Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday Oaters - Death Rides a Horse (1967)

Hiya, Kiddies! Y'know, if the word "spaghetti", when mentioned in the context of films, makes you think only of lady and the tramp meeting in the middle of a strand of pasta, then today's flick. If, on the other hand, the word "spaghetti" brings to mind images of Clint Eastwood or the star of today's offering, Lee Van Cleef, on a trail of vengeance, six guns blazing, then you're probably right in line with where we are today.

The phrase "spaghetti western" is generally used to describe a sub-genre of westerns that were made in the late 60's and early 70's usually by Italian producers and directors working in conjunction with Spanish partners. The films generally utilized mostly Italian stars, though they would also include one or more Americans in order to raise the box-office appeal of these films in the U.S. Probably the best known of these films are the "Man With No Name" trilogy which starred a young Clint Eastwood - A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. Other prominent examples would be Sergio Corbucci's Django and its sequels, Gianfranco Parolini's Sabato, the Trinity films of Enzo Barboni, and Sergio Leone (who was also behind the Eastwood films above)'s Once Upon a Time in the West and A Fistful of Dynamite.

Death Rides a Horse (Italian title: Da Uomo a Uomo) fits pretty squarely in the middle as a fairly representative example of the genre. As the movie opens, we see bandits break into a house, kill all the men, rape and then kill the women, and leave only one survivor, a young boy named Billy.

Fifteen years later, Billy (now played by John Phillip Law, whom some of you may remeber as Sinbad from the Ray Harryhausen spectacular The Golden Voyage of Sinbad or as the angelic Pygar from Barbarella) has grown to be a man thirsty for vengeance, though he has only one clue to the identities of the men who killed his family - a single silver spur. Fortunately for him, Lee Van Cleef's Ryan has just been released from jail (after, perhaps not so coincidentally, fifteen years) and seems to be on the trail of the same characters that Billy is searching for. When Ryan shoots a couple of intruders in his hotel room, the local sheriff recognizes the spurs the two dead men are wearing and takes them to show to Billy, thus reigniting his quest for vengeance against the men who killed his family. From there on out, He is destined to cross paths with Ryan a number of times, as both men look for revenge.

Dirty, intense, thrilling, blood-soaked - all of these are words that could be used to describe Death Rides a Horse, but I think the most appropriate one is "entertaining". Van Cleef puts in his usual solid performance, Law proves an apt performer as the young man caught in something bigger than himself, and the rest of the performers, well, they fill their roles well enough. It even has music by famed composer Ennio Morricone.

I should also note that it's fairly obvious that Quentin Tarantino obviously had this films as one of his inspirations when he was making Kill Bill, becasue it is referenced quite often, both visually and musically in that film.

So, how about a trailer to get your adrenaline flowing?

And the Skinny:
Title: Death Rides a Horse
Release Date: 1967 (U.S. release 1969)
Running Time: 120min (Italian version) 114min (US version)
Starring: Lee Van Cleef, John Phillip Law
Directed by: Giulio Petroni
Produced by: Henryk Chrosicki and Alfonso Sansone
Distributed by: United Artists

Death Rides a Horse is available to download or watch for free here.
It's also available on DVD from Amazon: Death Rides A Horse .

And it's available for rental from Netflix: Death Rides a Horse

Until next time, Happy Treasure Hunting,
-Professor Damian


Post a Comment

Unless otherwise noted, all movies discussed on this blog and all associated materials are believed to be in the Public Domain. If you are a copyright holder for any of these materials, please email me. Unless otherwise noted, all material created for this blog by Professor Damian is licensed under a Creative Commons license as described below. Creative Commons License
Professor Damian's Public Domain Treasure Chest by Professor Damian is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Powered by Blogger Blogger Templates create by Deluxe Templates. WP by Masterplan