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Plot: primeval colossus wreaks havoc upon metropolitan Toronto…

When Dino de Laurentiis released his 1976 remake of King Kong (1933) its impact was profound and immediate. England has responded to Japan’s allegory for certain nuclear annihilation Godzilla (1954) with its own amiable big monster epic in the form of Gorgo (1961) and Denmark had done the same with the Ib Melchior penned Reptilicus (1961) as had South Korea with Yongary, Monster from the Deep (1967). Usually these big monster romps acted as a metaphor (or stand-in) for the supposedly malefic influence of foreign nations or whatever the threat of the day, whether they be nuclear or anti-capitalist in nature, happened to be. Yeti, Giant of the Twentieth Century (released back at home in Italy as Yeti, il gigante del ventesimo secolo and for once accurately translated for the international market) is mostly remembered for not being remembered at all. Both an anomaly in the career of director Gianfranco Parolini and leading star Antonella Interlenghi Yeti, Giant of the Twentieth Century is Italian pulp filmed in Canada for the international market. The most memorable thing about Yeti, Giant of the Twentieth Century is that they were able to get away with using a folk rendition of ‘O Fortuna’ from Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana as the main theme.

For director Gianfranco Parolini Yeti, Giant of the Twentieth Century was something else. As a specialist of spaghetti western, peplum, krimi and Eurowar Parolini etched his name into annals of cult cinema history with the five-part Kommissar X (1966-1968) saga, 3 Supermen (1967) and the Sabata (1968-1971) trilogy. Alleged Yeti sightings and sensationalist newspaper articles had been making the rounds since the 1920s and intensified during the mid-fifties. The simian-like creature purported to inhabit the Himalayan mountain range in Asia spoke to the imagination of everyone. Spanish horror pillar Paul Naschy even had an El Hombre Lobo episode where his Waldemark Daninsky faced off against the Abominable Snowman with The Werewolf and the Yeti (1975). Also not unimportant was that the Dino de Laurentiis produced John Guillermin directed remake did big business at the Italian box office. Parolini envisioned a low budget imitation with the working title Yeti Big Foot that was meant to catapult him into the mainstream. De Laurentiis had the means to afford special effects master Carlo Rambaldi whereas producers Nicolò Pomilia and Wolfranco Coccia had to content themselves with Germano Natali, Augusto Possanza, and Fabio Traversari for Parolini’s Yeti feature. Some controversy arose when writer Giorgio Moser (who was attached, or at least in run, to write the proposed de Laurentiis Yeti feature) claimed that Parolini had stolen his idea after talking to him for months on the Yeti. As these things tend to go the case was settled in court and de Laurentiis shelved his plans for a Yeti monster romp. This is probably the only big monster movie where the Yeti looks like Barry Gibb from the Bee Gees on a peculiar rough morning. And what better excuse to suffer through this than the always ravishing Antonella Interlenghi?

When a tsunami shakes the Arctic bringing to surface the only known and living specimen of the Yeti encased in a block of ice Canadian industrialist Morgan Hunnicut (Edoardo Faieta, as Eddy Fay) sees it as an opportunity to diversify the products and services of his multi-faceted business empire. He lures away his paleontologist friend Prof. Henry Wassermann (John Stacy) from whatever retirement he had planned with promises of immeasurable fame and fortune. The frozen colossus is flown to Toronto where he’s to be thawed by Hunnicut employees and scientists. Among the spectators are Hunnicut’s orphaned nephews, nubile Jane (Antonella Interlenghi, as Phoenix Grant) and mute Herbie (Matteo Zoffoli, as jim Sullivan) as well as ambitious and cutthroat Hunnicut underling Cliff Chandler (Luciano Stella, as Tony Kendall). Once thawed Hunnicut scientists rush to study the creature as Morgan intends to bombard it to the company mascot to commodify it as product and maximize profit. The Yeti (Mimmo Crao) takes a liking to young and desirable Jane and the plight of little Herbie and an unlikely friendship between the creature and the kids is formed. Things go haywire when Chandler tries to take advantage of Jane and the Yeti wreaks havoc upon the Hunnicut conglomerate and metropolitan Toronto in retaliation.

