Death rides an Econoline van

I don’t know how, but an old friend I haven’t seen for years got my contact info and now I’m getting calls and letters from him in prison. He’s excitingly going on about how he’s getting out in December and how he’s going to change his life around (attempt number 6, I believe) and how he can’t wait to kick it with me like old times. This is a man who supposedly shot a rival gang member in the belly at his doorstep, by the way.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that if you don’t see any more ramblings on this site about a month after December, that’s probably because I’ll be fuckin’ dead, most likely having caught a volley of 9mm and .22’s that were meant for him, courtesy of one of the many malcontents he’s probably wronged. Merry Christmas. To be honest, the state of my depression kinda has me wishing for death anyway, but I want to be the one who calls it, not some shaven-headed asshole who thinks the two greatest movies ever made are American Me and Blood In, Blood Out: Bound by Honor.

Mimi, the main character from Massacre Mafia Style (aka The Executioner) would probably hate those movies, since he doesn’t seem to be a fan of the gangs anyway. (How’s that for a segue?) Not that he’s any better; the guy is a gangster who will give long monologues on how the Mafia ruins the image of the Italian (Sicilians, in particular) but then has no problems putting a motherfucker on a meathook in such a way that the poor schmuck’s eyeball is poked out — and that’s after strangling him to death.

Yeah, this Mimi is something else and so is his story, for which I will be giving a rundown to ya’ll. At the age of 15, his “Lord of Organized Crime” father was deported back to Sicily, so Mimi had to leave as well. For the next 16 years, Mimi lives life, gets married, has a son, and becomes a widow (cancer, not gunfire). He decides to go back to the good ol’ U.S.A. and get a piece of that American Dream (Mafia Style) that was so rudely taken away from his father — so what if the old man was acquiring said dream illegally?

Mimi arrives in Los Angeles, hooks up with an old fat friend of his named Jolly, and off they go. Now, I was completely fucking hammered on Sobieski when I watched this, so mine is not the most clearest of memories when it comes to what exactly happened, but here I go. Mimi and Jolly kidnap a mob boss named Chucky from church, cut one of his fingers off and send it over to Chucky’s underlings along with a ransom demand. They go ahead and pay it, so Chucky is let go. Then Mimi and Jolly go to Chucky’s son’s wedding to talk to him about going into business! What balls! Because Chucky used to work for Mimi’s old man, he lets bygones be bygones and allows Mimi and Jolly to do their thing. I don’t know, man, that’s something I’d always be a little sore about. I don’t think they reattached that shit, so it’s gone for good. I would at least have to take off a thumb or two before forgiving a motherfucker, that’s for sure.

Having forced Chucky’s hand (by way of finger), Mimi and Jolly decide to hit the streets and take down the bookmakers and pimps who are cutting in on the action. This is done by apparently going to the same bar over and over again (this is a very low budget movie) and shotgunning them point blank. Again, maybe I was too drunk, but I swear Mimi was killing a lot more women than men. They also try to scare a huge black pimp named Super Spook into giving them his girls (to use in porno flicks, but more on that later) but he’s not having it, so instead, our boys figure they could sweet talk him by calling him nigger. For some odd reason, this does not sit well with Mr. Spook. So they crucify him (for real) and make some kind of joke involving Jesus Christ being black.

Oh yeah, there’s a lot of matter-of-fact racism in this flick, and as off-putting as that might be, I guess you can say that the filmmakers were just keeping it real. I mean, you’re gonna make a film about hardcore criminals who are just as hardcore about their heritage and then you’re going to have them regard people of other races and ethnicities as equals? Nah. Having said that, some of it does feel a little like wish-fulfillment from the writer/director; you have a skinny short dude and a fat out-of-shape dude, both of Italian heritage, giving a tall strong black man the business to his face. They’re acting like that bit Eddie Murphy did about Italian guys coming out of a Rocky movie, only without the Jujyfruits up the ass.

