Eternity”. And I have to say, I like this stuff! Especially vokills, which sound really killer! Kudos to the compiler, as I really welcome the diversity of the subgenres while still being true to the black metal genre as a whole.

Finnish duo Svartheim play strict black metal, which might sound a little generic nowadays, but I think they are aware of that, so they enrich their song “Vaiettu” (which comes from their 2021 full length debut “Black Metal Finland”) with the interesting dual vocals. And it works. Personally, I don’t really give a damn about similarity between songs or bands – if I like it, I like it, period. And Svartheim would be on my playlist. It’s simple, yet effective.

And the last band to enjoy from this compilation is Necro Forest from Croatia, with the song “Hate Divison”. Raw black metal, with little NSBM leaning, I’d guess. I am little disappointed with the sort of a ripping off Mayhem’s “Freezing Moon” in the beginning of the song , because when it starts properly, it’s not bad at all! But I think Norwegian legends have their impact on many bands…it’s not that big of an issue, but I thought it would be good to mention that. Also, likeable song.

So, that’s all, folks. Good, bad? Well, for me, undoubtedly a great compilation. I think I can safely say – I can play this without skipping a song. And that’s quite a feat.

Get it from Ancient Cult Records, while you can. Get in touch with the label via e-mail: aniquilacionsatanicapro@yahoo.com

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