Dead Men Ride Review

From The Spaghetti Western Database

Dead Men Ride (Anda muchacho, spara!)

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  • Fabio Testi
  • Eduardo Fajardo
  • Massimo Serato
  • Luciano Pigozzi
  • Daniel Martin
  • Charo López
  • Romano Puppo
  • José Calvo


  • Bruno Nicolai


  • Aldo Florio

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Roy Greenford, an escaped convict, finds refuge in the camp of a group of Mexican laborers. After recuperating, he travels to town and soon catches the attention of the local leaders after killing the barber in a seemingly unprovoked attack. Roy soon infiltrates the leader's gang and begins sabotaging the relationships of the leaders and the men. But nobody seems to know who he is or why he is doing this.

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Dead Men Ride is one of, if not the last hurrah of the classic period of the genre. Many hold the film in high esteem for neglecting Comedy during a period where nearly all the successful Spaghettis were Comedies. In fact, the film is quite violent and gritty. Much more serious and engaging than even most Spaghetti Westerns. It is a very straight forward Western. It goes through the motions but goes through each one very skillfully. It doesn't try to be anything different or outlandish. It simply comes off as an often told story filmed with such dramatic power, that it rises above most Fistful of Dollars imitations. A film it heavily bases itself on.

The film has a lot going for it. It often comes off as a sort of best hits package of the genre. Grandiose scores, that pause before action, the tight lipped hero, etc. Because of this, the film has a very thorough Spaghetti feel (highly stylized). But it has qualities that set it apart from the rest. The film is probably best described as a Spaghetti Western Drama. Lots of westerns can be dramas. But this feels Dramatic. Many scenes have a strong emotional impact that isn't seen too often in the genre. A subplot has a woman who has been captured by the leaders, used as a sex slave for them. This isn't just a thrown in detail to spice things up. It becomes a major point of the film. And our hero's quest, though a little too vague, has a sort of emotional message too. It is a very human film. Though the violence is cold, the film isn't.

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On the downside, the film is often very confusing. Many people claim to be dumbfounded while watching the film and trying to figure out the plot. But in a case very similar to Jean Pierre Melville's French Noir classic, Le Doulos, all the motives of the hero and practically the entire plot are revealed only at the end. Until then, we only get teasing details and flashbacks. For many, the film's vague nature is not a problem compared to the highly enjoyable film. For others, it doesn't matter how stylized it is.

Like Sergio Leone said (correct me if I'm wrong), it was hard back then to make a film and not add political allegory. This film is no exception. Its political message is often overlooked but is extremely evident and is not really any big secret. As in many Spaghettis, we have the aristocratic landowner exploiting the poor Mexican Peons. The same set up is used here but seems rather explicit. Elements such as snitches and retribution are also in this political fray. In fact, the set up in this film seems to be quite pro Communist in its delivery. As in this film, the Peons work in mines for money and make their decisions as a group.

The film's dramatic power could not have been achieved without Bruno Nicolai's wonderfully grand score. He uses Piano riffs instead of guitar riffs for the build up scenes. He also uses vocals and orchestra wonderfully. And as usual, Nicolai gives us some of the most stinging Guitar riffs ever heard in the genre.

Fabio Testi does a great job as Roy. Better put, he does a spectacular job at being the Quintessential Spaghetti Western hero. Quick with a gun, tongue, and Rifle; tight with his eyes, lips, and feelings. The beautiful Charo Lopez is more than just a pretty face here. Her performance is often quite good and very believeable. Eduardo Fajardo turns in a Fajardo villain. You know what that means.

Florio directs some very good scenes. Particularly the Cavalry ambush and the ending duel. The rest are all adequate. He doesn't seem too preoccupied with making something too big or different. He tells a simple tale and that's it.

Now that Koch Media has graced this previously obscure film with a DVD release, we can all sit back and watch this genre masterpiece.

--Korano 23:52, 7 February 2010 (UTC)

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