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Misleading Film Adveristing

October 13, 2013

I don’t know about any of you but I’m pretty much done with film trailers. I’ve always tried to avoid posting any new trailers on this blog as I feel they give me a false perception of what a film will even be like these days. On the other hand, I cannot just put on my nostalgia glasses and pretend everything was hunky dory two or three decades ago. For example, let’s take a look at international advertising with the 1973 Blaxploitaiton film Savage!.

”Savage” was directed by Phillipino director Cirio H. Santiago who is surprisingly still kicking out action films to this day. Santiago is probably better known for producing some women-in-prison films in the early 70s and directing several blaxploiation films and what I call the “girl-army” films of the 1970s. ”Savage!” is marketed as a blaxploitation film but doesn’t really dwell on following any rules of that genre too long. (It’s more about the main character joining a team of female vigalantes to overthrow a government). Italian advertisers must have felt the same way as me, as they decided to turn this:

Savage blaxploitation 1973 poster

to this:

I can understand Italian distributors thinking that a white lead would sell better, but I don’t understand in actually trying to fool the audience into thinking the lead isn’t black! If they go see it, wouldn’t they think they’ve stepped into the wrong cinema?

The Italian poster goes into further exploitation territory as well. Note the officer’s flame thrower on the American version has turned into a shotgun, and his victims have been added to the slaughter on the second advertisement. The race-hopping lead has also moved from a gun smoking to full blown guns blaring. Even the director’s changes aliases between posters: from Cirio Santiago to the nationality-confused name of Cirius Xantiac!

I have yet to see the film and don’t know if I ever will. It has very small release on DVD and was released on VHS under various titles (which also features images of actors not in the film). Among the few reviews I’ve found online, none have spoken to positively about it, generally referring to it as a weak film even among blaxploitation aficionados.

So who’s to blame for the race-change? The artist who designed the American poster was John Solie who did several other films posters (including the Shaft series) while the only unique credit I can find that isn’t an alias on the Italian poster is Remo Angioli as a presenter. Sadly, Angioli’s filmography is even more obscure than the film itself as the only other film credit I can find for him is being the producer of the Italian horror film ”Nude for Satan”. So who’s the real culprit in this ad? Has anyone else seen this happen in other posters of the era? Little help anyone?

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