Horror 365, Movie 103: The 10th Victim

“How do you find some of the weird movies you write about?” I hear this question, well, if I’m honest, never. Nonetheless, it deserves an answer. The fact is, I’ve been watching movies for a good, long time, but I catch a good deal of YouTube as well. Specifically, I subscribe to and regularly check out Nightmare Maven, PossessedbyHorror, Top 5 Scary Videos, and Whatculture Horror. I also drop in on a few others like WatchMojo from time to time, so I’d say a good 30% of the more obscure, culty kinds of flicks I’ve found have been from people talking about them online.

Such is the case with The 10th Victim (I might have heard of this somewhere before, or I might be thinking of the 1943 horror/noir The 7th Victim). I happened across Terry Talks Movies on the YouTubes, and he discusses the movie in a segment about 1960s science fiction describing it as “one of the grooviest looking movies of the decade.” He’s not wrong.

Directed by Ellio Petri, The 10th Victim is a weird, trippy little sci-fi horror flick with an off-the-wall romcom kinda curve at the end. In a not-too-distant dystopian future, there’s a game called The Big Hunt. Players are either Hunters or Victims, and they try to kill each other. If you manage to off 10 Victims, you get a million dollars. Caroline (Ursula Andress) is on her 10th hunt with Marcello (Marcello Mastroianni) as her target.

Ursula Andress is gorgeous as always and plays Caroline as cunning, clever, and deadly. She’s exponentially more interesting than Mastroianni who is, well, just kinda there (to be fair, except for La Dolce Vita, I’m really not a fan). Noteworthy as well is the number of times the name “Marcello” can be said in 92 minutes. Oh and did I mention the Bra Gun?

Look out Austin Powers

For 1965, The 10th Victim is chillingly prophetic. Dialogue meant at the time to deliver some satirical needling today feels more like, appropriately, a bullet. For example, while pursuing Marcello through Italy, Caroline poses as a reporter who wants to interview him. They meet at an outdoor cafe where another Hunter/Victim pair bursts in shooting at each other. They are stopped by the maître d’ who informs them they aren’t allowed to shoot there. He even pulls the Victim along by his ear (turns out Italy is not completely on board with The Big Hunt).

The Hunter complains to Marcello about all of Italy’s limitations on shooting and complains, “It’s not permitted anyplace anymore. What’s the good of The Hunt anyway?” Caroline’s response? “In America we dont have those kinds of restrictions. Every man is allowed to shoot where ever and when ever he pleases.” Welcome to 21st Century ‘Murica with our firearms–such a zany bunch.

Some other satirical and humorous bits pop up throughout the movie which must be why The 10th Victim is sometimes referred to as a horror/science fiction/action/comedy. All I can say is pick a lane. As for the final act, well, it’s just weird. I won’t give away any details other than to say the very end devolves into a badly handled 5-minute attempt at some Benny Hill-level slapstick that looks nothing but tired and off balance.

Finally, a note about the Skull Rating on this one. As a movie, it’s fun enough but not all that great. Don’t get me wrong; it doesn’t suck. But more importantly, it predates just about every dystopian people-as-quarry flick I can think of. I don’t just mean Battle Royale and its overhyped clone The Hunger Games, or even The Running Man, but classics like Turkey Shoot and Death Race 2000. If I’m wrong, and the chances of that are better than average, let me know in the Comments.

BODIES- 4 onscreen
Free on Plex, Tubi, Vudu, YouTube, for rent on Prime

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