Director: Fernando Di Leo
Cast: Gloria Guida, Lilli Carati, Ray Lovelock
Disk Extras: Documentary: Twenty Years for a Massacre (Vent’Anni Per Un Massocro) / Photo Gallery / Original Screen Play / Biography and Filmography / A Fully Illustrated Booklet Critical Analysis of the Film by Nathaniel Thompson
Italian filmmaker Fernando Di Leo made his bones creating some of the best and most infamous Poliziotteschi or Italian crime films like Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man and The Italian Connection. Those films were often extremely violent and shocking which is why present day exploitation fans should eat his films up. In 1978 Di Leo decided to try his hand at making a sex comedy but old habits die hard and he ended up disappointing audiences and the box office by ending said lighthearted T&A-fest with one of the most out of left field brutally shocking endings I’ve ever seen. So to make up for the losses, they chopped up the film, rearranged the scenes, scrapped almost 15 minutes of the good stuff and created a completely different, much more vanilla and nearly unintelligible movie for the masses in the U.S. Luckily Italian home video company Raro Video U.S.A. has just released a 2-disk special edition with both versions plus a good bunch of extras.
(NOTE: This synopsis is of the uncut 98 minute version)
Blonde bombshell Lia (Gloria Guida) and smoldering brunette Tina (Lilli Carati) are two “young, hot and pissed-off” young ladies looking for some action. They decide to head off to Rome, Italy and join a commune where they will live for free and get high and laid. Arriving in Rome, the dynamic duo hit the local stores with no money but use their feminine wiles to snag food and cigarettes. Once they get to the commune they are greeted by the head of the sect and told they must pull their weight by working or whoring themselves out, eventually they opt for the latter. When that doesn’t do well, they begin selling encyclopedias door-to-door, again using their yummy assets. They meet a lot of silly characters, star in a documentary about human nature and sexuality, and get arrested along with the rest of the commune after dirty cops plant drugs in one of the rooms. Instead of throwing Lia and Tina in prison, they excommunicate them back to their rural hometown where they run into some ruffians who don’t take kindly to “prick teases”.
There are a slew of things going on here; sex, drugs, feminism, sexual revolution and a look at young adult invincibility complex. Fernando Di Leo is known for having underlying political and social commentary throughout his movies, To Be Twenty is no exception. The making of the documentary within the narrative of the movie is an aside in which Di Leo discusses the roles of men and women in sexual society and feminist philosophies. Don’t let that drive you hardcore exploitation hounds from seeing this because there is PLENTY of perviness to keep you satisfied. The lead actresses Guida and Carati are two of the most gorgeous women to ever grace the screen and they are either nude or wearing booty shorts with their tits hanging out for the whole film. And for shock value, we have the Last House on the Left-esque brutality to end the fun that had people in the original theater run picking their jaws up off of the floor. To Be Twenty is a must see for fans of quirky, cheeky Italian exploitation cinema.
I ended up watching both versions (the censored one I hit the FFWD button a few times) because I was so curious as to the differences. It was basically a whole other movie with different characterizations, tone and narrative. The whole opening scene of nude beach frolicking, the Lia and Tina lesbian scene and of course the closing controversial finale were all completely excised from the shitty censored version. The 85 minute catastrophe is nearly unwatchable but is very interesting when contrasted with the original director’s cut. Di Leo’s vision was completely thrown by the wayside to make a little money from the ignorant American theater patrons. It makes me wonder how many of my favorite movies were not the films originally meant for consumption. We are very fortunate as exploitation fans to have these home video companies that unearth the uncut art that was so hastily hacked up due to overzealous distribution companies and the morality police in government.
Raro Video U.S.A.‘s release is a godsend. The picture has a clear film-like quality with vivid colors and nice contrasts most of the way through. There is the occasional scene that was apparently added after the fact that is of poorer quality but it doesn’t really detract from the overall experience. It would be nice to eventually see this on blu-ray with a nice HD transfer, it deserves it. The DVD was taken from the original 35mm negative, so it could be done. The mono soundtracks (Italian and English tracks respectively) are all nice and balanced with very little if any hissing. Aside from a photo gallery and other small supplements, there are interviews with Di Leo, Ray Lovelock and some of the other cast in the Twenty Years for a Massacre featurette and while interesting there is too much padding with scenes from the movie that will have you skipping past them. My favorite extra is the illustrated booklet with analysis from my film critic and historian hero Nathaniel Thompson of DVD Delirium and Mondo Digital fame.