Category Archives: Western

#166 – Jehovah Slim

(1972, It, 95 min) Dir Sergio Patrino. Cast Jimmy Wrigley, Lee Van Cleef, William Berger.

Right on the back of The Beast in London’s Fog, a Victorian horror romp, Sergio Patrino jetted back to Italy for this, his follow-up – a Blaxploitation spaghetti western. You can’t fault the guy for versitility. The genre starting one-two of Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song and Shaft were barely a year old at this point but ol’ Sergio knew a hit when he saw one and corralled NFL benchwarmer Jimmy Wrigley, Lee Van Cleef and William Berger in Spain and on set in double time. Wrigley is Jehovah Slim, ex-slave bounty hunter, Van Cleef’s train robber Alan Dunnock is on his hit list and nobody gets in Jehovah Slim’s way. It’s a straightforward chase movie, the only thing setting it apart being the choice of a black lead but then the same could be said (and has been said) about Shaft. Wrigley returned for three more films, all featuring his patented sign-off “Your chances are SLIM!”

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#154 – Death Trip, The

(1972, Can, 100 min) Dir Herbert Yates. Cast Mel McKenna, Virginia Barbeau, Alain Stopkewich, Molly Pilbrow.

Grey skied acid western from Canadian director Herbert ‘Head’ Yates. Mel McKenna (yes, Peterson from TV’s Peterson & Son) is the wild haired, black clad Mansonesque wanderer named X who drifts near dead into the peaceful community of proto-hippies that is Small Preston. Nursed back to health by young Adrianne he seems to pass onto her strange visions of lust and the greater universe, her naked body melding with some strange being of pure light from behind the moon. Soon enough he is championing her as, in his words, “a prophet of the New Religion!” With her blindfolded in advance the whole village follows out into the wilds in search of the new Jerusalem “where the New Gods will descend from the heavens and touch our hearts with their pure light.” Of course half of them starve or die of thirst but the other half make it to the mountains where they find their New Gods and pass through a totally trippy initiation where the world, and the film, becomes pure abstraction. Not bad, if totally hippy dippy, with some astonishing effects considering it was 1972 and they had no money.

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#148 – Quanto profonda era la sua tomba? (How Deep Was Her Grave?)

(1969, It, 130 min) Dir Paolo Andreotti. Cast Franco Nero, Klaus Kinski, Luigi Pistilli.

Nero and Kinski star in this effective, if derivative, addition to the stuffed Spaghetti Western genre, as a bounty hunter and desperate criminal teaming up despite their own personal animosity to battle it out with Pistilli’s crooked lawman Oates. You see Nero’s wife was brutally raped and murdered by the man and buried out in the desert where he’ll never find her, hence the title which is bellowed at the felled Oates come the finale. If you’re into Spaghetti Westerns (particularly Leone’s) then you’ll love this, packed as it is with sweaty theatrics, agonizingly drawn out stand-offs and a veritable delirium of dreamy flashbacks. It’s particularly recommended for Kinski’s performance, which sets a new height of crazed eye-rolling in a career stuffed with barking loonies.

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#141 – Dinamita Joe (Dynamite Joe)

(1970, Mex, 128 min) Dir Jose Samson Tio. Cast Lee Huerta, Franco Nero, Esmeralda.

With the flowering of the Spaghetti Western international variations sprouted up around the world like the sauerkraut Western out of Germany and, from Mexico, the politicised Zapata Western. The wannabe king of this genre, it’s aspirant Sergio Leone, was the expert self-publicist Jose Samson Tio and what was to be his Once Upon a Time in the West was Dinamita Joe. Local hero Lee Huerta (a singer songwriter in his only film role) is simple sheep farmer Joe in Northern Mexico in the 1880’s who takes in the half dead mercenary Jean-Luc (Nero) when he turns up on his farm. Jean-Luc, it turns out, is a French mercenary and before you can say “violent posse” all of Joe’s sheep are dead and his house is a smoking ruin. It’s only a matter of time before Tay gets himself politicised, becoming the legendary dynamite slinging revolutionary Dynamite Joe. It can’t last of course – by the end of the film he’s a bullet riddled martyr to the cause of an independent Mexico, his corpse slung over the cannon that he defended to the death. It’s epic stuff and Tio has his idols eye for a character, a sense of place and a bard-storming set piece.

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#81 – Demon Streets 2099

(1985, It, 98 min) Dir Mario Andreotti. Cast John Saxon, Romeo Romero, Paula Pitt.

It’s the future – a post-apocalyptic wasteland which here means the deserts of Spain. There are demons – yes, demons – here too. You can tell which are the demons too because handily they tend to be well dressed in suits and ties where the rest of the population are togged out in rags and dirt. Oh yeah and they’re in the habit of flying everywhere on big ol’ black leathery bat wings. Once that’s out of the way in the info dump that begins the film, this is pretty much a Western. Saxon is Preacher White, a drifter who has ridden into the town of Pestilence with a pair of phaser rifles and a mission in mind. The first film from Paolo Androetti’s son Mario who displays here the same colourful eye for a shot as his father and the same way with a bucket of hot gore too, as well he should considering that he apprenticed with his father for the ten years or more preceding this – I mean the guy pretty much grew up on sets between the model of a desiccated corpse and a hamper full of maggots. Unfortunately he also shares his fathers variable quality control – this is a mostly indifferent flick that flopped massively but his next film, The House of Midnight, set up his subsequent career nice enough.

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