Thursday, January 22, 2015

10,000 DOLLARS FOR A MASSACRE (1967)


I was asked recently about 'underrated' spaghetti westerns and I struggled to come up with one. The reason is that the best of the genre are very well known and even the lesser known exceptional examples have penetrated into the broader knowledge base of western fans after thirty-five years of home video releases. After all - most aficionados of the horse operas are ravenous seekers that can't wait to watch the latest obscure discovery and with that being the norm, it becomes pretty difficult to locate a spaghetti western of real quality that isn't known to some degree - but it can be done. For instance....

10,000 DOLLARS FOR A MASSACRE (1967) turned up in a cheap four pack DVD set of spaghettis and its title prompted me to try it first. Bingo! This turns out to be a very well directed little western focused on a bounty killer (Gianni Garko) of dubious moral character (surprise!) and impressive skills (shock!). He has a helpful sidekick (Fidel Gonzáles) who earns a living as a portrait photographer when not wielding a rifle to aid his buddy. Adding greatly to the proceedings is Claudio Camaso as the main villain who is a familiar face from Bava's BAY OF BLOOD (1971) and Marghertti's spaghetti western VENGEANCE (1968). Camaso looks a lot like his brother Gian Marie Volante who played the villain in Leone's FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (1965) - so much so that I had to look him up to make sure he wasn't the same actor. Also playing a bad guy is Fernando Sanchez who appeared in so many movies there should a shrine built to his career! Trust me- if you've seen more than about 20 Italian westerns you've seen  Fernando Sanchez.


Oh- and did I mention that the main bounty hunter character is named Django? I am not kidding - this is one of the earliest of the unofficial sequels to the classic DJANGO (1966)  and I was stunned to discover that it is not better known under an alternate title like DJANGO KILLS EVERYONE or DJANGO AND THE DUSTY TRAIL or even DJANGO ORDERS BRUNCH. ( I'd love to see a film called Django Orders Brunch.)  


But this film does seem to qualify as an underrated entry in the genre. I was very impressed with it from beginning to end. It weaves its plot elements together very well; it has a couple of shocking turns; its villains are well drawn and somewhat sympathetic; the dark character of Django has a bit if an arc and the pace is good. If you have watched a lot of westerns you may have seen parts of this film in various forms over the years, but this movie is a step or two above average. I need to check out a few more of director Romolo Guerrieri's films - he's a stylish storyteller. 

3 comments:

Nick Rentz said...

I have this one in a box set and have to rewatch it this weekend. In your Rojo Sangre podcast you mentioned that The Unholy Four was on your list of movies to check out. That's one film I put down as an underrated sw. Check that one out along with Forgotten Pistolelro. I'd like to know what you think of them.

Stevie B. said...

Have you seen VENGEANCE IS MINE? It's apparently a really similar spag-western made a year later with basically the same cast, including Garko as a bounty hunter. It was also re-titled as a DJANGO-ripoff movie. I've been trying to find a copy of it for a while to compare the two.

Rod Barnett said...

No- I haven't seen VENGEANCE IS MINE but I have seen it around and often listed as a solid effort. I'll have to track it down.