Super Fuzz – The “Superhero” Film You Have to See

Posted: November 7, 2018 in Entertainment, Movies
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Cover Photo

It goes by many names. It has been called Der Supercop, El Super Policia Nuclear, Super Snooper, Super Batsos, and a host of other names across the globe. But if you were living in America in the boom period of early 1980s cable television, you know it as simultaneously one of the worst and one of the best superhero films ever made, and you knew it as Super Fuzz! It is a film that must be tracked down and watched by everyone ASAP. Or, you know, just whenever you can track it down.

Super Fuzz (1980) trailer

The brainchild (or the brain fart) of writer/director Sergio Corbucci, this was a superhero story with all the creative sensibilities (and budget) of the best of the fast and cheap Italian Spaghetti Western films. Corbucci made his name on an amazing string of cult favorite films such as Castle of Blood, the original Django, The Mercenary, Shoot First… Ask Questions Later, andThe Great Silence among others. While he wasn’t primarily known for his comedies here in the states, he had in fact overseen quite a few popular ones during his earlier filmmaking days; including helming one of the Terence Hill and Bud Spencer starring Trinity films. As a matter of fact, he went to work with Terence Hill again almost immediately after doing the Trinity film by casting him as the lead in Super Fuzz.

Super Fuzz’s concept played with all the superhero comic book clichés you can think of when it comes to creating a hero and then some. Dave Speed (Terence Hill) is a fresh out of the academy and new to the patrol beat cop in Florida. Of course, he’s also the cop with a heart of gold.

However, as our story opens, we don’t find him working his usually beat. No, instead we find our hero sitting on death row awaiting the fourth attempt at his execution for a crime he didn’t commit; the murder of his partner. We know it’s the fourth attempt as the film opens (after a credit sequence that makes you positive your screen just broke and the image and color control just went haywire) with a news reporter standing outside of the prison explaining why Dave is to be executed as well as the bizarre series of events that happened during the prior three attempts to execute him. He simply inhaled the gas in the gas chamber like it was nothing, the rope broke when they tried to hang him, and when the firing squad had a go at him he survived without a scratch.

They’ve moved on to the electric chair for what they hope will be the last try at it. At this point, we move to the inside of a cozy bayside office as a group of stereotypical mobsters with bad Sicilian accents are watching the TV as the big mob boss, Torpedo (Marc Lawrence), gets a phone call assuring him that arrangements are being made to ensure that Speed doesn’t survive his execution this time.

We cut back to Speed where we find him sitting in his cell chowing down on his fourteenth plate of beans while passing up the offer of expensive champagne since that gives him gas. He’s awaiting the men who are going to walk him to the chair with quite the casual and relaxed air about him. Once they arrive and begin to take him to his fourth and supposedly final date with his executioner, an actress (as in, her character is an actress) named Rosy Labouche (Joanne Dru) is stopped outside the prison as she tries to get inside to view the execution. When they won’t allow her in, she says that she and the condemned are close friends and insists that they deliver a bunch of bright red roses to Speed to have with him when he dies. It’s an odd little scene with an odd bit with regards to the roses, but it actually makes sense later.

Inside the prison, as Speed takes the long walk to the chair, he starts thinking about how it all started. Enter: The Hero’s Origin Story.

We see a rocket launching. We then see Speed rowing through what looks like the Everglades in a canoe. As Speed gets himself up on dry land, we cut to the police station where we see Sgt. Willy Dunlop (Ernest Borgnine) getting comically chewed out by the Chief of Police for sending his trainee to an island Indian reservation to serve a common ticket. Why is he getting chewed out? Because the island has been evacuated due to a secret rocket test being conducted that day by NASA. Dunlop protests with the obvious response. How was he to know there was a secret rocket test going on if it was a secret?

Speed delivers his ticket and returns to his canoe to find a rather large alligator in it. He draws his service revolver and takes aim at the alligator’s head before slowly raising his arm and pointing the gun skyward. He smiles at the gator and pulls the trigger in order to scare the beastie and get it to run for the water. What he actually manages to do is blow the experimental rocket up. The sky goes bright red (from what we learn is the rocket’s cargo of experimental red plutonium) and the force of the explosion wipes out everything on the island.

