Thursday, August 6, 2009

El Ultimo Kamikaze (1984), Or How Paul in Drag Made Me Question My Already Questionable Sexuality

Dearest friends, it is I, the Duke of DVD, once again herding you like stunned cattle to worship at the altar of Paul “The Spanish Love Muscle” Naschy. Shot in glorious Fujicolor in 1984, El Ultimo Kamikaze represents yet another movie written, directed, and starred in by Naschy, Jacinto Molina to his friends/worshipers. Unfortunately for the non-Spanish speakers of the world (which includes the Duke, alas I am only fluent in English, Latin, and a offshoot of vulgar Ural-Altaic), this movie is entirely in Spanish and without any subtitles, so I was forced to glean what I could from the intense stares and sweaty brow of Naschy. To my delight, nothing much was lost in translation. Let us explore… join me, won’t you?

El Ultimo Kamikaze starts off with a tablescape of red velvet, on which sit various pistols, sub-machineguns, and other accouterments of brooding Spanish killers. A pair of hands comes out and begins putting on leather gloves, which not only serve to keep fingerprints at bay, but are also used by Naschy to drink wine. We then cut to a park where a limo pulls up and disgorges a corpulent mob boss fellow, along with his skinny bodyguard. Out for his afternoon constitutional, the mobster sets off at a brisk jog.

The Vicar goes for a jog...

As he rounds a corner, we see an old man, smoking a cigarette and drinking wine from a bottle. The mob boss is disgusted, but his disgust is as short-lived as he is, for the bum is revealed to be Naschy! Paul leaps up, machinegun in hand, and mows down both the boss and his lackey. He runs, still in costume, to a nearby motorcycle stashed in the bushes, and off he goes, thus cementing himself further into my brain as the most awesome individual in cinema history.

"Get off my lawn!"

It's not really Naschy, but do I care? No!

We next see two guys who look like businessmen having a conversation over a lobster dinner. One of the men wears a leather glove only on his left hand (much like the Vicar), and we quickly discern that he has lost the use of it. Not being able to speak Spanish except for a few handy phrases like “That’s far, FAR too much for 10 male prostitutes, are you insane?!” and “No, in fact I did not firebomb that village of Spanish gypsies Your Honor, please accept this suitcase full of gold coins for your reelection campaign.”, I really couldn’t follow what was going on here very well. However, the power of Paul’s script revealed all!

"Ooof, this lobster is giving me gas already!"

Basically, Naschy plays an assassin who is very good at disguises and who has a penchant for lobbing grenades. He’s also a troubled man, who expresses himself via painting and is haunted by his family’s past, which included Nazis, but more on them later. The leather glove-wearing guy, or Leather Glove Guy (LGG), is also an assassin. He tends to hang out with his blond wife and smoke a lot. I could never be sure, but I believe Paul was the reason he lost use of his left hand. I’m going to assume that’s true, even if it isn’t. The movie contains a lot of exposition between LGG and his wife, and between Paul and his various lovers, all of which I’m sure was important for establishing motive, but which I pretty much glossed over during, instead getting repeated chubbies from Paul’s bulging arms/pecs.

We establish Paul as the badass assassin early on. Not long after he kills the jogging mobster, he is off on another job, this time greasing another mob-looking guy at a pool party. This pool party resembles most all pool parties of the ‘70s, being that it’s full of naked chicks and hunky, muscle-bound guys. While the mobsters commiserate and view the local hotties, Paul rides up on a motorcycle in full black leather regalia! To say my heart skipped a beat is a vast understatement. I also ruined a good set of self-removing trousers.

Paul Naschy, the leather-clad motorcycle-driving assassin.

Stashing the bike once again in some handy bushes, Paul sneaks forward with a duffle bag. He quickly removes the contents, revealing two hand grenades and a sub machinegun. No subtle assassin is he! Paul goes balls-to-the-wall or not at all! Lobbing the first grenade, which explodes harmlessly in the pool, he then lobs the second, which explodes one of the naked hotties in a shower of body parts and blood. He then rips into the assemblage with the machinegun, first mowing down the mobster and his cronies, then gunning down their dinner (seriously, he lights up the table full of glasses and plates for no real reason), and then finally he guns down every single person attending the party. No one escapes the wrath of Naschy! As he leaves we get a nice shot of the floating head of the exploded chick, and one of her severed legs.

We then cut to Naschy the artist. Wearing a groovy hat, he’s painting a nude model, who turns out to be one of his many girlfriends. Hanging on the wall behind him are horrible paintings of Nazis and prison camps, etc. He gets a call for yet another job, but before leaving he takes the time to bang his woman, naturally. Paul then travels to Egypt, meeting some nefarious fellows near the Great Pyramids, ostensibly for a job. First, though, he takes the time to go bed an Egyptian hottie, who he then suspects as being a spy. Throwing water in her face and then roughing her up a bit, he eventually tosses her out of his room.

"I just don't think I got the curve of your ass correct..."

"I told you that you had to buy tickets to the gun show in advance!"

Finally he goes out for the job, dressed as a repairman in a blue jumpsuit. Gaining entry to his target’s apartment, he is lead by the lady of the house back down a hallway. He kicks open a door, revealing a man taking a shit while reading a newspaper. Paul pumps him full of lead while his lady screams, which Naschy stifles by choking her to death! He then heads to yet another large city, I believe this one is in the US. To save money on production it is obvious that stock footage was used when applicable and most of the killing is done in non-descript hotel rooms.

"Who... does... Number Two... Work... For?"

Coming upon his mark in yet another of these hotels, Paul is dressed simply in a trenchcoat and hat. He guns down the dude in mid coitus with a smoking hot chick. He decides to spare her for some reason, giving her the money in the dead dude’s wallet. This begins Paul’s slide into self-loathing and paranoia, but first we get more Leather Glove Guy time.

LGG and his wife go dancing, they hang out, they converse. I’m not sure what about, but I’m going to guess it was about the Vicar’s last party in which they both did things both embarrassing and exhilarating. The LGG is a different kind of assassin. Instead of using disguises and hand grenades, he employs James Bond-esque tools, including a sword cane and a smoking pipe that doubles as a blowgun. He uses these tools to great effect. First, he visits a rather flamingly gay dude wearing a silk robe, who recognizes him as an assassin, pulls a gun on him and begins to dial the police. Before he can complete the call, however, LGG kills him with a well-placed pipe blowgun dart to the forehead! Next up he kills a guy getting a massage with the sword cane, and finally dispatches a group of golfers using a golf club shotgun. Very handy with gadgets this guy is!

"I don't know why I'm so surprised, I'm used to my face being penetrated by men..."

Meanwhile, Naschy gets a new target, this time a sheik. Nothing says international terrorism and evil deeds in 70s cinema like a dark-skinned fellow dressed as a sheik! First, though, Paul gets some well-needed rest. As he nods off, he dreams he’s in Nazi Germany, forcing Jewish women in a camp to strip before having them gunned down. He wakes filled with rage and shame, and begins knifing the portrait of his Nazi relative, I’m gonna guess it’s his father. He then smokes a joint with his sexy nude model girlfriend and all is well with the world. Then Paul leaves to kill the sheik.

Who got their Nazi'slpoitation in my Naschy?!

He does this in a disguise that nearly sent me over the edge with giddiness: he dresses as a woman! Dressed to kill, obviously. He wears a black dress with matching black hat, and way too much make-up, thus making one ugly butch of a woman with bulging arms and a barrel chest he tries to hide by stooping, which doesn’t help much. He arrives as the sheik is landing via copter, and proceeds to kill the dignitary and all his bodyguards employing several grenades and a John Woo-esque double pistol style.

"This just in, Dame Edna goes on murderous rampage outside local Starbucks!"

As he’s leaving, on a motorcycle of course, still in drag, he passes right by Leather Glove Guy, who was waiting for him! A chase ensues that ultimately ends in LGG crashing his car into a light pole at such a slow speed one has to wonder how he managed it. This allows Paul to get away, but sets us up for a climatic finale.

"Sheesh, another love sonnet from the Vicar..."

Before that can happen, however, Paul gets hired by a hot lesbian to do some deal involving the exchange of money, only the exchange turns out to be a double-cross, and Naschy barely escapes with his life, gunning down the would-be killer. He heads back to the chick’s apartment and interrupts her mid-muff dive, blasting both of the women in the torso with a sawed-off shotgun. The squib effects here are fantastic, the effects people need to be commended.

Paul arrives early for Hairy Taco Night.

Paul heads back to his house in sweaty ruin. He’s been double crossed, chased by a one-handed man, forced to dress as a woman, and is continually haunted by his family’s Nazi past, and he’s high on pot. He awakes from a fever dream (complete with WWII Nazi footage) to find Leather Glove Guy standing over him. They talk a bit about the plight of the Russian worker, the price of oil in Indo-China, and whether corn futures would be a worthwhile investment in this shaky global economy. Finally, Paul makes a move, pulling a pistol, but LGG is faster with his gun-cane! Paul, shot in the chest, is left for dead. The big reveal comes, however, when LGG walks over and examines Paul's gun, finding it empty! Obviously his Nazi-ridden past, not to mention the cancellation of Falcon Crest, was too much for him to bear.

"Prilosec... save me!"

Leather Glove Guy heads back to his apartment and wife, who apparently hates his guts, for she pulls a gun hidden in the couch and mortally wounds him. As she’s standing over the dead body of LGG, Naschy stumbles through the door, wounded but still going, and in the climatic final shot, fires two bullets through the chest of LGG’s wife/lover, before finally expiring himself. Such drama!

The Duke's various lovers fight to determine who brings him breakfast in bed.

To say this movie impressed me despite the language barrier is an understatement. Once again, Naschy’s gusto and verve for writing and acting, as well as directing, just wafts off the screen in waves. His tortured looks of consternation and anguish, not to mention his bulging pythons and thick pecs, know no equal. The movie does drag in spots, particularly when Leather Glove Guy and his woman are expounding on something or other. Long scenes are devoted to their talks, and I can only guess that they are planning on revenge against Naschy, or perhaps talking about LGG’s current mark.

The movie had obvious budgetary constraints, and was mostly filmed in hotel rooms, but honestly I didn’t care. The effects work during each assassination was spot-on, and the actors/actresses other than Naschy did a great job. Naschy, of course, was his usual excellent self. I do hope that one day some enterprising studio picks this up for a U.S. domestic release with subtitles, but I wouldn’t let that stop any Naschy fan from seeking this film out and watching it by any means. It is well worth the effort.

3+ Thumbs Up

"My new lesbian party blouse, ruined! This better come out in the wash..."

El Ultimo Kamikaze, indeed!


Tower Farm said...

Wow...this looks incredibly insane. The drag snapshot looks kinda like Bea Arthur in the early 70s.

The Vicar of VHS said...

My dear friend--when you told me you were planning to tackle Naschy in the original Castillian, I knew I couldn't let you go there alone, so I watched it as well. You hit on all the awesomenesses, and like you I was surprised that the flick held up so well even lacking understanding of the copious exposition. One of the good things about being so familiar with the genre tropes Naschy and we love so much, I guess.

To add a little info for our readers, this film was one of Naschy's Japanese co-productions, part of the same deal the enabled him to produce the excellent Daninsky entry The Beast and the Magic Sword. It also costars two of Naschy's most striking female collaborators, Julia Saly (Inquisicion, Night of the Werewolf) and Mirta Miller (Dr. Jekyll Meets the Werewolf, Vengeance of the Zombies, Count Dracula's Great Love).

Finally, you mentioned it briefly, but Paul was *incredibly* buff in this movie. I mean, just look at those biceps! He was in very good shape, which made his Mrs. Doubtfire disguise all the more problematic and awesome.

Great write-up as usual! Let's meet soon for Drambuie/Gypsy Tears cocktails and discuss ways to procure more of Naschy's untranslated works. :)

Samuel Wilson said...

It sounds like an English-language release is well overdue. Perhaps we can rely on the Duke's intuitive affinity for matters Molinesque for new advances in the art of subtitling -- or dubbing.

Karswell said...

I've been waiting for this review... you've cleared quite a few things up for me, haha.


What an awesome blog - glad I found this.

The Duke of DVD said...

@Tower Farm - Bea Arthur indeed! Naschy makes for a rather husky lady-figure that only the most masculine of women could hope to achieve.

@Vicar - Once again, dearest friend, you cut right to the heart of the matter: Paul's pecs. Buff he was indeed, I could barely hold my heart to below a mild gallop during any scene in which he flexed his arms.

@Samuel - Yes indeed, let us all pray to whatever gods or demons that we hold dear that some mysterious benefactor deigns to release this on home video for the film loving public of the US.

@Karswell - Glad you liked it, and that I cleared some things up. It was sometimes hard to discern what was happening, but through various scrying methods and the employment of a rather grumpy seer, I was able to at least grasp Paul's higher meanings.

@ARCHAVIST - I'm glad you found us! Keep stopping by for more debauchery, gypsy fetish'ness, and general Vicar gayery.

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