It’s not very often that you get the privilege of seeing a film that is 100 percent the creator’s vision, without interference from producers or studios. The ones that do slip out are few and far between. These are usually small and independent films. They are passion projects that often take years to complete, just for them to be released and almost no one sees them. Or they never get released and no one sees them because they didn’t know they even existed.
Massacre Mafia Style is one of those pure passion projects. Massacre Mafia Style was written, produced, self-financed, and directed by Duke Mitchell. Mitchell was an actor and singer, mainly in Los Angeles and Las Vegas nightclubs. He would use the money he made from his singing career to finance his movies. He was a contemporary and friend of Sinatra. They ran in the same circles. With his experience of Las Vegas, those circles, and all that entails, he put together the story for Massacre Mafia Style.
The film opens with an over-the-top violent sequence depicting the massacre of an entire office building’s worth of inhabitants. This is done to the tune of one of Duke Mitchell’s upbeat Italian-American songs. It is executed so merrily that it was used as the theatrical trailer for the movie.
The story follows the son of a Mafia Don named Mimi, who has been in exile in Sicily. He gets back to the US and leaves New York for Hollywood. There he begins a takeover of the territory using a level of violence that would surprise a Mexican drug cartel.
Once there, he tracks down his old pal and they get right to it. We follow them on a spree of crime and violence as Mimi rises to the top in 1974 California. Of course, there are other schemes and scams and rip-offs mixed in with a healthy disregard for all forms of political correctness.
I’m not going to go too much into the plot, because most of it has to be seen fresh to appreciate it. This movie is violent. Very violent. No other mafia movie approaches the violence in this film. Even all the seasons of The Sopranos combined are like a bake sale when compared to this blood-soaked masterpiece. And it is a masterpiece.
Released in theaters in 1978, it didn’t do too well. Duke went to the big spaghetti restaurant in the sky in 1981 at the age of just 55. Probably too much hard living in those nightclubs caught up with him. This is a shame. He made another movie called Gone With The Pope that never saw a release until the saints at Grindhouse Releasing found the workprint and restored it. But that’s a story for another day.