Every now and then I get together with a group of friends for Bad Movie Night. The worse the movie, the better. Why would anyone willingly do this? Maybe it’s a side-effect of being MST3K fans.
We’ve gone through a lot of the “popular” bad movies – The Room, Birdemic, Manos – but then we came across an odd pick: 1965’s The 10th Victim. I’d never heard of it, and while it’s not a bad movie, it’s also not not a bad movie either…
The 10th Victim is an early version of the Deadly Game trope. Audiences around the world tune in to watch The Big Hunt, where two players are chosen at random to be hunter and victim. Each must try to kill the other first. The Big Hunt is the planet’s most popular sport, so kills in its service are legal. Standard stuff – Death Race 2000 (1975), The Running Man (1987), and The Hunger Games (2012) would repeat the premise later – but, when this was made in 1965, had it been done in film before? It may be the first to comment on commercialism with the Deadly Game trope: the game has its sponsors, and the hunted recites them smilingly to the camera right before his execution. This mix was still fresh decades later for Death Race 2000 and The Running Man, and this movie does it better than either.
It Looks Great…
One thing you’ll notice when watching is that the film flat-out looks sensational. It’s one of the “grooviest” films you’ll ever see, with scene after scene of 60s Pop eye candy:
…but What Am I Looking At?
The 10th Victim was not a commercial success. It’s hard at times to know what to make of it: it’s a dark comedy, science fiction, kind of a Eurospy film, and – sometimes – serious drama. it drags in the middle, and it’s not always clear whether the movie is trying to be funny, serious, or both.
The two leads Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress keep things interesting though. Mastroianni had starred in La Dolce Vita a few years before. Andress was fresh off being the first “Bond Girl” in Dr. No, and their screen presence keeps this strange movie going.
Despite its weaknesses, there’s a lot to enjoy about The 10th Victim. It’s funny, it’s an interesting early subversive SF film, Mastroianni puts in some good acting, and – especially – it’s a visual feast of 60s Pop.
Also, it’s only 92 minutes long. What do you have to lose?
Rating: 6 out of 10
Trivia Time: Ming Tea
This movie was an inspiration for Mike Myers’ Austin Powers character. Before his movies, Austin was the lead vocalist of faux retro-mod band “Ming Tea”, a Spinal Tap-style band which played real music but whose members performed in character. Ming Tea’s members, who included Myers, Susanna Hoffs (The Bangles), and Matthew Sweet, each performed in a different 60s stereotype character.
The band’s name comes from one of The 10th Victim’s satirical ads: Dancing teacups, singing Ming Tea’s praises, danced on-camera as Marcello and Caroline’s hunt reached its climax.
Also, who could forget Austin Powers’ fembot bra guns? Those are also from The 10th Victim, where Andress kills one of her victims this way in the opening scenes: