Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Spaghetti Western Review

I have some film reviews I wrote in the past couple of years that appear on IMDB. Thought I'd reprint them here.
ANDA MUCHACHO SPARA (1971) Fabio Testi, Jose Calvo, Eduardo Fajardo, Charo Lopez. Directed by Aldo Florio
This is a wonderfully competent spaghetti western made at a time when the Italian film industry was cranking them out at the rate of five or six a month, and this is one of the best. You may recognize the main town as the same one Clint Eastwood cleans up in A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, and this film shares some of the qualities of that prototypical spaghetti; the hero appearing out of a cloud of dust at the end, poncho-clad, facing six villains, and also the presence of Jose Calvo who appeared in FOD. Fabio Testi is good as a prison escapee with a mission, and we find out in flashbacks just what that mission is, what it has cost him, and what his ultimate payoff will be. Charo Lopez plays Jessica, somewhat more important to the plot than most women in these films, and the film features quite a lot of her. A ton of action and one of Bruno Nicolai's most beautiful scores add to the enjoyment. Beautifully directed in the best Leone style by Aldo Florio, this makes me want to see the same director's FIVE GIANTS FROM Texas. Recommended.

NIGHT OF THE SERPENTS (1970) Luke Askew, Luigi Pistilli, Chelo Alonso
Giulio Petroni directed some very good spaghetti westerns during his short career, among them DEATH RIDES A HORSE, TEPEPA, AND FOR A ROOF A SKYFULL OF STARS, and this very obscure 1970 story of intrigue and murder, NIGHT OF THE SERPENTS (NEST OF VIPERS, RINGO KILL) starring the little known American actor Luke Askew and genre regulars Luigi Pistilli and William Bogard. Luke plays Luke, a gringo saved from death in the desert by bandit leader Bogard, whose men treat the Americano like the drunken fool he is. He's been inside a tequila bottle for a long time (later on we find out why) and is chosen to be a sacrifice in a plot hatched by Federale Lieutenant Hernandez (Pistilli). The plot? Kill Manuel, a kid who stands to inherit 10,000 dollars, and all of Manuel's relatives want a piece of it. Askew is good as the drunk, nervously rubbing his lips and eyeing bottles of tequila he can't afford. When he decides to sober up and take a stand the hair on your neck will stand up. The drunk fights like he's ten feet tall, says one of Bogard's men. Chelo Alonso is along for the ride as Manuel's immoral aunt, and the entire cast is good, as is the music by Riz Ortolani. The English track for this was very elusive, finally surfacing in a nice South African widescreen print released by Global under the nonsensical title RINGO KILL. Definitely worth a watch by fans of the genre


  1. Nice reviews, BHC!
    Have you ever gotten around to seeing FIVE GIANTS FROM TEXAS?
    That is actually a big favorite of mine!

  2. I did see it in the Franco Cleef version. I liked seeing Jose Manuel Martin as a good guy for a change. I like Anda Muchacho Spara better, but you're right, this is a good one.

  3. Two excellent small gems. The Askew film copy is very sharp and looks like it was made last month. The Testi film has always been a favorite and also has a great score. Nice reviews BHC.

  4. Great reviews for two great little films. Keep 'em comin'