The Long Day of the Massacre Review

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Dir: Alberto Cardone - Cast: Peter Martell, Glenn Saxson, Manuel Serrano, Luisa Baratto, Daniela Giordano, Franco Fantasia, Gaetano Imbrò, Ugo Adinolfi, Andrea Fantasia - Music: Michele Lacerenza

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Loyal fans of the genre know most things in spaghetti land are long: the days of vengeance are long, the days of hate are long (some say even the very best genre examples are overlong), so it’s no surprise that the day of the massacre is a long one too. The premise is quite nice: Peter Martell, in one of his rare leading roles, is Joe Williams, the kind of lawman who shoots first and asks questions later. The prison is empty, but the churchyard is filling up nicely. The local judge is not amused, telling Joe that even hardened killers have the right to a fair trial. The Mexican bandit Pedro la Muerte, who is terrorizing the surroundings with his gang, isn’t amused either. All his attempts to kill Joe have failed, but when a young couple is brutally murdered, Paquita, Pedro's sassy (and sexy) girlfriend, uses a trick to put the blame on Joe, who now becomes a wanted man. With Joe driven out of town, the Mexicans rob the bank, but Joe had read their minds: he kills two gang members, and steels the loot ...

Within a genre dominated by ice cold gunmen, a film concerned with suspect’s rights isn't a bad idea. When Martell faces the new sheriff, his former deputy and friend Evans (Saxson), he finally realizes how important those rights are: without them, it would have been perfectly legal for Evans to shoot him in cold blood. But that’s a sparse intelligent moment in a film that is rather negligent in regard to some promising story elements: it is, for example, briefly suggested that the sassy (and sexy) Paquita has a soft spot for Joe, so when he’s captured by the gang (after he has hidden the loot) you think this trump card will be used to spice things up a little, but no, Paquita seems to have forgotten all about her crush. Joe isn’t even properly tortured! Instead we get two reasonably well executed, but rather pointless fistfights between him and Pedro la Muerte. And then there's also a series of scenes with riders first riding from left to right, then riding from right to left, as if they are desperately looking for themselves. Most of these scenes are set at night, so you never know …

This doesn’t mean that Il Lungo Giorno del Massacro is a bad spaghetti western per se; it’s not up there with the Sergios, but it’s not down there with the Crea crap either. Martell and Saxson are good genre actors, even if Saxson’s part is essentially a cameo, and Martell’s character is a bit ill-defined: he is presented as a man who kills without remorse, but also as a love-lorn teenager, in the film's schmaltzy romantic subplot. In the end it’s no surprise that Serrano steals the show as the rumbustious Pedro la Muerte; he’s a bit of a silly type, but it’s a likable kind of silliness.

Il Lungo Giorno del Massacro is a pretty modest affair, but has at least two redeeming qualities: the massacre from the title, and beautiful senoritas. Ladies first: Baratto, Martell’s love interest, is a lovely redhead, Ida Galli style. Giordano, miss Italy ’67, makes her second spaghetti western appearance after Find a Place to Die, and once again she burns up the screen in every scene she’s in. And then there’s a lady whose name I don’t know: she walks down the stairs in a mini-skirt (or mini shirt) after her husband is shot … and the rest is history. The massacre from the title is a remarkably effective sequence, quite unique within the genre in the sense that we don’t witness it for most part. When Martell is confronted with Saxson, and learns about the importance of suspect’s rights, we hear the shooting in the background, and it’s only after Martell has redeemed himself by saving Saxson’s life that the camera switches to the battlefield and shows us the result of the slaughter.

--By Scherpschutter - Many Thanks to hipcamp

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