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Luca il Contrabbandiere

The Smuggler
Contraband / The Naples Connection

Italy 1980
produced by
Sandro Infascelli for Primex Italiana, C.M.R.Cinematografica
directed by Lucio Fulci
starring Fabio Testi, Marcel Bozzuffi, Saverio Marconi, Ivana Monti, Enrico Maisto, Ferdinando Murolo, Tommaso Palladino, Venantino Venantini, Daniele Dublino, Romano Puppo, Guido Alberti, Giordano Falzoni, Giulio Farnese, Fabrizio Jovine, Ofelia Meyer, Ajita Wilson, Luciano Rossi, Salvatore Billa, Virgilio Daddi, Cintia Lodetti, Nello Pazzafini, Rita Frei, Aldo Massasso, Antonio Mellino, Lucio Fulci, Benito Pacifico
written by Gianni De Chiara, Lucio Fulci, Giorgio Mariuzzo, Ettore Sanzò, music by Fabio Frizzi, cinematography by Sergio Salvati, special effects by Germano Natali, Roberto Pace

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Naples: Luca (Fabio Testi), who runs a cigarette smuggling racket with his brother Micky (Enrico Maisto) and too-slick-for-his-own-good playboy gangster Perlante (Saverio Macroni), is pretty much the best in the business, escaping the coastguard using more and more elaborate tricks. However, of late business doesn't run as smooth as usual anymore, as someone seems to blow the whistle on Luca and gang every time they are importing cigarettes by their speedboats. And while thanks to Luca's careful planning they manage to escape the coastguard every time, losses are still high and raids are just not good for the business to begin with.

Brother Micky is sure that it's Scherino (Ferdinando Murolo), a competing gangster boss who also runs a cigarette smuggling outfit, who blows the whistle on them, and when he's killed after voicing his suspicions, Luca is sure that Micky was right, especially after one of Scherino's hitmen (Nello Pazzafini) kills one of Luca's informers before his very eyes. Luca kills the hitman in return and takes his corpse for a visit to Scherino, intending to kill him out of revenge. Somehow though, Scherino's men overcome Luca and give him a sound beating, but they refrain from killing him because Scherino insists he is innocent and tells Luca instead to open his eyes.

Soon enough, Luca finds one of the assassins who have actually killed Micky and tortures the name of his boss out of him: Marsigliese (Marcel Bozzuffi), a newcomer to Naples from France who wants to start a drugrunning business in the city and is looking for partners, at the same time killing all those who are in his way. And really, in one single day, several of Naples' gangsterbosses are brutally killed, and Luca's associate Perlante only very narrowly escapes an attempt on his life.

Finally, Luca decides it would be best to team up with Scherino, Luca's old rival, to deal with the situation, however, when they arrive at Perlante's place to discuss the whole thing with him, he already has assassins waiting for them, and turns out to be in league with Marsigliese. A shoot-out ensues in which Scherino as well as Perlante are killed.

Despite everything, Marsigliese still wants, needs Luca as a partner, and to get him in line, he kidnaps his wife (Ivana Monti) and has her tortured and raped while on the phone with Luca. But Luca still has someone to turn to, Naples' old generation of gangsterbosses, who are by now all retired but who still care for their city (in their own way), and who promise to help him strike the final blow against Marsigliese at the proposed handover of his wife. And indeed, Luca and the old generation of bosses manage to finally defeat Marsigliese, basically by gunning down him and his gang, and ultimtely Luca's wife is freed too, by the police actually ...

Romano Puppo plays Marsigliese's hitman, sex star (and alleged transsexual) Ajita Wilson has a small role as one of Perlante's girlfriends.

Hard-hitting and unrelenting Italian gangstermovie from the trashier side of the genre. Though there are some feeble attempts at social commentary (like the repeated mention of 200.000 people in Naples who have no choice but make a living from smuggling), the film's emphasis is clearly on action, and Lucio Fulci - nowadays a renowned gore director but back then he had no more than one gore flick, Zombie Flesh Eaters, under his belt - delivers the action in a most brutal way without flinching an eye: His shootouts are all immensely bloody, he presents the audience with quite a few ghastly corpses, and in more than one scene you can see bodies (or at least bodyparts) being blown apart. Yet somehow all of the violence makes sense in a film about gangsters shooting each other, and by and large, Fulci handles the genre pretty well, especially considering that The Smuggler was his only gangster/action film.

That all said, The Smuggler might not be a masterpiece (and wasn't intended to be one), but a solid, fast-moving and exciting genre film, and every now and again, this is just what the doctor ordered.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD