Blu-ray Review: American Rickshaw (1989)

July 22, 2020

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

As American Rickshaw begins, we are treated to an image of a strange idol filmed in a manner that made your’s cruelly think “This is like some Boxer’s Omen style shit right here”… and I wasn’t wrong cats n’ creeps!

The overall vibe of this pic has much more akin to those black magic shockers Shaw Brothers were crankin’ out in the ’70s than the western and sci-fi fare director Sergio Martino is known for… and that is an unexpected, and wonderful thing believe you me!

The long and short of American Rickshaw goes as follows: Florida-based college kid Scott Edwards (Olympian Mitch Gaylord of all people) is a rickshaw driver (that most popular form of transportation in the States) who manages to get in the good graces of aged Chinese witch Madame Luna (Michi Kobi… giving off serious )… which is good because he ends up being framed for the murder of a pervert that filmed him having sex… as one does… and soon finds he’ll need all of the help he can get, mystical or not!

Making matters worse, the deceased creeps father is a big-shot televangelist, Reverend Mortom (the legendary Donald Pleasence delivering an accent that is southern by way of ol’ Blighty) by name, and soon our hero is on the run from an assassin… but as dangerous as that is, supernatural forces aplenty try and take out our boy Scott as well! Chinese astrology, ancient curses, and unenthusiastic stripping ensue.

Straight up, American Rickshaw is a fuckin’ gem… a great big, shiny, totally bat-shit insane gem that has to be seen to be believed. Where else are you going to get sex tapes, rooftop skirmishes, fortune cookie wisdom, exposed female flesh, witches, demons, a flesh-melting key… and so much more (including a finale that will have your jaw colliding with the floor at mach speed)… sloshing around to create a ghoulish goulash that is as entertaining as it is off-kilter!

As great as the film is (and looks… seriously, the transfer here is gorgeous), there are plenty of extras present to sweeten the pot. Kicking things off are interviews with Martino and production designer Massimo Antonello Geleng, followed by an uproarious episode of The Projection Booth podcast where the film is discussed.

Next up we get an audio commentary track featuring author Kat Ellinger (who also is featured in the podcast mentioned above) and film critic Samm Deighan that not only provides a scholarly discussion of the film, but of Martino as well, and is a real highlight! Following that we get a tour of the filming locations as they appear today, and an image gallery.

I can’t stress this to you fine fiends enough; American Rickshaw is an absolute blast from beginning to end, and I can guaran-fucking-tee you that you’ve never seen it’s like before! Viva Cauldron Films for bringing this one to light in their debut offerings (neo-giallo Abrakadabra being the other)!




You can pick up your own copy of American Rickshaw right here!

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