Follows the adventures and travels of four petty criminals in 1873 Utah whom include gambler and swindler Stubby Preston, pregnant prostitute Bunny O'Neal, drunkard Clem, and a mental disturbed man, named Bud, who's obsessed with the dead. The quartet travel aimlessly through the Utah Badlands looking for food, water and people to swindle, while they are harassed by a villanous Mexican bandit, named Chaco, whom Stubby vows revenge after the bandito sexually assaults Bunny.
A real surprise from Fulci
I'm a fan of Fulci's work but until now had only ever seen the splatter movies from his mid- to-late career. On the basis of this, I will dig deeper and check out more of his earlier films.
This is a very strange Western, beautifully shot with a bizarre psychedelic score. Performances are good, theatrical and a little overblown (the dubbing never helps), but they fit well within this unusual morality play.
The film is loaded with symbolism, concerned with themes of birth, death and redemption. Fulci was an artful director when he wanted to be, but never concerned himself with linear plots. The story here is easier to follow, but takes an interesting turn towards the end when Stubby and Bunny find the town populated by men. Pacing up to this point was sharp, but here things did drag a little.
There are some well-handled action sequences, a little hard-boiled violence (but leagues away from the incredible sadism of something like 'New York Ripper') and some humorous touches, mainly provided by the character of Clem, the town drunk. The whole thing has an acid-fried feel that's a bit redolent of Jodorowsky.
Worthy of repeated viewings and further study. The conventions of the Western have provided a great canvas for many auteurs - Fulci makes the most of stock characters and visual cues, imbuing them with all the sub-text he wanted to get across.
I'll definitely check out 'Massacre Time' after this. Anyone who's been bored or insulted by the director's later stuff like 'Voices From Beyond' should watch this and see the full breadth of the grumpy old feller's ability.
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