Red

Dunlop is stripped of his rank for sending his trainee off to his death and exiled to duty on a heavily trafficked freeway area worksite when out of nowhere Speed comes riding up on his motorcycle. It’s here we see Speed’s first realization that he now has superpowers. As Dunlop, in a state of shock at seeing his “dead” trainee/partner looking down on him from an overpass, staggers forward while looking at Speed and he walks straight towards an open manhole. Speed stretches his hand out, about to yell a warning, when the manhole cover suddenly slides by itself across the ground and back into place just in time for Dunlop to safely step on it.

We cut to Speed and Dunlop driving down the street with Dunlop chewing Speed out for still being alive and questioning his story of surviving the rocket explosion. They arrive at a local takeout place where we’re introduced to Speed’s girlfriend Evelyn (Julie Gordon) who also happens to be Dunlop’s niece. Here we see Speed test his powers out when no one is looking. He uses telekinesis to move a large, illegally parked freight truck into an impossible to exit from legal parking spot.

Over the next half hour or more of the film we see Speed display a wide range of powers and abilities. It almost feels like Corbucci simply grabbed every comic book he could from a local newsstand and pulled a superpower from each one. Speed has telekinesis, a form of Spidey-Sense, the ability to see through walls and objects, the ability to run faster than a speeding locomotive, the ability to catch bullets in his hands and teeth or gun, the ability to levitate and float in an manner mimicking flight, the ability to make an entire stadium full of people disappear in an instant, the ability to control his mass and walk on water, possession of super strength and endurance that lets him survive a 10+ story fall unharmed, and he has the ability to control the minds and actions of others. We later see him bust through a reinforced concrete wall, breath water, talk to fish, and create a giant rescue balloon out of… well… you’ll have to see that bit to believe it.

Fish

Corbucci also seems to have lifted the absolute worse aspect of the Green Lantern mythos from that book to stick onto Speed’s list of superhero characteristics. Early on, Speed’s powers seem to short out on him at the most random of moments. There seems no rhyme or reason to it at first, but then he learns that the great powers given him by the red plutonium explosion are shut down when he sees the color red.

The flashback story unfolds until it brings us up to just before where we left off, and we return to the prison just in time to see Speed escape, head off to find his “dead” partner, catch the bad guys, and win the day. Of course, he also gets the girl in the end after a weird and unexpected trip to China. No, that’s not a typo. We see her reluctantly agree to marry him with his superpowers intact, but then we see her outsmart him on the matter of living with his powers.

The story is as fast and paint by number as one would expect from a quick and cheap Italian import made back in the day. Most of the actors are only okay at best, the special effects are a little less than special, and most of the background and supporting characters are barely more than one-dimensional clichés that would feel right at home in a 1960’s or early 1970’s superhero comic book. I say this as someone with a lifetime love of comic books and a deep love for some of the comic books that came from the 1960’s and early 1970’s.

But, you know what? The film is fun in that really goofy, really charming way that films of this kind can be. Yeah, a lot of the gags are silly as all get out, but you’ll find yourself laughing at them. Yeah, a lot of the acting is just above cardboard cutout level, but it works perfectly for the film. Plus, Terence Hill always had the ability to pull off a physical gag or even a look that made even the dumbest moments on film somehow work and combined that with a natural charm and charisma that always came through in his work no matter the limitations of the script, the budget, or the talent behind the camera.

Besides all of that, this film has easily one of the best theme songs to hit theaters since The Green Slime.

Super Snooper by The Oceans

Super Fuzz will never be a top ten film on most sane individuals’ superhero films lists, but it is a superhero film that everyone who loves the odd, the campy, and the goofy films along the lines of this one should see. But, damn… If only Bud Spencer had been available for the Dunlop role…

Jerry Chandler is a lifelong geek who, while enjoying most everything fandom has to offer, finds himself most at home in the horror, dark fantasy, and science fiction genres. He has in the past contributed to websites like Needless Things,  Gruesome Magazine, and others while occasionally remembering to put up the odd musings on his own blog. He’s been a guest on several podcasts from the ESO Network, on Decades of Horror, and on the Nerdy Laser. He is also a regular co-host on The Assignment: Horror Podcast as well as the primary writer for its affiliated blog.

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