EDITOR’S NOTE: We originally reviewed this on August 19, 2020. Seeing as how Arrow Video has included it as part of their Vengeance Trails box set, we’ve updated our review and provided some information about this set. Phil Bailey also reviewed this for on site on August 20, 2020.
Gary Hamilton (Klaus Kinski!) is released from ten years of hard labor with a pardon for a crime he didn’t commit, so he does what any insane character played by Kinski would do. He sets out to kill everyone who ever did him wrong.
This movie comes from director Antonio Margheriti, who we all know from films like War of the Planets, Death Rage and oh yes, there it is, Yor Hunter from the Future.
Kinski wants Acombar, his former friend who set him up, dead. He has to go through the man’s son (Antonio Cantafora, Baron Blood) to do it, as well as Acombar’s wife Maria, who was once his lover. He’s helped by the people of the town who hate his enemy, as well as his knowledge of the Native American burial grounds.
This is less Western than horror film, with Kinski’s character nearly a ghost, continually followed by gusts of winds and tolling bells as he returns to get his bloody vengeance.
Upon seeing this again on the new Arrow blu ray release, it feels like a totally new film. I’d always loved this one — I’ve watched it at least three times in the last year — but this as a revelation. The scene where Kinski explains his hatred to the priest is transcendent: “Day after day, they convinced me that my place was inside. Life outside has no more meaning for me. Now it’s only revenge.”
There’s also the moment when the storm opens up on the town as Kinski opens fire on everyone. Every other man is hesitant, worried as to what happens next. Their enemy has become death itself.
While there are similarities to another Margheriti film Vengeance, this is very nearly a remake of Salvatore Rosso’s A Stranger in Paso Bravo, which was made just a year before. This one, however, is unafraid to let the gruesome side of violence be seen. The original story for both was written by Eduardo Manzanos Brochero, but the screenwriter for this was Giovanni Addessi, who also produced the movie.
There aren’t many horror Italian westerns, but if there were hundreds, this would still be the best (and you can also put Django the Bastard up there, too). Also — the theme song to this movie — “Rocks, Blood and Sand” by Don Powell — is beyond fabulous.
Arrow Video’s Vengeance Trails box set has 2K restorations of this movie, as well as My Name is Pecos, Massacre Time and Bandidos, as well as a collector’s booklet featuring new writing by author and critic Howard Hughes plus a double-sided poster featuring newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx. And God Said to Cain has new commentary by author and critic Howard Hughes, a new documentary featuring a new interview with Fabio Melelli and a new audio interview with actress Marcella Michelangeli, plus a new interview with actor Antonio Cantafora. You can order this from MVD.
It’s also available on the ARROW player. Head over to ARROW to start your 30 day free trial (subscriptions are available for $4.99 monthly or $49.99 yearly). ARROW is available in the US, Canada and the UK on the following Apps/devices: Roku (all Roku sticks, boxes, devices, etc), Apple TV & iOS devices, Android TV and mobile devices , Fire TV (all Amazon Fire TV Sticks, boxes, etc), and on all web browsers at https://www.arrow-player.com.