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Death Played the Flute Review

From The Spaghetti Western Database

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  • Elo Pannacciò


  • Michael Forest
  • Steven Tedd (Giuseppe Cardillo)
  • Remo Capitani
  • Franco Borelli
  • Susanna Levi
  • Giovanni Petti
  • Anna Bacchi
  • Benito Pacifico


  • Daniele Patucchi

If you think the English title is intriguing, what to say about the Italian one, which translates as She killed him like a Dog … but he was still smiling. The ‘Death’ from the English title is a Mr. Death, a black-clad gunslinger called Kimble, a former cattle rustler who fell out with his partners in crime because they had turned into a gang of murderers and rapists. The title is a reference to his musical instrument, the flute: like Harmonica, he plays when he’s supposed to talk. Explaining the Italian title would be too much of a spoiler. It will be clear after you’ve watched the movie.

Kimble, who has become a bounty hunter after he has left the gang, runs into a farmer called Burton, whose ranch was raided while he was away from home. Burton’s father and wife were killed and his daughter Suzy was viciously raped; she survived the massacre, but now lives in a semi-catatonic state. Kimble tells Burton he might be able to identify the murderers and is therefore hired by the farmer to accompany him on his quest. The murderers were of course Kimble’s former gang members, and he actually witnessed what happened that night …

The premise of a man looking for the murderers of his family, who is joined by a former gang member who was present on the scene of the crime, is of course lifted from Death Rides a Horse. However, the master-pupil element, essential to Petroni’s movie, is not used here, and the end has been changed drastically. With his leather coat and side-whiskers in the style of Mungo Jerry, our Mr. Death looks very much like a hippie lost in the West. Most probably he was dressed (and made up) to look like Elvis, who was still good-looking around this time, and sporting similar side-whiskers. Anyway, his anachronistic appearance contributes to the outlandish atmosphere of the movie. It’s bizarre, violent, perverted – but hey, before you start looking for a copy, you’d better realize that it’s also sloppy and incoherent, even ramshackle. Understandably it has divided fans of the genre.

It’s the only spaghetti western by Elo Pannacciò, who would later turn to porno. The brutal opening sequence looks very choppy, probably for censorship reasons, and some think Pannacciò used the cut footage for his 1979 production Porno Erotico Western. Some scenes and faces don’t seem to belong in the movie. The landscape and some the locations look so unusual, so unreal, that I often had the feeling that I was watching a home movie. The film might be of interest to those who prefer their spaghetti westerns dirty and violent, and most of us seem to prefer them that way. I didn’t hate it, but in the end it was a bit too trashy and incoherent to my liking. However, there are a few good things in it. I liked the sinister atmosphere and this deadly whistler is an interesting spaghetti western character, enigmatic, disturbing, a sort of musical half brother of Jodorowsky’s El Topo.

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Porno Erotico Western

One of those movies many people have heard of, but nobody has ever seen. If it exists, it’s extremely rare. It’s mentioned by both Marco Giusti and Jean-François Giré, but neither of the two has seen it. The main source of information is Thomas Weisser, which says a lot (if not all). It’s also Weisser who suggested that Pannacciò used ‘hard footage’ removed from (or never used for) Death Played the Flute for this porno western. Remo Capitani, who’s mentioned as one of the actors, told Marco Giusti that he had never heard of it and had only worked for Pannociò on the first movie. Another actor who’s supposed to appear in it, is Gordon Mitchell, oddly enough under his real name, Charles Pendleton. He told Tom Betts and William Connelly he was not in the movie and (like Capitani) had never heard of it (1). On a German forum a clip with Mitchell wearing a (sort of) cowboy hat has popped up, that might have been inserted in a porno movie. The clip is a bit naughty, but no porn, not even soft porn (2).


--By Scherpschutter