HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud, The
Spoilers, The
Killer Therapy
Man Upstairs, The
Bloodhound, The
New Mutants, The
Tesla
Flame of New Orleans, The
Ham on Rye
Imperial Blue
Tenet
August 32nd on Earth
Don is Dead, The
Seven Sinners
Body of Water
Away
Soul
About Endlessness
Let It Snow
Ava
Deliver Us from Evil
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
Midnight Sky, The
Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, The
Mon Oncle Antoine
Blast of Silence
Blackout, The
Stars in Your Eyes
Alone
Climate of the Hunter
Farewell Amor
Let's Scare Julie
Okko's Inn
Shaolin vs. Wu Tang
Fatman
Butt Boy
Dog of Flanders, The
Bushido Blade, The
Jiu Jitsu
Blind
   
 
Newest Articles
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
Didn't He Do Well: The Bruce Forsyth Show on DVD
Blood Wedding: The Bride with White Hair on Blu-ray
The Inhuman Element: The Ladykillers on 4K UHD
As You Like It, Baby: Breathless on Blu-ray
Stargazing: Light Entertainment Rarities on DVD
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
Confessions of a Porn Star: Adult Material on DVD
They're Still Not Sure It is a Baby: Eraserhead on Blu-ray
Werewolves are Real: Dog Soldiers on Digital
Rose: A Love Story - Producers April Kelley and Sara Huxley Interview
   
 
  If You Meet Sartana Pray for Your Death A First Class Pallbearer
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, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
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 2905 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 probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
Paul Smith
  Lee Fiveash
   

 

Last Updated: