Title: Italian Spiderman
Director: Dario Russo
Writers: Will Spartalis, Tait Wilson, Boris Repasky, David Ashby, Dario Russo (created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko)
Distributed By: Alrugo Entertainment
Starring: David Ashby, Chris Asimos, Anna Cashman, and Michael Crisci
Release Date: May 22nd, 2008
We’re continuing on with more foreign exploitation superhero films with Italian Spiderman. Albeit an Australian made film parodying the late 60s-70s Italian action films. You know the signs are changing when films can be made based on a three minute youtube (fake) trailer. Unless you’ve been living in an internet cave, you’ve probably seen the trailer at some point. Which was a spot on and surprisingly funny video. But question is, can the webisode film live up to the expectations? Or is it just another example of a meme being milked for all it’s worth?
How much you enjoy Italian Spiderman depends on how much you know about Italian exploitation and classic foreign mockbusters. Not that you have to know any films in particular, but just the style in general. I’m not saying that one won’t enjoy Italian Spiderman if they’re not cineastes. In fact, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll still find the humor. But those of us who do enjoy some action exploitation are in for a real treat here.
For starters, Dario Russo’s got the style and film quality to a tee. There are a few seconds here and there where the film making seems to go modern and takes us away from the magic, but otherwise it looks like it could’ve been filmed in 1970 since they’ve used authentic 16mm film. And true to the nature of retro, they’ve even used plenty of old stock footage.
It’s not just the footage that’s done right. Will Spartalis does an excellent job with the sound direction and original score, making it sound like the old b-films with everything from the exotic drum set to the vintage throwback guitar.
When it comes to the plot, there is no plot…and that’s what makes it work. Actually there is a plot, in which an asteroid crash lands into someone’s back yard during a party, Professor Bernardi discovers that the asteroid’s substance contains powers to duplicate anyone, and now it’s up to Italian Spiderman to keep it from falling into the hands of Captain Maximum. But from there on anything goes, and I mean anything, from crocodile assassins to people turning into snakes. And that’s the second best thing about Italian Spiderman.
The best thing about Italian Spiderman is hands down Italian Spiderman (yes, he’s called Italian Spiderman, and yes, there is no hyphen between spider and man). Just like the old foreign rip offs such as 3 Dev Adam, or even the authorized Japanese TV adaptation of Spider-Man, Italian Spiderman is about as opposite of the real Peter Parker as you can get. Whether we’re talking about his pant size, his willingness to kill, or his playboy behavior. Not to mention that, like the plot, Italian Spiderman’s powers have no logic to them whatsoever, and range from summoning penguins to teleportation, to even throwing his mustache that can cause heads to explode (of course, none of the powers have anything to do with web slinging or crawling).
If there is one major flaw to Italian Spiderman, it’s the same flaw that plagues countless of lampoon comedies, in which a running gag gets played one time too many. I can never get enough of the “wtf” gif, but the rubber snake gag definitely lost its charm quickly.
Despite some overplayed jokes, Italian Spiderman is hands down one of the best online exclusive films. It might not have the same exact one-two punch of its trailer, but being short at 37 minutes means not a single dull moment. This is to the Italian exploitation as Austin Powers was to the 007 franchise. So go check it out if you haven’t already. And then shut up and go make me a macchiato.