Thursday, April 9, 2009

Spaghetti Western Review


In 1961 Michael Carreras was looking to become an independent producer, breaking away from Hammer Films, purveyors of high-quality Gothic horror movies, which was a family business owned by James Carreras, his father. His idea, a new one, was to film a European western, using the desert area of Almeria, Spain, to fill in for the American southwest. Along with another Hammer regular, Jimmy Sangster, he signed American actors Richard Basehart, Don Taylor, and Alex Nicol, all of whom had acted for Hammer, to play the protagonists. The result, SAVAGE GUNS, is one of, if not the first, spaghetti westerns of the modern age. It has the look, the low sandy desert, adobe houses, the sneering bandidos, and the iconic mysterious gunslinger who finds himself between warring factions. The music is not quite there yet, very American in style, as is the action, but it has its moments. As a prototypical Euro-western, it's of interest to students of the genre, but probably too slow for typical western fans. Lots of talking. Capricorn, Carreras' and Sangster's company, didn't last long, and most likely because of the failure of this film, Hammer remained uninterested in adding westerns to their roster of Gothic Horror, Adventure, and Thriller movies, but imagine if they had; would we have been treated to Christopher Lee in DRACULA OF THE RIO GRANDE? Or Peter Cushing as a mysterious black-clad gunfighter? One can only conjecture.

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