FENOMENAL & THE
TREASURE OF TUTANKAMEN
(1968)



Howdy folkses! Today's film moche du jour features three of our four core values here at Million Monkey Theater: it's a bad movie with bad acting and a bad plot. We supply the bad cats. As a special bonus it's also got bad dubbing, bad editing and the worst superhero costume I've ever seen. That last one is a high bar to clear, being as I recently watched Rat Pfink a BooBoo (1966), but Fenomenal and the Treasure of Tutankamen is definitely up to the challenge. It's an Italian production set in sunny France, where the wine is dry, the cheese is soft and the snails are nervous. It features a cast of d-list Italians and smug American expats pretending to be French, British and American con men, police operatives and aristocrats. Tres internationale, non? It was brought to my attention by the celebrated Parisian dancer, cabaret artiste and amateur consulting detective La Tinque, who called it a "souffle de merde insipide" and thought perhaps it would suit our crappy movie needs. Which of course it does, tres admirablement.

Mlle. La Tinque has been assisting our very own P.I. Tizwin in his ongoing investigation into former Intern Kelby and his unknown accomplice who stole MMT's corporate funds and swear jar money back in September. Kelby seems intent on openly taunting us these days, sending snarky emails and hastily-scrawled reviews whenever he stops anywhere long enough to get drunk or meet a few strippers, but the joke's on him because we're not actively pursuing him anymore anyway. We're looking for the accomplice and the money.

Tizwin got a tip from La Tinque that Kelby's mysterious accomplice, dubbed individual-1 by European authorities, had been hiding out somewhere in Paris. He made his first contact with her on January 3rd in her trailer dressing room near the Pyramide de Louvre where she had just performed an interpretive mime based on Claude Debussy's "The Girl with the Flaxen Hair."


Le Monde called it a triumph, declaring enthusiastically that she had "vibrantly and fearlessly reinvented French mime for the modern world." As if that's a good thing.

Tizwin and La Tinque seem to have hit it off instantly, and Tizwin's report of their meeting makes for some very interesting reading, indeed. Some of her revelations were downright explosive, and despite many unanswered questions I am finally feeling optimistic that this investigation may soon be drawing to a positive conclusion. Let's take a look at what M. Tizwin and Mlle. La Tinque discussed that night, shall we?







Ah, le jeune amour. It looks as though Tizwin's going to be in Paris for quite some time. Pretty shocking stuff from La Tinque, though, eh? How about the thing with the accomplice being a cat? Boy-howdy we didn't see that one coming, did we? What do you think she meant by "follow the herbes le chats?" That's crazy French talk for catnip! What could catnip possibly have to do with individual-1 and our missing money?

Speaking of Catnip, Intern Sparky, in his official capacity as CEO and President of Catnip Club for Cats, the world's largest distributor of medicinal and recreational nip, has decided to immediately halt distribution of his top-selling brand, a genetically modified product known as "Meowie Zowie." As I mentioned in a previous review there had been numerous reports of aberrant, violent and even criminal behavior amongst cats who'd used it. Pretty weird, huh? Sparky had been reticent to believe these anecdotal claims, but a dossier produced during a joint investigation by the DEA and the Food and Drug Administration completely changed his mind.


The evidence was overwhelming.

Despite the massive financial hit he's taking, Sparky knows he made the right call in taking Meowie Zowie off the market now instead of waiting for the government to force his paw. Still, the whole debacle has left him feeling anxious, depressed and maybe just a little guilty that he didn't act more quickly. He talks tough sometimes but underneath all that furry blubber and steely-eyed business acumen Sparky's just a big softie with a heart of gold.


A heart of fucking gold.

I wanted to do something to cheer him up so I asked him of he'd like to join me in watching Fenomenal and the Treasure of Tutankamen and maybe even write the review together. He agreed on condition that I supplied the booze.

"Hey everybody. Sparky here. Where's the tequila?"

"I thought maybe since the movie takes place in France we should drink absinthe instead."

"Absinthe? Like in Moulin Rouge? I can dig it. Speaking of Moulin Rouge did I ever tell you..."

"Are you gonna tell that story about getting hammered and face-mashing with Nicole Kidman again, Sparks? Because I've already heard it like three hundred times."

"Yeah, but it was hot..."

"Knock it off."

"Her tongue tasted like Friskies tuna and salmon filet..."

"That's repulsive."

"...in gravy!"

"Sweet Jesus, Sparky! You're gonna make me hurl."

"Alright ya big wuss. Start the movie and pour that absinthe. Shit ain't gonna drink itself."

Okay, here we go! Our movie opens on a run-down boat where some gruff smugglers are shocked to find that instead of heading straight out to sea as they'd intended they've somehow doubled back towards the port at Marseilles from which they'd started.


"Well blow me down!"

The captain and one of his men go back to check on the pilot and when they look down a portal they see him passed out down in the hold. Suddenly they look up to see...


Fenomenal!

Oh, yeah! That's our hero, people, dressed in black jeans and a black turtleneck with a black sock pulled over his head. A black sock with no eye holes. I told you it was the worst superhero costume ever.

Fenomenal gives a forced, painful laugh that sounds like he just gave himself a hernia, leaps down from the cabin roof and proceeds to kick some gruff smuggler ass.

Once he's vanquished them all he ties them up in a fishing net. Well, except that one poor bastard he punched out and knocked overboard. That guy probably drowned. He steers the vessel towards the docks then leaps into the water, letting the boat drift into port on its own.


Which is both dangerous and irresponsible.

We cut to a newsstand where a town crier is shouting "Wextra! Wextra! Read all about it! Fenomenal foils drug ring!" That's not a typo. He repeatedly pronounces "extra" as if it's spelled with a "w." I told you the dubbing was bad. You have to learn to trust me on these things.

"Speaking of trust, dude, I trusted you to pour me a drink. What's taking so long with that Absinth? I'm parched over here."

"It's just ready now, Sparky. It takes time to pour absinthe. You have to let it drip slowly over a lump of sugar, which dissolves into the liquid as the glass fills up."

"Why can't you just pour it like normal booze, stir the sugar into it and drink it right away?

"I don't know, Sparky. Ask the French."

"Fuck the French. Hand it over."

*Slurrrrp!*

"What do you think?"

"I think it's what my asshole would taste like if it was made of licorice. Go get me some tequila."

"Fine...but you have to keep watching and write some of the review while I'm gone."

Okay, this should be easy! Just describe what's happening and make a few jokes, right? Okay...


That King Tut mask is totally made of fiberglass.

There's a mess of fruity Italian people I've never heard of and Gordon Mitchell, an American bodybuilder who made a whole bunch of shitty movies in Europe. The others are b-movie has-beens nobody remembers or cares about in 2019 and I'll bet nobody cared about them back in 1968, either. They're probably all dead by now anyway.

Somewhere in Paris a fancy clock strikes four and some shifty-looking dudes in different places around the city jump into their cars and drive around for what seems like three hours. There are two little gray sports cars, a little red economy whatsit and a VW bug that looks like the one Ted Bundy drove.


You can go see Bundy's car in a museum in Tennessee. You can even climb in and pretend to be Bundy and one of his victims like these two assholes.

They drive and drive and drive, I guess to show everybody how they got to film in France for a few days before going back to Italy and getting locked in some dank soundstage with stock sets and musty costumes from somebody's stock company basement. When the cars all reach the Eiffel Tower (because if you're making a movie in Paris you are legally required to show the fucking Eiffel Tower) they all park around a manhole cover. They lift it up and a few of them go down into the hole carrying big gas cylinders and a torch. The cars drive off leaving the rest oftheir crew down in the sewers.


It's a dirty job but these are dirty men.

Back on the surface some nerd on a bicycle with a basket of bread on the front (actually director Ruggero Deodato in a brief cameo) rides over the manhole and crashes because the shifty dudes left it halfway open.


"Sacre bleu! Mon baguettes!"

So these braniacs who are obviously trying to pull some sort of big caper make the effort to park around the manhole so no one could see them going into it but can't be bothered to put the cover back on before they leave. Brilliant.

A policeman directing traffic comes running across the street to see what's going on. He pops down the manhole and yells a few times to see if there's anyone working there, but when no one answers him he goes back up and finds a phone booth.


Remember these things? I don't. I'm a cat. I'm only seven years old.

Instead of calling in a report to the station the policeman calls up a granite-jawed thug with a token blonde girlfriend and a Labrador retriever. This is Gordon Mitchell and he is one ugly mother fucker.


He looks like a steroid-addled proboscis monkey somebody dressed up like a people.

Gordon laughs and tells the policeman to keep an eye on the guys down in the sewer and let him know what happens. Which is gonna be kind of difficult because they're down in the sewer. When Gordon hangs up the phone he tells his token blonde girlfriend that "the dress rehearsal is going as planned." She enthusiastically tells him "you're wonderful," which seems like a weird response from an entirely different conversation, but who knows? Maybe he is wonderful...and a tender, attentive lover to boot.

Back in the tunnels the sewer crew reaches the spot they've been looking for. One of the goons says they have to cut through a metal plate to get where they're going, but they have to wait for the sluice on the other side of it to drain. So they set up the torch and wait...and check their watches...and we wait...and check our watches...and we're ten minutes into this thing and I'm bored out of my freaking mind. I said I'd watch it, though so I guess I'm stuck.


The actors feel just as trapped as the audience.

"Here's your tequila, Sparky. I got the full gallon. It was on sale."

"Just in the nick of time, dude! Are all the movies this bad? Because this shit is painful."

"Yep. This is pretty much typical MMT."

"I mean, I thought this was some kind of cushy job you had here but when you actually have to sit down and watch one of these things...it's fucking barbaric!"

"Just drink your tequila and try not to think about it. That's what I always do."

"Alright. You take over for awhile while I freshen up and get myself a little hammered."

"Knock yourself out, fuzz butt."

So where'd we leave off? Ah, yes. The old "waiting in the sewer for the sluice to drain" routine. A golden classic.

So we now cut to an establishing shot of a fancy building, outside of which is a sign with a picture of the shitty fiberglass Tut mask prop. Inside we meet the greasy, dough-faced proprietor of what turns out to be a prestigious museum where the priceless national treasure is about to be displayed in a special exhibit the Egyptian government is already regretting having agreed to.


This is clearly a man who enjoys his sausages.

Doughface is explaining all of this to Count Guy Norton, whom we learn personally negotiated the loan of the mask. Norton tells Doughface he's going to a dinner meeting with Inspector Beauvais, the police detective in charge of security for the mask. Doughface tells Guy Norton he can't meet them for coffee as planned as he has a few final security details to see to himself.


"Guy Norton" would be a great name for a game show host...

...but not as great as "Wink Martindale."

Norton is played by a justifiably forgotten Italian b-movie producer named Mauro Parenti, who developed this film specifically as a starring vehicle for himself...and boy-howdy does he bite the big one as an actor. He's got the charisma of soggy toast and the screen presence of a mustard stain. Apparently no one would give him a starring role in a proper film, so in his bitter rage at an industry unwilling to acknowledge his genius he forced this nauseating cinematic emetic on us all. Yes, people it's yet another inept, intolerable, ego-driven vanity project. I honestly don't know how we keep finding them, but I for one won't be satisfied until we've reviewed them all.

One of the central mysteries of Fenomenal and the Treasure of Tutenkamen, aside from why anyone thought it was a good idea to make it in the first place, is the secret identity of the titular hero...or at least that's what the filmmakers want us to think. From the very first instant we see Norton on-screen he just screams "millionaire douchebag who likes to dress up funny and punch criminals in the balls like a low-rent Franco-Italian Batman." He's got all the symptoms: he's an insufferable, smarmy playboy with a suave, unflappable demeanor, and a wealthy civic leader with connections to the local police and likes to drop cheesy, insipid one-liners at wildly inappropriate moments. He's even got a butler named Alfred! When the big reveal finally happens in the last five minutes it's practically an insult, especially since the "secret" slips out in the most ludicrous way imaginable. But I'm getting ahead of myself. There's still like 75 minutes to go before that little shit-nugget rears its ugly head.

"Wait a minute...you've already seen this?"

"Yeah, Sparks. I watched it about a week ago."

"And you're watching it again?"

"Of course. Sometimes I watch 'em three or four times while I'm writing them up."

"Damn, dude! I always thought you were a wimp, but you're a goddamned iron man! Have another drink on me!"

So back at the museum a guard is joking around, bowing to the mask, chanting "Salaam! Salaam!" pretending to be an ancient Egyptian, and confides to another guard that paying obeisance to Pharaoh is pretty hard on the back.


Cultural insensitivity is always good for a few LOLs.

They lock up the room with the mask and turn on the alarm, a procedure that requires four stages of security protocol:


1: Flip sneaky hidden switch on the back of an antique clock to set the auxiliary alarm.


2: Call George via a secret transmitter behind the tapestry in the vestibule.


3: Tell George to get up off his fat ass.


4: Have George switch on the main control circuit. Yeah, it's mostly all about waking up poor sleepy George.

Voila! The fiberglass Tut mask is now safe as milk...or is it?

The head of the sewer crew checks his watch again and says it's time to cut through the steel plate and get moving on their caper. He says the sluice gets flooded every hour so they have to hurry. One of the dirty men sets up his big torch and goes at it, making a nice big hole they can all slip into. That sentence came out way more porn than I had intended.


This "sewer" is lit like the Astrodome. No one even needed to bring a flashlight.

So the dirty men of the sewer crew eventually come to a grate above their heads that happens to be in the courtyard of the museum. They've got a nifty little periscope thing with a canister of compressed gas and a little hole for a dart at the center of the lens. They push it up through the grate and wait for a guard to walk by.


Nice gadget. What a shame it's the only cool thing in the whole movie.

They shoot the guard with the dart and he grabs at his lower back and falls to the ground unconscious.


There's no way they actually hit the guard at that angle but that bush is gonna be asleep for a week.

Two of the sewer goons are inside the building now because no one apparently bothers to lock any of the exterior doors. No wonder the Egyptians regret having loaned this place their priceless mask.

As the burglars sneak around a corner the two security guys who set the alarm round a bend, and the joker who bowed to the mask tells the other guy how happy he is to have a nice quiet place to work. "At my last job we used to have two break-ins a night!" he says, "One week I got knocked out three times!"


Multiple brain injuries, eh?
That explains a few things.

The would-be thieves go into the vestibule outside of the room with the fiberglass Tut mask, give a sneaky side-eye to the tapestry and start laughing. Out in the hallway the two dimwit guards hear it and go running towards to the Tut gallery, where they get black-jacked into oblivion.


Looks like Monsieur Salaam just got brain injury number four.

So the head thief guy turns off the auxiliary alarm then switches the transmitter on so George can have an earful of his hearty, infectious laughter. George asks what's going on, and getting only more laughter in response decides to leave his secure station to investigate. He does this without calling anyone else or otherwise taking even the most basic precautions. As soon as he's halfway opened the door thief number two clobbers him.


At least he got his nap.

Thief number two shuts off the main control circuit and we cut to a guard walking around outside, who hears the raucous laughter they've been using to signal each other. He shrugs his shoulders and smiles.


"Let them have their fun. It's not like we're being robbed or anything."

So our thieves go into the Tut mask chamber, ready to secure their prize, but as soon as they step onto a circle surrounding the pedestal an alarm sounds and a bunch of red and green disco lights start flashing.


I was hoping Kool and the Gang would show up and start playing "Jungle Boogie" but alas, it was not to be.

The would-be thieves try to grab the mask and run but they get a nasty electric shock for their trouble and end up supine on the gallery floor.

We cut to doughface, who flips a switch on the wall in an adjacent chamber, shutting off the alarm. A couple of security guards come running in with guns drawn but Doughface, Norton and another gentleman walk in and wave them off. It seems the "thieves" are actually police operatives hand picked by Inspector Beauvais, who authorized them to destroy civic infrastructure, break into a private building and physically assault civilian security guards just to find out how hard it would be to steal the artifact. Sounds like a completely legal and responsible plan to me.

We also meet M. Gresaunee, Doughface's secretary, who comes running in because he heard the alarm from his apartment, right across the street from the museum.


He might as well have "criminal mole" tattooed on his forehead, so I'm calling him Monsieur Mole.

Beauvais congratulates himself on their successful test of the security arrangements, but Norton plays devil's advocate, asking if he believes he can outwit actual determined thieves. Beauvais is confident his floor alarm and shock zone is sufficient to prevent a theft, and Doughface agrees, provided they are the only ones who know how the security system works.

We cut to the policeman from the Eiffel Tower running into a shop to use their phone and calling up Gordon Mitchell to tell him what happened at the museum. How this lowly beat cop assigned to an entirely different area of a huge, sprawling metropolitan area immediately knows all about a highly confidential incident that just took place in a building across town is not explored.

"Hey Sparky...wake up! You said you were gonna help me out here!"


Looks like Sparky is down for the count. I guess I'm on my own for awhile.

Anyway there's another long "driving around Paris to groovy 60's lounge music" sequence, this time with Norton at the wheel. It's the same grey sportscar we saw one of the sewer crew guys get into and park next to the manhole under the Eiffel Tower. In fact that very same car shows up at least three more times, and at each appearance it's got someone else driving it.

We cut to a bunch of wealthy big-wigs attending a reception to kick off the Tut exhibition. Doughface tells Beauvais that the cream of society are there and obviously represent a low security risk, but Beauvais points out a few infamous thieves and pickpockets who've managed to slip in and mingle with the crowd. He lingers on Gordon Mitchell, whom he identifies as Gregory Falco, a confidence man whom the police have never been able to definitively charge with a crime. If I were Doughface I'd be just about shitting my pantaloons at this point, what with my reputation and livelihood in the hands of a guy who can neither keep known criminals out of exclusive, invitation-only events nor gather enough evidence to secure any convictions against them. Beauvais is pretty smug for a guy who so obviously sucks at his job.

Norton enters and the press goes wild. When asked how he persuaded the Egyptian government to loan the museum the mask he replies "by winning a chess game."


Boom! That's how you do international diplomacy biatch! Mind that woman in white, by the way. We'll be seeing her again.

He answers a few more questions then goes over to open the exhibition by slipping a French Flag off the Tut mask. Then a sweet little girl who sounds like she was dubbed by a 50-year old prostitute gives him some flowers and a kiss on the cheek.


"That'll be fifty francs, monsieur...and no kissing on the mouth."

A pasty blonde goth chick in a black veil comes over and deliberately steps on Norton's foot. She tells him she did it because "It's good luck," then offers this unsolicited nugget of sado-masochistic wisdom:


"When a relationship is based on pain it always works out well."

Hmmm...I think she's trying to tell you something there, Norton. She introduces herself as "Mike Shevlove, the only daughter of Homer Shevlove the canned meat king." What a strange declaration. Is "canned meat" some sort of euphemism? I don't know what the hell just happened here but this has suddenly become a very different kind of movie.

Norton quite sensibly finds a polite and suitable way to get the fuck away from creepy Mike Shevlove. She pouts seductively to herself as she stares at fiberglass Tut. Gordon Mitchell sees her standing there alone and swoops in to offer her a drink.


With a face like that I'd say he's just fine with a relationship based on pain.

After the reception M. Mole is playing tonsil hockey with the lady reporter with the white hat and they just barely miss being caught by Doughface as he enters his office just off of the gallery. Mole introduces her as Mlle. Guillaume "from the Express" and claims he was "just giving her some information on the exhibition." Possibly of his penis.

Doughface sends Mole out to mail some letters and asks Mlle. Guillaume to have a seat while he puts some documents in his safe. She bends down as if to light a cigarette, but the lighter is actually a sneaky spy camera and she takes pictures of each number as Doughface dials the combination.


How convenient that he should have to open the safe at just this particular moment...


...and how polite of him to give her a clear view of the dial as he does so.

Maybe I'm being too picky here, but every time she flicks the shutter on that thing she moves like half an inch. I don't see how she could possibly get any clear shots if she can't hold the damned thing steady, but what do I know about spy gear from 1968? Maybe it's got some kind of high-tech internal gyroscopic stabilizer. Then again maybe this movie is full of shit.

There's a brief scene now that's missing from the American cut of the movie. The exhibit is now apparently open to the public and a bunch of art lovers are ogling at the various artifacts in the Tut room. Gordon's token blonde girlfriend drops a smoke bomb into one of the vases and a shady-looking guy we haven't seen before tosses a bocce ball onto the base of the platform holding the mask, setting off the alarm. The room clears and out and we see Doughface and Beauvais in the vestibule looking at the burnt out husk of the fancy clock with the auxiliary switch on it.

There's a tense conversation in the museum office now between Norton and Doughface, and although it's all in Italian the gist of it is that Doughface is going to make a duplicate of the mask to put on display, and keep the real mask in his safe.


The Mole is there, too, taking it all in and trying his darndest to look as suspicious as humanly possible.

As if to draw even more attention to his already obvious duplicity for even the most casual and disengaged viewer, Mole butts into his boss' conversation to enthusiastically encourage the idea of the duplicate mask.

Later we see Mlle. Guillaume walking across Gordon Mitchell's estate, where he's lounging in a deck chair and his minions are kicking around a soccer ball like a couple of 12-year-olds daydreaming of one day winning the World Cup.


Never mock those silly Europeans' maniacal, irrational, completely ludicrous obsession with the mind-numbingly dull sport of soccer, and certainly don't ever call it soccer, either.

Mlle. G. gives Gordon the photos with the museum safe combination and I have to point out here that if Gordon's intention all along has been to steal the mask then there was absolutely no reason to have gone to the trouble of getting that combination in the first place. They could not have possibly known that the real mask was going to be kept in there because the plan to use a fake mask wasn't even hatched until after Mlle. G. took the photos. What an unbelievable stroke of luck for them that suddenly everything has completely changed and they just happen to be in possession of a formerly worthless piece of information that's now become the key to successfully pulling off the dream heist they've been planning for God knows how long. These are the luckiest fucking criminals in Paris.

Gordon explains that they're going to use an old tunnel that runs under the building and coincidentally leads right to the basement of the place. This is not the sewer we saw earlier, by the way. It's another completely unguarded secret entrance with easy, untraceable access to the museum. Maybe I'm just a fussy old party pooper, but that museum sure doesn't seem like a very smart place to store a bunch of priceless treasures and artifacts.

Suddenly M. Mole is there, assuring Gordon and thegang that the steel gate at the museum end of the tunnel will be unlocked when they arrive. I'm sure Mole showing up here was meant as a shocking plot twist, but I can't imagine anyone with two brain cells to rub together didn't see it coming. Sparky has been passed out in a drunken stupor since before Mole's character was introduced and even he probably knew the guy was working with the bad guys.

So now we have a little more footage cut from the American version, where Fenomenal is climbing up the outside of the museum, ostensibly to secrete himself somewhere and foil the expected heist.


Surely you remember Fenomenal, right? The hero of the piece? The guy in the title? It's only been like three hours since he last appeared on-screen.

Meanwhile Gordon and one of his goons are on a boat wearing diving suits and heading for the canal tunnel that runs under the museum.


He looks like a shriveled eggplant with a couple of marbles squished in for eyes.

Gordon and his pal swim through the tunnel and enter the museum. Gordon walks alone up a swanky spiral stairwell, avoids the lazy, ineffectual guards and walks into the Doughface's gigantic office which apparently has like three different entrances to it besides the one from the gallery. The layout of the place is very confusing.

Fenomenal has gotten there ahead of time and watches as best he can in the dark through a black sock-mask with no eye holes. He waits silently as Gordon opens the safe and finds the mask.


Well that's gonna give me a fucking nightmare.

Gordon bags it up then closes the safe, puts some plastic explosives on it and leaves. Fenomenal does...absolutely nothing. He doesn't try to stop the theft, he doesn't try to remove the explosives, he just sits and watches Gordon do his thing then quietly leaves the office through another door once the pilferage is complete. We see Gordon make his way back to the tunnel, hand down the mask to his minion and escape.

We hear an explosion and a couple of security guards come running to the vestibule outside the gallery. They have to stop to turn off the alarm on the back of the fully restored antique clock, call George via the transmitter behind the tapestry, get him off his lazy ass and have him switch off the main power circuit so they can enter the gallery, and are surprised to see that the mask hasn't been touched. Somehow the idiot guard with the multiple brain injuries sets off the proximity alarm around the mask platform despite being nowhere near it. The disco lights flash and Kool and the Gang disappoint me once again by not showing up to play "Jungle Boogie."

So Doughface has to deal with the fallout from the theft while Norton, whom you'll recall arranged the whole exhibit and secured the loan of the mask from the Egyptian government in the first place skips out on him to host a cocktail party at his palatial estate. Who should stroll in and up to Norton but creepy S & M chick/canned meat heiress Mike Shevlove, along with a wheelchair-bound professor named Micklewitz and a frumpy, middle-aged British nobleman named Lord Baxter. It seems Baxter is an archaeologist with a keen interest in Egyptology and Micklewitz is an authority on ancient artifacts who's just written a book on Tutenkamen. As for Mike...she's just kind of there, ostensibly assisting the professor. We later learn that his daughter sent her along with him to make sure he stays off the booze.


Micklewitz, looking gaunt and on the verge of delirium tremens.


Baxter, looking paunchy and on the verge of diabetes.

Norton, looking sleepy and on the verge of a long nap.


Mike, looking seductive and on the verge of removing Norton's testicles with her bare teeth.

Baxter excuses himself to make a phone call, Norton excuses himself to attend to his other guests and Mike excuses herself "to go upstairs." Norton, however, actually just slips into his office to listen in on the call Lord Baxter is making. We also see someone else carefully pick up a receiver to listen in from somewhere else in the house. It's shot so that we can't see who it is or even whether it's a man or woman.


But, yeah...it's Mike Shevlove. Duh.

Baxter is talking with someone about arranging a meeting somewhere, obviously with Gordon so he can buy the mask from him. When Baxter hangs up Norton calls the police and asks for Inspector Beauvais.

Cut to Fenomenal climbing around on a roof, spying on Baxter as he leaves his hotel. There's a long sequence where Baxter leaves his hotel and tries to dodge a couple of plainclothes policemen who are following him in a long, dull pursuit through a crowd watching a parade. Its something we've seen done much more effectively in other films, and here it just feels like a pointless time-filler. Eventually Baxter loses the cops, doubles back to that same grey sportscar everyone in the movie seems to drive and speeds off to his illicit rendezvous.


"Later, ya frog-eating bastards!"

On a rural road somewhere outside the city Baxter and Gordon meet to make their exchange. Gordon hands over the mask but asks Baxter to wait while he checks the briefcase to make sure the money is inside. When he opens it he finds it empty with the word "Fenomenal" written inside. Baxter punches him, hops in his car and drives off.


Wait...what?

Now there's a car chase that inexplicably starts back in Paris along the Seine then cuts to outside the city then to what appears to be the hill country of central Italy. It's a long, badly edited scene with lots of impotent shooting of pistols out car windows and tires squealing along impossibly serpentine curves. It ends with Baxter's car going off a cliff and bursting into flames, seemingly taking both him and the mask to a fiery grave.

Gordon goes down to the wreck to investigate but can find neither mask nor body. He looks up to see Fenomenal standing all akimbo and mocking him with that reverb-laden, hernia-inducing laugh.


Once again he does absolutely nothing.

We cut to Lord Baxter's hotel where for some reason Mike has gotten a maid to let her into his room. She finds him hog-tied on the floor with a gag in his mouth. She pulls it out and he says "That madman Fenomenal" jumped him and left him there.

So let's unpack all this, shall we? We are meant to believe that Fenomenal disguised himself as Baxter effectively enough to fool both the police and Gordon and close quarters, double-crossed Gordon to get the mask back, led him on a lengthy car chase where they were never more than 500 yards apart, then somehow managed to get out of the car and crash it over a cliff, saving both himself and the mask. Then he just walked away from it all laughing. I told you the plot was bad but maybe I didn't fully prepare you for how Fenomenally bad. I deeply apologize for both the omission and that terrible pun.

The next morning Alfred the butler wakes Norton and tells him a large, heavy package has been delivered. Norton opens it to find a note saying "from Fenomenal" and the mask. When he picks it up and hands it to Alfred it clearly has no heft and without the fancy lighting of the museum it's even more obviously made of fiberglass.


"Don't drop it, now Alfred...you might chip the paint."

We cut to Doughface, Beauvais, Norton, Mike and Micklewitz examining the recovered mask and after a few seconds of looking like he's trying to fill up his Depends, Micklewitz declares it to be a forgery.

In a cafe somewhere Gordon and one of his goons are having a good laugh over a newspaper article speculating as to who ended up with the real mask. M. Mole looks like he's about to shit a watermelon as Gordon stares him down, declaring "even a baby could figure it out."


I'd shit a watermelon, too if I saw that face staring at me.

Doughface confronts the artist who made the fake mask for him and finds out that someone called from the museum to have a second one made. Doughface call Inspector Beauvais, but just as he's about to say the name of the culprit someone comes up behind him and chokes him to death with a chain. The murderer leaves the phone off the hook, however and Beauvais manages to trace the call.

Norton, meanwhile has had a long, hard day of being sleepy-eyed and uninteresting. He goes into one of his innumerable living rooms and begins to pour himself a drink, only to be interrupted by Gordon, who's been sitting and waiting for him to arrive, gun in hand. Norton offers him some scotch and they have a nice, friendly conversation. Gordon doesn't understand why Fenomenal sent the mask to Norton or why someone put a fake mask back in the gallery. Norton explains that the mask Gordon stole was also a copy, that he's been double-crossed and that he knows exactly who double crossed him. Apparently Gordon forgot that he had already figured this out in the cafe scene two minutes ago.


They tried to film Gordon's good side but it turns out he doesn't have one.

So Norton says he wants to make a deal and shows Gordon an envelope full of goodies. In exchange for two hundred thousand francs and a plane ticket to Tangiers, Norton wants Gordon to sign a statement admitting that he was hired to steal the mask and naming the man who hired him. Gordon knows this would make him a fugitive so instead of signing it he just grabs the whole bundle out of Norton's hand and gets ready to leave town. He calls Norton an amateur and levels the gun at him, saying he no longer needs him now that he has the money, the ticket and the statement he can now destroy at his leisure. Looks like Norton miscalculated. Gordon pretty much calls him a dumb fuck right to his face and it's hard not to agree with him.

Just as Gordon is about to shoot, though, someone off-screen shoots him. Norton runs out of the house and jumps on a retreating car, reaches in and pulls out the driver. The car stops and two other thugs jump out. There are vigorous fisticuffs exchanged, but it's three against one and eventually Norton is knocked to the ground. The mystery men get away and I'm not sure why Norton was so upset with them since they did actually save his life.

Inspector Beauvais and Norton have a little palaver up on the Eiffel Tower. Norton asks if Beauvais has looked into M. Mole. He says he has but Mole has an alibi. He also asks if he knows where Micklewitz and Mike are but he doesn't know. Overall Beauvais doesn't know much of anything. Norton smugly suggests that he'll probably soon get some useful hint from Fenomenal since it's at times like this, when he police are stumped, that he tends to intervene.


"I should throw you right the hell off of here you condescending piece of shit."

Now see the Mole and Mlle. G getting attacked by someone who's supposed to look like Fenomenal, but unfortunately the person beneath the sock is clearly about forty pounds lighter and appears to have breasts. He/she knocks them both out with Chloroform then we abrubtly cut to Norton getting home and finding Alfred tied up on the stairs. The transition is clumsy and disjointed and it appears that an entire scene may have either been cut from here or was never filmed. For reasons I'll discuss later I suspect the latter.

So Norton leaves Alfred on the stairs and goes up to punch the lights out of Fake Fenomenal whom he finds poking around one of his innumerable library/studies. He pulls off the mask to find that it's Mike Shevlove. He tells her he knows she isn't Fenomenal because the real Fenomenal just told him that he saw her pretending to be him over at the Mole's house. Also she definitely has breasts and he knows for a fact Fenomenal does not. He teasingly quizzes her about what she discovered in her investigations, she giggles a little and then they kiss. Remeber, this is right after he just punched her clean across the jaw.


She did say good relationships are built on pain. If that's true I think this movie and I ought to get married.

We now cut to Norton making out with a redhead we've never seen before and won't see again after this brief scene. Alfred comes in with the telephone. Mike is on the line and gives him (but not the audience) some tidbit of info she's just discovered because now apparently they're working together. When he hangs up the mystery redhead tells him that Mlle. G. has borrowed her yacht for a couple of weeks. She's telling him in confidence, you see, because Mlle. G. didn't want anyone to know about it. It's always nice having an extra yacht or two around to lend to friends.

