Every once and a great while (especially lately) you get a movie that is a true on of a kind. Its unlike anything out there. Not a combination of films blended together, not influenced by other films, just a totally unique concept. In 1989 Sergio Martino directed such a film. Featuring the late Donald Pleasance that film was titled American Rickshaw. The film has been unheard of for many years and only existed in a really crummy transfer. Well that’s about to change thanks to a new company called Caldron Films.
American Rickshaw is the story of a young college student named Scott. He earns his cash by hauling people around in Rickshaw’s. He’s a good looking guy that’s quiet popular with his female passengers. One day he gets a fair from a young woman who offers to take him abord her yacht for a night of fun. The woman is beautiful so Scott takes her up on the offer. As he is preparing to have sex with her he notices a creepy looking guy in the closet video taping the entire thing. When he is caught he even offers Scott money to forget he’s there and keep going. Scott obviously is not into this and proceeds to beat the guy senseless. He grabs the tape and heads home. Problem is he grabbed the wrong tape.
So Scott decides to go back and get the correct tape, problem is someone was there while he was gone. Not only is the boat trashed, but the closet filming pervert is dead. Suddenly the boat ignites in flames and Scott jumps into the water. When a crowd and cops gather he decides to just swim home figuring all traces of evidence he was even their would be burned. Only problem is the next day we learn the dead pervert is actually the son of a Televangelist named Samuel Mortom (Donald Pleasence) and that this was no accident. It was, as we later find out the work of a hitman named Frances who knows Scott was there, so he needs to take him out as well.
Now not to give too much away from here on out but I assume you are wondering why this is considered a horror film. Well it’s because in the beginning Scott gave a ride to an elderly lady, who we find out is actually a witch who uses her pet cat, and a cobra to watch Scott as these events unfold. It turns out she used to date Samuel Mortom many years ago and he stole an idol of a bore from her that was used to keep her young and powerful. He has no doubt ben using this to gain success in life. Turns out The pervert that was murdered is actually Jason Mortom, Samuels son. He stole that idol from his father and hid it, hence why he was murdered. Scott must team with this witch to not only clear his name but save his life and in the process stop Samuel Mortom and retrieve the idol .
This is without a doubt the most original film I have ever seen, and that’s saying something. A combination of horror, exploitation, erotic, and action American Rickshaw blends all of these together. As I stated earlier it only existed in muddy watered down prints. But a new company, Cauldron Films has acquired the rights to this and are releasing it fully uncut (It has nudity, blood, the usual) on Blu-ray with special features. The transfer looks fantastic. All the colors are crisp, and the night scenes never suffer from the dreaded blue tint that ruins transfer after transfer. The audio is great. The dialogue is clear, and the score sounds great coming out of your speakers. This is a fantastic looking print, and I cant wait to see what else Cauldron has planned. Oh and in case you are wondering here are the special features included in this release.
· 2K restoration from the original camera negative
· On camera interviews with director Sergio Martino and production designer Massimo Antonello Geleng
· Then and now location footage
· The Projection Booth Podcast discuss AMERICAN RICKSHAW
· Commentary with Samm Deighan & Kat Ellinger
· Image Gallery
· Booklet with writing by grindhouse comics writer and Tough to Kill co-author, David Zuzelo
· Reversible cover featuring Italian artwork
· Limited Edition high quality slipcase with new artwork by Mattias Frisk
· Limited to 1500 copies
This is one weird and cool film that should be required viewing for horror and action fans. Like I said you have never seen anything like this one. It’s a great film with a great transfer. I highly recommend picking on up asap.
Overall 4 out of 5 Stars!