KILL! (1971; Video Screams).
The second and final film by Jean Seberg's ex-husband, writer/director Romain Gary, is a brazenly loopy, anti-drug crime-thriller that might not make a lick of sense, but is still insanely entertaining. Although the two divorced in 1970, Gary reportedly created the film in order to help Seberg stay active and deal with a miscarriage brought on by stress from FBI harassment (spreading a fake rumor about Seberg being pregnant with a Black Panther leader's child in order to "cheapen her image," in retaliation for her support of the civil rights movement). Seberg later won a libel suit, but her career never recovered and neither did she -- committing suicide in 1979, with Gary following suit only one year later. Produced by Alexander Salkind, KILL is stuffed with bizarre set pieces, confused actors, picturesque locales and wonderfully arbitrary weirdness, but unlike Seberg and Gary's previous team-up, 1968's pretentious idiotically BIRDS IN PERU, it certainly isn't boring!...After being targeted by "dope syndicate" assassins before the opening credits, Federal Narcotics Bureau Chief Inspector Alan Hamilton (James Mason) is sent by his boss (Curd Jürgens) to Pakistan with $5 million worth of heroin, in hopes of unmasking a global narcotics kingpin. Meanwhile, (32-year-old) Seberg is cast as (61-year-old) Mason's bored wife Emily, who secretly follows her husband in hopes of joining him on this insanely dangerous mission. That's when this already-silly film goes gloriously off the rails, with ditzy Emily soon lost and alone in a foreign land, stalked by hitmen and aided by rugged, potentially unhinged American Brad Killian (BEN-HUR's Stephen Boyd), whose personal mission is to slaughter everyone involved with the heroin biz -- growers, transporters, processers, corrupt cops, even their scumbag lawyers -- though the syndicate's enigmatic leader, The Coordinator, remains a mystery. For some additional nuttiness, Brad also takes home movies of his executions and enjoys watching them afterward with an equally-drug-loathing young Arab boy sidekick. Naturally, Emily quickly falls for Brad, undeterred by his murderous ambitions or shirtless, brown-leather-leisure-suit fashion style... Sure, it all falls apart by the end, but this entire overbaked project is spectacularly silly, sexy and violent, with Seberg lovingly shot by cinematographer Edmond Richard (CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT, THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE) and Gary never allowing it to slow down or let logic get in the way. There's a high-speed chase featuring typically-impressive Rémy Julienne stuntwork; spirited performances, with Boyd's ultra-macho do-gooder bordering on camp and even Mason looking like he's having a blast; risibly hard-boiled dialogue; trippy throwaway sequences; and just wait until you see the big massacre finale (including a crazy, "what the fuck?" hallucination). The abrasive opening song "Kill 'Em All" is performed by American R&B singer Doris Troy (who moved to London in 1969 and was signed to the Apple Records label, with George Harrison as her producer), Tennessee blues artist Memphis Slim performs the title song "Kill" at a surreal nightclub filled with bored naked women and artsy mannequins, plus the supporting cast includes Daniel Emilfork (THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN) as a creepy Pakistani Police Inspector and Mauro Parenti as a charming opium landowner.
© 2017 by Steven Puchalski.