Color, 1975, 84m38m.
Directed by Vittorio Salerno
Starring Joe Dallesandro, Gianfranco De Grassi, Guido De Carli, Enrico Maria Salerno, Martine Brochard, Carmen Scarpitta
Camera Obscura (Blu-ray & DVD) (Germany RB/R2 HD/PAL), RAI (DVD) (Italy R2 PAL) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9)


The Fango Bollentestrange career Fango Bollentetangent taken by famous Andy Warhol Factory icon Joe Dallesandro in Europe is a wild toy chest of surprises still left to be discovered, but a bigger picture of his output there has been slowly coming to light with a number of Blu-ray and DVD releases around the world highlighting his work in crime films (The Climber, Season for Assassins, Madness), gialli (Killer Nun), and whatever Black Moon is. That leaves plenty of curios left to be salvaged (especially One Woman's Lover, Borowczyk's The Streetwalker, and the English-language version of the incredible Je t'aime moi non plus), ou can chalk up another big missing piece revived at last with Fango Bollente (roughly translated as "boiling mud"), also prepared for a handful of English-language territories as Savage Three. This one ties in with its '70s crime brothers in a number of ways, particularly as the follow-up film for director Vittorio Salerno after the fascinating No, the Case Is Happily Resolved with his brother, actor Enrico Maria Salerno (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage), back again as a dogged investigator. Dallesandro's Climber composer, Franco Campanino, is also on hand for a great, pounding rock score with a theme song that gets played about a dozen times or so.

At a Turin office building where the payroll and day-to-day operations rely on an advanced system of computers, the dissatisfied Ovidio (Dallesandro) and two of his coworkers, Giacomo (De Grassi) and Peppe (Di Carli), live Fango Bollenteunder a constant sense of stress from the many factors around them, both at home and in society at large. To fill their personal emptiness after a rowdy crowd gets Fango Bollenteout of hand at a soccer match, they start committing antisocial acts for a passionless thrill, be it public disruptions or vehicular theft. Soon they're escalating to outright grand theft and even murder, with a wily but jaded commissioner (Enrico Maria Salerno) matching wits with Ovidio to bring them to justice.

A dark, highly memorable crime film with an interestingly nasty portrayal by Dallesandro, this film has earned a reputation as one of the nastier crime offerings of its era mainly thanks to an outrageous bit involving a forklift and a topless woman that still packs a pretty shocking punch. Some other nastiness is on hand as well, such as a demonstration of what overcrowded rats do to each other and the gruesome aftermath of the killing of a pimp, but in general the film doesn't wallow in sleaze as much as the subject matter might make you expect. The skillful actors and interesting portrayal of a '70s Italy wracked with lawlessness and a population run wild is quite potent for the most part, and the sort-of twist ending doesn't do much to assuage the audience's fears that this could be an Fango Bollenteongoing problem.

Often censored and Fango Bollentefairly difficult to see in anything resembling a legitimate video release for years, this film was prepared with both Italian and English language tracks; only Dallesandro was speaking English during shooting, and his voice was very poorly dubbed by someone else for the English edition (released on VHS in Greece and a couple of other territories) with a distracting, reedy voice that seriously undercut the film's effectiveness. A DVD release of this film popped up in Italy with no English-friendly options in 2011, but the real way to go is the 2017 edition from Camera Obscura, in separate Blu-ray or DVD editions. The Italian track is the only audio option here but that's perfectly fine as it's easily the best way to watch the film, and this marks the first time it's been legitimately available with English subtitles (or German ones as well). The transfer looks up to par with the label's other Italian releases, looking very filmic throughout with convincing grain and excellent detail.

As usual for the label, you also get a very dense but sometimes humorous audio commentary, this time featuring Pelle Felsch and Christian Kessler going into the volatile nature of Italian politics and crime at the time, the portrayal of antisocial behavior on film, and in the strangest tangent, a rhapsody on what the children of Dallesandro and some of his female costars might have looked like. In Fango Bollentethe Fango Bollentefeaturette "Rat Eat Rat" (39m8s), Vittorio Salerno and actress Martine Brochard explain how this film emerged from a collective of nine filmmakers who wanted to create low-budget films due to financial constraints at the time, with this one inspired by random territorial urban crimes at the time (symbolized by the real rat self-slaughter seen in the film). They also chat about the various cast members including Dallesandro, who was cast for his "somewhat weird face" and Warhol credentials despite the language barrier with no one else speaking English. Then Dallesandro says his piece with "The Savage One" (40m56s), which starts off with tales about making Lonesome Cowboys and his classic Paul Morrissey trilogy, which segued into his European period including foibles with bad interpreters, "stupid stunt guys," the "knucklehead" Martin Balsam, and a certain director who tended to answer his door with a gun, not to mention his less than flattering impressions of one of his fellow actors. The packaging also features an insert booklet with German or English liner notes by Robert Zion, "With Sticky Fingers in Hot Mud," which thoroughly lays out the mid-'70s Italian crime wave that served as a backdrop for this film and the strange acting career of Dallesandro, who took some critical hits for his supposedly non-actor status but still remains a popular and compelling figure in counterculture cinema today.

Reviewed on September 17, 2017.