Welcome to the microcosm of the internet I like to reside in and scribble upon provided by my new friends and hosts Drunk in a Graveyard. Today for your viewing pleasure, something a little different. A topic I’ve yet to cover in fact. One of my most endearing vices, one among many I employ – most of which are just plain annoying, is sifting through assorted bargain bins in big-box stores in hopes to find celluloid treasure. Often this transpires into naught but a grueling feat as most everything on offer is dated, high budget extravaganzas’ that rely on huge name actor draw and dazzling effects coming by way of multi-million budgets. My interests lie elsewhere. In the smaller budget arena, mostly in fact in the lesser known realms of film past. ‘Grindhouse’, ‘Blacksploitation’ or Cult affair nothing is too seedy, politically incorrect, gory or “camp” for my beady lil’ eyes to devour.
Echo Bridge entertainment are fine purveyors of this, offering a multitude of collections ranging from animated children collections through low budget and wholly undiscovered thriller and horror collections. Today however, I’ll try my hand at something a tad different. Admittedly the first collective of westerns finding its way into my library.
The Brute and the Beast (aka Massacre Time) 1966
Directed by Lucio Fulci (US release 1968)
The major draw of this collection is a film employs as many monikers as most European film makers from the 80’s. Before the claret dripping A Cat in a Brain, a splinter in the eye undead fest Zombie Flesh Eaters and the necro-Nazi experimental House by the Cemetery Mr. Fulci (surprisingly his given moniker, unlike many of his European cult film making peers) tried his directorial hand at several cinematic genres. He starting with, of all genres, comedy. The Western is a genre he has numerous efforts in, with only a limited amount ever finding themselves a stateside release.
Frank Nero headlines the cast in this a ‘Spaghetti Western’ now over 50 years’ young that starts out with a canine flesh rendering bang. A man hunt ensues in a scene that shows the old boys having a spot of sadistic fun that excellently introduces a landscape controlled by an oppressive dictatorship.
Frank is seen here familiarizing himself with a vintage barber’s tool. Good luck Frank!
Tom Corbett (Frank Nero) receives an odd request, via a stalky type-very nervous messenger, then finds himself travelling back to his family in a town named Laramie (I’m sure this title has been utilized a million times before in much the same scenario) to find things very different.
The characters depicted here are larger than life, varied with even a few non cardboard types tossed into the mix many fueled by egos and anger combusted spontaneity, others with a rare Zen-like mentality to keep the predictability level at a low and viewers on their toes.
Mr. Scott’s son (aptly named Junior) is rambunctious, hard to control and bloodthirsty. He’s even harder to like in his starched white get up topped by a creepy- you-can’t-touch-me-I’m-the-boss’s-son-smirk.
When a bar brawl ensues, that introduces Toms brother, unlikely help appears (as if out of nowhere) in the form of a talkative, smiling, Japanese fellow handy with both a blow-dart and a piano (fret not fellow viewer it all makes sense as the film unfolds).
C’mon’ Dad help me with the chorus…I’m gonna’ kill some random stranger tonight. Altogether now.
As it happens Junior is well practiced in the art of tinkering on the ivories (adding a chilling vibe) also in the use of a whip, oddly more akin to the size of a pachyderm’s fifth leg, as seen in a lingering scene (which should leave any leather clad Dom soaked in a pool of her own excitement). Top the villainy aspect of the film with the fact that Mr. Scott’s ragtag collective don’t take too kindly to being embarrassed and there’s a wide radius of blood sauce splattering to be witnessed.
Strangely alcohol comes to the rescue and aids in the Superhero with a sidearm forum (as it so often does…wait wha-?) Propelling Tom and Jeff (the estranged brothers Corbett) on a vengeance quest that never forgets its manners “Hey, Gentlemen”. All in a locale that oddly looks like the Texas/New Mexico landscape but most probably isn’t.
Damn its hot. Feels like the desert!
Twists, turns, fistfights, a galloping pace, elaborate set-pieces, sibling rivalry and greed so all-consuming it translates into sneering madness culminate in a thoroughly enjoyable cactus, dust and ten-gallon hat fest that has somehow, thankfully, managed to have survived the vast forgotten desert that is the celluloid graveyard. Add this to the better known Sergio Leone/Eastwood collaborations for an extended evening’s whisky drinking and six shooter viewing.
I’ll take a nap in the meantime hopefully someone will invent SatNav so I can locate a BestBuy
A letterboxed gritty stock drenched in a tense soundtrack that often wavers accompanies dubbing that is often hilarious giving this film a very watchable quality.
Don’t forget the tequila, I’ll bring the marinara sauce. Even though Westerns, no matter their country of origin, aren’t usually my visual poison I found myself rather liking this.