wake up and kill coverDirector: Carlo Lizzani
Script: Ugo Pirro & Carlo Lizzani
Cast: Robert Hoffman, Lisa Gastoni, Gian Maria Volonte, Claudio Camaso, Renato Nicolai
Running time: 124 minutes
Year: 1966
Certificate: 15

Essentially an Italian version of ‘Bonnie and Clyde’, Wake Up and Kill sees Luciano chatting up nightclub singer Candida and taking her out on a number of ever increasingly wild dates. Initially he doesn’t tell her that he’s a petty criminal, but when his interests start to extend to more profitable robberies he obviously has to come clean, but that doesn’t seem to put old Candida off. The two lovers seem to thrive on a rather tempestuous relationship, which seems to involve Luciano getting angry a lot and beating her up. Rather than such actions pushing her away from this abusive partner, this behaviour seems to make Candida think that he’s just being passionate over their love affair and we soon realise that this is all going to end in tears…

In fact Luciano, apart from being somewhat suave and good-looking, is not really good boyfriend material at all, and he not only takes over his partner’s career – becoming very controlling – he also seems to put her down a fair bit with comments like: ‘You’re only a woman!’

Rather weirdly the two get married, after he first promises to change his ways, but all marriage seems to do is to encourage him to change his modus operandi and take bigger risks, and he starts to use an axe during his hit and run robberies!

Candida, like so many women, seems to be good at ‘picking ‘em’ since her previous boyfriend, Franko – another dodgy type – refuses to take ‘No’ for an answer one day and tries to rape her. She’s kind of rescued by another gangster, who later tells her new hubby that she was ‘with’ Franko, which incenses Luciano so much that he feels justified in beating his wife up. Nice guy!

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Luciano’s habit of getting involved in bigger jobs finally leads him to being caught; the police being assisted by his wife since she wants to help him to reform. However, the police manage to lose the ‘happy’ couple and they go on the run until… well, you’ll just have to watch the film to find out, won’t you…

Reality is often stranger than fiction, and so it turns out here, since this is all based on a true story. Wake Up and Kill is basically a rather f**ked up love story between two people who should really not have been together. This is probably geared more to ‘true crime’ fans than for lovers of Italian crime dramas, but it’s still pretty engaging and, with some great locations and lots of vibrant colours, it’s certainly nice to watch.

The acting is good, particularly Lisa Gastoni, and Milan has seldom looked so cool, helped enormously by a memorable film score by Ennio Morricone. It’s also of interest from a social history point of view – this all happened back in the day when you could take a bag of weapons and stolen stuff onto a plane without being stopped!

There are a few short action sequences, but the main reason to watch the film is for the human drama and for the travelogue footage of places like Amsterdam, Rome and Milan during the mid-sixties when this film was shot.

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One thing of note, which I thought was mildly amusing, was the fact that one of the police inspectors in the movie was called Inspector Mark Kermode – remind you of anyone?

Arrow Video are distributing Wake Up and Kill on Blu-ray and on DVD. Special features include the English language version and a version with extra narration. There is also a theatrical trailer (1.18 mins).

Wake Up and Kill
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About The Author

Justin Richards is a journalist by day and a scriptwriter by night. His work has appeared in the darker recesses of the internet and in various niche publications including ITNOW, The Darkside, Is it Uncut?, Impact and Deranged. When he’s not sitting hunched over a sticky, crumb-laden keyboard he’s paying good money to have people in pyjamas try and kick him repeatedly in the face.

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