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Chaco review

From The Spaghetti Western Database

Review of Chaco aka "Bastard, Go and Kill" by Mike Hauss.

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I like my Spaghetti Westerns heavy on the gunplay and loaded with macho posturing. So, after reading the blurb on the back of the recent Wild East Productions release for this film, written by Spaghetti Western expert Tom Betts that makes note of the lack of gunplay, I was not expecting much from this film to be truthful. Within the first five minutes or so we are subjected to attempted vigilante style hanging of the poor half-American- half Mexican Chaco (George Eastman aka Luigi Montefiori) character by a family of Irish brothers who insist that Chaco had raped their poor sister. The noose is placed around the pleading, innocent Chaco's neck and the horse's backside is slapped to send it running, suddenly a gunshot rings out and shoots the rope in two and the horse races off with Chaco very much alive, the shooter being the supposed rape subject, a white woman. Chaco escapes across the Mexican border but is captured by a bounty hunter called Gringo (Lincoln Tate) who aims to return him to the United States to stand trial for the rape charge and collect a $500 bounty in doing so. The film did not engage me until the introduction of the Lincoln Tate Gringo character, the dynamic pairing of Tate and Eastman gives the film the momentum it needed to propel it forward. As the pair start their journey back to the U.S. and set camp that evening, Chaco tells the Gringo he is innocent and can't help that the ladies love him, it's been a curse through the years that started with his grandpa who was affectionately called "Pretty Billy" by the ladies. Chaco who has a habit of playing a harmonica as he rides about, actually has a knife inside it and uses it to get the edge on the Gringo and takes his horses, guns, hat, jacket and boots and leaves him to fend for himself, Chaco slowly meanders until he arrives in a village where everyone knows and loves him, especially one lady named Asuncion (Scilla Gabel) who besides sporting a nasty mean streak wants Chaco to marry her, and do so soon as she's becoming a spinster waiting on him. A sub plot revolves around an evil land baron named Don Phillipe (Furio Meniconi) who is acquiring land through violence and intimidation, one of the men on his payroll Sanchez (Franco Lantieri) devices a plan to kill a father and son farmer who has borrowed a large sum of money from a local peddler to drive some cattle to market, their land is a value to Phillipe because of its water supply. Sanchez waits for the father and son and then shoots them in the back, unwittingly Chaco rides up to the scene and is knocked out cold and the rifle used planted on him. The law in the village locks Chaco up, the whole village knows that although a cheat, liar, and thief, Chaco's no killer. Don Phillipe and Sanchez converse and decide the best way for the Chaco saga to end is by his being killed, so Sanchez enlists the aid of a bandit named Cherokee (Jose Manual Martin) and some of his gang to storm the jail and kill Chaco. But during a local festival Sargent Hernandez (Remo Capitani) and Corporal Manual (Thomas Rudy) self induce injuries so as Chaco can escape and with him the knowledge that they had accepted bribes from the Gringo and Assuncion, which he threatens to expose during his trial. This cover-up of guilt is done so at a most opportune time, as Cherokee and his men storm the jail, minutes after Chaco had escaped from the unlocked cell door, but his freedom would be momentary, as the Gringo apprehendes him, but when the Gringo sees Cherokee and his gang storm the jail, he knows that Chaco was to be killed by Cherokee and his men, thus he realizes that Chaco may not be guilty of the murders after all, besides Cherokee is worth bounty wise a lot more than Chaco and the Gringo offers him his freedom, if he helps him defeat the gang and take Cherokee alive, and possibly an alibi for Chaco, the Gringo with his guns and Chaco with his hands set out to defeat the gang. Gringo recognizes Sanchez from a wanted poster as the cold blooded killer Manolo Cortez, who has a $ 13,000 bounty on his head that Gringo aims to collect. All the issues are resolved at the end, but a small twist awaits Chaco.

The cast is littered with fine character actors including the great Furio Meniconi as Don Phillipe (1924-1981) whose credits include DAVID AND GOLIATH (1960, Italy), KILL THE WICKED (1967, Italy, Spain), DUCK YOU SUCKER (1971, Italy, Spain, USA) and DEEP RED (1975, Italy). Scilla Gabel, a popular Italian actress played the spinster Assnucion, she was born in 1938 and has 62 credits on her resume, she is best known for her films QUEEN OF THE PIRATES (1960, Italy, Germany), MILL OF THE STONE WOMEN (1960, Italy, France), SODOM AND GOMORRAH (1962, Italy, France, USA ) and MODESTY BLAISE (1966, UK). Thomas Rudy plays Corporal Manual in the film but is probably best remembered for a film he appeared in but was uncredited in, that film is the comedic-spaghetti classic THEY CALL ME TRINITY (1970, Italy) where his face is prominently displayed on some posters with a gun shoved in his nose, Rudy also appeared in the great gothic-spaghetti western DJANGO THE BASTARD (1969, Italy) and the underrated Yul Brenner spaghetti ADIOS SABATA (1970, Italy, Spain). Jose Manual Martin 1924- ) has 114 credits to his name, appearing many times as an antagonist, his list of films include the Giuliano Gemma classic PISTOL FOR RINGO (1965, Italy, Spain), the in need of critical reappraisal FIVE GIANTS FROM TEXAS (1965, Italy), the political-spaghetti BULLET FOR THE GENERAL (1966, Italy) and GOD FORGIVES ... I DON'T (1967, Italy, Spain). Franco Lantieri , who had an uncanny resemblance to Franco Nero, played a terrific villain in this film and is best remembered for his turns in the films WAR OF THE PLANETS (1966, Italy), which starred a young Franco Nero, the Mark Damon oater JOHNNY YUMA (1966, Italy) and the great Robert Woods spaghetti western JOHNNY COLT aka STARBLACK (1968, Italy, W.Germany).

