Con la Rabbia Agli Occhi (roughly Anger in His Eyes) was released here as Death Rage, presumably hoping to grab some of the coin earned by 1974’s smash hit Death Wish. Even so, although both films feature a man out to wreak revenge on criminals following a family tragedy, the connection is tenuous at best.
Yul Brynner plays former hitman Peter Marciani. (And who’s more convincingly Italian than Brynner?) We open in New York—you always cringe when you see the Twin Towers in the background—at a disco-y rock concert. Showing Italian cinema’s usual keen grasp of American culture, this is attended by some middle-aged hood wearing Borsolino hats, as gangster were still prone to do in the mid ‘70s. One fellow is partaking of a large tub of popcorn (!!), when he is shot by an unseen sniper.
The local mafiosos decide the guy who ordered the hit was some other gangster in Italy. So they lure Marciani out of retirement by revealing that this guy was also the one who put out the hit on Marciani’s brother. Needless to say, this clinches the deal, and it’s off to Italy for the rest of the picture.
So we cut to Naples. A young street hustler named Angelo attaches himself to Marciani in hopes of moving up the ladder. To ingratiate himself further, he introduces his new boss to nightclub singer Anny, played by Barbara Bochet. Her routine provides her first opportunity to flash her boobies for our edification. Needless to say, she quickly falls for Marciani’s manly charms.
The local police commissioner is played by Martin Balsam, rounding out the ‘international’ members of the cast. He tries to keep the body count as low as possible while hoping to use Marciani’s presence to arrest these same hoodlums.
Various action-y things occur, including your standard foot and car chases and some shootouts. Meanwhile, Marciani, lest we somehow failed to notice he was doomed, also suffers from an eye condition (sort of) that involves him seeing images of his brother being shot down at inconvenient times. (Hence the film’s Italian title.)
This leads to a great scene where he consults a local optometrist. Being Italian, the doc offers this stringently scientific observation: “Probably more so than any other organ of the body, the optic nerve can be affected by some traumatic experience in the past, some terrifying incident burned into the brain. An image that comes back to blind you every time something jogs your memory.”
Well, yes. Happens every day. Marciani, we learn, has suffered from this ailment for a while. His panacea? Prescription eye drops. (!!!) He tells the doctor to have some sent to his hotel.
When the local hood community catches on to Marciani’s presence in their fair city, they send some boys around. The first guys fail, and more are ordered up, leading to this exchange:
“I might have a little trouble finding boys to go after him. Marciani’s a legend!”
“Yeah? Well, so’s the price I’m paying!”
Marciani manages to survive a dose of acid in his eye drop bottle (!!!), although I’d assume acid would eat through the plastic. Further incidents occur until we get to the end, where we are presented with a pair of plot twists. One of these was obvious about five minutes into the film, but the other is OK.
The film was stolidly directed by Italian schlockmaven Antonio Margheriti, who worked in about every genre the Italians plied over the years: Science fiction, horror, sword and sandal, mondo, spy stuff, Spaghetti westerns, cannibal flicks, Raiders and Jaws knock-offs, etc. Amazingly, he doesn’t appear to have made a zombie film, but he did direct Yor, Hunter From the Future.
Death Rage is included in the Mills Creek ‘Chilling Classics’ 50 Movie Pack. (Apparently somebody thought from the title that this was a horror movie.) The presentation was clearly ripped from a video tape, as it was tragically zoomboxed. On the other hand, the visual quality was a solid B. So it was certainly watchable, and really, anyone buying one of these sets probably knows what a crapshoot these things are.
Things I Learned: When a disguised professional hitman exits a guarded door in a police station after whacking a guy, he doesn’t bother to close said door behind him. Also, he won’t be caught, even when the cop on guard duty thus discovers the body ten seconds later.