Sunday, June 10, 2018

Junesploitation Day 10: Westerns!

The deadliest guns in all the west are about to be silenced!

84 comments:

  1. EDGE-OF-THE-BORDER WESTERN TWOFER! Or paraphrasing Patrick's "I Stream, You Stream" column this week, handout picks to get other streaming services besides Amazon Prime into the mix. :-)

    Clint Eastwood's HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER (1973, 115 min.) on HBO Go for the first time.

    Clint's first western under his direction opens and closes with long panoramic shots that would make mentor Sergio Leone proud. Playing a mysterious stranger that comes into the mining town of Largo, Eastwood makes out a virtue out of the movie's ambivalence whether his character is the reincarnated spirit of a murdered sheriff, or just a stranger taking advantage of the town's collective guilt to get his own way. There's a Kurosawa vibe to the narrative, and the eventual shootouts and bloodshed feel secondary to the dream-like interaction between Eastwood and every character he meets. Not for everybody and a little too slow for my tastes, but a nice first try for Eastwood in the genre that made him a start. "It's okay."


    CASA DE MI PADRE (2012, 84 min.) on Netflix Instant for the first time.

    While occasionally striking absurdist gold (a Jim Henson Shop-designed white puma puppet in the same feature in which José Luis Rodríguez, aka "El Puma," sings at a wedding... I howled!), this American-made-but-done-in-Spanish parody of Mexican westerns and soap opera tropes runs out of gas by the 30 minute mark. In modern day Mexico (even though there's barely-noticeable 1970's touches like plastic mannequin stunt butts, crew reflections on sunglasses and toy models for exterior shots), hard-working good son Armando Álvarez (Will Ferrell) doesn't take it well when his younger brother Raúl (Diego Luna) returns to their father's ranch with drug money in his pockets. Even though Don Ernesto, aka Señor Álvarez (legendary Mexican actor Pedro Armendáriz Jr.) clearly prefers Raúl over Armando, the latter will not stop until he saves his family ranch from the clutches of evil "narcotraficante 'La Onza'" (Gael García Bernal) and his reluctant-to-be-his-girlfriend niece, Sonia Lopez (Génesis Rodríguez in her feature debut). Sonia happens to be Raúl's fiancée, even though by the end she's clearly in love with Armando... eh, it's complicated.

    As someone who grew up watching the 70's Mexican telenovelas ("Los Ricos También Lloran") and melodramas ("El Lugar Sin Límites") being made fun of here (which is a style of TV/film production that hasn't applied to Mexican media since the mid-90's), "Casa de Mi Padre" has one or two jokes that it beats you over the head with until you cry... or start laughing because Will Ferrell and his partners (Adam McKay, dubbing director Eva Maria Peters, etc.) will hold on a particular joke well past the diminishing returns dividing line. It certainly belongs in Netflix next to Adam Sandler's "The Ridiculous 6," with which it shares a strand of dumb-for-dumbness'-sake DNA. Worth a look.

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  2. A Stranger in Town aka For a Dollar in the Teeth (Un dollaro tra i denti) (1967, dir. Luigi Vanzi)

    A lone gunfighter and a Mexican bandit leader steal some gold from Union soldiers, then both try to scheme, steal and double-cross to get all the gold for themselves.

    I'm not well versed in spaghetti westerns, so I can't say if this is "entirely derivative of Sergio Leone's films", like one reviewer has said, but overall it's a pretty forgettable movie, save for a few stand-out scenes (mainly a gunfight in the dark and a dusty final battle) and a couple of intriguing characters in the bandit's two top henchmen, Aldo Berti's brutal Marinero and Gia Sandri's dominatrix Maruka. In comparison the main character, Tony Anthony as "The Stranger", is neither appealing nor charismatic.

    The theme is a good Morricone clone, but gets a little old when you're hearing it for the 20th time.

    The Spaghetti West (2005, dir. David Gregory)

    A pretty basic talking heads documentary about the history of the spaghetti western I stumbled upon on YouTube. Like I mentioned, I'm not that familiar with westerns, so this was a nice little primer.

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  3. RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY (1962, dir. Sam Peckinpah)

    This is a first watch for me and easily one of the best films I have seen all year.

    Sam Peckinpah is the writer/director who brought the American western to its revisionist pinnacle in the late 1960s and early ‘70s. If you have not seen THE WILD BUNCH, you should seek it out. Though John Ford is the most important western director, Peckinpah’s vision of the West is the one that has more appeal to me. Although westerns are, in the end, fiction, his world feels more “real” in a certain sense than the work of other directors.

    Ride the High Country is early in Peckinpah’s film career. He is already engaging with the mythology of the Old West, yet this is still a very much a traditional western, the world being either good or bad. A middle-aged former lawman with a strong ethical code finds a job for a bank transporting gold in the Sierra Nevada mountains. He hires a former deputy of his who happens to be working in a traveling carnival that has stopped in the same area. A young man employed by the carnival goes along for extra protection. The trouble is that the former deputy and the young man have hatched a scheme to take the gold in whatever way they can, and that is just one of the hurdles that have to be overcome to get the gold to the bank.

    Ride the High Country is truly a magnificent movie. The characters feel lived in, the widescreen cinematography is stunning, and the story moves along at a pace that perfectly suits it. It is the little details that make the film engaging, from the little ticks of the characters to the placement of items around the shooting locations. I am sorry I waited so long to watch it.

    THE STRANGERS GUNDOWN, A.K.A., DJANGO THE BASTARD (1969, dir. Sergio Garrone)

    As a long-time fan of the spaghetti western, I find The Strangers Gundown a comfort film. Though I have not watched it before now, it feels like I have seen it already. It looks and sounds like a film in the Leone mold. While not a top-tier spaghetti western, it is a satisfying example of the genre.

    Anthony Steffen is Django, a gunslinger stylishly dressed in black. He seems to materialize out of nowhere to carry out his vendetta. There is a supernatural element to his character that distinguishes this from other Italian westerns. Rod Murdock is the main target of Django’s vengeance, but Murdock is not an easy man to get to. A lot of bodies will accumulate before the two meet in a street for the final duel. The cinematography and cast are excellent.

    Although I was born after the spaghetti western died out, there is sometimes a sense of nostalgia when I watch the films now. They have been a cinematic presence for the majority of my life and can, consequently, bring my thoughts back to earlier, more youthful, moments.

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    1. I love revionist westerns and especially Peckinpah westerns. I can't remember a great deal about the plot anymore but I remember absolutely loving this film. Peckinpah usually gets mentioned for The Wild Bunch as far as westerns go, but this and especially Pat Garrett and Billy the Kids (my favorite western) really need to be talked about more.

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  4. Take a Hard Ride (1971 - dir Antonio Margheriti)

    I am incrediably tired so there is a strong possiblity that I am going to get Fred Williamson mixed up Fred Savage or something of that nature.

    Anyway I had a lot of fun with this. Jim Brown is trying to transport a large amount of money to a widow with Bonty Hunter Lee Van Cleef on his trail. A typical western, but I had fun with the cast, which also includes Fred Williamson (phew) and Jim Kelly. It's delightfully goofy in parts and others ernest.

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  5. Young Guns (1988)

    The brat pack goes west. The last time I watched this was on a VHS rental (R.I.P Blockbuster). The titular guns are a group of mostly “teenaged” gunmen who identify as the Regulators (R.I.P Nate Dogg). They lodge with a rancher played by Terrance Stamp, who is basically runs a wild west foster home. O.G brat packer Emilio Estevez plays legendary gunslinger Billy the Kid as a chuckling, homicidal maniac. The cast is filled out with several brat ancillaries including Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland and Lou Diamond Phillips. Early Dermot Mulroney & post-Three O’ Clock High Casey Siemaszko round out the crew. On the other side of the ledger, heavy-for-hire Jack Palance is given an actual moustache to potentially twirl.

    Set in the 1880s with a score from the 1980s, there are tonal shifts all over the place. It is murdery and jokey all at the same time. For me, this lives in the very enjoyable yet not very good category. It is very watchable although your mileage may vary depending on your familiarity with the cast.

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  6. MY NAME IS NOBODY:

    kind of a weird movie. on the one hand, you expect something serious with the presence of Henry Fonda (his last western). on the other hand, you have Terrence Hill doing light, funny stuff and just having fun. and what you get is both drama and comedy. the main story is barely developped, there just so the characters can exist in it. the movie is more interested in Terrence Hill doing funny stuff and Henry Fonda scowling than anything else. some good shootouts, Hill is as funny as ever and Morricone's music is great as always, at times parodying himself. one thing to note, Terrence Hill character doesn't shoot anybody. he shoots hats off, wisky glasses, but never kills anybody. well, one guy... or does he...? in the end, the movie is one of those 'farewell/homage/end of a generation' type.

    i watched the 40th anniversary blu-ray edition, and to say i'm disappointed is an understatement. the picture is sharp enough, and colors are fine, but it seem no restauration works was done. scratches and dust specs appear throughout the movie. we're presented with only the english dub and english subs. the disc comes with no extras. it's a 20$ disc, so i guess it's not too bad.

    next up, more Terrence Hill with They Call Me Trinity and Trinity Is Still My Name. damn i miss watching him with Bud Spencer

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    1. By the early 1970s, the serious spaghetti western was on the decline. The comedies and parodies were becoming dominant. My Name is Nobody was a mix of the two styles. I have watched the beginning of the film but stopped once the silly stuff begins. It is just not to my liking.

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    2. i can understand that, but i also think the 3rd act of the movie is quite interesting. getting there might be hard though

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    3. Terrence Hill is definitely an acquired taste

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  7. Compañeros (1970)

    Not as iconic as The Good, The bad and The ugly or as gneredefining as The great Silence.
    Companeros is still a great Zapata Western by Sergio Corbucci.

    The Movie Stars Franco Nero as the Swede a weapon smuggler how are just in it for the movie, To get his money he has to team up with The Basque played by Tomas Milano. It’s a great story with a great soundtrack and great performances from both actors. Jack Palance plays Nero old business partner, who has lost his hand, because he was left to die. It’s a bonkers character, but you can’t help to be a bit intrigued by him.
    My greatest beef is it’s a bit to “funny”. I like my Westerns dark and gritty.

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  8. Keoma (1976) Dir: Enzo G. Castellari

    First time watch. Franco Nero comes home after the war to find his home town has been taken over by a corrupt evil gang, which includes his half-brothers. He takes it upon himself to clean up the town.

    I loved every second of this thing! It moves briskly and Castellari uses all the tricks in his handbook to keep the action enthralling. Nero is great as always, but is given more to work that he sometimes gets. A high point is his relationship with his father, their scenes are some of the best in the movie. I highly recommend this one.

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    1. I love this movie so much. I really enjoy the songs throughout that describe what's going on in the lyrics. haha It's awesome!

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    2. Yeah it was great! The songs bordered on hilarious but they still worked.

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  9. Went with two Westerns where the leads are playing twins.

    God's Gun (1976)

    Not fantastic, but a very watchable Western starring Lee Van Cleef as priest, and his twin brother who's a retired gunslinger. Jack Palance plays the leader of the bandits threatening the town, and Sybil Danning is in this as well. There's nothing too out of the ordinary here but it was a masterpiece compared to what I watched next.

    White Comanche (1968)

    I don't have anything against William Shatner but I think even his biggest fans would have a hard time arguing that he has a wide acting range. They'd have an even harder time justifying his casting as half-White, half-Comanche twin brothers, one of whom has embraced the Comanche side, and the other who has embraced the White side. Shatner's line-reading devolves almost to self-parody any time he's on screen as Notah, and his tortured self-doubt as Johnny Moon is only better in a sorta marginal fashion. Not even a movie that's so bad it's good, but it is fascinating to think that the people involved in making it thought any of this was a good idea.

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  10. If anyone is looking for a solid underseen western, I suggest checking out Day of the Outlaw. Not really a good pick for Junesploitation, but still very good. Stars Robert Ryan and features the rare snowy location for a western.

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    1. I love Day of the Outlaw. It’s really suspenseful just watching the tension grow on the powder keg of a situation, you know everything’s gonna go to hell when that wound takes Burl Ives.

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    2. I am open to any film with Robert Ryan in it. Actors like him or Warren Oates will automatically make a film better.

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    3. I shall second the Warren Oates love. Have you seen Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia

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    4. I state this without having seen Two Lane Blacktop or Cockfighter, but Alfredo Garcia is my favorite of Oates' roles. While Alfredo Garcia is one the ugliest depictions of humanity I have ever watched, the film is riveting because of Oates. Great nihilism.

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    5. I have Cockfighter and Two-Lane (tomorrow) lined up for this month. Didn't know Oates was in Two-Lane, super excited now.

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    6. "Two Lane Blacktop" + Warren Oates' "GTO" = cinephile bliss. Enjoy it, Cole H. :-)

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    7. Alfredo Garcia was my pick for today but I had to stop halfway through to deal with life. I need to finish it because it was amazing right up until I had to turn it off.

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  11. Wild at Heart (1990, dir. David Lynch, 2nd time viewing) Went with a "modern western". There's a lot of anger in Lynch's work and this one particularly left me feeling a little rattled. It really says something that this is one of my least favorite Lynch movies, yet it's still great. His body of work is just that unbelievably good. Recommended if you're in the right mood.

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    1. Graham the Haunted MarshmallowJune 10, 2018 at 4:04 PM

      Cool pick! I watched it for the first time a few months ago and was blown away. Mulholland Drive and Twin Peaks: The Return are probably my favourite Lynch works, but his heart comes through most clearly in this film, I think. I haven’t smiled that big at the ending of a film in a long time, but like you said, there’s all sorts of angry undercurrents that occasionally rage to the surface

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  12. My only complaint with Companeros (1970) is that it leans a little too hard on the theme song. Otherwise, it is a lot of fun.

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  13. THEY CALL ME TRINITY and TRINITY IS STILL MY NAME:

    i grew up with french dubs of Bud Spencer and Terrence Hill movies, and for my money it was the best time ever. the best comedy duo ever. here, we have the typical western where our heroes, trying to be outlaws, end up saving a bunch of people by some bad guy. the first movie is way better than the second one. while the first movie is funny and all around good, the second movie is trying very hard to be funny while forgetting to tell the story. there's a restaurant scene that goes way too long and end without anything of consequence happening. at the midpoint, we don't even know who the bad guy is. watch the first movie, skip the second movie.

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    1. I grew up watching dubbed-in-Spanish Spencer/Hill 70's and early 80's comedies in sold out theaters with crowds laughing their heads off in my home country of El Salvador. The duo was box office gold back in my youth. One of my formative experiences as a lil' film lover. I'd love a R1 or R2 home video release of their best work, but most of it seems to be stuck behind R4 and not easy to stream. Shame. :'(

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    2. there's only a German releases of the movies they did, one big box in particular, but they don't have english subtitles, and only half of them have english dubs.

      a lot of them are available on dvd in french on amazon.ca, so i might get those eventually.

      Bud Spencer and Terrence Hill deserve more love than that, but i'll take what i can

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  14. Dead Again in Tombstone (2017)

    You would think a movie that touts Danny Trejo vs an army of undead Confederate soldiers would be more fun than this. Trejo’s undead gunslinger Guerrero returns somehow (Mickey Rourke’s Lucifer isn’t there to explain it this time around) to keep a mystical macguffin out of the hands of evil Jake Busey, and maybe find some redemption for his soul in the process.

    Trejo’s fine if still not quite up to some of the dramatic heavy lifting (such as it is) the script asks of him. It’s all a bit sleazier than the first too, with the violence and nudity dialed up to eleven (though the violence is still missing that element of grindhouse inventiveness that would carry a better version of the same material). Busey has his moments, but he’s not quite as effective a villain as Anthony Michael Hall was in the first. It’s not an entirely bad movie, it’s just not as much fun as it could have been. I’ll be surprised if Guerrero manages to rise up for a third go-round.

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  15. The Great Silence (1968)

    Amazon has been recommending the Blu release of this movie to me for weeks, and since they offered it on Prime streaming for free, I bit. Very glad I did. I’m already a sucker for snowbound westerns and this one had the added bonus of Klaus Kinski in his usual schtick of playing the weirdo villain. Kinski exudes such a strange sense of childishness as Tigrero, but with the cold indifference that comes with playing this type of ruthless killer. Jean-Louis Trintignant plays the titular mute gunslinger called “Silence”, and although is performance is great and his look is iconic, he unfortunately is never able to step out from Kinski’s shadow (who could?). Another interesting element that is unusual for westerns was the casting of the gorgeous Vonetta McGee (who also shows up in my pick for tomorrow) as the female lead and love interest. It was nice to see a woman of color play someone in a western other than a slave, housekeeper, or prostitute (granted, women are unfortunately given few options in most westerns). The film’s ending is harsh and brutal, but also filled with truth and honesty about the old west that Hollywood and so many other westerns of the time ignored in favor of optimistic tales of good vs. evil.

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  16. El Topo (1970)

    You might as well call this Junespolitation, the Western. We open with a naked child being instructed he is seven and therefore a man and to bury his favorite toe and picture of his mother in desert sands. I thought it was going to be a western version of Lone Wolf and Cub based on the first half hour, but takes a hard turn at the half hour mark. The film completely loses me at the hour mark when our "hero" The Mole sort of disappears from the story, or at least its focus. I honestly don't know what to think and don't know that I'll ever revisit it. Maybe someone smarter than me can explain it a little better. I'm off to find a podcast on this one.

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    1. I suspect the ones here that really enjoy Italian horror films would probably find something to bite into on this one, just a heads up.

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    2. If you haven't seen his movies afterwards (none of them westerns), Alejandro Jodorowsky uses "El Topo" (he's the main guy in the movie, and the naked boy is his son) as a sort-of litmus test for audiences to follow him down a rabbit hole of esoteric, artsy and surreal cinema. I personally think his movie after this, "The Holy Mountain," is a stone cold masterpiece. But others may disagree, and yes, there is a level of pretentiousness in his movies that betray his upbringing as a leftist Chilean intellectual (wink, wink :-P).

      "El Topo" blew my mind when I first saw it back in 2013 for Junesploitation!, but your mileage may vary. :-)

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    3. El Topo is another film on my to-watch list. I enjoy Jodorowsky's brand of cinema because you never know what will come next. Making sense is generally not on his agenda.

      If you are up for more of Jodorowsky's cinematic confusion, check out The Holy Mountain.

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    4. I agree with you about The Holy Mountain, Vargas. It is one of a kind movie experience.

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  17. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968 - dir Serigo Leone)

    .......There were a collection of badasses. My father tired for years to try and get me into Westerns. What he should have done was showed me a Serigo Leone movie.

    Yeah this is movie is a masterpiece. I loved everything about this movie. There is this way that Leone shoots faces, all craggy and worn, that fits in landscape so well. Just on a visual aspect, I don't think Fonda, Bronson or Robards have looked this good because of it. The are born from this landscape, it has literary shaped them.

    No one makes a movie like Serigo Leone.

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    1. This was also the movie for me that changed how I looked at westerns. It's still one of the best movies I've ever seen.

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    2. Sergio Leone was my gateway to the world of spaghetti westerns, with OUATITW playing a major role in opening my mind. I have watched dozens of films in the genre and enjoyed a large number of them, but nothing comes close to Leone's films. He was an artist of the cinema. For me, OUATITW has always been his greatest achievement.

      Morricone's soundtrack for the film is among the best of his career, and that is saying a lot. Jill's theme is so haunting. It will be a sad day when he leaves this mortal life.

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    3. same here, and OUATITW being the most influencial in my western movie loving. i could watch that opening 50 times without getting sick of it.

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    4. Morricone is on point in this! I have been listening to a best of Morricone at work a lot lately. I always thought Jill's theme was pretty but to see it in context is almost transcendent.

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    5. I can't add much to what you've all already said but I agree OUATITW is a stone cold masterpiece. Every viewing brings more and more to the experience. When I first saw it I was amazed at how much it had been an obvious influence on filmmakers I already loved, like John Woo and Quentin Tarantino and even Sam Raimi, that it almost felt like an old friend. Lindsay, I'm so glad you got to experience this amazing film!

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  18. Mannaja: A Man Called Blade (1977, dir. Sergio Martino)

    This is my third Sergio Martino film of the month, and I absolutely didn't plan that.

    I've been meaning to check this one out for some time, mostly based on the awesome title and poster. Turns out, it's a serviceable entry in the genre, and really nothing more. It's competent and there's nothing bad about it. But it doesn't reach any of the highs that my favorite spaghetti westerns do. It's fairly typical and very ok.

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    1. I really love Mannaja! I love the theme song, I love how nasty it is. Not questioning you for not being super into it; I was just excited someone watched it because I've been trying to get people to check it out for a few years. Martino is great, isn't he?

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    2. That's funny, because I didn't think it was very nasty. For me it was lacking the nasty craziness of a lot of spaghetti westerns and was just kind of "normal". Has Junesploitation completely desensitized me?

      So far my favorite Martino film is Hands of Steel, which is probably a weird opinion but I'm gonna own it.

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    3. You can do much worse than binging on Sergio Martino. He is a very underrated directed who could at least make a watchable film. He also a couple of great ones, too.

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  19. i just got an email from DiabolikDVD telling me they shipped my Complete Sartana Collection. perfect day to receive such a news


    i watched 2 movies from a Mill Creek 2-pack containing THE LAST GUN and 4 DOLLARS OF REVENGE. according to the blurb on the box, those are rare. the former has Cameron Mitchell (Blood And Black Laces) playing the hero with a secret past. the later was written by Django and The Great Silence (one of the) scribe, Bruno Corbucci. not the best of the genre i ever saw, but not bad either. both of the movies are fairly well shot. one liners are bad and acting is often worse. music if fine. other than the Hill/Spencer from earlier, i have yet to see a Spaghetti Western that was not worth 90 minutes of my time

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    1. On the fence about spending the money for the Arrow Sartana collection. I did watch the original a few months ago and really liked it. Do you know if the others are as enjoyable?

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    2. Never seen any of the Sartana. This is a blind buy. Yes, i'm crazy enough to spend all that money on stuff i never saw

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    3. the Sartana movies in the box are the only one considered 'officials'. like Django, there's a dozen movies with the character, but a lot of them are similar only by name

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  20. Massacre Time (1966) Dir. Lucio Fulci

    Needed to bang this one out cause I know I won't be able to watch films on Mosploitation! and Fulci! day so, cheating and using this for those two as well. Though, Nero's stash isn't as full as it is on the poster for the film. Maybe I'll peep some Magnum PI if I can get it in that day. Anyway...

    I don't know what it is. There are, of course, exceptions but I have never been able to get into the western genre and this was no different. I hated it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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    1. You watched a film that was not likely to convert you, Chaybee.

      I have the same experience with superhero/comic book films.

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    2. I too can't get into superhero films. My grandmother used to watch "Shane" all the time and it drove me nuts as a kid. God bless her cause she also watched early 80s horror with me and would laugh and be into some of them. I was able to see Italian Horror as a teen year old before I knew what Italian Horror was. She and my mom were great. She loved Westerns though. I didn't. That's just how it is.

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  21. Graham the Haunted MarshmallowJune 10, 2018 at 6:30 PM

    Bone Tomahawk (2015, dir. Zahler)

    First time watch. Patrick really touched on everything that works about the movie (or at least, made me take note of the things that work in the movie). The casting choices are filled out, the atypical three-act structure shifts from subgenre to subgenre while staying grounded in the film’s main conceit, the characters are all likeable. It’s just a fun time. Whereas Brawl in Cell Block 99 has a certain unabashed outlandishness that makes it prime for rewatching (at least with others), I’m not sure this is one I’ll come back to anytime soon, partly because the western setting has never been my thing. Still, an incredibly satisfying watch.

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  22. THE LONE RANGER (1956)
    The cast of the 1950s Lone Ranger TV show reunites on the big screen. The masked hero goes against a corrupt governor who wants to profit from starting a war between Native Americans and the white folk. There’s little interest in developing the Lone Ranger’s character. He’s just the Lone Ranger and that’s it. This means the supporting cast gets the character arcs, while the Lone Ranger occasionally shows up and does Lone Ranger stuff.

    THE LONE RANGER AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD (1958)
    This second theatrical go-around for the TV show cast is half murder mystery and half treasure hunt, with people getting killed over mysterious gold coins. Once again, the Lone Ranger himself doesn’t appear for long stretches of movie, making it more about the supporting cast. I like the running joke of everyone assuming our hero is about to rob them, only for him to patiently explain that he’s the Long Ranger every single time.

    THE LEGEND OF THE LONE RANGER (1981)
    This one shows up on a lot of worst-movies-ever lists, but it’s not so bad. It’s true that male model Klinton Spilsbury is out of his depth as our hero, and the voiceover narration is annoying. (Voiceover narration is bad enough, but rhyming voiceover?!?) On the plus side, it’s your basic superhero origin story, Christopher Lloyd hams it nicely as the villain, and the action finale is appropriately thrilling.

    THE LONE RANGER (2003)
    Where do I even begin? The rap theme song? All the kung fu fights? The Lone Ranger and Silver communicating telepathically? How there’s a Jacuzzi in the old west? The Lone Ranger saying “Let’s rock”? I know they were hoping for the tween-to-teen audience, but trying this hard to be cool just ensures that you won’t be cool.

    THE LONE RANGER (2013)
    I regret giving this a second chance. I doubt I’m ruffling feathers (heh) by saying Johnny Depp should not have played Tonto, but the movie’s problems run deeper than that. The mismatched tones are jarring. It’s horror, it’s slapstick comedy, it’s conspiracy thriller, and every once in a while it almost remembers to be a Western. Saddest of all is how the final action scene is actually really fun, a glimpse into the good movie this could have been. But, nope.

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    1. I love 2013 "Lone Ranger," wart and all. It's a mishmash of tones and genres, but what I love about is that all those messy balls tossed in midair throughout the first two hours pay off in that climactic 15 min. action set-piece. Most action movies try to space their action set pieces every 20-30 minutes, but this one proves you can have a good one at the start and a killer one at the end that make the messy sandwich in-between tolerable. What can I say, I'm biased. :-P

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    2. Thanks! I want to like the Lone Ranger character and his mythology, but I feel like none of these movies have quite gotten him right.

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    3. Personally I feel the 1966 CBS cartoon version of "Lone Ranger" (Intro) is the one that's come the closest to capturing the spirit of the classic radio serial.

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  23. Django (1966)

    I have not seen DJANGO since DJANGO UNCHAINED came out, so it felt pretty new to me. It's awesome. This time I really struck by the fact that he carries that casket around with him everywhere he goes. If I have to carry more than 3 bags of groceries in the house, I go into a panic. Carrying that casket more than a block would not be an option for me. It's Django's superpower.

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  24. The Shootist (1976)

    This really comes down to how much you love John Wayne. For me, he is fine. So this is fine. I completely understand is significance in the genre and the power he commands on screen, thus this is a fitting ending for his last film.

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  25. The Great Silence (1968, dir. Sergio Corbucci)

    I try not to say this very much, but this film is a MASTERPIECE. It's hands down one of the best westerns I've ever seen. I could not believe how incredibly dark and bleak it was willing to be. Yet at the same time, it was making me so happy because of how beautifully made it is. I loved everything about this amazing film.

    This movie was also.... *drumroll please*.... my introduction to Klaus Kinski. I know, I know. I must seek out more of his work because I think he's one of the best villains I've ever seen in this film.

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    1. Pure heresy. You need to fix this ;)

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  26. Quigley Down Under (1990)

    Would make for a great Rickman shitheel double-feature with Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, but Magnum's a more charismatic lead. Yeah I said it Cosner, come at me!

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    1. What a great movie! I just saw it earlier this year and absolutely loved it.

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  27. Can anyone make me an essential viewing list for spaghetti westerns? I'm more looking for the serious ones but if there is a parody that is particularly good I wouldn't mind checking it out. I've seen the Dollars Trilogy, Once Upon a Time In the West, The Great Silence, Grand Duel, and am currently watching Death Rides a Horse.

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    1. Anything with Lee Van Cleef is a sure shot

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    2. This is a topic I have thought about over the years. My list of essential spaghetti films has always been short.

      The films of Leone. (Have not seen A Fistful of Dynamite)

      A handful of films from Sergio Corbucci - The Great Silence and Django

      The Big Gundown - director, Sergio Sollima

      A Bullet for the General - director, Damiano Damiani

      Other titles I have seen commonly come up in other lists but have not watched are Keoma, Companeros, and Django Kill...If You Live, Shoot!.

      With hundred's of films in the genre to dive into, I am sure there would be other titles that you would enjoy.

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  28. The Big Gundown aka La Resa dei Conti (1966) Dir: Sergio Sollima

    Oh this was good. So so good. I have been meaning to watch this for years and I'm mad at myself for not watching it until now. This is now hands down one of my favorite spaghetti westerns. Lee Van Cleef is his usual awesome self but the real MVP in this one is Tomas Millian. Playing a character this alternates between menacing, charming and hilarious he steals the movie. I really didn't expect this to be so funny, it's almost like a buddy cop movie from the 80's. And the Morricone score is, as expected, amazing. This one really caught me by surprise. One of my Junesploitation highlights for sure!

    The Quick and the Dead (1995) Dir: Sam Raimi

    Sometimes it's nice to watch an old standby. I saw this in the theater and loved it then and I still love it now. While it doesn't rise to the level of some of Raimi's best, I also think it's seriously underappreciated in his filmography. The way it is shot is pure Raimi, and the variety he brings to gunfights is nothing short of amazing. I'm hoping that, like Darkman has been recently, this one gets rediscovered and reevaluated.

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    1. Glad to see The Big Gundown turn up. It is one of the most overlooked spaghetti westerns. All all-around great film, it is, as you pointed out, the cast that stands out.

      I need to see more of Sollima's films.

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  29. Death Rides a Horse (1967)

    I don't have anything real deep to say about this one other than I loved it. Second spaghetti western starring Lee Van Cleef I watched this month and I'm 2 for 2. The second lead in this one wasn't great, kind of generic, only real complaint I have. Found another song Tarantino would use later. Pretty cool stumbling on to his influences he uses later in his own films.

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  30. The Professionals (1966)

    What should be a paint by numbers "men on a mission" movie is enhanced by a strong story, crisp dialogue and one hell of an ensemble cast.

    Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan & Woody Strode embark on a cross border mission to save a kidnapped women from a Mexican revolutionary played by Jack Palance. Try and tell me that's not one hell of a cast!! Add a fantastic score by Maurice Jarre, beautiful shots by Conrad Hall, as well as masterful direction by Richard Brooks and you have one of my favorite "classic" westerns.

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  31. Jonah Hex‬ (2010)
    ‪Cause why the heck not. ‬

    I came in with really low expectations. All I’ve ever heard is how terrible this movie is.
    Well, it’s not a great movie, but I was entertained.
    It’s over the top In ridiculous ways here and there (like a man that is part snake spewing venom) and the plot gets silly.
    The PG13 rating also does it no favors
    There were a few ways this coulda come out being a better movie. One would be embracing the over the top and being a violent Punisher War Zone-esqe romp through the west. Another way could be leaning into the supernatural like Hellboy.
    Maybe the best route could have been a gritty, grounded take on the material.
    But, still there were good points.
    First off, even under makeup that won’t let him open his mouth all the way, Josh Brolin is appropriately badass. Even with subpar material, he carries himself in such an intimidating way.
    ‪Fassbender is a fun as a twisted henchman.
    And it’s short. Short enough to not overstay it’s welcome. Short enough that the ridiculous stuff rolled by too fast to really bother me. Short enough that you don’t get bored.
    I can appreciate bad if it’s entertainging.
    This had me saying “what the hell” with a smile on my face a few times, and that made it worth the watch.

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  32. Ghost Town (1988, dir. Richard McCarthy)

    I had intended to watch something spaghettier but tried to kill two birds and revisited this one for an upcoming podcast. I remember liking it. Of course I still had fun with it, but like so many Empire movies, it has a great idea that it only partially capitalizes on. The good parts are really, really good, but then there's a lot of dead space and a pretty uninteresting lead. I'll have to watch an Italian western for a free space day.

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  33. "Two Lane Blacktop" + Warren Oates' "GTO" = cinephile bliss. :-)

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  34. Barquero (1970)
    Lee Van Cleef vs Warren Oates in a oddball take on the "seige" film.
    There is a lot of subtext goin on here, I will definitely need to revisit this one.

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  35. Cowboys vs Aliens (2011)
    Why? Why did i watch this? I found it soooo slow and boring.

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  36. The Shooting (1966):

    Another Pure Cinema recommendation that did not disappoint. Cold and bleak as it was, I found myself unable to look away. A simple story that somehow left me with a ton of questions.

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  37. Preparati la bara! aka Django, Prepare a Coffin (1968)

    This pseudo-sequel (prequel?) gives Django a slightly modified origin story and moderately tones down the graphic violence of Corbucci's original, but also feels more "pop" in a welcome way. Terence Hill fills in for Franco Nero and looks so much like him that it's hard to remember sometimes that they're not the same person. This movie also features stylish cinematography and a score that was sampled by Gnarls Barkley in 2006 for their hit song "Crazy." One of the better entries in the Spaghetti Western genre.

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  38. Appaloosa (2008)

    A fantastic cast bring this otherwise quaint and restrained Western to life. Harris and Mortensen are particularly good, as is Harris's directorial homage to a specific type of western.

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  39. The Hateful Eight (2015). I was hesitant to revisit this since it first came out. I was anticipating that it would feel long, for some reason? It didn't feel long at all.

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