Death Rides a Horse (1967)–Spaghetti Western Wonderfulness
In the 1960s there was an explosion of Westerns made in Italy by Italian film makers. These were dubbed “Spaghetti Westerns” and are/were the Western equivalent of Grindhouse films, and while most of these movies were pretty damned bad, occasionally one would actually turn out to be a good movie – 1967’s Death Rides a Horse is one of those good ones.
Starring John Phillip Law as Bill Meceita, a man seeking revenge on the bandits that he witnessed killing his family when he was a young. The only evidence he was able to gather, as a boy. was a single, unique spur that one of the murdering bastards left behind. Years later a recently released convict, Ryan, played the always great, flinty eyed Lee Van Cleef, kills two men in self defense that were sent to kill him. The Sherriff noticed that one of the dead men was wearing spurs that exactly match the one that had been left at the scene on the Meceita family massacre so many years before. The sheriff informs Bill, and tells him the name of the stranger, Ryan thinking that perhaps Ryan can help lead him to the men who killed his family.
When Bill catches up to Ryan, he finds him sympathetic but not willing to help, as he has a large amount of money owed to him by the same bastards that killed Ryan’s family, and if Bill kills them, Ryan can’t collect. Leaving Bill temporarily stranded (in order to gain a head start), but not defenseless. Of course this only works for a bit as Bill is extremely motivated to get these guys. Ryan is looking at collecting $15,000 from each member of this gang, as he spent 15 years in prison for something they ALL took part in. Bill, killing these guys, makes it harder and harder to collect. Add to this a sub plot where one of these banditos is now a town official, promising to improve the lives of the town folks, but actually planning on taking off with all the town’s money, in a faked heist, and making it look like Ryan is part of it. Bill comes to Ryan’s aid, and for the rest of the movie they work together as a team. An interesting twist near the end makes the relationship between Bill and Ryan even more twisted. Add in some great shootouts and you have this film.
This is a long movie, and the conversion from film to digital (at least the version I have), is very crapilly done. There are bit where you can tell a few seconds of film are just missing. It’s dirty and very low resolution. Some of the actors voices are very obviously dubbed (hey, most of them were bit part Italian actors working for very little money) and not particularly great thespians. Even so, this movie oozes cool, especially with an awesome soundtrack from the amazing Ennio Morricone I absolutely enjoyed every second of this film and most likely will go on a minor Spaghetti Western binge.
And… we’re in luck folks: Not only is this movie available for really cheap on almost countless cheap bin DVD compilations, it’s also available for streaming for free (for now at least).
Check out the trailer below and the entire move below that (please let me know if the link is broken):
Death Rides a Horse (1967) – Trailer
Death Rides a Horse (1967) – The Entire Movie