Hey kids strap on those spurs…it’s Western time.
Again I found myself knee deep in a big box stores bargain bin, digging deep, furraging wildly, for a treasure. A search for anything of “value” (not already nestled in my collection) to sate my jaded celluloid thirsts. After many minutes, numerous sidelong glances and snippets of overheard muted conversations (floating ominoisly in my direction) including the words deviant, outrageous and dispicable I broke the comfort of my plastic shelled surface to take another breath. It was of no avail. There was no luck, or hidden treasures to be found, other than the typical buffet of Hollywood financed, zero creative level garbage.
Perhaps I’d exhausted the supply? How could this be?
I wracked my brain for another outlet. I needed a ‘fix’, I could foresee my adrealine levels plummeting, my afternoon cheerfulness dwindling to nothing. Caffeine be damned I needed a thin circular object cased in flimsy heat wrapped black material between my fingers, if only to add to the mountinous others I have yet to witness. Then it hit me. I knew just where to go.
One hour later…
Cradling a fresh treat firmly in my grasp a smile tilted my lips. With a new found bounce in my step I traversed a myriad of wheeled death machines, a maze of streets and a litany of curses in an all too excitable child like daze to arrive safely on my doorstep.
It was going to be a great evening. I had something for my senses to greedily devour and an assortment of sugary treats to fill my innards. Next step, which was only slightly more tricky, ship off the family to parts unknown so I could watch my discoveres in relative peace.
Join me in a moment of escapism, let’s return to ‘Spaghetti Western-ville’. Cowboys, Indians, gunplay, narrowing stares and saloons serving only whisky, poker, death sentences and whores.
I present to you…
Fistful of Lead aka Sartana is Here…Trade Your Pistol for a Coffin (1970) Italy
Directed by Giuliano Carmineo (aka Anthony Ascott known for 1988’s Ratman)
Plucked from the depths of my newest acquisition, a sixteen movie set spaghetti western movie collection (that leaves me dripping just thinking upon it), is a movie that the annals of time quite possibly has forgotten about.
Repurposed for a multi-movie set. The feature has lost more than merely it’s original moniker, and now finds itself truncated, in essence cut down to size from its original widescreen format. I’d love to complain (I’ve been told I’m an expert in the field) further but beggars can’t be choosers. In all honesty the collection cost less than a Happy Meal promoted by an annoyingly over enthusiastic striped clown and won’t be nearly as damaging to my health so I’ll attempt to keep the negativity to a minimum.
Sartana (played convincingly by George Hilton – Blade of the Ripper, Case of the Bloody Iris) is found meadering his way into a new town, a slew of trouble and headlong into a set of plans to attain sparkly minerals in an illegal manner conceived by dirty faced, heavily accented bandits. Before I continue to stumble through the plot synopsis I’ll mention that the leader of said ensemble not only more than slightly resembles the love child of a sordid tryst between Oliver Reed and George Eastman (Google them folks) he also has the same moniker as a legendary British pioneering guitarist of the Black Metal scene (guesses?).
With my only association with this movie, Bloodlust and Venom out if the way I’ll continue.
Sartana meanwhile has a set of skills… damn it! wrong movie. Well you get the picture. He’s a talented sort of fellow, one who can manage to negotiate not only the harsh climate of the western hemisphere sans air conditioning (I don’t believe the 1980 Ford F150, regardless of condition or color, had a decent one to speak of. That ladies and gentleman is whats referred to as a ‘call back’) but also it’s wide array of seedy characters. Naturally, it goes without mentioning, Sartana can decapitate a horse fly at sixty paces with a bullet, he’s also able to shoot a generous pile of bills between a man’s legs at double the distance. Of course, this makes for interesting viewing. But wait, there’s more. He also carts around numerous loafs of sourdough which oddly enough he requires a solitary egg for accompaniment to enjoy each and every time (If only the minds at Hollywood could think this stuff up the industry would be saved!). And wouldn’t you know it he always appears to get disturbed pre – luncheon, each and every damn time. That’s enough to piss off a monk, right? It warrants his introducing a “sandwich gun” into the plot, is your mind blown yet? The movie gets only more intriguing still.
Sabbath, portrayed by Charles Southwood (uh…cus’ ‘Eastwood’ was taken, right?) moves into town toting around a decorative brolly (wait wha-?), albeit for a short spell. Alas, as the saying goes …”this town ain’t big enough”. Which leads to a final showdown, a ‘must have’ in any western worth its salt, showcasing yet more six shooter wizardry, surprisingly it doesn’t end there (dun dun dun) and I’m not going to ruin it (shock. Horror!).
As well as offering a storyline that’s simple enough for even me to follow and a pace that’s extremely hard not to enjoy Fistful of Lead (shorter title, less stress on the digits, nuff said!) also offers a few elements that the typical, traditional, film in the same genre neglects. Hilariously one liners are rampant. Just try not to mimic Sabbath’s “I only know one thing about work…it’s a bad habit!” attitude in an everyday workplace environment. The film bursts at the seams with dialogue exchanges I couldn’t help but smirk in responce to. Unpredictability in a familiar environment is the order of the day here folks. Although with that in mind there are typical characters that many will take an instant disliking to. Take Joe and Lindt for example, halted moments away from a manual switchblade (apparently invented and first used many years later) reassembling of someones facial features after leaving the barman to dig for his meager tip in a pot of ‘spit’. A dastardly pair indeed, perhaps early influence for David Hess’s character in Last House on the Edge of the Park..?
The film isn’t without its use of experimenting with the lens either. A slew of POV are utilized to great effect as too is a lingering and quite unexpected split screen view taking in all the glory and resulting carnage of Sartana’s seemingly god-like gunsmanship (is that a word?).
In conclusion and to keep this short (ish) if you enjoy cult films, westerns that aren’t shot in Utah, Montana, Arizona, Wyoming, California or Nevada (the interiors of this were shot, in true ‘spaghetti’ fashion, in Rome), watching lips to determine whom might be speaking in their native tongue and antics that are surreal to say the least then you’ll consume this with no reservations whatsoever. Not at all like your celebrated western, this is a film that’s oddly enjoyable, highly entertaining and throughly praise worthy in my view anyhow. Fuck the haters, and the majority of the critics they’d ruin Xmas based on its artistic merit and merely for the sheer fun of doing so.
To quote Pieces “Bastards-!”
There I nailed it, a Western review with enough nods to genre films to keep it readable, mildly amusing and who knows perhaps even a tad interesting..?
Thanks for entertaining my weak attempts at comedic prose me and making it this far down the page.
Your slave to cinema obscure, obscene and extreme.
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