Sunday, March 21, 2010

(Fun With) Fulci: The Four of the Apocalypse...

Let's close out this look at Lucio Fulci's work with one of his genre films that is not really talked about that much: a Western.  Given the fame of his horror work, it is no surprise that his Westerns- which include this film and Massacre Time- get almost no attention.  Horror fans are usually not also fans of the Western, even when the two films meet a la Billy the Kid vs. Dracula.  That's maybe not the best example, but you get my drift.  So, what do you need to know here? Well, the film is based on two Western stories by Bret Harte (not the master of the Sharpshooter).  Of course, since Fulci is on board, the gore is higher than anything in the stories.  Well, let's saddle up for...
The film begins with a bit of narration setting up the events to come.  Is it a good sign when the filmmaker decides to have an unseen voice tell you what could easily be shown?  Our main hero is a card shark who has arrived in a Utah town that he frequently does 'business' in.  This time, however, the Sheriff is doing things differently.  He- along with a cabal of people- decide to kill off all of the people that deem 'unfit.'  The rest- including our hero, a prostitute, a crazy black slave and a drunkard- our put in jail for the crime of...being in town.  That night, a bunch of masked men shoot up the town and kill many.  Quick question, movie: if you guys are killing everyone except yourselves, why did you wear masks?  Meanwhile, the Sheriff sits in the Jail House eating and ignoring his four prisoners.  The next day, he sends them out of town on a wagon.  From hereon out, the film is as follows...

* They run across a group of missionaries, but move on.
* They try to bond in all of the cliched ways (sharing a laugh, etc).  Oh and the drunk guy downs a whole bottle of after shave too!  Ha ha, it's funny because it's painful!
* Desperate for food, the group finds a Jack Sparrow-looking Mexican who agrees to help them.  His first act: shooting every animal in sight.  Sorry, PETA.
 * When a group of his rivals show up, he kills all but one of them.  The last guy: he gets horrifically-tortured before being killed.
* Eventually, 'Jack' turns on them.  He rapes the pregnant prostitute while the others watch & belittles the drunk.  When the man finally stands up to 'Jack,' he gets a bullet in the leg.
* This forces our heroes to drag him in a gurney across the desert.  They narrowly avoid 'Jack' later, who apparently doubled-back to get them...despite leaving them to die earlier.
* They find the missionaries dead in the field.  Ah, pathos- what would I do without you?
* They get to a ghost town, but the drunk dies from his wounds.  A bit later, the crazy black guy brings in meat from game he shot....which turns out to be from the dead guy's ass.  Eww.
* After our heroes ditch the crazy guy, they get to a real town, where the woman finally gives birth.  Sadly, she dies.  On the plus side, we get a scene that would later show up in.
* This drives our hero to rage and to abandon the kid in town.  He tracks down 'Jack' and kills all of his men, wounding him as well.  He mocks the guy by shaving casually in front of him, before finally killing the man.
* With everyone dead or missing, our hero wanders off into the desert.  The End.
This movie is not all that bad, but there are some issues.  The set-up is unique and the characters are pretty fleshed-out.  However, pacing is a bit off and it moves slow in some places.  The musical score is interesting, even if it is a bit redundant.  I get that it's part of a theme, but it still bugged me.  In addition, major events pop up all of a sudden and feel rushed...followed by some meandering scenes.  If you are a casual Fulci fan, you will not see his influence here all the much, since this was made in 1975- before his big horror phase began.  You do get some crazy gunshot gore in the beginning though, if that's enough for you.  Of course, bear in mind that your opinion of this will be heavily swayed by your opinion about the entire Western genre.  No matter how you feel though, this is still 1,000x better than Gerry.
Up next, a week of Larry Cohen films.  First on my agenda, a film about random murders, a pimp and theology.  Plus, look for a cameo by- of all people- Andy Kauffman.  Stay tuned...

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