Lucio Fulci, Italy, 1975, 87 min.
Before: I haven’t heard of this film, but I’m not really a fan of Lucio Fulci. His movies seem like they are only notable because they were riding the genre trends of Italian Cinema. I don’t think he’s a particularly good director, but maybe this one, a western, will reveal his talents.
After: Nope! This is poorly made on nearly every level. The film opens on Stubby Preston, a professional gambler played by Fabio Testi. He arrives at a small town to try to make some money, but instead was intercepted by the sheriff and thrown in jail. Whilst there, he meets the other three main characters: young pregnant prostitute Bunny (Lynne Frederick), drunk Clem (Michael J. Pollard), and a black undertaker named Bud (Harry Baird).
The town seems to be under martial law. Or something. It’s unclear what is actually happening. Eventually, after a town-wide gunfight, the sheriff lets our four heroes escape in a wagon. They decide to travel together to Silver Springs, a town filled with opportunity.
Along the way, they encounter a caravan of Christ-loving families, bandits, and the worst cliché Mexican ever: Chaco (played by obviously non-mexican Tomas Milian). Chaco is a great shot with his many guns, and eventually he turns against our heroes, robs them, rapes the girl, and leaves them for dead. Sort of. He left them all tied up in the middle of the desert. Except for Clem, who unties everyone.
The rest of the film concerns their journey back to civilization, Stubby and Bunny’s burgeoning relationship, and Stubby’s ultimate goal of getting revenge against the scheming Chaco.
The film has some nice scenery and production values. And there are some WTF moments, like Chaco spitting whiskey into the mouth of a high-on-peyote Clem. But that is where my compliments end. The camera work is absolutely horrible. It isn’t helped by the editing. The transitions from event to event are confusing at best.
And Chaco, man! Chaco is just… terrible. I mean, look at his picture above! He looks like something out of an offensive sketch comedy show. He is played with gusto by Milian. I’m not sure if that was a good idea or bad.
I haven’t even talked about the best (worst) part! There is terrible seventies folk-rock that is played over all the montages, and the lyrics are narrating what is happening on screen. It is laughably bad.
The films feels like it was churned out to ride the wave of westerns being released at the time, and is interesting probably only to those exploitation-completists out there. But for those looking for a good spaghetti western, steer clear of this one.