When people aren’t getting Massacred Mafia Style or being called “moulinyan”, they’re given heartfelt soliloquies by Mimi. These monologues are things of beauty; they start off slowly, and then when you think paisan’s gonna wrap it up, he goes into overdrive. It is then that you realize that you are no longer hearing dialogue, but in fact getting a lengthy discourse on What’s Wrong In Society from the writer/director, Duke Mitchell, who also happens to be the same guy who plays Mimi. It’s like somewhere along the way he got off the script and started to speechify his real thoughts. Something tells me that many a friend of Mr. Mitchell have been addressed similarly after a few drinks or so with the dude, or maybe that wasn’t the case at all and this was paisan’s chance to let it all out.

Among the things that bother Mimi (and perhaps the filmmaker as well) are the loss of the good ol’ days, when there was a code to being a scumbag piece-of-shit criminal; and the destruction of the Italian image by scumbag piece-of-shit criminals like himself (at least he’s self-aware). Mimi gives one of these diatribes to Chucky, and rather than telling him “Motherfucker, aren’t you the same guy who chopped off my fucking finger one reel ago?!” he just nods solemnly, like he just got dropped some major fuckin’ science.

With each following scene, Mimi’s hair turns from dark to gray, which I means that years are going by. Either that, or being a Mafia Style Massacrer ages you as fast as being President of the United States (have you seen how Obama looks now?).

So the film follows Mimi and Jolly living life, while ending everyone else’s; at one point they even go as far as shooting a motherfucker in the eyeball on live television. In between whackings, Mimi hooks up with this chick and Jolly has a little gay dog that he’s real fond of, so you probably know how THAT’S gonna end up.

Meanwhile, back is Sicily, Pops is getting news of Mimi’s exploits and is none too happy about it because it doesn’t look good or some shit like that, I don’t know. He has his guy go to L.A. to beat some sense into Mimi, which he does: SMACK “This is from your father!” SMACK “This is from your son!” SMACK “And this is from the Holy Ghost!”. He then gives him fifty-grand and an ultimatum — stop the killing and start a legitimate business or suffer the consequences. Some more gray hair and a mustache later, Mimi and Jolly are now dipping their toes into the water that is the porno movie biz. They decide to make their own porn flicks by using Super Spook’s stable as talent, and well, you already know how that ends a few paragraphs ago.

Killing a pimp so you can steal his women and use them in your porno movies does not qualify as standard legitimate business practice, in fact, it draws a hell of a lot of heat on you. Mimi’s girl Liz understands this all too well, since she overheard one of Chucky’s guys drunkenly blab about how they’re going to set Mimi up and do a little Mafia Style Massacring of their own. Liz tells Mimi all of this during a post-coital chat, doing the audience a favor by having her breasts hang out during the whole scene.

They don’t know who exactly in Chucky’s crew is going to do the dirty work, so Mimi and Jolly decide to go out and start shooting, strangling, stabbing & eyeball-impaling the fuck out of anyone remotely connected. They shoot up an office building consisting of mostly black employees, and once again it makes a drunk motherfucker like me wonder if this was just a coincidence or if shooting holes into many an African-American did for Mr. Mitchell what Arnold blasting pigs in a police station did for James Cameron (and me). Whatever. On their way from another completed massacre, they bump into Chucky’s son and kill him as well, dropping his body off in front of Daddy’s house.

It’s all for naught, all this killing, because Chucky hires some outside hitters to take Mimi and Jolly out. Jolly is MMS’d first; he goes to a restaurant by himself, and the servers arrive with a plate of Recently Deceased Gay Dog before filling this fat fuck full of .45’s. Later, Mimi comes home and not only finds Jolly’s body on his bed, but Liz hanging dead in the shower. His calm and rational response is to blow up Chucky and everyone else at the son’s funeral by way of hidden explosives. At least Chucky and his wife don’t have to live the rest of their lives missing their boy. That’s me justifying Mimi’s horrendous (but ballsy and awesome) act.

Mimi then goes back to Sicily, giving up on trying to do Cosa Nostra American Style. His father welcomes him with open arms and is glad to see that he’s back and here to stay. Mimi then goes on another beautiful tangent about how the old ways are no longer respected “out there”, and that the street corners that were once run by the Italians, Jews, Irish and Polish are now all run by the black man — how dare they seems to be the subtext — and that Organized Crime is on life support and that there is no law to lawlessness anymore. The young criminals no longer respect/fear the old ones, long-haired hippies are bringing dope home for their parents to take(!) and the shadowy secrecy of the Mafia Don lifestyle is now common fodder for books and movies (“The most successful fuckin’ motion picture in the history of show business is you!”).

The old man is like Whatever and tells Mimi about the young son he left behind. He tells him that he’s been raised clean, going to the best schools around the world and living a life that has nothing to do with the Mafia, and he will not grow up to be his father or grandfather. A tearful, hug-filled reunion follows; Mimi and his son go for a walk to catch up on things and to meet the boy’s special lady friend. Later, they get together with other family and friends for dinner. The son cuts a loaf of bread and tosses the first piece to Mimi. Just as Mimi catches the slice — BOOM — he takes a blast of gunfire to the chest. Turns out there was a four-barreled gun hidden in the loaf, and the son used it on him. The old man then looks at the son, and I guess this means that he’s now a man and I guess this is the movie’s way of telling us that the sins of the father, the child is father to the man, evil never dies, the circle of life, etc, etc, blah blah blabbity blah. Whatever it means, it’s an awesome way to end a movie. The End.

This is a mob flick done Grindhouse-style, featuring some very raw acting and visuals, but it’s a lot of fun and I was surprised by how much I ended up liking it. Usually you have to deal with a lot of dead spots in these kinds of movies, even when they have brief running times like this one, but there’s always something to keep your interest here; tough guy talk, violence, titties. Some scenes have a darkly comic approach to them, sort of a proto-Tarantino type of thing going on; the opening scene featuring Mimi and Jolly killing a bunch of people is done to a cheery old Italian song. The dialogue can be very funny at times too, and while I don’t know how serious those speech scenes are meant to be taken, I don’t care, because they are awesome to watch either way. I understand that’s the third time I’ve used the word “awesome” in this rundown, and for that I win an award: The Small Vocabulary Dumb Schmuck Award. I’d like to thank my teachers for trying to teach me and I’d like to thank myself for not learning.

Duke Mitchell (né Dominico Miceli) was a nightclub singer and all-around entertainer, most famous for hooking up with a Jerry Lewis lookalike and doing their spin on Martin & Lewis. He wrote, produced and directed this, his first movie, and you can definitely see that he had more entertaining flicks (and hopefully better made) in him. Unfortunately, he passed away a few years later, leaving behind an unfinished film titled Gone with the Pope. Based on the footage I’ve seen for that flick, it looked like he was definitely taking things up a notch in Awesome. Shit, that’s four times now.

The cool news is that Sam Raimi’s editor and Sylvester Stallone’s son have been busy putting Pope together for a DVD release. Massacre Mafia Style, meanwhile, is coming out next month in a two-disc DVD set in October, but get this — it’s limited to 500 copies. So if you want your racist Italian mob killers in crystal clear digital picture and sound, you better snatch up a copy right quick. Me, I’ll stick to my shitty VHS version (under the title The Executioner); in a weird way, I think the poor quality adds to the seediness of the movie. Besides, booze and gasoline take up most of my budget nowadays, anyway, so I have to come up with something.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I now have to look up some gothic designs online to print out and mail to my friend in prison so he can have them tattooed to his leg. Because that’s what friends do for each other (especially when they’re afraid of getting shivved at their front door in the middle of the night). I need a time machine. I need to go back and tell the 3rd grade version of me to say No to friendship. Then I’m gonna go to the 7th grade me and tell me to make a move on Ms. Travers in Social Studies. Worst case scenario, she says no. Best case, I get a whole lot of much-needed confidence and my life begins a trek through a different path, one that will most likely lead to bigger and better things. I guess the lesson here, people, is this: If you’re a school teacher, pick the biggest loser in class and sleep with him. And if you’re a student lucky enough to have that happen to you, SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT IT.

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