‘Don’t worry…there will be no bloodshed.’
Street Killers is part of a genre of Italian crime films known as the poliziotteschi, and you’re damn right I had to Google that spelling. The genre is known for it’s crazy stunts, great scores and tough cops and even tougher robbers. Street Killers boasts none of those things, though it’s not a total dud.
It starts strongly with a high speed car chase and the only cool stunt of the film – a man leaping from a moving car. Helmut Berger and his band of crooks have escaped from prison, with Richard Harrison’s useless cop hot on their trail. The chase keeps threatening to get exciting, but director Grieco’s action chops are sorely lacking throughout. At least early on there’s some unintentional humour to carry you through. When a cop car blows up, Berger comments, ‘That was a nice sight…a well done dick!’ Shortly after, the gang stops at a gas station where the employee seems to be dressed as an Oompa-Loompa. They beat his son up, demanding to know where the loot is. Considering there’s only one building for miles around, it’s no surprise to discover it’s hidden in the station…
I was ready to sit back and enjoy the silly carnage unfolding, but here the film kinda stops dead. The cop has a great chance to arrest Berger, but bungles it and he gets away. Berger basically spends the rest of the film just swanning around doing what he likes – there’s no stakes, no sense of a ticking clock, no excitement, just a really slow moving game of cat and mouse with Harrison. It’s not helped by the music, of which there appears to only be three pieces, repeated ad nauseam. Eventually a fourth piece appears, over the film’s best scene, a slo-mo staredown between Berger and two cops, which looks like it’s building to something, but then abruptly ends when Berger just pulls out a gun and shoots them and drives off. Ho hum.
There’s one final laugh when female lead Marissa Mell – who just disappears from the film an hour in – gets shot in the thigh and she jabs a finger at the wound and says, ‘It’s not serious.’ Are you sure Marissa? You might wanna get that checked out, maybe get a tetanus shot or something.
If the film had continued in the vein of the first 20 minutes then it could have been trashy good fun, but instead it plods along with a lethargy that extends to the overlong final fist fight. If ever a scene did not need slow motion, it’s this one! This sequence contains the moment that condemned the film to the Nasties – Berger slicing Harrison’s sister’s bare breasts with a straight razor. It’s unpleasant, but the film needed more unpleasantness, anything to make it stand out. As it is, I think you’d have to be a die hard fan of the poliziotteschi to get much enjoyment out of this one.
1977 was a particularly special year for horror and exploitation films – on the Nasties list alone we have The Hills Have Eyes, Martin, Suspiria and Rabid – and this film simply shrivels up into a ball and cries when surrounded by those movies.