HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Rambo: Last Blood
Sansho the Bailiff
Iron Fury
Ride in the Whirlwind
Deathstalker II
Cloak and Dagger
Honeyland
Love Ban, The
Western Stars
League of Gentlemen, The
Higher Power
Shinsengumi
IT Chapter Two
Rich Kids
Arena
Glory Guys, The
Serial Killer's Guide to Life, A
Lovers and Other Strangers
Shiny Shrimps, The
Good Woman is Hard to Find, A
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Doctor at Sea
Spear
Death Cheaters
Wild Rose
Streetwalkin'
Mystify: Michael Hutchence
Devil's Playground, The
Cleanin' Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters
Hustlers
Mega Time Squad
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Souvenir, The
Birds of Passage
Ma
Woman at War
Happy as Lazzaro
Mickey's Christmas Carol
Marriage Story
Santa Claus is a Bastard
   
 
Newest Articles
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
   
 
  If You Meet Sartana Pray for Your Death A First Class PallbearerBuy this film here.
Year: 1968
Director: Gianfranco Parolini
Stars: Gianni Garko, William Berger, Klaus Kinski, Fernando Sancho, Sydney Chaplin, Gianni Rizzo, Andrea Scotti, Franco Pesce, Heidi Fischer, Maria Pia Conte, Sabine Sun, Carlo Tamberlani, Arrigo Peri, Remo Capitani, Sal Borgese
Genre: Western, Action, Weirdo
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: A stranger in black (Gianni Garko) trails a stagecoach across a windswept desert scene, spooking an elderly passenger who remarks: "It's as if a ghost were following us." Her words prove fatal as she and her husband are shot by Morgan (Klaus Kinski), a stone cold killer who also bags the stranger. Meanwhile, a Mexican gang steal a strong-box full of loot from another stage, only to be killed by an American gang including Morgan and his boss, the wily Lasky (William Berger). It's all part of an elaborate insurance scam organized by local bigwigs Jeff Stalwal (Sydney Chaplin) and Al Holman (Gianni Rizzo), except the strong-box turns out to be full of rocks. And the stranger re-emerges, mysteriously alive. When one terrified outlaw asks who the stranger is, he replies: "I am your pallbearer", and guns a dozen men down with his fancy trick-shooting derringer. His name is Sartana.

Croatian born Gianni Garko originally played a villain named Sartana in the hit spaghetti western Blood at Sundown (1967). Producer Aldo Addobbati took a liking to the name Sartana and, having noticed Garko had upstaged the hero of that film, offered him the lead in his next picture. For his part Garko insisted on having script approval, claiming he was tired of all those Italian westerns where the hero is out for revenge. Co-screenwriter Renato Izzo concocted a story wherein a smart, sharp-dressed man of mystery turns a profit by putting himself between two rival groups, while avowed James Bond fan Gianfranco Parolini added the array of fantastical gadgetry that was to become Sartana’s trademark.

The end result was an enormous hit across Europe (though more of a cult movie amongst English speaking audiences), spawning four "official" sequels and, in typical copyright flouting Italian tradition, around a dozen similarly-titled rip-offs. One of these - Sartana Kills Them All (1971) - even starred Gianni Garko himself!

However, the film is more notable for introducing the Sartana character than for being especially innovative or compelling. The supposedly fresh plot created by Izzo, Parolini and co-scriptwriter Werner Hauff in fact steals shamelessly from A Fistful of Dollars (1964) - though you could argue Sergio Leone owed Akira Kurosawa and Yojimbo (1961) for that one, and Kurosawa in turn borrowed a lot from Dashiell Hammett's novel Red Harvest - and For a Few Dollars More (1965), right down to that musical watch that drives Lasky nuts. Leone's dog eat dog ethos is taken to its nth degree with double-cross piled upon double-cross till the plot grows near-incomprehensible. Jeff Stalwal is having illicit affairs with both Al's scheming wife Evelyn (well-played by Heidi Fischer) and the late mayor's widow Jane (Maria Pia Conte), who suffers a baffling off-screen demise. Al in the meantime is fixated on a cheerfully amoral saloon whore (Sabine Sun) and seems to be suffering some unspecified psychological problem. A glowering Mexican general with a ludicrously long name (Fernando Sancho) is thrown into the mix. One minute Sartana and Lasky are enemies, the next they're working together. And who the heck keeps swapping that gold for rocks?

Beneath the slick scope photography and spooky soundtrack by the ever-reliable Piero Piccioni, the film had a shoestring budget with outdoor scenes shot on a dump outside Rome. You can occasionally glimpse the sewage floating along the river. That must have been a fun shoot. The action sequences are well-staged by the underrated Gianfranco Parolini - who kick-started several other Euro franchises including Three Fantastic Supermen (1967) - but all that strutting and staring fails to aid his storytelling.

Klaus Kinski - by this stage a popular character actor in Euro westerns, horror movies and Edgar Wallace crime thrillers, although the credits still spell his name wrong - evidently filmed his scenes over a few days and is awkwardly inserted into the plot. Look closely and you'll notice he never interacts with his co-stars in any scene he's in. There is no reason for Kinski to be here, although he delivers reliably louche, reptilian evil while that other spaghetti regular William Berger smirks his way through another memorably despicable villain. The other notable presence here is that of Sydney Chaplin, son of silver screen legend Charlie Chaplin, whose admittedly less stellar career encompassed such classy highs as The Sicilian Clan (1969) and trashy lows like Satan's Cheerleaders (1977).

Parolini cranks up the horror movie ambience during the finale, hinting Sartana is some kind of spectral avenger, which became the series’ other notable trademark. Stripped of all pretence, it's a simple tale, entertaining but often frustratingly hard to follow. Sartana strides through it all, seemingly bullet-proof, killing dozens at a time, winning at ludicrous high stakes poker and followed by a cackling old undertaker (Franco Pesce), in yet another swipe from Sergio Leone. Gianni Garko is a handsome, athletic leading man and it's easy to see why his character caught on with European audiences. Although rival producer Alberto Grimaldi lured Parolini to craft the equally popular Sabata (1969) and its sequels, Garko stuck with this series over the next three entries, continuing with: I Am Sartana Your Angel of Death (1969).

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 2455 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: