Charge! (1973)

Charge! [Campa carogna… la taglia cresce] (1973)
AKA Those Dirty Dogs, Los cuatro de Fort Apache

Starring Gianni Garko, Stephen Boyd, Howard Ross, Simón Andreu, Harry Baird, Teresa Gimpera, Alfredo Mayo, Helga Liné, Mirella Dogan, Enzo Fiermonte

Directed by Giuseppe Rosati

Expectations: Low. You never know what you’re getting with these.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:

Charge! reminds me of my teenage years watching 6th generation bootleg prints of Hong Kong movies, the only real way to see those movies at the time. Not in any thematic way, instead it’s the “quality” of the print. This print of Charge! is so blasted out that blue skies are now blinding white, and rolling desert hills of brown look like the white-hot center of a nuclear blast. If you can get past some poor quality, though, Charge! is a fun western with loads of exciting action. Its story is meandering and somewhat disjointed, but it always keeps its eye on the prize: pure entertainment.

We begin our story as many westerns do, with a raid on an Army caravan carrying a shitload of rifles, ammunition and explosives. A bunch of Mexican bandits steal the supplies, kidnap the doctor’s daughter and ride off into the desert. The Army doesn’t take too kindly to this so they send out three men and a bounty hunter to take out the bandit leader/rescue the girl/recover the stolen goods. I don’t specifically remember if they were tasked with one of those or all three, and that should give you a good idea both of my interest level in the movie at that point and of the quality of storytelling on display.

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$10,000 Blood Money (1967)

$10,000 Blood Money [10.000 dollari per un massacro] (1967)
AKA Guns of Violence, $10,000 Dollars for a Massacre

Starring Gianni Garko (billed as Gary Hudson), Fidel Gonzáles, Loredana Nusciak, Adriana Ambesi, Pinuccio Ardia, Fernando Sancho, Claudio Camaso, Franco Lantieri

Directed by Romolo Guerrieri

Expectations: Moderate. I had heard this was good, but I am treading lightly.

Finally, I get to review a Django clone film that actually has its own complete identity. This is truly a great spaghetti western and while it doesn’t approach the same caliber as Leone or Corbucci, it’s still on the short list of spaghetti westerns that might be enjoyed by a general audience.

The thing that really sets this film apart from the other Django clones is the characters. The focus is on the relationship between Django, a bounty hunter who has no problems working on both sides of the law, and Manuel, a true criminal who terrorizes those that stand in his way. Both characters have a level of depth that makes them likeable, hateable and just downright interesting all at the same time. At its heart this Western is not an action picture, as a lot of the other Django clones are trying to be. The story is character driven and a lot of its entertainment value comes from the constant back and forth play between Django and Manuel. On top of that are some good gun battles that counterpoint the character drama with some fun action.

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