Frontierado is this Friday, August 3rd! Just 2 shopping days left!
ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST is, to me, the definitive Spaghetti Western. This movie incorporates all of the best elements of Italo-westerns and has the additional advantages of actual artistic merit and some location filming in the real American West. One of the most distracting elements of many Spaghetti oaters is the fact that the films were mostly shot in Spain’s Jarama Valley, which is great for a Spanish Civil War buff like myself, but that valley doesn’t really resemble the American west that the stories are set in.
Sergio Leone got to shoot some scenes for this flick in Monument Valley and such authentic scenery definitely helps in a film that exploits visuals to a degree unseen since the age of silent movies. This is undeniably an action film, but Leone and his co-writers on the script ( Bernardo Bertollucci and Dario Argento. I’m serious!) intentionally used the framework of an archetypal western plot about the railroad, land-grabbing and westward expansion, yet made it all seem fresh.
I often jokingly call this movie Evil Is A Man Named Frank, because, in a masterpiece of reverse-casting Leone put Henry Fonda himself in the role of the conscienceless, sadistic and predatory Frank, the lead villain. Watching the black-clad Frank calmly blow away a defenseless child early in the film lets the Continue reading
What better way to start Frontierado Week than with a look at some of the most obscure but laughably weird Italian westerns? And what better way to start that list than with one of the countless Spaghetti Westerns with phony Django titles?
The upcoming release of Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained will reboot the Django saga by making him an African American and pitting him against racist villains out west. This will nicely blend Django’s bounty hunter tale with the 70s blaxploitation westerns starring Fred Williamson and others as former slaves blowing away Neo-Confederates in the Wild West.
Franco Nero starred as the original Django but sadly has just a cameo in the reboot. The original movie was a monumental success everywhere in the world except the U.S. back in 1966. There was only one other “official” Django movie (also starring Nero) but there were literally nearly a hundred false Django movies featuring different actors in the lead role (my favorite being Terence Hill) or that just plain retitled and redubbed other Italian westerns to make them seem like Django movies.
1. DJANGO KILL (1967) – Originally titled If You Live, Shoot!, this was one of the many Eurowesterns to be re-released to theaters years later as a phony Django movie just so it could clean up on the guaranteed cash cow of the Django name.
In this one our pseudo-Django finds himself involved with a kidnapped teen boy, the gay outlaws who have kidnapped and raped him (seriously), and their Wild West castle (?) where they torture their victims medieval-style, including roasting them on spits. Pseudo-Django shoots gold bullets in this flick and greedy townspeople rip open the corpses of the gunmen who fall to him just to get at the precious metal.
Even worse is the scene where the gold-hungry townspeople rip open the wounds of people who were just injured by the gold bullets, adding wince-inducing screams to the tableau.
2. THE PRICE OF POWER (1969) – The John F Kennedy assassination gets restaged in the Old West in this movie that Continue reading
SILVERADO (1985) – I’ve never made any secret about how Silverado is, to me, the official movie of this holiday. The film has all the high spirits and family appeal of Star Wars plus the well-choreographed action scenes of Raiders of the Lost Ark. On top of that Silverado features all the highly stylized gunplay of the best Spaghetti Westerns but NOT the mud, blood, sweat and brutality of that genre. This movie is pure escapism and features the kind of preternaturally accurate gunslingers that I jokingly describe as “Jedi Knights in the Olllld West”.
These guys (as well as most of the villains) can literally shoot the needles off a cactus, simultaneously draw and shoot with pin-point accuracy and can just “sense” when some low-down hombre might be pulling a gun on them, even with their back turned and from half a room away.
Scott Glenn and Kevin Costner portray brothers Emmet and Jake, Danny Glover portrays their African-American friend Mal, and Kevin Kline has the most layered role as the gambler/gunfighter called Paden. In the Continue reading
As more foreplay for the upcoming Frontierado holiday (August 3rd) here’s a look at 3 weird westerns. For more bad movie reviews see my Bad Movie page.
BAD KIDS OF THE WEST (1967) – Even for a Spaghetti Western this movie is weird, weird, weird. A pair of outlaws on the run hide out in a town populated only by children who act like adult western townspeople. The little boys all try to act like the steely-eyed killers played by Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Franco Nero, John Garko, etc. The little girls all act like slutty saloon whores, making you wonder if child molesters were this film’s target audience. The charming vibe of Continue reading
Well, it’s Frontierado Eve! 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, later tonight. Others prefer to watch that movie on the day or night of Frontierado itself.
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.
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 Continue reading
ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST is, to me, the definitive Spaghetti Western. This movie incorporates all of the best elements of Italo-westerns and has the additional advantages of actual artistic merit and some location filming in the real American West. One of the most distracting elements of many Spaghetti oaters is the fact that the films were mostly shot in Spain’s Jarama Valley, which is great for a Spanish Civil War buff like myself, but that valley doesn’t really resemble the American west that the stories are set in. Sergio Leone got to shoot some scenes in Monument Valley and such authentic scenery definitely helps in a film that exploits visuals to a degree unseen since the age of silent movies. This is undeniably an action film, but Continue reading
With the Frontierado holiday coming up the first Friday in August I’ll be devoting more and more coverage to it. To learn more about this holiday click here: https://glitternight.com/2010/07/28/just-9-more-shopping-days-until-frontierado/
As we get closer to Frontierado I’ll begin examining quality westerns but for now you can once again think of me as the Bronson Canyon Kid (bad movie buffs will get it) as I take a look at three more weird westerns.
THE DEVIL AND MISS SARAH (1971) – A veritable ton of familiar western stars appear in this supernatural western that sort of reminds me of Black Noon (previously reviewed in my The Bad, The Weird And The Freaky segments.) Gene “Bat Masterson” Barry plays notorious outlaw Continue reading