The team of George Eastman and Lincoln Tate make for a nice contrast between a seasoned bounty killer whose life revolves around the pursuit and capture of criminals, who is a cold callous character who thinks of only the bounties on men's heads, as opposed to Chaco who is a carefree individual who loves the ladies, as they do him, does not carry a gun and would rather avoid conflict and work, and any kind of marital obligation. George Eastman has had a long exploitation career, Eastman is best known for his work in the Italian horror genre where he appeared as an island cannibal in the bloody GRIM REAPER (1980, Italy) and its follow-up ABSURD (1981, Italy), Eastman also appeared in a number of spaghetti westerns also including DJANGO KILLS SOFTLY (1967, Italy, France), DJANGO PREPARE A COFFIN (1968, Italy), BOOT HILL (1969, Italy) and UNHOLY FOUR (1970, Italy). Lincoln Tate (1934-2001) in my book arrived too late in the spaghetti western cycle to fully reach his potential in them. This film marks Tate's spaghetti western debut and he had the looks, posturing and acting ability to have been a star of these films but by 1971 the genre was slowly collapsing, Tate also appeared in the spaghetti Westerns HERO CALLED ALLEGRIA (1971, Italy), ACQUASANTA JOE (1971, Italy) and RETURN OF HALLELUJAH (1972, Italy). Tate had an uncredited role in the Demofilo Fidani film HIS NAME WAS SAM WALBASH, BUT THEY CALL HIM AMEN (1972, Italy) and his last spaghetti western role was in the Garko-less Holy Ghost film SPIRITO SANTO E LE CINQUE MAGNIFICHE CANAGLIE (1972, Italy).

The director of this film Luigi Mangini (1924-1991) has 14 writing credits and five directorial credits, this is his only spaghetti western credit as a director, but he does have a co-screenwriting credit on the spaghetti LONG DAYS OF HATE (1968, Italy). The screenwriter on this film Sergio Garrone wrote and directed the classic DJANGO THE BASTARD (1969, Italy), he also directed IF YOU LIVE ... SHOOT (1968, Italy), THREE CROSSES NOT TO DIE (1968, Italy) and the nihilistic violent VENDETTA AT DAWN (1971, Italy). The score was by the prolific Carlo Rustichelli (1914-2004) and was more of a Mexican tinged score that stayed clear of the guitar driven, macho scores that many associate with these films, Rustichelli has 270 credits, including BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (1964, Italy, France, Monaco), LONG HAIR OF DEATH (1964, Italy), KILL BABY KILL (1966, Italy) and BOOT HILL (1969, Italy).

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While it does take a bit of doing, but if you can get over the fact that George Eastman is a half-Mexican, half American and has a halting Mexican accent, then this film is a rewarding experience, while it's not a classic, it's an engaging enough time filler for the spaghetti junkie. The film does have its issues that include double crosses that become repetitive, limited gun play until the end, some very slow moments, and some characters who needed to be fleshed out including the American named Burt who came to work for Don Phillipe as he attempted to take over the land and farm of the disposed father and son, a very underdeveloped character and a useless character at that. The director at times tended to let scenes play out too long and made for some boring, tedious parts, the editing needed to be more focused on the cutting of some scenes, like the celebration in the saloon when Chaco has returned and the festival at the end which is bit laborious to sit through. The cast is uniformly good and the two leads in Eastman and Tate play off each other well as opponents, and create a nice team at the end to exonerate Chaco. The film would probably look back to the film's THE BIG GUN DOWN (1966, Italy), RUN, MAN RUN (1968, Italy, Spain) as its models, the fun loving Mexican who is wrongly accused and it takes an Americano to help free him from prosecution. The film while having an Italian star in George Eastman has no bankable or known American actor in the film, which would point to this film as being produced for the Italian and some third world markets, Tom Betts had this to say about the film's possible distribution "Yes these films were made for distribution in third world countries and Eastern Europe, Latin America was just starting to shrug off the oppression they felt from the British, America, and the U.S.S.R., Robert Woods told me his Pecos character was almost worshiped as a hero in African countries. They were also shown in the smaller theaters in Italy's small towns where the political content the producer, distributor, writers wanted to get over to the public by disguising it as a western."

The film thoroughly surprised me and was all in all a very enjoyable film presentation. This Wild East presentation is included along with THE WILD AND THE DIRTY (1968, Italy) on a twofer disc. The [Bastardo, vamos a matar|[Chaco]] film is an anamorphic widescreen presentation and includes a picture gallery and an alternative credits sequence. The only issues with the film presented here is that in a few scenes the blacks look a bit chalky, but that does not take anything away from this overall beautiful presentation. The soundtrack sounds great with a few small audio hisses but all in all fantastic. The fact that this hard to find film is available in a region 0 release is enough incentive to purchase, add on the beautiful presentation, and the equally beautiful presentation of THE WILD AND THE DIRTY, and you have a real winner here. This combo of films ranks right at the top in my book of region one spaghetti western releases in 2015. Thank you Wild East for this grand Spaghetti Western release.

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Article written by Michael Hauss, author of several reviews for Monster magazine, We Belong Dead, Multitude of Movies, Divine Exploitation and blogs that includes Multitude of Movies, Theater of Guts and the SWDb. He has a love of film with particular interest in the Spaghetti Western and Horror genres. Michael lives in the United States where he resides with his daughter and their two cats Rotten Ralph and Fatty boo-boo.
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