Mannaja (1977)

Also known as A Man Called Blade, this late in the game Italian Western was directed by one of B&S About Movies’ favorite directors, Sergio Martino. Yes, we tend to discuss him pretty frequently here, but look — the guy made Torso, Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the KeyThe Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, All the Colors of the Dark, 2019: After the Fall of New YorkHands of Steel and many more.

I’ve been really looking forward to this film and it did not disappoint.

Maurizio Merli (Violent Rome) stars as Blade, a bounty hunter who favors a tomahawk as his weapon. After all, Mannaja means hatchet. I have no idea why they didn’t just call him that instead of Blade. Anyhow, our hero comes to the mining town of Suttonville with Burt Craven (Donald O’Brien) as his captive, but he just wants to kill mining boss Ed McGowan, who he blames for the death of his father.

However, when he meets the man, he’s in a wheelchair and “not worth it.” However, he will take the man’s money and decides to rescue the man’s daughter from Theo Voller (John Steiner), who is really working with her to take over the mine. They kill a prostitute who is in love with Blade right in front of him and bury him up to his neck in the desert, leaving pins in his eyes to force them open, blinding him. He’s rescued by Craven, even after he took that man’s hand. Now, that vengeance that Blade has always been looking for will finally be his.

This movie stands out — not just for its prog soundtrack (which sounds a lot like the music in Keoma) by Guido & Maurizio De Angelis (Oliver Onions!) — but for the foggy ending and the sheer weirdness of the proceedings. It doesn’t feel like any other Italian Western you’ve seen and credit is due to Martino.

Someday when we can travel, I want to drink at Saloon Brew in Brazil. They feature a different Italian Western star on every one of their bottles. A good cold Mannaja would be perfect right now.

Speaking of that theme song, let me share the lyrics with you: “You’re alone. A solitary man. And when the sun goes down, your memories back around with you and your heart is breaking down. This here was your father’s land. Nothing bad, you can’t pretend. You love justice and you love peace. When the time will come to kill, to destroy who loves to kill and your hand will stop the axe and your conscience will be satisfied. Yes. You’re a good man, no one will put you down. Your feel is right, down worry man. Keep going, you know the way. That’s the right way. Keep going. You’re alone. A solitary man.”

I loved every single second of this. If only all movies could make me this happy. Also, this has more fog than The Fog but less than Conquest, because no more can ever have that much fog.

You can watch this on Tubi.

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