Apocalypse Joe Review
From The Spaghetti Western Database
- Year: 1971
- Director: Leopoldo Savona
- Music: Bruno Nicolai
- Starring: Anthony Steffen, Eduardo Fajardo, Fernando Cerulli
"To be or not to be"
Joe Clifford, an amateur actor returns to his home town to collect what was given to him by his uncle in his will. His gold mine. But he finds another man already occupies the mine. This same man may have been responsible for his uncle's death. Joe decides to get to the bottom of things and fight for what is rightfully his.
The Spaghetti Western genre is very excessive. Many things done on screen in these films are unbeliveable. But this film is one of the later films which took excess to new heights. All in the wake of Trinity and Hallelujah, spaghetti westerns were to get more and more silly and excessive. But although this film does not rely on comedy in the same proportions as They Call Me Hallelujah, it is definitely a 70's spaghetti. Very crazy and outrageous. But it is all in good fun and makes for a great, action oriented spaghetti western.
One of the distinguishing features of this film is the main character. He is quite the character. They make him out as sort of a prima donna teenager who has hopeless dreams of becoming a famous actor. Although he is not a teen, he has the same ambitions. To become a famous Shakespearian actor. But with a strange ability with a gun that few actors would ever possess. Killing members of the audience too.
Another great feature of this film is the great set pieces. Many which take place within a gunfight. Many of which are the gunfight. Because this film is seemingly nonstop action, it is allowed to take liberties with the laws of science. Similar to Massacre Time. One set piece here has Steffen dressed up as an elderly priest with monk's robes. He travels to defend a poor old lady with the word of god but pretty soon, he whips out his trusty sidearm and mows down the minions of the devil. The intro is also a great set piece. With the first line of dialogue being heard at the top of this page in italics. There are several other short set pieces that can be seen in the action scenes.
The action scenes on a whole are very good. Well, they have to be good since the main aspect of this movie is shooting. Many people seem to find the nonstop action tiring. I respectfully disagree. They are fast, suspenseful (well, not really), and well handled. Many of these shooting matches take place with Steffen in a costume for extra effect. It may surprise the audience and certainly surprises the villains. This makes it great to watch. And as I mentioned, the shooting towards the end defy the laws of science. Steffen pushes over a cord of wood which breaks a weak board sending the henchman up into the air only to be blasted down by Steffen and his gun. Steffen also shoots while hanging from a balcony, though a prop skull, and from just about any other place and way you could think of. The finale of this film is the longest spaghetti western gunfight I can remember seeing. It runs some 30 minutes in length! A great finale which includes Steffen in a dress!? Yes, if you watch this film, you will definitely see some crazy stuff.
This is all attributed to Leopoldo Savona's great action first, directorial style. I haven't seen his other films so I am only referring to his style for this film only. He adds many great touches. Wonderful gunfights and gives Steffen a chance to play a more animated character. It surely is a joy watching Steffen clown around dressed up like an old man. Talking in a dried out voice and limping in imitation of the elderly. Great directing with great performances which I am about to discuss...
...Right now. Steffen is not that wooden here. Far more animated and silly. Though still in his Eastwood form, he adds a bit of 70's Spaghetti Western character to his performance. Eduardo Fajardo is great as the villain. Reminds me of a snake because that is basically what his character is. Great villainous performance by the genre's top villain.
The music is very good. Nothing out of the ordinary and many say the music is better than the film. Bruno Nicolai has shown that he has a clear understanding as to how a Spaghetti soundtrack is supposed to sound. He uses a lot of his trademark electric guitar and orchestra for back up. He uses flutes too. This score was reused in the Spaghetti Western themed video game, Red Dead Revolver.
A pure Spaghetti Western with no real surprises but still very cool, with great acting and shooting. Honestly, who here can seriously deny seeing Steffen in a dress while quoting Shakespeare. Noone! That's the answer. If the action begins to bore you, at least hang on for the dress. Well, that's about it. I've got an appointment with a fella named Shakespeare. Apocalypse Joe.