THE DEATH COLLECTOR/FAMILY ENFORCER (1976)

The extremely low-budget of THE DEATH COLLECTOR should not be a detriment since  it effectively provides an eerie realism to what's a potentially asphalt-gritty mob flick where relatively young climber Joe Cortese works collecting cash for lowly but still edgy crime boss Lou Criscuolo... both decent enough actors: The problem is what's missing: we never completely experience the thrills of collecting debts since it hardly ever occurs...

Indie horror flicks have creative methods of filming random killings because that can be afforded, and it's what kind of genre it is, but COLLECTOR merely aspires as a mob flick yet lacks the villainous fun in the process... Perhaps because lead actor Cortese (with underused natural-beauty girlfriend Anne Johns) is too grim and one-note serious while his buddy... a non-famous Joe Pesci... is so natural, energetic and involving, he would've made a far better lead while sidekick's sidekick/comic-relief Bobby Alto would be promoted to second banana instead of third, because he and Joe's scenes (foreshadowing Pesci's witty back-and-forth with Frank Sivero in GOODFELLAS) are the only truly human moments...  Also featuring another future Martin Scorsese regular Frank Vincent, whose low-rent mafioso foreshadows his violently doomed fates in RAGING BULL, GOODFELLAS and CASINO... Overall, THE DEATH COLLECTOR aka FAMILY ENFORCER has some terrifically shot sequences, and makes for a moody 1970's hybrid of Martin Scorsese and John Cassavetes... but its uneven story feels more pieced-together than fully realized: ultimately cheating both the characters and the audience. Grade: C—

Frank Vincent in The Death Collector
Anne Johns in The Death Collector

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