Cruel Gun Story is based on a book by hardboiled crime novelist Haruhiko Oyabu. It tells the story of Togawa, a con who is sprung from prison early via the machinations of a mysterious underworld kingpin who wants Togawa to carry out a robbery that they’ve planned.
Had Dark Purpose been an hour long episode of a TV show, it would have delivered. But forced to come up with, roughly, three half-hour acts, it can’t sustain the momentum and Shirley Jones, while perfectly acceptable, just isn’t dynamic enough to make us forget nothing much is going on.
Taken as a trilogy, Hunebelle’s Fantomas films seem to hew closely to the spirit of those early serials that first brought Fantomas to the screen. You could even regard them as three unusually elongated chapters in such a serial. In keeping with that, Hunebelle doesn’t forget to spice Fantomas up with a generous helping of nostalgic, Saturday matinee style thrills.
When it came time for Mario Bava to turn in his version of a Hitchcock movie, he picked up on that underlying current of malicious giddiness and ratcheted it up. In Blood and Black Lace, Bava is a peasant let loose to demolish a nobleman’s home.