Sartana in the Valley of Death Review
From The Spaghetti Western Database
Lee Galloway, an infamous outlaw, is hired to break the three Craig brothers out of jail. After he does this, they double cross Galloway and steal all the horses, but Galloway has all the guns. To get to the brothers and exact his revenge, he must cross the Valley of Death.
This film has a terrible reputation. I viewed this one with caution and was not really disappointed at all. It is actually quite different. Refreshingly so. Although it is a rather poorly made film, it is still enjoyable. It was very cheap too. The film was shot somewhere in Italy. To make the vast desert landscape the script calls for, the crew simply made a sandpit as Spain would be too expensive to shoot in. I find the sandpits interesting since you can measure a film's budget by sand.
When reviewing a film such as this, you must start with the flaws. Of which, there are many. To start, the beginning of the film is far too episodic and you can tell that the director is simply taking the easy way out when it comes to character development. It starts with several episodes of our hero getting into shooting scrapes. These are rather unimaginatively filmed. Just a showcasing of the hero's unhuman shooting abilities. There is one scene in particular that needs to be seen to be believed. When Galloway is trapped in the streets of a town by a flock of mounted gunmen, he simply shoots at the ground and it explodes! A very weird scene that crosses into the realm of fantasy. But these beginning scenes are not completely unenjoyable. They are rather fun to watch and the film on a whole doesn't take much brain power to view. This makes for a very easy to watch film along with a somewhat fast pace. The beginning has the main flaws of the film. The rest makes some sense and is very easy to follow. The film has a very unusual plot. It consists mostly of the hero crossing this valley of death. It is disarmingly simple. But what makes it even more interesting is the situation the hero is in. He has all the guns but no horse. The bad guys have all the horses but no guns. This makes for a unique situation. It adds suspense but doesn't pile the odds against the hero. This also is what makes this film unique and somewhat refreshing.
This film has nothing to do with Sartana. It was added to the title to cash in on Gianfranco Parolini's film featuring a very popular character named Sartana. It was intended to trick audiences into thinking this was another Sartana movie.
The acting is subpar. To my knowledge, this was William Berger's only Spaghetti Western role as the main character (1). He seems tired throughout the film and acts as if he doesn't really want to be doing this movie. I myself am a fan of Berger and he is still enjoyable to watch in this. Wayde Preston overacts at some parts of the movie and turns in a largely forgettable role as the chief villain. Aldo Berti overacts too but his truly sinister performance is far more memorable than both Preston's and Berger's.
The directing is not that great. As I pointed out, Mauri's direction gives this film a very cheap and trashy feel. The action scenes are done well. Some of them are very traditional and some others not. With his direction, he never really gives you a feeling as if he was running out of ideas. Actually, only in the beginning do you get that feel. He also wrote the script.
The music has become sort of famous in the spaghetti world. The opening and closing songs are what sounds like a folk rock song and is very catchy but not that great a song. The rest of the soundtrack is rather strange. It sounds like an accordion is playing in some tunes. Very catchy as well.
Not a real recommendation to spaghetti western fans. Poorly made but very entertaining and rather different and interesting. Don't expect much. If you do watch it, do not try and think anything else of it except that it is simply a normal spaghetti western.