BRUNO MATTEI WEEK: White Apache (1986)

What makes the Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso duo so intriguing is that they would often make two movies at the same time.

During the making of Scalps, this film was also being made. This is much like how Violence In a Women’s Prison and Women’s Prison Massacre or The Other Hell and The True Story of the Nun of Monza feature similar casts and storylines but emerge as different films. Fragasso may have directed this entire movie uncredited, depending on who you ask.

A team of outlaws attack a band of settlers and kill everyone except a pregnant woman who dies in childbirth, but not before her child is adopted by a tribe of Native Americans. Given the name Shining Sky (Sebastian Harrison, Sodoma’s Ghost), he is raised by Chief White Bear (Italian western vet José Canalejas) as an equal to his son Black Wolf. Yet during a competition for the affections of Rising Star (Lola Forner, Wheels on Meals), Black Wolf is accidentally killed and our hero is forced to leave his tribe.

Settling amongst the white man, he acts as if he is mute. However, when Isabella (Cinzia de Ponti, so memorably killed on the ferry in The New York Ripper) flirts with him and cries rape when he rebuffs her, he’s run out of town by the henchmen of the governor (Alberto Farnese, who was in Scalps). Left to die in the wilderness, he’s rescued by Crazy Bull (Charles Borromel, The Blade Master) and must recover in time to stop Ryder (Charly Bravo, Panic Beats) from coming back to kill him.

White Apache is based on the true story of Santiago McKinn, an Irish boy who was taken by the Apache tribe and refused to leave them even when they were arrested by government forces. It was written by José María Cunillés (who also wrote Virus for Mattei) and Francesco Prosperi (who directed The Last House on the Beach, Gunan, King of the Barbarians and The Throne of Fire).

I’m at a loss why Mattei decided to make two westerns in 1986. Part of me was thinking he was following the Hollywood mini-revival that started with Silverado. Another thinks that he was excited that Tex and the Lords of the Deep and Django Strikes Again were being released and the cycle of Italian westerns would begin all over again. That said, I really enjoyed both films that came out of this Spanish location shoot and wish that Mattei had made more of these types of movies.

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