Ricco (1973)

The title suggests that Cauldron of Death is going to be another Giallo-styled thriller (Italian marketing campaigns…), but it turns out that this film is actually a part of seventies Italy’s other big export; the Dirty Harry-influenced cop flick! Cauldron of Death is a little more nasty than a lot of the genre, however, as it features plenty of grisly murders, including some unlucky victims that find themselves being thrown into a vat of acid, a la our featured criminals’ favourite method of dealing with people that annoy them. The story doesn’t actually focus on the police like a lot of these seventies Italian crime movies, and the centre of the plot is Rico; a young man recently released from jail and thirsty for revenge on the man that killed his father (which we see at the opening of the film). The guilty party is a mobster named Don Vito, and he’s certainly an adversary to be reckoned with as Rico, two years since he was sentenced to jail, is forced to match wits and out everything on the line to get revenge on the vicious Don Vito.

The film benefits from a good female duo. I’ll watch anything that features the lovely Barbara Bouchet, and she doesn’t disappoint here as we get treated to one of the best striptease scenes in Italian cinema! The film also features Malisa Longo, who adds to the eye candy. The men aren’t bad either, as while Robert Mitchum’s son Christopher is a little too naive looking for my liking; he still plays his part well. Arthur Kennedy rounds off a good central cast as the vicious Don Vito. Director Tulio Demicheli succeeds at generating a fetid atmosphere for the film to take place in, and the nasty death scenes certainly don’t feel out of place considering the look and nature of the movie. The main problem with the film stems from the plotting. You’d be a fool to go into a cheapo seventies Italian thriller expecting a thoroughly well thought out plot; but this one veers off course a bit too often, and it can become distracting after a while. It’s not a fatal problem; however, as Cauldron of Death is an entertaining and gritty little thriller that is well worth seeing if you can find it!