And now we're in Tunisia...because why the fuck not? Mole and G have flown in to meet Baxter at a hotel in Tunis. Mole tells him that the "package" will arrive the following day and asks if "Jack" is ready for it. Baxter wants to make sure it's the genuine article and wants to see it before he makes any payment. Mole says no problem. It's genuine and it will arrive safely on his yacht. Meanwhile Beauvais is hiding behind a newspaper and listening to every word they say.


"I'm just a normal tourist reading a newspaper...nothing suspicious here!"

Now we see the yacht out on the ocean. A couple of crewmen come up onto the beach from an inflatable dinghy to find this creepy guy waiting for them:


Whoever could it be?


Why it's Fenomenal! Who could have guessed?

Fenomenal beats the crap out of five guys here, and since we all fucking know Norton is Fenomenal it begs the question of why he got his ass kicked by only three guys the night Gordon was killed. Does he just feel more confident kicking kidneys and punching out teeth when he's wearing black? Does the turtleneck compress his muscles and increase the power of his blows? Are his other senses heightened to perfection because he's completely fucking blind with that sock on his head? The world may never know.

Anyway he knocks out the five guys on the beach and suddenly we jump cut to him kicking the asses of the remaining crew still on the yacht. I suppose we're supposed to assume he took the dinghy over even though we didn't see it, but how did he approach the yacht and get on board without anyone seeing that he's a conspicuous weirdo in a black body suit and not one of the regular crew? Never mind. I need to accept that nothing about this movie makes a lick of sense at this point. Suffice to say Fenomenal gets rid of everyone on board, then finds a captain's outfit in a duffel bag and begins to remove his gloves like he's about to change into them.

Back in the city we see that Mike has also arrived in Tunisia.


And she's sure attracting some attention.

Norton and Beauvais have noticed her, too and follow her at a distance. Norton makes a deal with Beauvais that if he tells him how he knew to come to Tunisia he'll tell him who Mike really is. Beauvais says Fenomenal told him and Norton whispers something in his ear that seems to surprise him. I have a feeling that when I find out what he said I'm not gonna be surprised. In fact I don't think I'm even gonna give a shit.

So now we're back on the yacht, where Baxter is paying off Mole for the mask and Mlle. G. Is paying off the yacht's captain and sending him back to Marseilles. It's as if the previous scene where Fenomenal beat up the crew didn't even happen. The captain is wearing the clothes we saw Fenomenal take out of the duffel bag, and he's only shown from behind so you can't see his face, but there's no mention of previous events so this has no context or meaning.


I honestly can't imagine any scenario in which this guy being Fenomenal in disguise would make any sense at all.

My suspicion is that whatever was to have happened to make the previous footage work was never filmed, but the producers realized that without the mostly-completed beach-and-boat fight they couldn't reach a feature-length run time. Frankly there's a ton of padding elsewhere in the movie already, so I'm sure they couldn't afford to lose five whole minutes of action they already had in the can. Unfilmed footage would also explain the abrupt edit after Fake Fenomenal chloroformed Mole and G, and why we never saw Fenomenal pilot the dinghy to the yacht after the fight on the beach. He was just suddenly on-board, swinging from the rigging and kicking a couple of stuntmen into the water. They didn't have the connecting footage so they just slapped together what they had and hoped no one would notice how choppy and incoherent it was. I told you the editing was bad.

Baxter, Mole and G take a dinghy back to the pier where they've left their cars and Mole goes off to the bank to cash Baxter's check. G tells him she isn't feeling well, says she'll hitch a ride back to the hotel with Baxter and meet Mole there later. Uh-huh. She gives him a little peck on the cheek and tells him "Don't make me wait too long." He gets in his car, turns the key and...


Boom! Betrayed with a kiss!

So Norton asks Beauvais what he's waiting for to make his arrests and recover the mask. Beauvais says he wants to capture the "mastermind" behind the whole scheme and will wait until he's sure he can get him. He assures Norton he has everything under control but Norton is justifiably skeptical.

We cut to Fenomenal stalking around in a hotel corridor and suddenly the elevator opens and Mike gets out barely wearing a thing that could only have happened in the 1960's.


That's some original series Star Trek type shit right there.

So Fenomenal slinks around, looking for a place to hide and ends up slipping into an office where a guy in a fez is asleep at a desk. He finds a door and takes a peek in to see a bevy of shapely babes.


Hello ladies.

Desk guy wakes up wondering what the hell some perv with a sock on his head is doing in a ladies' sauna, and he and Fenomenal duke it out for about three minutes as ladies in various states of undress panic and scream. To be clear, there is absolutely no justification for this in the plot. It only exists because it's a fight in a ladies' sauna.


"I need fifteen barely-clothed women and a stuntman with a fez!"--Mauro Parenti when he found out the hotel had a sauna.

It's yet a another piece of obvious filler and it's so badly choreographed, filmed and edited it doesn't really provide the gratuitous sex appeal the producers so desperately wanted, however still photos from this scene were used liberally in the promotional materials for the movie, some even including nudity that does not actually appear onscreen.


Yes, random sauna lady. We all feel that way.

Fenomenal dispatches the sauna guy and goes out on the roof where he climbs down onto the deck of Baxter's hotel room. As soon as Baxter has left he sneaks in and starts rooting around the place. I suppose he's looking for the mask, but Baxter left with a suitcase big enough to conceal it, so it's obvious he took it with him. Fenomenal saw him leave with it, too, so why he isn't in hot pursuit is anybody's guess. He roots through Baxter's stuff a bit and eventually has to hide in the wardrobe to avoid Mike, who sneaks in from the hallway. Mike almost immediately finds a book or ledger of some kind and is satisfied enough with whatever it is that she leaves without any further search.

Now we cut to Micklewitz tunelessly tinkling at a pianoforte. A minion-type guy whom we've never seen before comes in to tell him Baxter has arrived.


Micklewitz is the "mastermind." Duh.

Micklewitz wheels himself out to the courtyard to meet Baxter and we get some "tying up loose ends" exposition, about how the Mole killed Gordon and Doughface and how he was gonna blackmail Baxter for the rest of eternity if he and Mlle. G didn't get rid of him. All of which we've already figuredout for ourselves, thanks very much.

The only new information we get is that Micklewitz has some kind of special documents that will allow him to decipher some hieroglyphics on the mask that have neither been seen nor mentioned up to this point. With these translated, the professor assures us, they can finally locate something called "The Akheman Treasure."

Baxter asks the professor to produce the documents but he produces a gun instead. The Englishman abruptly knocks it away and rolls Micklewitz off a pier and into the ocean.


Now he's all wet. Just like the plot.

Baxter grabs the mask and runs, but Micklewitz still has a couple of tricks up his sleeve...or rather up his trouser legs:


He can walk! It's a goddamned miracle!

Baxter is backed against a wall like a trapped rat. We hear a gunshot and he falls to the ground dead, but it wasn't Micklewitz who did it, it was Mlle. G, standing on the roof with the unnamed minion at least 500 yards from where Baxter fell.


She's a stone cold killer and one hell of a markswoman. I think I'm in love.

Gordon looks up and asks "Where is Mike?" and the henchman says she's in the cellar. How did she get there? Fuck if I know. Ask the editor.

Norton apparently knows because he shows up to rescue her. As he unties her she asks how he got there and he says it was "sheer intuition," adding "I'm not like Beauvais. I don't get tips from Fenomenal." She asks if he thinks Beauvais is Fenomenal and he says slyly "Maybe we'll never know." Then they make out.


Just fucking shoot me.

They reach the roof of Micklewitz's villa just in time to see the professor, Mlle. G and the random henchman speeding off in a boat. Thankfully Beauvais chooses this exact moment to show up with a helicopter.


Beauvais asks what happened to Baxter and Norton says "He slipped on a banana peel." Actual fucking dialog.

There's only room for one more on the chopper so Mike hops on board and Norton climbs down some rocks to another conveniently located speedboat.

Now we have a boat-on-boat-on-helicopter-on-boat chase scene. G goes full throttle while Micklewitz and the henchman grab some guns and start taking pot-shots at the chopper.


The professor's got a machine gun with an endless magazine and he still can't hit a goddamned thing.

Beauvais starts firing back and sprays the deck with bullets right at the miscreants' feet. For some reason Micklewitz freaks out now, picks up the bag with the mask and throws it overboard. The henchman dives in after it. Mike strips down to a bathing suit and dives in after him.


Lucky she had one on under there.

Therexs a struggle underwater for the mask and the henchman seems to be winning, but who should show up to save the day but Fenomenal, still wearing his eyeless sock-mask yet somehow able to perfectly well, even underwater.


What a man.

Mike surfaces at one point and sees that Norton is not in his boat, then dives again to avoid a bullet from the professor. After an interminable up and down and back and forth Fenomenal finally strangles the henchman and Beauvais hops down on the roof of the pilot house of the boat with his gun at the ready, forcing Micklewitz and G to surrender. The criminals have been apprehended and Fenomenal has saved the mask, the girl and the day.

There's a brief, pointless scene where Mike is enjoying some native Tunisian music and dance before heading off to catch their plane back to France. Beauvais has the professor and Mlle. G in custody and they're all set to travel on the same flight. As Norton and Mike go through customs an agent asks to go through Norton's carry-on. In it he finds a black sock-mask.


"Look, monsieur! It is shaped just like zee butt plug!"

On the plane Alfred asks Norton who Mike is. You remember Alfred, right? The butler we haven't seen for like 45 minutes. Yeah, well he's there in Tunisia because they needed someone to ask Norton about Mike so we could all find out she's an American Secret Service agent.


Yep. I knew I wouldn't give a shit.

Once they're in the air we hear a ticking noise, suggesting there may be a time bomb on board the plane. Each of the main characters gets a close-up where they're looking around in panic and confusion, until finally Mike sees something and laughs. It turns out to be a child playing with a little ticking, hopping wind-up dinosaur toy.


Seriously. Fuck this movie.

"Yeah, and fuck that nerdy little kid and his nerdy little bowtie, too!"

"Sparky! I thought you were asleep."

"I was! I had a nice little nap courtesy of Monsieur Fenomenal and Senor Tequila. I guess I was out for most of the movie, huh? Did I miss anything?"

"Nope. Not a goddamned thing."



Final Observations:

--Directed by Ruggero Deodato, his first credited film. He had previously co-directed Hercules: Prisoner of Evil (1964) with schlock-meister Antonio Margheriti, whose scintillating body of work has been sampled on MMT here, here, here, and here.

--Deodato was primarily known for boundary-pushing gore in such films as Jungle Holocaust (1977) and Cannibal Holocaust (1980). The latter film's on-screen deaths were so graphic he had to produce the actors in court to demonstrate that he had not, in fact killed any of them during production.

--Deodato's work has previously been featured on MMT with Raiders of Atlantis (1983).

--In a 1988 interview Deodato admitted that he "didn't give a shit about" Fenomenal and the Treasure of Tutenkamen while he was directing it, and that he treated star/producer Mauro Parenti "like shit" throughout the production. Despite this Parenti hired him again to direct his next project Zenabel (1969).

--Parenti produced a total of three films and appeared in a total of twelve (mostly in small supporting roles) between 1962 and 1976.



As always, cheers and thanks for reading!

Written by Bradley Lyndon in January, 2019.



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