Saturday, December 28, 2013


You know you're watching a blatant ripoff of THE GODFATHER (1972) when the film stoops so low as to steal the type font from that Academy Award winning classic. I watched MASSACRE MAFIA STYLE (1975) the other day (recorded off of TCM) and it was not a pleasant experience.

Mario Puzo's bestselling novel THE GODFATHER and Francis Ford Coppola's film version of the book spawned a host of imitators as authors, publishers, filmmakers and movie studios all wanted to cash in on the red hot organized crime mania of the 1970s. Countless books and films were produced and released during this period and it's safe to say that none of them ever met with the degree of success, both commercially and artistically, as did the Puzo and Coppola originals.

Still, that didn't stop people from trying. People like Duke Mitchell who produced, directed, wrote, composed the music for and starred in MASSACRE MAFIA STYLE. Rumor is that Mitchell also catered the film, cleaned the toilets and changed the light bulbs on the sets. The film was originally released as LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON. It didn't do much business under that title and was re-released in 1978 as THE EXECUTIONER. By that time, the mafia movie craze was long over. The film appears to have been re-titled MASSACRE MAFIA STYLE for another go round under the auspices of Grindhouse Releasing.

   Would be auteur Mitchell's talent is not commensurate to his ambition however in this confused and confusing saga of Mimi (Mitchell) a son of Mafia don who climbs his way to the top of the Los Angeles crime organization by killing everyone who gets in his way. As Mimi says (more than once in the film): "You're either in or in the way."

The film opens with Mimi and his partner Jolly (Vic Caesar) brutally killing many of their enemies in an office building massacre. Who knew that so many crooked lawyers, pimps, bookies, front men, muscle for hire and assorted stooges all had their headquarters in the same building? How convenient.

Mitchell strains mightily to give this dreck some semblance of gravitas. He desperately wants it to be as serious and important a film as THE GODFATHER and he does so by hitting many of the same themes: tradition, honor, loyalty, family, betrayal and brutal extermination of enemies. But the low budget, incoherent script and lack of talent in front of and behind the camera all conspire to keep this mess strictly drive-in and urban grindhouse fare.

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