Italian B-movie auteur Mario Bava (Black Sunday) is celebrated for his feverish visual style, but this 1974 thriller, his only crime flick, is unusually austere, concentrating on plot, character, and suspense. Four cruel but inept hoods rip off a pharmaceutical company’s payroll; when one of them is killed by police during a car chase, the remaining three take a hostage (Lea Lander) and then carjack a man (Riccardo Cucciolla) who’s trying to get his unconscious son to the hospital. Most of the film takes place inside the crowded four-door compact, and Bava’s claustrophobic framing adds to the sense of sweaty desperation. The project was aborted near the end of the shoot, when its producers went bankrupt, and the footage sat in a vault for more than two decades before being patched together and released on DVD as Rabid Dogs. This second and presumably more faithful restoration was completed in 2002 by Bava’s frequent producer Alfredo Leone and his son and assistant director, Lamberto Bava. Despite mismatched film stocks and unpersuasive dubbing, it’s a model of tight story construction. In Italian with subtitles.
1 hour 32 min • 1974