Category Archives: Spaghetti Westerns

NEGLECTED SPAGHETTI WESTERN HEROES

Jeffrey Hunter as The Christmas Kid

Jeffrey Hunter as The Christmas Kid

Frontierado is coming up on Friday August 7th!

In the past Balladeer’s Blog has examined some of the big names among the fictional gunslingers of Spaghetti Westerns. I’ve covered the original Django, Sartana, the Holy Ghost, Dynamite Joe, Harmonica and even Tony Anthony’s character the Stranger. Here are a few of the lesser lights from Eurowesterns.

Christmas Kid 2THE CHRISTMAS KID

Film: The Christmas Kid (1966)

The Story: Jeffrey Hunter portrayed this memorable gunslinger, who got his nickname from the date of his birth, December 25th. His nickname was always bitter-sweet, however, since his mother died giving birth to him on Christmas.

The Kid is a pacifist in fictional Jaspen, AZ during a copper rush. Our hero reluctantly takes up a gun and at first seems like he might be corrupted by the faction led by the crooked town boss (Louis Hayward) but eventually his girlfriend Marie dies as the violence escalates. The Christmas Kid redoubles his efforts against Hayward. Good but not a great film. The Kid deserved more than one screen appearance. Continue reading

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THE ORIGINAL DJANGO MOVIES

FRONTIERADO IS COMING AUGUST 7th!

The best Django, Franco Nero, played the gunslinger in Django, Django Strikes Again and (wink) Django’s Grand Return

Like Tarzan, James Bond and Sherlock Holmes the melancholy bounty hunter Django has been presented in various incarnations and with wildly differing continuity. And like soccer the Django movies have been an enormous success almost everywhere except the U.S. 

The great Franco Nero created the role in 1966 in a film so popular in Europe (but banned in the UK for its still- controversial violence) that it spawned a legion of sequels. Some sequels starred Franco Nero or others in the role of Django, while others were just unrelated westerns whose distributors simply  attached a phony Django title to them, sometimes redoing the dubbing to have the lead character referred to as Django, other times not bothering.

Original Django poster Balladeer’s Blog helpfully presents a synopsis of the films featuring (legitimately or not) the most durable Eurowestern hero of them all. And, yes, if you’re wondering, the western bounty hunter Django was indeed the reason George Lucas named that outer space bounty hunter Jango Fett.

DJANGO (1966) – In 1867 Mexico Django, a veteran of the Union army in the Civil War, seeks revenge on Major Jackson, the Confederate officer behind his wife’s death. Jackson and his still-loyal troops, now turned  outright Klansmen, are, like so many other fleeing Confederates, fighting for the Mexican Emperor Maximillian in the war to keep his throne.   Django battles Jackson’s hooded thugs, even ambushing dozens with the Gatling Gun he keeps concealed in a coffin. When he’s out of men Major Jackson calls on Maximillian’s Imperial troopers for reinforcements and prepares to face Django and the Mexican rebel troops he’s fallen in with. For a detailed review of this unforgettable film click here: https://glitternight.com/2012/08/08/the-original-django-and-two-blaxploitation-westerns-a-primer-for-django-unchained/

DJANGO SHOOTS FIRST (1966) – AKA He Who Shoots First. Django comes into an enormous inheritance from his murdered father, an inheritance he learns he must share with his late father’s unscrupulous business partner, Mr Cluster. Django starts blowing away a host of bad guys as he tries to piece together who is responsible for his father’s death.

DJANGO, A BULLET FOR YOU (1966) – Django uses his guns to protect a group of downtrodden farmers from the villainous, land-grabbing town boss of Wagon Valley. He Continue reading

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SEX-BOMB CASEY JAMES WITH SOME MORE OBSCURE SPAGHETTI WESTERNS

Casey James, Balladeer's Blog's Official Movie Hostess

Casey James, Balladeer’s Blog’s Official Movie Hostess

With the Frontierado holiday coming up this Friday August 1st the spectacularly beautiful Casey James, the Official Movie Hostess of Balladeer’s Blog, helps us get in the seasonal mood with another look at some very odd Spaghetti Westerns.

Dynamite JoeDYNAMITE JOE (1966) – The title hero is a Jim West- style government agent who dresses well, gambles even better and is a deadly hand with … dynamite. This oddity features Dynamite Joe on the trail of stagecoach robbers who have stolen a fortune in gold. Naturally he beats all the bad guys without once drawing (or carrying) a gun but by hurling sticks of dynamite with giddy abandon, regardless of the collateral damage. This is NOT a comedy, which makes it much funnier. The theme song tells us Dynamite Joe is “dyna-mighty”. I’m serious. 

BlindmanBLINDMAN (1971) – A blind gunslinger, wearing a sign around his neck that says “Blindman”, is a deadly shot based on his extraordinary smell and hearing. This was one of the many Spaghetti Westerns adapted from Japanese movies, in this case the series about the blind, sword-wielding hero Zatoichi. There are blatant comedic elements in this movie, which costars Ringo Starr, or else it would have made the main list. A knowing sense of humor dulls the Bad Movie Appeal. See also Deaf Smith and Johnny Ears (1972). Continue reading

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GORGEOUS CASEY JAMES AND ANOTHER OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S OBSCURE SPAGHETTI WESTERNS

Casey James, the Official Movie Hostess of Balladeer's Blog

Casey James, the Official Movie Hostess of Balladeer’s Blog

THE FRONTIERADO HOLIDAY IS FRIDAY AUGUST FIRST! We’ve all got our painted rocks on various bits of furniture around the house, we’ve all got our potted cacti with the toy gun-belts slung over them and for those old enough to drink there are Cactus Jacks and Deuces Wilds to be slammed down. In some homes families and friends will be gathering around to watch the official Frontierado Western, Silverado.

