Shoot the Living and Pray for the Dead (1971)

This movie has so many titles — Pray to Kill and Return Alive, To Kill a Jackal and Renegade Gun — but I went with the one closest to the original Italian title (Prega il Morto e Ammazza il Vivo).

It’s directed by Giuseppe Vari, who brings something artistic to every movie beyond just straight exploitation. As Joseph Warren, he made the giallo Who Killed the Prosecutor and Why? He also a very early zombie movie, 1963’s peblum War of the Zombies, as well as Urban Warriors and Sister Emanuelle, in which Laura “Black Emanuelle” Gemser renounces her sexual sins and becomes a nun until a spoiled rich girl (Mónica Zanchi) reawakens her lust just in time for an escaped murderer (Gabriele Tinti, husband to Gemser) to hide out amongst the nuns. Whew!

Dan Hogan (Klaus Kinski) and his gang have made off with $10,000 from a stagecoach and are due to meet at a saloon on the Mexican border. As the men wait for his girlfriend to bring their money to them, they encounter John Webb, who has killed the man who was to be their guide to Mexico. He asks for half the money to take them, but in truth, he’s wanted to pay back Hogan for years.

Writer Adriano Bolzoni (A Fistful of DollarsMinnesota ClayThe Mercenary, Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key) infused this movie with a film noir edge, with Kinski’s character making his first appearance is similar to Edward G. Robinson’s first appearance in Key Largo.

Seeing as how this is number sixteen on Quentin Tarantino’s top twenty Italian Westerns of all-time list, it’s not a stretch to say that this movie directly inspired The Hateful Eight.

You can watch this on YouTube.

Don’t forget! We did a Klaus Kinski spaghetti westerns blowout for a “Drive-In Friday” featurette that runs down the mad German’s entire shoot ’em up resume. Join us, won’t you? We give full reviews — with a different insight to Shoot the Living — and new reviews to The Ruthless Four and Twice a Judas.

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