Antonella was (and is) the daughter of Franco Interlenghi, the romantic leading man of Neopolitan cinema and one-time rival of Marcello Mastrioanni. Unlike Mastrioanni, Interlenghi never was able to build a career internationally. Around these parts Interlenghi the elder is mostly remembered for his appearance in Tinto Brass’ ode to Serena Grandi‘s formidable form (but mostly her massive ass) Miranda (1985). Interlenghi the fairer had a modest if quaint theatrical triple-decade career that spanned continents, budgets, and genres taking her across Italy, Spain, México and France and saw her working with directors such as José Bénazéraf, René Cardona, Jr, Lucio Fulci, and Carlo Vanzina. Her arrival in 1977 heralded the end of the doe-eyed, innocuous starlet made iconic by the likes of Femi Benussi, Agostina Belli, Laura Antonelli and Barbara Magnolfi as well as minor goddesses as Jenny Tamburi, Daniela Giordano, and Sonia Viviani. While la Antonella could be seen in everything from Mexican thriller Panic Dealers (1980) to lighthearted comedies as Christmas Vacation (1983) and Vacation in America (1984) (widely regarded as the first Italian chick flick) she forever etched her name into our black heart in her mostly decorative role as the doomed Emily Robbins in the Lucio Fulci gore epic City of the Living Dead (1980).

As for the rest of the cast, that isn’t too shabby either with Parolini regulars Tony Kendall, Aldo Canti, and Giuseppe Mattei as well as reliable second stringers as Donald O'Brien, Stelio Candelli, and Claudio Zucchet in prominent supporting roles. Kendall was active in Italy as well as Spain and could be seen in The Whip and the Body (1963), Siege of Terror (1972), Crucified Girls of San Ramon (1973), The Loreley's Grasp (1973), The Off-Road Girl (1973) as well as the second Blind Dead episode Attack of the Blind Dead (1973). Candelli debuted in The Nights of Lucretia Borgia (1959) and from there appeared in a number of Italian cult classics as well as not-so-classic exploits including, but not limited to, Mario Bava’s hallmark science fiction epic Planet Of the Vampires (1965), Luigi Batzella's psychotronic gothic horror masterpiece Nude For Satan (1974) and during the eighties he was in Luigi Cozzi’s equally delirious Hercules (1983) and Lamberto Bava’s Demons (1985). Zucchet was a stuntman who occasionally acted. His many credits include, among many others, Malabimba, That Malicious Whore (1978), Star Odyssey (1979), The Beast In Space (1980) and Burial Ground (1981). Donald O’Brien came out of spaghetti western and Eurowar but found steady employment in sleaze of various stripe including, but not limited to, Sex Of the Witch (1973), Images In a Convent (1979), Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals (1979), Zombie Holocaust (1980), Warriors of the Year 2072 (1984), and the The Terminator (1984) imitation Hands Of Steel (1986). The real showstoppers, however, are not so much the talent in front of the camera but the special effects by Germano Natali and Ermando Biamonte and their men of the hour Augusto Possanza and Fabio Traversari.

Over the years Yeti, Giant of the Twentieth Century has caught an incredible amount of flak for its primitive, rudimentary effects work. It’s de rigueur for critics to pile on Natali and Biamonte but considering the time, place, and budget this was made on – are they really that worthy of derision? Well, no. Sure, nobody is going to confuse Germano Natali with Carlo Rambaldi, Antonio Molina, Giannetto De Rossi or, say, Maurizio Trani but the blue screen composition, the animatronics, forced perspective as well as miniatures and models are not nearly as terrible as they are often made out to be. In truth Yeti, Giant of the Twentieth Century is far from the worst offender on that front. Which doesn’t take away from how charming the effects are in their primitiveness. Compare Natali’s work to that of Aldo Frollini in Alfonso Brescia’s infamous space opera quadrilogy following Star Wars (1977) or South Korea’s APE (1976) and witness how truly abysmal special effects can get. While nobody is going to mistake Yeti, Giant of the Twentieth Century for a Hollywood production there’s something about it that makes it surprisingly endearing, either in its naiveté or otherwise. Whatever the case Hong Kong did the whole big monster bonanza plain better with The Mighty Peking Man (1977) (which at least had the decency of putting Evelyn Kraft in a tiny fur bikini). And as beautiful as Kraft was, la bella Antonella was in a class all her own.

Let’s not mince words here. Gianfranco Parolini was a director in the twilight of his career. It speaks to his level of delusion that he convinced himself (and tried to convince others) that Yeti, Giant of the Twentieth Century would catapult him into Hollywood. Nothing could be further from the truth. His next (and final) directorial effort would only arrive a full decade later in the form of the Raiders Of the Lost Ark (1981) informed jungle adventure The Secret of the Incas' Empire (1987). It’s not the kind of end to wish upon anybody, especially not someone like Parolini who arguably had a classic or two to his name. Likewise it’s a small miracle that Antonella Interlenghi was able to get away from this unscathed and build a modest but respectable career for herself. Most surprisingly does Yeti, Giant of the Twentieth Century not only boast la Antonella but also pushes an admirable anti-capitalist, environmentalist message that’s absolutely germane to Italian production of this decade. In the decade of garish excess, in the decade of the giallo and gothic horror revivalism here was a family movie (or at least something aimed squarely at a younger audience) offering a voice of dissent. If for nothing else (except la Antonella) Yeti, Giant of the Twentieth Century should be considered a classic. Thankfully, Antonella would go on to bigger and better things.

Plot: dopey industrialist must procure a male heir and hires a maid. Hilarity ensues!

The Mammon Cat (or Il Gatto Mammone, released in Spain as the more descriptive El Impotente Seductor, which basically spoils the entire plot) was released during the marquee year that was 1975, probably the busiest year for everybody’s favorite commedia sexy all’Italiana Lolita. That year la Guida had no less than five (!!) other movies out and about in cineplexes, domestic and abroad. Whether it was Blue Jeans (1975), that beloved valentine to glorious Gloria’s world-famous derrière, the light-hearted fun of La Liceale (1975), or the melodrama of The Novice (1975), That Malicious Age (1975), or So Young, So Lovely, So Vicious… (1975) Miss Teen Italy 1974 had something for everybody. In a year awash with more naked Gloria Guida than anybody could possiby ask for The Mammon Cat is a funny enough romp with a decent amount of Gloria in the buff and enough slapstick shenanigans for everybody else.

Nando Cicero was one of those directors who – after the obligatory spaghetti westerns, Eurospy romps, and peplum – specialized almost exclusively in commedia sexy all'Italiana. In that capacity he got to work with some of the finest leading ladies of the day, including but not limited to, Michela Miti, Carmen Russo, Helga Liné, Cristina Galbó, Marisa Mell, and Erika Blanc. Cicero is mostly remembered for The School Teacher (1975), The Lady Medic (1976), and the two-part Doctor Eva Marini saga (1977-1978) – all with Edwige Fenech, whenever she wasn’t working with Sergio and Luciano Martino, as well as L'assistente sociale tutto pepe (1981) with a post-StarCrash (1978) Nadia Cassini. Cicero closed the gates on Gloria Guida’s famous La Liceale series with his anthology The High School Girl, the Devil, and the Holy Water (1979). The Mammon Cat was that other instance he worked with Miss Teen Italy 1974 and just like with all her other melodramas that year Gloria Guida appears only in a supporting role.

Sicilian pasta factory owner Lollo Mascalucia (Lando Buzzanca) has been happily married for many years. All that time he insisted to the town priest (Franco Giacobini), the doctor (Umberto Spadaro), and the local pharmacist (Empedocle Buzzanca) that offspring is about the last thing on his mind. His loving wife Rosalia (Rossana Podestà) is apparently unable to conceive and to make matter worse her high-strung, geriatric mother (Grazia Di Marzà) is living with them. That’s not all. Lollo’s haunted by hallucinations during the day (and nightmares at night) about the fiery collision that killed his father and the remainder of his family. One day he’s asked to produce a male heir who’s to inherit his modest business empire. The couple decide that a surrogate mother is the way to go, and Lollo embarks on a quest to find a suitable candidate. A casual misunderstanding leads him into the grubby hands of an aging and very fertile (but hugely unattractive) widow (Sofia Lusy, as Sophia Lucy). Lollo is able to talk himself out of a very embarrassing predicament and escapes with his dignity intact.

At the local orphanage Lollo catches a glimpse of young Marietta (Gloria Guida). He arranges with Mother Superior (Adriana Facchetti) and the nun (Ermelinda De Felice) for her to start working as their maid with an eye on officially adopting her. Marietta is over the moon with her sudden change of fortune. She soon moves into the Mascalucia casa signorile and lovingly refers to Lollo as “papà”. Finally Lollo is able to seduce young Marietta and before long he ends up between the sheets with her. Time passes and after systematically trying (up to six times a day) the obviously healthy and fertile Marietta is unable to conceive too. Dismayed at the prospect of not being able to produce a male heir Lollo learns that he’s in fact impotent. Rosalia offers to give him a heir with the help of gypsy Zingaro (Tiberio Murgia), who she had an eye on. At long last Mascalucia will get his long-desired heir, but probably not in the way he imagined.

As can be surmised from the summary The Mammon Cat is not really a Gloria Guida vehicle. No, it’s a Lando Buzzanca comedy that happens to have Guida in a supporting role. Glorious Gloria is only billed third (after screen veterans Buzzanca and Podestà) but that doesn’t mean that Nando Cicero doesn’t get the most out of her relatively minor part. Since nobody subjects themselves to these things voluntarily - and you couldn’t make a graver mistake than taking these things seriously – the reason why any of these features have attained any sort of cinematic longevity is not the writing (which isn’t too shabby for once either, but that’s besides the point) but the promise of a good dose of naked Gloria Guida shenanigans. And la Guida does get naked, only you’ll have to be patient to get to the good stuff. Just like in La Liceale (1975), and So Young, So Lovely, So Vicious… (1975) before and That Malicious Age (1975) Gloria can be seen soaping herself up in an extended foamy shower scene that solely seems to exist to showcase her world-famous and much beloved ass. Of course that shapely ass would get its own feature with the very lyrical and poetic Blue Jeans (1975). Also worth mentioning is that peplum and spaghetti western pillar Rossana Podestà, a ripe 41 here, looks quite fetching. Dagmar Lassander, ten years her junior, looked far worse for wear in the scathing melodrama So Young, So Lovely, So Vicious… (1975). Lando Buzzanca plays the stereotypical self-absorbed Italian greaseball that so richly deserves to be ridiculed for his virulent machismo and, in fact, very thoroughly is. On the other hand Lando’s also allowed to play his usual dopey self – and is pretty harmless as such.

And what exactly is the Il Gatto Mammone, or The Mammon Cat of the title, you wonder? Well, for starters it’s a popular figure in Italian (and wider Mediterranean) folklore and superstition. The gist of the parable of the Mammon Cat (which we won’t detail here) is to keep children (and elderly) sufficiently scared so that they won’t leave their familiar and safe environs, and that jealously and envy seldom, if ever, lead to anything good. The Mammon Cat is referenced in literature from Marco Polo, Goethe, and even the Arthurian legends. It features prominently in the works from Giovanni Francesco Straparola, Vittorio Imbriani, and Gherardo Nerucci – and the folkloric tale still lives on to this day in the regions of Sardinia, Puglia, and Valdichiana. As for the Mammon Cat of our current subject, that appears to be one of jealousy and envy, as well as the proverbial stray cat that Gloria Guida plays. Not that she ends up scratching anyone. Well, she does scratch Lando Buzzanca’s itch and he does ends up learning a valuable life lesson while at it. Then there’s also the Vulgate Bible and New Testament entity Mammon that promises wealth and that’s typically associated with the greedy pursuit of gain. In that sense The Mammon Cat is almost like Disney, but with far more nudity, Italian machismo and decent amount of comedic incestual misunderstandings. And what is more Italian than the adulation and pursuit of ass? Nothing, that's what.

Gloria Guida was at her best when she could play off actors with far more (comedic) talent than her. Having shared the screen with Nino Castelnuovo, Giuseppe Pambieri, Mario Carotenuto, and Enzo Cannavale, it was just a matter of time before la Guida would be paired up with comedy royalties as Lando Buzzanca and Vittorio Caprioli. After having shared the screen with Caprioli in To Be Twenty (1978) there was no way Gloria (nor Lili Carati for that matter) was ever going to top Fernando di Leo’s satirical masterpiece.

Guida would persevere with more futile commedia sexy’all Italiana before marrying showman Johnny Dorelli in 1981 and focusing on her nascent singing career. Thankfully la Guida never had to lower herself to sexploitation dreck the way Solveig Andersson and Christina Lindberg had to back in Sweden. On the other hand, it begs the question why Gloria never had her own giallo or was picked up in the horror genre. Not that she was even remotely on the same level as Barbara Bouchet or Nieves Navarro, but la Guida often found herself engaging in the kind of low effort swill that she was too good for. Then there’s the fact that she was typecast almost immediately and never really escaped the looming shadow of her famous schoolgirl character. Not that glorious Gloria ever really faded in relevance or popularity (or at least not in her native Italy, internationally might be another discussion) but as Italy’s prime lolita she deserved better than to be forever cast as the empty headed sex-crazed bimbo.