Friday, November 20, 2009

Italian Spiderman

'"James Bond"-style movie poster for "Italian Spiderman"

Actione! Velocita! Terrore!

On rare occasions, a singular creative vision finds expression in a film that challenges our fundamental assumptions about the nature of our shared humanity. Italian Spiderman is not one of those films. But it is one of the funniest!

The most hilarious movie of this or any other year isn't playing at the local multiplex, and you won't find it on television or DVD. It's available for free on the Internet, via a serialized installment of ten episodes on Youtube. If you've ever chortled at the ludicrous heroics and crackpot storylines of cheesy Italian and Latin American action movies from the 60s and 70s (such as 3 Fantastic Supermen, Scorpions and Miniskirts, or Santo vs the Blue Demon in Atlantis), you're in for a treat. The filmmakers even distressed the video to resemble an unsteady VHS transfer of a bad print, right down to the tracking artifacts.

In an age when comic books are called "graphic novels" and superheroes take themselves way too seriously (all that existential angst, I suppose), Italian Spiderman is a breath of fresh air. Well, perhaps not-so-fresh air. More like cigarette-scented air. 

Next to Rat Pfink and Boo Boo, Italian Spiderman may be the crummiest and most boneheaded superhero in the long, colorful history of superheroes. He's certainly the rudest and most politically incorrect. He's a chauvinistic, out-of-shape, chain-smoking macchiato addict who's seldom seen without one of his favorite Il Gallo cigarettes dangling from his lips, even when battling a horde of menacing rubber snakes, courtesy of arch-nemesis Captain Maximum, who resembles a Santo-esque luchador in a suit and tie. 

'Italian Spiderman brandishes his 'superpower' of choice

Italian Spiderman is the creation of Australian Dario Russo, who, with a little help from pals David Ashby, Tait Wilson, Boris Repasky and Will Spartalis, shot the original Italian Spiderman trailer as a student film project at Flinders University. The idea was to create a trailer for a non-existent film, however the trailer was such a hit, they ended up shooting the movie. Italian Spiderman has since gone on to become a genuine cult sensation, inspiring everything from tee shirts to faux comic book covers. (And here's another one.) There's even talk of an actual comic in the works.

It's impossible to adequately describe the lunatic humor of Italian Spiderman. It has to be seen to be fully appreciated. However, my favorite installment is episode six, in which Italian Spiderman is forced to have a surfing competition with Captain Maximum in order to recover a stolen asteroid. During the surf-off, Maximum uses a pan flute to summon a pair of bikini-clad female assassins, who climb aboard Italian Spiderman's surfboard and begin swatting at him with their spearguns. Flopping onto his considerable belly, Italian Spiderman blows on a conch shell, summoning a flock of rubber attack penguins. "I summon penguinis!", he bellows. 

You'll have tears in your eyes, I promise. 

Almost as amusing as the movie itself is the film's official weblog, The Mantis' Quill, which appears to serve as a kind of Anglo-Italian public relations organ for the fictional Alrugo Entertainement, the 'creators' of Italian Spiderman. Prior to the release (on Youtube) of Episode 5, they wrote: "Keep your eyes open and your ears free from cats, Italian Spiderfans! Episide 5 hits you like a mass of bones and meat in the shape of a fist next week!"

Regarding Episode 8: "It appears Italian Spiderman has fallen prey to an evil plot formed by an evil man spawned from an evil serpent woman. Will Italian Spiderman escape and bring justice to the world? Of course he will. No man can stop the wind. No man can hold the air. Unless they have a balloon. But then they are merely holding plastic which CONTAINS air. Just like italian Spiderman..."
Look out, Captain Maximum! Here comes Italian Spiderman!

In addition to their weblog, Alrugo also has a Myspace page and a Yahoo video page. In the meantime you can view all ten episodes of Italian Spiderman by clicking the links below. (It helps to go in sequence because there is a coherent plotline, such as it is.)

So what are you waiting for? As Alrugo says on their weblog: "Seriously, quit your job! That thing's just wasting your Italian Spidertime!" 

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