The name Duke Mitchell may not be recognizable to a lot of our readers, but fans of exploitation have probably heard of his first film as a writer/director, 1974’s Massacre Mafia Style, aka The Executioner. The next year he started filming a follow-up, then called Kiss the Ring, later given the awesome title of Gone with the Pope; however, Mitchell died before finishing the flick. Enter Grindhouse Releasing, which has undertaken a painstaking restoration.
In an interesting twist, in the same week that Gone with the Pope is having its world premiere (March 12th at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theatre), Grindhouse Releasing‘s co-owner, Bob Murawski, is up for his first Oscar as editor of The Hurt Locker. Talk about going from the sublime to the ridiculous!
While most folks up for the Academy Award this year have “skeletons in their closets” that they have tucked away in that dark, dark eternal slumber — Murawski is chatting about his with great glee. Like this quote on the official Gone with the Pope website: “Of all the films I have been involved with, the one that I am most proud of is Gone with the Pope. Duke Mitchell didn’t live to see this masterpiece finished. I am honored to be the person to finish it for him. Completing this movie was a 15-year labor of love. No expense or effort was spared in rescuing this classic from cinematic oblivion and finishing it with the utmost quality. Our beautiful new 35mm print stands as a testament to Duke Mitchell’s unique and explosively entertaining vision.”
So, what’s this masterpiece about anyway? Gone with the Pope stars Duke Mitchell as Paul, a gangster with an unholy scheme: to kidnap the Pope and charge “a dollar from every Catholic in the world” as the ransom.
In an in-depth interview with Movieline (be sure to read the whole thing; it’s pretty brilliant), Murawski explains his fascination with exploitation films by saying something we horror fans have been aware of for quite some time, “I’m more interested in the ideas in a movie than its production value. I think Hollywood can learn from them. A lot of times, the cheaper movies are a lot more pure — they have more heart, as opposed to being corporate cookie-cutter pieces of garbage.”
Massacre Mafia Style will be screening with Gone with the Pope at the Egyptian. So far the only other showings are March 26-27 and April 2-3 at Grand Illusion Cinema in Seattle, WA, but keep an eye on Grindhouse Releasing’s Theatrical Info page in case more dates are added.
In the meantime check out the poster (by Shock Festival‘s Stephen Romano) and trailer for Gone with the Pope below, and good luck Sunday night, Bob Murawski! You are indeed one of us!
Big thanks to fellow horror fiend Jason Bylan for passing on the Movieline article to us! Just be careful, kids; this sorta stuff will rot your brain.
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