Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Gone with the Pope (2010, Duke Mitchell)

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"A dollar from every Catholic in the world"

Recently released from Grindhouse Releasing is a dream for exploitation and crime film lovers over the world. Gone with the Pope is an unfinished film that took Oscar winning editor Bob Murawski (Spiderman) 15 years to complete. With missing film elements, no script and the director/writer/star deceased, it is amazing that this movie ever came to be. But God bless (no pun intended) the folks at Grindhouse Releasing for making this happen.

Gone with the Pope stars Duke Mitchell, a well known crooner who decided to try his hand at film making. He plays Paul, a gangster who was recently released from jail and is asked to do one last job before retiring. After the job is done, and before the mob (who hired him) can whack him, Paul gets a few of his ex con buddies to join him on a boat cruise to Italy to live it up with his recent wealth. He then unloads his plan to kidnap the Pope with a ransom of one dollar from every Catholic in the world (after realizing how many Catholics there are, he kindly lowers the ransom to fifty cents. What a guy!).

Gone with the Pope is a difficult film to describe. I guess I would call it an exploitation crime film with plenty of bloody violence, nudity and potty words. Mitchell's character is the text book definition of an anti-hero and you find yourself rooting for him throughout. The film itself almost feels like two films put together, pre-Pope and post-Pope. I actually thought I may have accidentally put on Mitchell's other film Massacre Mafia Style a half hour in because there was still no mention of the kidnapping. But once the group manage to snag him, I found myself laughing at the conversations the characters had with the Pope. I wouldn't call the dialogue inept though it was very absurd, but endearing too. I thought the film was so entertaining and Mitchell & Co. were so watchable and even likable that I can see myself re-watching it repeatedly. I actually can't think of the last film that was this entertaining (well at least not until I watched Massacre Mafia Style). But going beyond the film itself, Grindhouse Releasing's DVD/Blu Ray combo (like all of their other releases to date) is so jam packed with goodies that I almost felt overwhelmed. Not only is the packaging great (a booklet! yay!), but the extras are just so sprawling, well done and informative. For a long lost film that almost never was, the fact that so much care was given to its creation and release is astounding. I'd have to say that every Grindhouse Releasing release is essential for cult film fan, not only for film selections but also for presentation. Gone with the Pope is silly at times but so much fun that it I can't recommend it enough! See list of bonus features below:

-Spectacular 2K digital restoration from the original 35mm camera negative
-Three stunning audio options - mono, stereo and 5.1 - mixed by Emmy award-winning mixer Marti Humphrey
-In-depth interviews with stars Jim LoBianco and John Murgia, cinematographer Peter Santoro, editors Bob Leighton and Robert Florio, and legendary exploitation producer/director Matt Cimber
-Footage from the 2010 Hollywood World Premiere
-Deleted scenes and bloopers
-Liner notes by acclaimed horror novelist John Skipp
-Extensive still galleries and theatrical trailer


Film: 9/10
DVD/Blu Ray: 10/10

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