Amazons Amuck!

Code Red has just released a fascinating little double-bill called Spaghetti Cinema, available exclusively through the Code Red store, and possibly from DiabolikDVD a little later on. It features two Italian exploitation films, the wacky Ovidio Assonitis production Super Stooges Vs the Wonder Women and a surprisingly engrossing, slightly perverse giallo called Amuck! I was more interested in this set for the second film, but let's start with the first.

The title Super Stooges Vs the Wonder Women (or alternatively, the on-screen title: Amazons and Supermen) is gives a surprisingly accurate idea of the actual film's contents. Ovidio produces, but doesn't direct, this bizarre story of a small village under the protection of a super hero named Dharma. A tribe of Amazons raid it because they want to know the secret of his eternal flame, so he enlists the aid of two other super heroes - Harlem Globetrotter Mark Hannibal and Hua Yueh - to save the day and protect the secrets in his cave. This film is damned silly and doesn't try to be anything but. A slide-whistle sound effect plays every time Dharma jumps, which is constantly. It's primarily an Italian film, but apparently The Shaw Brothers also co-produced it, and presumably contributed to the stunts and slapstick The novelty of the film wears off as the fight scenes never stop, but overall it's an amusing enough watch.
Code Red's DVD looks mostly pretty great. It's an attractive, anamorphic 2.35:1 image in excellent condition, not one of those dirty, damaged "grindhouse" prints Code Red has been known to distribute. There is one small issue with the picture, though... an occasional interlacing problems in certain frames. Most look great, but there's some interlaced ones mixed in, possibly some kind of pull-down issue stemming from porting this over from a PAL release (this was released in Italy on a 16x9 2.35:1 DVD; and I suspect this is ported from that); but that's just a guess.
This screenshot doesn't look so bad this size; but right click and check it out full size.
It's sporadic enough that you'll probably only spot it occasionally (though one scene struck me as particularly egregious, where Dharma is addressing his villagers and his mouth look like 8 bit pixel art), so unless you're very serious Amazons and Supermen fan, this transfer will probably be more than good enough. Though if you're serious, search for Superuomini, Superdonne, Superbotte on But I'm only guessing/hoping that the Italian disc doesn't have the interlacing issue.

A more serious problem is an audio issue around the climax of the film. About fifteen minutes before the end, while one of the bad guys is addressing his henchman, the audio suddenly switches from English to Italian. Now, to be clear, this disc does not have multiple audio tracks, and no subtitles or other language options. There is just the one audio track, which is entirely in English, up until the ending. It just randomly happens mid-scene, one sentence is in English and the next is in Italian, one dubbed performance to another. A little bit later it reverts back to English and you think, okay, at least it was just that one scene. But then it switches to Italian again a few seconds later.

That Italian DVD I mentioned does have both Italian and English audio options. Possibly the error here was just a goof while transferring that DVD and not realizing they'd switched audio tracks? Or maybe the Italian DVD's English track does the same thing - maybe that's how the film always played. If any Super Stooges fans feel like taking the plunge on that Italian disc and reporting back, I'd love to find out.

But let's get to Amuck!
Amuck! is a slow-paced but very engaging giallo, starring Farley Granger and Barbara Bouchet, about a woman who moves into an author's villa to type up his manuscripts. She learns the last girl who had her job disappeared under mysterious circumstances, and gets caught up in the mystery. Things get heightened as the tapes her boss sends her to describe seem to be describing the very mystery she's living. This is a pretty smart and sexy thriller, very well crafted, but one of the film's main conceits, which I won't spoil here, turns out to be pretty goofy.

As you can see above, Code Red presents another 2:35.1 anamorphic print, which is a huge revelation compared to the junky VHS-sourced full-screen presentations that've been floating around before. Unlike Super Stooges, this one is faded and has some print damage; but fans who've been waiting for a proper release for decades now should still be very happy with this picture. Here are a couple quick comparisons I made:
Note the huge amount of additional picture information on the sides, especially the left, and even slightly along the bottom. In the first shot, the woman speaking is essentially cut out of the picture entirely. And in the second, you'd literally never know the Red Riding Hood porno movie the characters are playing is actually framed on their wall between two statues. There are also no interlacing issues on Code Red's disc like you see in my full-screen version to the right.

And yes, the film stays in English through-out.

Here's the rub. This is not the full-length, 98 minute long uncut version we'd all prefer. This is also not the short, 78 minute cut version that's often written about, often re-titled Leather and Whips (even in the uncut version, though, there are no whips or leather outfits). This is instead a middle-of-the-road 85 minute version, with the on-screen title of Maniac Mansion. Now, Code Red's been very up-front about that, stating it in all their descriptions on their site, store and even the DVD case. But I'm sure it's still a big enough disappointment to many fans off of buying this disc.

Well, I've gone through this and the uncut version shot by shot and have taken notes of every single cut in this version. I'll detail them below, but the gist of it is that no sex or violence has been cut. This is not a censored print, but just one that's been tightened for pacing. The slow motion lesbian scenes that go on forever last every second as long here, and the infamous party scenes are equally complete. ...Well, technically that last bit isn't completely true. There is a quick shot of Greta lying on the floor missing from Code Red's print, but I believe that's just been clipped due to print damage, as it's one of the most tame, innocuous shots in the otherwise graphic scene. But yeah, essentially all the exploitation footage is here and untouched. In fact, there's actually additional nudity thanks to the 2.35 picture, which turns one scene of implied nudity into an actual topless shot.

Now, don't get me wrong. I think the film is better in its 98 minute form. This film is all about the characters' psychology and motivation, and some of that gets lost in the tighter cut. It's harder to relate to Greta getting further involved with the other characters without seeing some of these moments where they open up to her. And a few moments are turned confusing or illogical when snipped. For example, at one point Greta gets scared in her bedroom, so she goes downstairs to see Eleanora and says, "you're alone? On the phone I thought someone was with you." You're left wondering: phone, what? But in the uncut version, after getting scared her phone rings, and it's Eleanora asking her to come downstairs. And that's basically what all the cuts are like. No big moments are lost, just lots of little touches and exposition. You can tell this version was cut by an editor who didn't care about the intricate details and just wanted to hurry things along.

So, with that in mind, I think I can safely recommend this disc for most viewers. Yes, if you consider yourself a major fan of the film, you'll want to track down an uncut version. An early, full-frame disc from Eurovista is uncut and even includes interviews with the two female leads as extras... But again, the image quality is so far beneath this one, that Code Red's print, with all the salacious elements at least intact, will probably be the preferable watch. Personally, I'm considering making a little composite cut for myself, heh.

This disc opens with a trailer for Brotherhood of Death, a film Code Red just put out on blu-ray. There aren't really any extras to speak of, but it does include the theatrical trailers for both Super Stooges and Amuck! I recommend at least watching the latter, since it's got some pretty interesting narration going about how "UNCUT" the film is.

Maniac Mansion cuts:

1.22 The scene of Greta typing is longer, we hear the full point the author is making on the tape.

2.48 "Come, I'll show you something," the scene with Greta and the author continues, he shows her his new painting and how he seeks immortality through his art. This leads to a short dinner scene, which is also cut from MM.

6.43 "That's my hairdresser," Eleanora tells Greta she needs her as a friend.

8.52 "At times I feel I was being driven by another will," the letter Greta reads to the policeman is longer and more revealing.

21.02 "It's time I introduced you to Eleanora's friends," the party scene is longer at the beginning.

26.42 "you're a New Yorker, aren't you?" Granger talks more to Greta at dinner.

29.01 the only moment of suspense that's been trimmed. As Grete sneaks around the basement, she opens a drawer to look at a pink shirt and a stuffed bird falls on her head.

38.50 Greta tries the keys she found in the boat, but the butler kicks her out.

42,47 Greta gets a quick phone call telling her guests will be coming over.

51.45 "we all have to die sometime." the seance is longer in the 98 minute version.

52.50 "it's a silly business" Granger talks to Greta after the seance.

1.01.10 just a quick shot of the guy looking at himself in the mirror before turning to talk to Greta.

1.05.03 "it's fine." Granger and Eleanora talk after their boat docks.

1.07.25 A quick walking shot.

1.07.50 A quick shot of her looking.

1.09.41 Greta closes her door before playing the tapes so the butler can't hear them.

1.11.10 Granger talks to Greta and towels her before she sits down and the scene continues as it plays in the MM cut.

1.17.28 the record ends and the blonde lays on the floor

1.22.06 Farley pours a drink and Greta smokes a cigarette... just generally shots to show that they're feeling troubled.

1.29.17 Greta's phone rings and it's Eleanora asking her to come downstairs.


  1. Now THIS is a great, detailed review. Thank you!

  2. Wow! Love the detail of the missing scenes. Glad to see other film lovers of Amuck as I am. Maybe one day a legit company will release the entire 98 minute version restored and looking great. Until then, this will have to do. I love this giallo too much to let this one pass me by.

  3. Thanks, guys! - my first comments!

    Yeah, there's definitely still room for a restored, special edition blu-ray. But this is a pretty good release while we wait.

  4. Thank you for your very detailed review. Looks like I'll keep my EuroVista next to the Code Red least until your composite comes out (hint hint hint).

  5. Thank you for this excellent review and itemization of deleted scenes in Code Red's release of AMUCK! I bought the Code Red dvd, but haven't received it yet. I have a few of the Eurovista dvds and 24 of the Catalina Home Video release on vhs which is the uncut 98+ minute version that Eurovista used as their source. I also purchased AMUCK! on 16 mm many years back. It's an uncut widescreen version that I never got around to transferring to vhs. You can probably guess that I'm a fan of this weird giallo. :-) Barbara Bouchet autographed one of my AMUCK! vhs tapes at a convention many years ago. During a trip to Manhattan in 1978 to see A CHORUS LINE, I opted to ditch my party of friends to see AMUCK! on a triple-bill with DR TARR'S TORTURE DUNGEON and DUNGEON OF TERROR instead. This was before Times Square became Disney-ized. What an experience. Thank you for this review, and thank you Code Red for releasing it.

  6. An excellent review. Thank you very much.

  7. Camera Obscura just announced a 2016 Blu-ray release for AMUCK!: "The disc will feature Italian and English audio as well as a brand-new HD-transfer of the original negative." Having been forced to be content with the cut Code Red version (and the dupey, cropped Eurovista version), I'm over the moon that Camera Obscura are going to give this the deluxe treatment (their recent restoration of Aldo Lado's SHORT NIGHT OF GLASS DOLLS is jaw-dropping, and absolutely stacked with extras) ... the release date can't get here soon enough!

    1. Oh wow, yeah, that'll surely be a pretty definitive version. I have a Camera Obscura disc or two and they do great work.