In the buildup to this major holiday I periodically reviewed my favorite weird westerns so to give us all a few more chuckles here’s one more, presented by the legendary Casey James, Balladeer’s Blog’s Official Movie Hostess.

JESSE JAMES’ KID (1966) – In my review of The Price of Power earlier this Frontierado season I mentioned how fond I am of those Spaghetti Westerns that distort the facts of the American west more outrageously than even our own home- grown westerns do. Jesse James’ Kid makes The Price of Power look like the writings of Herodotus.

In this deranged western which used to populate the 3am to 5am movie slot on television stations across the country we get the old-school bad movie fun of dubbing that never comes close to matching the movements of the performers’ lips. And that’s just the start. This film tells us that Billy the Kid was Jesse James’ son … yes, Jesse James’ son. And not only that but young Billy witnesses his “father’s” fatal shooting, which in this movie is not done by Robert Ford, but by Bat Freaking Masterson!!! Continue reading

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BEAUTIFUL CASEY JAMES AND ANOTHER OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S OBSCURE SPAGHETTI WESTERNS

Casey James, Balladeer's Blog's Official Movie Hostess

Casey James, Balladeer’s Blog’s Official Movie Hostess

Casey James is as lethal as she is lovely and she is kind enough to be Balladeer’s Blog’s Official Movie Hostess. This time around the voluptuous love goddess is presenting the latest in a series of my reviews of the more obscure Spaghetti Westerns – the ones not well known to viewers who are only familiar with Sergio Leone’s films. 

JOHN THE BASTARD (1967) – Don’t believe websites or reviews that call this a western adaptation of the story of Casanova. Instead, it is clearly a western adaptation of Don Juan, right down to a death by statue finale.

Our hero John Donald (Don Juan, John Donald … get it?) is a slick-talking gunslinger who seduces the ladies and outshoots their men as he roams the west with his manservant (not an African American) who often abets his boss’s trysts like Don Juan’s servant in the classic tale. Think of the scurvy adventures of the British antihero Harry Flashman and you’ll know what to expect from this movie. Continue reading

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BEAUTIFUL CASEY JAMES PRESENTS BALLADEER’S BLOG’S OBSCURE SPAGHETTI WESTERNS

Balladeer's Blog's Official Movie Hostess, the legendary Casey James

Balladeer’s Blog’s Official Movie Hostess, the legendary Casey James

Casey James is as lethal as she is lovely and among her many roles in life she is kind enough to be Balladeer’s Blog’s Official Movie Hostess. This time around this voluptuous embodiment of men’s and many women’s desires is presenting the first in a series of my reviews of the more obscure Spaghetti Westerns – the ones not well known to viewers who are only familiar with Sergio Leone’s films. 

THE PRICE OF POWER (1969) –  There were literally more than 550 Spaghetti Westerns made in the 60’s and 70’s since when the Italians do something they do it in a big, big way. Those hundreds of films vary in quality from pretty good to hilariously awful and the creative talents behind them often tried to outdo each other in terms of colorful heroes and oddball plots. My favorites include those movies where the Italians took more liberties with Western history than American filmmakers ever dreamed of. 

That brings us to The Price Of Power which was also released under the title Texas. The point of this film is … well, it’s hard to say really. Even after repeated viewings. It’s difficult to determine if the filmmakers were trying to make a statement about the alleged conspiracy behind the assassination of President John F Kennedy or about the civil rights movement, or about capitalism’s impact on the political process in a free society or what. Whatever they were trying to do the end result is like a history lesson taught by Ed Wood himself. Let’s compare the historical record to the plotline of this very odd movie.  Continue reading

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SIX-STRING SAMURAI (1998) – STILL ONE OF MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE FILMS

Buy it for the post-apocalyptic rock and roll samurai in your life.

Buy it for the post-apocalyptic rock and roll samurai in your life.

SIX-STRING SAMURAI (1998) – 91 minutes – Directed by Lance Mungia … Starring Jeffrey Falcon and Justin McGuire … Written by Lance Mungia and Jeffrey Falcon … Soundtrack by Brian Tyler and the Red Elvises  

There’s an old saying to the effect that every American male who loves movies wishes on some level that they had directed The Wild Bunch. Generalizations like that are very seldom accurate and at least in my case that particular one is very far from the truth. If I wished I had directed any one movie it would be Six-String Samurai.  

Trying to offer a brief description of this film is virtually impossible but for the sake of attracting new viewers to this underappreciated flick I’ll take a shot at it by calling it surrealism’s only two-fisted action blockbuster. For its visual style Six-String Samurai slyly adopts the cinematic elements and directorial grammar that are shared by the best samurai films, Spaghetti Westerns and post-apocalypse actioners. And in this age of FAR too many comic-book action movies it has to be said that the fight scenes in 6SS seriously outclass ANYTHING seen in Marvel, Dark Horse or DC’s screen projects.    

Fans of the Coen Brothers, David Lynch, Alejandro Jodorowsky and Guillermo del Toro would likely love this film as much as I do. Just as the Continue reading

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Filed under End of the World Myths, FRONTIERADO, Samurai Films, Spaghetti Westerns