How have I not seen High Plains Drifter before this? this 1973 Western is a gritty, dark tale. A tale of deceit, of murder and vengeance. Heck, it’s even a ghost story. This is a very unique film, and a very good one at that. A drifter enters a small town, apparently looking for a drink, a shave, a bath and a bed. Once there he is confronted by three guys, Company men, they are called. In defense he kills all three. The local sheriff tells him they were known to be trouble and that he didn’t have to worry about charges. Heck, the sheriff would like to hire him to protect the town from three gun fighters, just released from jail that will most likely be coming back to the town to seek vengeance for their incarceration. The stranger, played by Clint Eastwood, at first declines, but when the sheriff offers him “anything he wants,” he accepts the job, and goes about making big changes to the town. These changes cause some of the town to question the decision to put him in charge of the town’s defense. The stranger is also troubled by dreams, dreams of the town’s Marshal being whipped to death by the men who he is hired to protect the town. While the murder is taking place, the people of the town stand by and do nothing to stop it. Is it a dream? Or are these memories? It seems pretty obvious to me. The stranger gets the town busy making changes. He run drills simulating an attack and has the town folk put up resistance, preparing them for the inevitable attack that is to come. He also orders unusual things to be done, like painting the town red, and having the towns people tear apart a livery barn to build picnic tables an such… The business men of the town are really questioning their initial decision to hire this stranger. So much so that they try to kill him themselves… Yeah, good luck boys. When the attack comes, the towns people’s weak attempts at fighting off the gun men come to little, and eventually (hell, pretty damned quickly), they have the upper hand, and have gathered the remaining towns folk together in the saloon. Well, this isn’t over folks – they still have to deal with the Stranger…
Okay, let’s not give it all away. I will say that this is a creepy, dark Western. It’s also one of the best Westerns I have ever seen. Actually this is just a really good movie, chock full of darkness and hidden meanings. Heck, it’s a Western and a Ghost story, and it does both great. For the first movie of Eastwood Week, I have to say it’s an incredible start. Check out the trailer below, and then immediately go find yourself a copy and watch it today!
There are very few actors with a career as long as Eastwood’s, and for the ones that do, very few can say they made as many good movies as Eastwood has. From the toughest damned cowboy you’ve met to an Orang-utan owning prize fighter to the toughest damned cop you’ve ever seen, Clint has rocked it.
I know the blog is called I Like Bad Movies, but if you’ve read it long enough, you know that the truth is, I just plain like movies. So, don’t go thinking these are bad movies, because they are not – you’ll know when I watch a bad movie, and I don’t think that’s happening this week.
Yep, this is going to be a damned good week.
Suspiria is a 1977 horror movie directed by the Italian master, Dario Argento, and the fist of a trilogy of horror. And it’s weird… and loud.
Suspiria tells the story of America ballet dance student, Suzy Bannion who takes up study at a prestigious dance study in Germany, but quickly discovers that things are not what they may seem. Upon arriving at the school on a ridiculously rainy night, only to see an upset girl fleeing and mumbling something about a secret and a flower – and then to be refused entrance. Next we see a girl die in an artistically weird stabbing… The next day Suzy manages to get to the school, meets Madame Blanc and Miss Tanner, and is shown around the school and introduced to the girls in the locker room. Suzy is told that the room she was to stay in is not ready and that she will stay with another student for the time being. At the school, Suzy has a fainting spell (after a weird encounter with the school’s cook)… later she seems okay…
Alright: All I am doing is describing what happened in the movie – and that is a silly thing to do. It’s al artistic Italian Horror by the master Dario Argento and it is about a Ballet School run by witches…
Argento manages to create a creepy, artistic weird horror flick of sorts that keeps you watching. The strong uses of colour is very jarring as well as is the cacophonous soundtrack which built up so much tension in me that I almost felt nauseous. Seriously, I have never had a soundtrack for a film affect me so… and it was loud. This is a trippy experience of a film and definitely bot for everyone. If you have an open mind (and not overly sensitive ears) , then this will be a memorable watch. Will you like it? Many won’t – I did, but with reservations. You check it out and tell me what you think. Here’s the trailer:
Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy (A Fist Full of Dollars(1964),For a Few Dollars More (1965), The Good the Bad and the Ugly (1966))
Sergio Leone is/was the King of Spaghetti Westerns, and with The Man With No Name Trilogy (A Fist Full of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly), he might just deserve the title of King of All Westerns, in general.
This is the series of films that took a small time, little known TV actor by the name of Clint Eastwood and made him a house hold name. In each movie he seems to go by a different name (Monco, Blondie and Joe), but is best known as the Man With No Name, a bounty hunter that proves that the good guy in a movie doesn’t always really have to be that good of a guy – an anti-hero, I guess. Two of the movies (For a Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly), costar Lee Van Cleef, the flint eyed leathery veteran of countless Spaghetti Westerns before and after this series. All three movies are scored with the incredible music of Ennio Morricone.
Visually stunning in their bleakness, Sergio paints a picture of a ruthless West filled with bandits and regular people, Rich man and poor men. And one thing in common for everyone is that they are trying to make a living in the west. Eastwood, in each of the films plays a cigar smoking, tall, quiet, solitary character who is quick and accurate on the draw, and if you have a bounty on your head, you’d be best to steer away from him.
Each of these movies stands alone – that is, you don’t have to watch one to follow the other, and I guess they’re not really sequels, but bound together in spirit. They are not just good Spaghetti Westerns, not just good Westerns, but actually great movies in their own right. While (re) watching The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, I was stunned by just how complex a movie it really is. Not only is it a kick ass western, but it even tries to come to grips with the horror that was the American Civil War. There is a strangely poignant scene where Blondie is walking through the area where a battle between the Union and the Confederates had just happened – coming upon a dying soldier, shivering, Blondie wraps his coat around him and gives the man a draw from his cigar, just before the soldier dies – This didn’t have to be in the movie, but it’s little things like this that elevates these movies above the rest.
So, don’t watch these movies if you’re looking for a light, fluffy watching experience – Watch these movies if you want to see great movies with great actors in great roles. I’m of the opinion that even if you don’t like Westerns, if you watch these film with an open mind, you would still like them.
Watch these movies and watch them often.
A Fistful of Dollars Trailer
For a Few Dollars More Trailer
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly Trailer
The other night I watched the classic Lee Van Cleef Spaghetti Western, Death Rides a Horse, which left me a taste for more Spaghetti Westerns, so last night I watched the 1966 classic, Django.
It was a good choice.
Staring the ice blue eyed Franco Nero as Django, a coffin dragging drifter who seeks revenge for the death of his wife at the hands of KKK leader and ex military man, Major Jackson.
The film opens with Django rescuing the attractive, Maria (played by Loredana Nusciak), a prostitute, from Major Jackson’s men who had just killed a group of Mexicans that were in the process of whipping her for trying to escape from them. Jackson’s men were going to burn her alive for going with the Mexicans in the first place.
Soon Django finds himself the target of Major Jackson, though Major Jackson does not know who he is dealing with. A series of confrontations between Django and Jackson’s men leaves Jackson’s forces seriously depleted, as Django turns out to be one bad ass. The depletion of Jackson’s men leaves an opening for a former Mexican General to move in on Jackson’s turf. It is soon revealed that Django and the General are old friends, Django apparently having saved the General’s life while they were both in prison together. Together they hatch a plot to raid a Mexican fort that holds a large amount of gold. The plan being that after the heist Django and the General are to split the gold. When the General delays giving Django his share, Django decides to take it all. Leaving with Maria and the gold, something soon goes wrong and the gold is lost. Soon the General and his band of men catch up to them. Taking into account that Django had saved him in the past, the General spares Django his life, but has one of his men smash his hands into bloody pulp. That should stop him… right? No freakin’ way, as this is Django and he has a mission. Taking Maria back to town, he tells the bar/hotel/brothel keeper to hide her from Major Jackson, and to tell Jackson that he is waiting for him at the cemetery. Since Django’s hands are a mess, he bites off the trigger guard from his pistol and waits for the Major. Once the Major arrives, he starts hurling threats at Django, and shooting at him – teasing him with shots that just graze him. Thinking Django is defenseless, the Major is careless… and that is a deadly mistake. I’m not 100% of what the symbolism means, but with the help of an iron cross (no, not the German military medal) on a tombstone, Django finally extracts his vengeance on the man responsible for the death of his wife.
Wow… This move is a violent festival of death. When it was released in 1966, it was considered possible the most violent film released. Heck, the U.K. didn’t allow it to be released until 1994!
If you like Spaghetti Westerns, then this one is a must watch, right up there with For a Few Dollars more.
Here is the trailer:
And here is a great interview with Franco Nero on the Making of Django:
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
Over the last week or so I’ve come to a conclusion: Stuart Gordon, the Director behind Society, From Beyond, The Re-Animator and MANY more films is just awesome at what he does: making weirdly compelling and original horror movies. Castle Freak is no exception.
Gordon brings together some of his favourite actors, Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton who play John and Susan Riley, a troubled married couple who along with their blind daughter travel to Italy to visit the 12th century castle that John has inherited from a recently deceased Duchess.
The couple plan on selling the estate once a proper inventory of the estates assets is compiled. While completing this task the family plans on staying in the castle.
Almost immediately they hear strange noises. The daughter decides to follow a cat and some sounds and believes she has heard another person in the house. Being blind, she can only describe what she hears… Her mother believes that she is imagining things. The weird noises continue, and the seemingly spontaneous breaking of a large mirror gets John thinking that there might be more going on here than just the normal noises of a very old castle.
Soon we find out why the couple is having troubles, when a flashback shows an incident where John was driving his daughter and son home one night, drunk, and gets into an accident. The accident kills their son and blinds their daughter. Asking his wife if she’ll ever forgive him, she says no, and admits that it’s her plan to make him keep suffering for the incident. Upset and enrages, John heads to town where he gets drunk and pick up an attractive hooker. He takes her back to the castle and they have sex. When he is done he tells her to go. Little does John know that the source of the sounds is actually a horribly disfigured man that had been held in one of the castle’s dungeons, and that he has escaped his captivity (by biting off his thumb in order to escape manacles. This man capture’s the prostitute and sexually mutilates her. John is considered the prime suspect ands is taken into custody by the local police when the body of the prostitute and his maid are found.
John, in the meantime has figured out that the one causing the issues is actually the son of the duchess, who despite being reported as dead, was kept in the dungeon and beaten. No one believes him though. HE tries to convince the police who will have none of that. Eventually escaping and heading back to the castle to save his family, John and the creature fight on the roof with tragic consequences.
There’s quite a twist thrown in somewhere past the middle of the film regarding John’s relationship with the beast and the Duchess that I won’t reveal here. This film feels like a Stuart Gordon film and definitely is getting recommended by me.
Watch this film and check out the trailer below: