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.
1994’s epic movie, Pulp Fiction, is a crazy, head spinning movie that just doesn’t give you a chance to take a breath. Like almost all Tarantino movies, it has a cast that is virtually a who’ who of Hollywood (as of 1994).
Pulp Fiction is a homage to the crazy B-Movies of the 60’s and 70’s, right down to the out of order timeline of events in the film. You’ve got a couple of thugs, or muscle for a Mobster by the name of Marcel, Vincent Vega (John Travolta), and Jules Winfield (Samuel L. Jackson), who among other jobs, are sent to collect a briefcase with…something in it, from some young guys, who apparently believe Marcel is a bitch (watch the movie…). Things go wrong and things get messy.
We also have a sub story about a boxer, Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis), who’s been paid heavily by none other than non-bitch Marcel, to take a dive in his upcoming fight.. yeah, things go wrong, and Butch and his weird and annoying French girlfriend are on the run. Later, Butch and Marcel end up captives to some hillbilly homosexual sadist rapists. Things get crazy again. Release the Gimp. and in another segment, Butch surprises Vincent… with deadly results.
We also have Vincent, charged with keeping Marcel’s wife, Mia (Uma Thurman), entertained while Marcel is away. The two end up at a cool, over the top, 50’s style diner. There’s some talk of a $5 milk shake and a great dance off… and then later, back at Marcel’s and Mia’s things get crazy, Mia ends up almost dead, rushed to Vincent’s heroin dealer’s house with a syringe of adrenalin sticking out of her chest.
Somewhere in the middle, a crazy criminal couple (Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer) decide they want to rob the restaurant where Vincent and Jules are chilling out in. Things get intese this time, with Jules and holding a gun to Roth’s neck and explaining the deal to him…
Damn this movie is cool – awesome and out of sight. Some people (my wonderful wife included), do not like the fact that the story line is not linear, but I think that’s part of what makes the movie as great as it is. Should you watch this film? Yes, many times.
Check out the trailer below:
After a suggestion from my friend that normally watches these movies with suggested we do a Tarantino week…
Well, we are doing just that.
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
So, you see there was this little TV series back in the late 1960s called Star Trek, and it’s male lead was played by a cool, dashing, hip and awesomely hammy actor by the name of William Shatner. While Star Trek did okay in the ratings there was a cult following around the show and it’s cast. Well, White Comanche stars William Shatner, and it’s pretty clear this was an attempt to cash in on Shatner’s new found popularity, because other than William Shatner, this doesn’t have much else going for it.
William Shatner plays the roles of twin brothers, Johnny Moon and Notah, twin half breed (their words, not mine) brothers of Comanche/White persuasion. Johnny lives the life of a white guy (who happens to know how to fight and is quick on the draw), and Notah is known as the White Comanche and is an over the top, out of control killer/raider/raper – a total prick of a killer. This causes a lot trouble for Johnny since they are twins, he’s always getting mistaken for Notah and people want to kill Notah (and rightly so)… So people, wanting to kill Notah, unknowingly are trying to kill Johnny – the innocent brother… Okay? Well Johnny is friggin’ tired of this and has laid it out: meet me in 4 days at the town of Rio Honcho – two will enter, only one will survive. When Johnny gets into Rio Honco, of course everybody mistakes him for Notah… and all that stuff Notah did makes everyone want to kill Johnny… wait, I explained all this already. Notah’s evil escapades catch up to Johnny again in the days leading up to that big showdown. Add to the mix the fact that the town is divided into two factions with only a good but under resourced sheriff (played by Joseph Cotten) to keep them both from each other’s neck, which up until now has worked. Add this new Johnny/Notah thing to the mix and the whole situation boils over – and we haven’t even got to the big Johnny/Notah battle. One bad guy shoots the sheriff and then the two factions fight… Eventually Johnny and Notah have it it out, and then there’s peace.
Well, I guarantee that all that sounds better than it really is. Not actually a “Spaghetti Western” as this was a Spanish production, this movie severely lacks a budget and direction. It definitely feels and looks different from your standard Spaghetti Western and weirdly, the copy I have is 4×3 – I find most Spaghetti Westerns are shot in widescreen. On Shatner: I like William Shatner, but his Comanche “war cry” is one of the most pathetic things I have ever heard – he sounds somewhere between a small dog that had a paw stepped on and a deranged bird.
Is this a good movie? Oh, HELL no. Should you watch it? Well, that’s a different matter all together. Honestly, I am glad I watched it just to see such a ridiculous Shatner movie.
I can’t seem to find a trailer, but apparently this movie is now public domain, so here is an entire copy of the movie for you to stream if you are a masochist!
White Comanche (Entire Movie)
Sergio Leone’s 1964 movie, A Fist Full of Dollars, took a little known American TV actor, put him in the roll of a Man With No Name, and propelled him to stardom as well as taking a waning genre, the Western, and with a twist, giving it a new lease on life. That actor? Clint Eastwood.
Joe, or “The Man With No Name, played by the then up and coming Clint Eastwood, arrives the the tiny Mexican town of San Miguel. Quickly proving himself quiet and a loner, and more importantly a really quick draw. Soon he realizes that there are two factions, the Rojo Brothers and the family of the town’s sheriff, John Baxter, both fighting for control of the town. Seeing an opportunity for profit, he works at getting the two sides to fight each other.
Witnessing a massacre of Mexican Soldiers by Rojo’s men, dressed as American Soldiers, Joe takes two of the bodies, planting them at at the local cemetery and sells information to both sides – both groups rush to the cemetery – one side to get information, the other side to silence the information before it gets out. Soon we can add kidnapping and murder to the pile of crimes both sides commit. Joe, or The Man With No Name eventually let’s his own motives shine through…
This movie is actually a retelling of the Japanese classic, Yojimbo by Akira Kurosawa and it is a wonderful, dark film that should be watched and watched often. This is the first of three “Dollars” or “Man With No Name” films to be released. The other two being For a Few Dollars More and the pinnacle of the Spaghetti Western, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. All three are amazing testaments to the genre and deserve their places in the annals of movie history. Watch them soon and watch them often.
Check out the trailer below:
Beyond The Law (1968) – A Coolness Only Lee Van Cleef Could Deliver (Entire Movie at Bottom of Post)
One of countless Spaghetti Westerns that surfaced in the 60’s and early 70’s, you might not even know this one existed – I didn’t, until recently, that is. You see, about a year ago I purchased a DVD set, titled. “Spaghetti Westerns” that is chock full of Western goodness (and badness to be honest). It’s a five disc set that includes 20 movies – Beyond the Law was one of them.
Beyond the Law tells the story of a group of bandits that dupe a mining company of the cash it is having delivered to pay the wages of the miners. Through deception, the actual crooks look like heroes, and are actually asked to help out. The brains of the unit, Billy Joe Cudlip (played by Lee Van Cleef), befriends Ben Novack (played by Antonio Sabato), at first pitying him and then gaining respect for his abilities as the movie goes on. Soon Culdip and his gang is helping protect the mining operation from a gang, controlled by the villain, Burton (played by one time muscle man turned actor, Gordon Mitchell).
Gaining respect, Culdip is asked to become the new Sheriff, kind of ironic…really. He takes the position, much to the chagrin of the members of his small band of thieves, especially when they realize that he might just be taking the job seriously.
As noted at the beginning of this post, this is far from being a perfect film, but Lee Van Cleef raises it up and makes it entertaining. Also, the theme song is simply amazing. If you already like Spaghetti Westerns, then this one will be okay – If you are on the fence about the genre, then maybe leave this one be and try something like a Fist Full of Dollars or God’s Gun.
Here is the trailer:
And, for as long as it lasts, here is a link to the whole movie (let me know if it stops working):
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
Do you like Spaghetti Westerns? Do you like the weird twist and feel that many newer Asian Directors have? If yes, then you’ll love this film.
Obviously a take on the Good, The Bad and the Ugly, this twistedly awesome Korean take on the Spaghetti Western keeps the viewer on the edge of their seats for the 2 hour plus action packed adventure.
The tail of three men and three factions all fighting for or against the freedom of Korea from the ruling Japanese. Great vistas with great cinematography combined with good, quirky acting leaves you with an epic film that kept me engaged from start to finish. Some of the scenes are taken almost directly from the original, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. There were a couple of scenes that almost blew my eyes out of my head, they were just that stunning. I’ve read that it was one of the highest budget movies made in South Korea and I can see why. I highly recommend this film if you are okay with subtitles – don’t bother with overdubs – they always suck.
Watch this move – hell watch it twice!
Here is the trailer: