Dec 2, 2011

Copkiller




Call me anti-Guido but I have never been particularly allured by the mostly cheap scent of stereotypically gritty Italian giallo flicks. Of course, I love such giallo classics as Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970) and Lucio Fulci’s odd Catholic-guilt themed work Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972) but I generally rather re-watch a Hitchcock classic than put blind faith in an obscure film from the Italian horror-crime-mystery subgenre. Recently, I took a chance on the criminally underrated giallo Copkiller (1983) aka The Order of Death aka Corrupt aka Bad Cop Chronicles #2 aka Corrupt Lieutenant directed by Robert Faenza and featuring Harvey Keitel and John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten (of The Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd) in his only starring role. In Copkiller, Keitel and Lydon play a cryptic gay game of back-and-forth homoerotic, sadomasochistic master and slave. Leo Smith (played by Lydon) is a spoiled little boy with nothing to do but confess to Lt. Fred O’Connor (played by Keitel) that he is the sole culprit in a recent string of vehement cop-killings; the most serious and personal offense when it comes to dealing with the men in blue. Immediately upon hearing Smith’s confession, O’Connor finds such claims to be nothing short of dubious and intrinsically ludicrous. After all, Smith looks and acts like a relatively harmless Mick fairy from outer-space, thus O’Connor prematurely concludes that the ladylike lad lacks the testicular fortitude to commit such suicidal cop-antagonizing deeds. O’Connor is more concerned by the fact that Smith has been stalking him and has found his secret “Bad Lt.” apartment that he shares with his fellow crooked “police partner.” After questioning him and bitterly shoving his head in a fully-functional and running oven a couple times, O’Connor decides to imprison Smith in his bathroom and keep him as a barely-clothed personal pet.  Naturally, O'Connor is not a totally mean kidnapper as he provides Smith with food via a dog bowl and sympathetically acknowledges to his captive that it is a shame that such a "good looking guy like you, locked-up in a bathroom." To say that Keitel and Lydon have an idiosyncratic, prowling yet strangely affectionate kind of relationship throughout Copkiller would be a gross and naive understatement.  The sort of unnatural chemistry the two leads in the film have is the kind that leads to genocide and gang warfare. Simply put, Copkiller may be one of the strangest “buddy flicks” ever assembled. 



Right from the beginning, Copkiller is a wonderful filmic present that is quite pleasurable to unravel for those cinephiles that love surprise gifts. Not only does one discover who purported copkiller Leo Smiths is but one also discovers that Fred O’Connor is simply not a corrupt cop with a rough exterior. From the get go, one gets the impression that little midge O’Connor is a posturing brute of sorts, but, as recognized by Leo Smith, the lunatic lieutenant has a 'maternal' Achilles heel. Although seeming like a weak and harmless pervert, it is quite apparent that limey Leo has something much starker lurking beyond his physically and mentally sickly yet strangely charismatic persona. Initially, it seems as if smiley Smith’s aim is to be gang-raped by a precinct of police but his true conspiratorial agenda is not completely revealed until the remaining minutes of Copkiller. Indeed, the film has a couple notable deaths and the killer looks most daft yet delightful in his cop uniform and matching black ski-mask but the real delicious "red meat" of Copkiller is the thoroughly jovial and equally sadistic psychological power-play between Smith and O’Connor. Throughout the film, one is kept wondering who is the craziest partner of this truly odd couple. Of course, stoic O’Connor is the man in the relationship as he personifies the ad hominem-based, cultural marxist “authoritarian personality” type and Smith is surely more effeminate and conspiring in his constantly unpredictable, passive girlish behavior in the sense outlined by Otto Weininger.  In other words, whereas O'Connor is a stern 'man-of-action', Smith is a cold and calculating conniver. Like O’Connor, the viewer unravels who Smith really is as Copkiller progresses yet the more one learns about this truly loco sod, the more confusing his true agenda seems. That being said, Copkiller deserves recognition amongst the greatest of giallo films, but it is also entitled to notoriety as a work that totally transcends the restricting and stereotyped subgenre. 






One of the most obvious aspects of Copkiller that makes it stand proudly alone (and relatively unknown) amongst most giallo films is its all-star international cast and New York City setting. Of course, there are some other giallo films that take place in NYC (i.e. Lucio Fulci’s The New York Ripper) but Copkiller – unlike any other film of the subgenre – truly manages to capture the violent zeitgeist of the city at that time as if it was directed by Abel Ferrara’s homo-serial-killer cousin. If it were not for Copkiller director Robert Faenza’s fondness for Marxism, it is doubtful the film would have ever been made as the director was forced to work in the good ol’ free USA after his Italian Communist Party-sympathetic work Si salvi chi vuole (1980) was deemed politically incorrect in his homeland. Featuring a musical score by legendary Italian film composer Ennio Morricone, Copkiller permeates a distinct atmosphere that one can only find in the great gritty NYC crime films of the early 1980s, but, at the same time, the film is secluded in a unique "ghetto" all of its own. In a sense, Copkiller is also a “thinking man’s slasher film” as one gets to deeply penetrate the hopelessly tainted mind of a coldblooded, psychopathic killer in a most personal way. Although I am sure many cinephiles see Copkiller as an primer and/or unofficial sequel/prequel (as some greedy fellows later tried to market as) to Abel Ferrara’s more successful work Bad Lieutenant (1992) starring Harvey Keitel, the film stands fairly well on its own two feet as an unconventional anti-giallo that twists and wonderfully warps all of the rules of the subgenre it barely belongs to. Like William Friedkin’s Cruising (1980), Copkiller defiantly (yet more subtlety) enters an area of the gay-world that is most certainly off limits to modern politically correct filmmakers. Although seemingly different, Leo Smith and Lt. Fred O’Connor share a vice that is for them, more naughty than nice, henceforth Copkiller is a work that most significantly enters into the deplorable and forbidden realms of the psyche than the less disturbing physical world of a corrupt cop's secret apartment.  If I had to guess John Wayne Gacy's or Jeffrey Dahmer's favorite film, Copkiller would undoubtedly be at the top of the list.  Unfortunately, like many Americans, I seriously doubt these two upstanding U.S. citizens had the grand opportunity to watch this lovely piece of cinematic Americana.


-Ty E



16 comments:

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Its incredible to realise that when this was filmed (sometime in 1981 according to IMDB) Johnny's old mate Sid Vicious had already been gone for 2 years.

Toxaemia said...

I completely forgot about this movie! Thank you for reviewing it! I had a crap VHS copy, under the title "Corrupt" ages back. But the film quality was so horrid.

Maybe I can find a decent version on DVD.

Thanks again!

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Although Harvey Keitel is a load of old rubbish its still a shame that he had to belittle himself by appearing in a film about faggots with a British scumbag like Johnny Rotten.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

I want to bugger Nancy Spungen (as the bird was in 1976 when the bird was 18, not as the bird is now obviously, which is long since dead, unfortunately. The bird was such a little darlin`). I bet Sid Vicious got his knob up her bum quite a few times back in `78, the bloody lucky bastard.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Have you noticed how Johnny Rotten is turning into Wilfred Brambell ! ! !, he was a bloody faggot as well. Although admittedly Johnny Rotten has always come across as someone who seems to be totally a-sexual, I still cant believe that he turned his nose up at Nancy Spungen in `77 and the bird had to go after Sid Vicious instead.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

I suppose i have to accept that at some point this site is going to reveiw "Sid and Nancy" (1986) which is such a shame considering its a British made pile of dog-shit. Its another movie that if it had been American made it would have been 100 times better.

Mick "red nose" McM*anus said...

The BRITISH TWAT HAMSTER:

We proud Irishmen find your dainty English manners to be appalling lily SHIT! Johnny Rotten is a 100% IRISHMAN of PURE WARRIOR CELTIC STOCK! As a wee lad, he was picked on by his pure celtic kin for the having the supreme misfortune of having an English accent but he stayed true to his golden lucky roots and still travels under an Irish passport today. The man is a real-life fucking leprechaun with ginger hair u fook! Dr. Rotten made the English Queen into a laughing stock around the world (an accomplishment you can only dream of!) yet your Brit-arrogance doesn't allow you to see anything beyond your prissy piss tea and shitty smelly fish and bitch chips!!! We proud Irishmen were slaves, like subhuman Negros, under English colonial rule! We, the pug-nosed fighting and fucking Irish, brought anarchy to the U.K. whilst faggoty Brit dandelion pickers like yourself played croquet with Indians and Arabs (and lost!) Where the fook do u think Heather O'Rourke's ancestors came from you contemptible slimey limey pedo-bastard!

When the English are totally overwhelmed and eventually defeated by hordes of chavs and wogs, we Irish will continue to fight on under the celtic cross!

Long Live the IRA! Long Live Bono! Long Live James Joyce! Long Live Martin Seamus "Marty" McFly, Sr.! Long Live JFK! Long Live Kylie Ireland! Long Live Mr. Rotten! (as it were)

jervaise brooke hamster said...

The definition of "pathetic": the fact that "Pretty Vacant" was written specifically so that Johnny rotten could get to say the word "cunt" on prime time television and get away with it, circumventing the out-moded censorship laws of the time by seperating the 2 syllables in the word "va-cant" and then emphasizing the second syllable and making it sound much more like "cunt" than "cant", WOW...like i said everything about that really does define the word "pathetic", the absurd censorship of the time, The Sex Pistols themselves, and perhaps most of all that fucking worthless tosser Malcolm Mclaren. What a fucking laughable pathetic joke it all was.

E. Jack Yulate said...

How can "The Hamster" be a faggot is he desperately wants to bugger the 18 year-old version of Nancy Spungen ?.

Frank O'Farty said...

Ejaculate: For the simple fact that Spungen's rotten (even rottener than Johnny's McTeeth) puss, even at 18 (and probably at 12), was a drenched sponge for 1000001 men's cum. By definition, it is the height of faggoty to rub your cock in another man's cum. To fuck Spungen is the equivalent of buggering 1000001 lollygagging faggots.

Cum in Spungen's twat > Cum in Richard Simmons bum

JonBenet (Patricia) Ramsey said...

When i read the com-girl-t left by Mick "red nose" Mc*anus i literally fell off my chair laughing, it trashed "The Hamster" so beautifully, you should reply to "The Hamster's" com-girl-ts more often, it makes for some truly hilarious and inspirationally brilliant comedy.

E. Jack Yulate said...

Frank, I have to vehe-girl-tly disagree, it doesn`t matter how often a girl has been buggered or how much spunk has been squirted up her bum, as long as you`ve got your knob stuck deep up that young girls bum you rampaging heterosexuality is secured.

Seamus O`Dog-Shit said...

Always remember the Irish (and the Poles) are traditionally regarded as idiots and morons through-out the world, deep down there must be a reason for that ! ! !.

Anonymous said...

To the Bonophile above:

Most of the men you listed have helped flood Ireland with Pakis and niggers. My favorite Irishman is William Joyce, google him!!! Shit man, there's an Irish town with an Ethiopian mayor! Put down your Guiness and wake the fvck up matey. Old Albion and the Emerald Isles are drowning in the mud slide. Boozing and Limey hating won't fix it. For fvcks sake your kids will be speaking Urdu and you'll still waste your energy on the Queen.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

In the interveiws from `77 and `78 on Youtube have you noticed how Nancy Spungen was starting to talk with an English accent after being Sids bird for a few months, you`d have thought that she would have realised how superior her American accent was, instead the bird starts copying how those British tossers talk, that was rather odd to say the least.

Phantom of Pulp said...

Exceptional take on this exceptional piece of grot cinema. Yes, Gacy and Dahmer would have gravitated to it. It has that depth.