SARTANA WEEK: I Am Sartana, Trade Your Guns for a Coffin (1970)

In the third of the five original Sartana films, our hero gains a new actor: George Hilton takes over for Gianni Garko with Giuliano Carnimeo staying in the director’s chair. In this installment, Sartana faces Mexican bandits and Sabbath, a man who may be his equal.

Hilton was in a ton of films. Of note, The Strange Vice of Mrs. WardhThe Case of the Bloody Iris, All the Colors of the Dark have been covered on our site. According to spaghetti-western.net, “Carnimeo discovered that Hilton fitted his ideas better than Garko: he had always been a supporter of a more parodist approach, but his plans had been obstructed by Garko, who felt that the daring mix of comedy and extreme violence of the movies would only work within a tongue-in-cheek context, and would become ridiculous if they turned the whole thing into a farce. Hilton agreed with a more fanciful approach. As a result, the Hilton-movie shows a strong tendency towards the absurd. For this reason, some fans don’t see it as an official Sartana.”

Although they didn’t team up on this Sartana film, Carnimeo and Garko also did They Call Him Cemetery and His Name Was Holy Ghost, which are quite similar to the Sartana films. In addition, Carnimeo and Hilton did two films with a hero called Halleluja and two more with a hero called Tresette which take off from Hilton’s role in this film but are played for comedy.

Of course, Sartana comes up against criminals who are all out for themselves. However, the wild card in this movie comes in the form of Sabbath (Charles Southwood), a bounty hunter who dresses in white, carries a parasol, reads Shakespeare and has promised his mother that he will be on his best behavior.

There are — did you catch the theme yet — plenty of double crosses. Even on you, the viewer, with somewhat of a trick ending. While many decry this entry, I found it quite entertaining. You can find it on the gray market and on a few compilation DVDs of varying quality. Or you know…YouTube.

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