APRIL MOVIE THON 2: Matalo! (1970)

April 30: How the (Not) West Was Won — A Western not made in America.

It would take other film industries decades to equal the sheer volume that the Italian exploitation machine could accomplish. In the four years since Django and five since A Fistful of Dollars and West and Soda, a traditionally animated movie whos escreation predates Leone’s film, hundreds of cowboys thundered out of the European West and several genres emerged, from comedies and zapata westerns to films centered on the tragic hero, horror westerns and this film, which is uncatagorizable but could maybe be an acid horror art deconstruction.

Cesare Canevari only directed nine movies, but wow if he didn’t hit nearly every genre: an early Western (Per un dollaro a Tucson si muore), giallo (A Hyena In the Safe), an early Italian Emmanuelle (A Man for Emmanuelle), Eurospy (Un tango dalla Russia), Ajita Wilson’s first movie (The Nude Princess), late era giallo with plenty of sleaze (Killing of the Flesh) and Naziploitation (the go all the way madness that is  The Gestapo’s Last Orgy).

It starts with a desperado named Bart (Corrado Pani) walking through the town as cocky as possible, despite the fact that he’s headed to the gallows. He even puts his own neck in the noose, knowing that some Mexican bandits are about to save his neck. His walk back out of town is even more audacious, as he’s just stood on the precipice of death and watched the chaos that he has ordered come true. He somehow tops that by killing off the men who saved him before meeting up with his friends Ted (Antonio Salines) and Phil (Luis Dávila) in a ghost town where the movie decides to slow down as they explore an abandoned hotel as electric guitars scream and wind blows through every frame of this film.

They’re joined by Mary (Claudia Gravy, Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold, Tuareg: The Desert Warrior), a snarling force of female nature that finds herself strong enough to be on the side of stagecoach robbing evil. That robbery seems to cost Bart his life and the film switches gears as the gang hides out in the ghost town, abusing an old woman until Ray (Lou Castel) and a younger widow (Mirella Pamphili) arrive and they too are abused by the gang. Luckily, Ray has a horse who seems smarter than him and he’s quite good with a boomerang, which this movie uses for wild POV shots as he whips them at the gunmen.

What’s wild is that a year earlier, Dio non paga il sabato (Kill the Wickeds) was directed by Tanio Boccia and it’s nearly the same movie but shot as if it were a normal film, not the sometimes wandering, other times hyperfocused Matalo!

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