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  Ironmaster Anything You Can Do, I Can Do BetterBuy this film here.
Year: 1983
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Stars: Sam Pasco, Elvire Audray, George Eastman, Pamela Prati, Jacques Herlin, Danilo Mattei, Benito Stefanelli, Areno D’Adderio, Giovanni Cianfriglia, Nello Pazzafini, Walter Lucchini, Nicola La Macchia, William Berger
Genre: Trash, Adventure
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Ela (Sam Pasco) is part of a tribe in prehistoric times, and feels it is led well by a strong chief and his righthand man, the wise one, though there has recently been some conflict between them as the hunting grounds where they gather their food are growing less fruitful as regards the animals available for the taking. Not helping is that as mankind begins to prosper, there is more demand for the beasts, and the wise one warns the elder that they may meet with opposition the next time they go on the hunt. One tribesman is Vuud (George Eastman) who not-so-secretly yearns to be the leader himself, and is making up half-conceived plans to that end - can Ela stop him in his tracks, or will Vuud become a tyrant?

By the nineteen-eighties, director Umberto Lenzi was finding himself less in demand and more likely to be helming low budget and unimpressive ventures; he had dabbled many genres from sword and sandal in the sixties to giallo in the seventies, but it was his most notorious film Cannibal Ferox that seemed to set the seal on his career as a purveyor of rather tawdry entertainments. So it was with Ironmaster, which attempted to jump on the bandwagon of the caveman pictures that were proliferating in a somewhat muted fashion across the decade, following in the footsteps of bigger productions such as Quest for Fire or Clan of the Cave Bear where respectable thespians donned animal skins and made grunting noises.

It was all following on from Raquel Welch in One Million Years B.C., only about twenty years too late, and most of them avoided dinosaurs for inclusion because they wanted to make moves towards realism, as every schoolkid will tell you humanity and dinos never shared the world at the same time. This did mean that Raquel was generously overburdened with actual excitement in her movie, because a Ray Harryhausen monster is always going to put some oomph into a storyline, and seeing some slightly embarrassed actors speaking a made-up language amid carefully researched, primitive production design was never going to be quite as diverting, not least because these efforts were so deadening in their self-importance.

Naturally, it did not take long for the genre to revert to type, and Ironmaster was not blessed with much in the way of scientific accuracy, not with those plastic elephants anyway, but it had a definite moral to relate which had it almost getting away with a metaphor. Its main concern was weaponry, and how mankind started with clubs and spears, but then discovered how to forge metal, the iron of the title, essentially kicking off the arms race that had lasted to the twentieth century (and indeed beyond it). That's right, an eighties movie about cavemen managed to crowbar in a loose reference to nuclear weapons, and demonstrated a desire for unilateral disarmament as played out in its final sequence. Though not before the goodies have devised a better weapon than the baddies, which confused the pacifist message somewhat.

Pasco resembled a musclebound Robert Walker Jr in an Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan the Barbarian wig, and obviously took great care to shave his chest and keep his well-toned to bursting form as oiled up as possible. He was actually more regularly seen in gay pornography, and this represented his one try at the mainstream, if you could term Ironmaster the mainstream: the fact that you probably have never heard of him indicates how well that went, and if you have heard of him, well, enjoy your particular pleasure. He was teamed with the tragically shortlived Elvire Audray, a brief mainstay of decorative roles in European trash, though the big draw here was to see Eastman rampant as the sword-wielding Vuud, a budding dictator who takes on lions and entire tribes with nary a thought to his safety, confident that he will win. As any Eastman fan will tell you, that's often enough to carry a movie on its own, but there was a self-righteous aspect here that took the shine off it, as if we had shown up for an action flick and wound up at a lecture. Music by Guido and Maurizio De Angelis.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Umberto Lenzi  (1931 - )

Prolific, workmanlike Italian director and writer who dabbled in most genres throughout his 40 year career. Started work as a film critic before making his directing debut in 1961 with the sea-faring adventure flick Queen of the Seas. The two decades years saw Lenzi churn out westerns, historical dramas, Bond-esquespy yarns and giallo thrillers among others.

It was his 1972 proto-cannibal film Deep River Savages that led to the best known phase of his career, with notorious gore-epics Cannibal Ferox and Eaten Alive and zombie shlocker Nightmare City quickly becoming favourites amongst fans of spaghetti splatter. Continued to plug away in the horror genre before retiring in 1996.

 
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