Kill the Wickeds Review

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Kill the Wickeds (See Database Page) was the second spaghetti western of director Tanio Boccia, called the Italian Roger Corman, because of his ability to make movies in no time, with hardly any money. Some of his films are said to be awful, others quite enjoyable, and his fans (he seems to have a small but loyal cult following in Italy and even Sergio Leone has spoken kind words about him) call this his best movie. And yes, it is one of those hidden treasures the spaghetti western genre still has in stock for die hard fans, willing to look for the proverbial needle in the hay-stack. The film was almost completely overlooked when it was first released. Actually, it got so little attention that writer Mino Roli thought it was safe to sell the same story a few years later to producer/director Cesare Canevari, who turned it in one of the most bizarre genre entries of them all: Mátalo! (*1)

The criminal Braddock (Meniconi) is about to be hanged, but he is saved by a gang led by two of his lieutenants, the charming but lethal Randall (Mark) and the sadistic psychopath Laglan (Righi). After Braddock is saved all other gang members are killed, and the threesome plan a stagecoach robbery, with the help of Braddock’s girlfriend Shelley (Maria Silva). During the robbery Randall is wounded but Braddock wants to move on and leave him for dead, because he is afraid that Shelley is attracted to the younger man. Braddock, Laglan and Shelley take shelter in a ghost town, waiting for the right moment to cross the border.


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At this point, influences of horror and erotica start shining through. The Ghost town is not completely deserted: at night a spectral old woman is haunting the place, starting small fires to frighten the visitors. Tensions also rises because the breathtakingly beautiful Shelley, a long-legged, hip-swinging redhead, uses all her charms to drive Laglan crazy. Being a very suspicious man, Braddock hides the loot in a place only known to him. Things get even more complicated when a mysterious drifter and a woman who has lost her husband in an accident ride into town. The two women hate each other from the start (and will have a delicious cat fight), while the man is brutally tortured by Laglan, but finally gets the better of him, thanks to his horse (in a particularly bizarre scene). New alliances are sealed and the widow and the stranger seem to get the upper hand, but then Randall pops up, his wounds healed, and things look different again…

Kill the Wickeds is an odd, uneven film. It suffers from its reduced budget, but it’s atmospheric, very violent, and often compelling; the pace is rather slow but there are enough twists and turns to hold your attention and the finale is a direct hit. The ghost town is wonderful: dilapidated houses, overgrown with garlanding plants, the interiors hung about with cobwebs. The costume design is a little odd, with very bright-colered pink and yellow shirts for the men and tight leather pants for Miss Silva. Angelo Francesco Lavagnino’s score is a bit repetitive, but you won’t get that theme song out of your head for days. The cast of unknowns must have frustrated the film’s chances. Meniconi and Righi (who plays the sadistic Laglan) are probably the most familiar faces to genre fans; the Americans Ward and Dana weren’t even B-actors. Gioi, who plays the older woman, had been a star in the previous decade and this performance was part of a brief comeback; she still looks far too young for the part of the spooky old witch (she was 49 at the time).


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Miscelleanous:

The Italian title Dio non paga il sabato (God does not pay on Saturday) is an Italian saying, referring to the old custom of paying wages on Saturday night. The idea behind it is that God is not committed to any earthly habit, but will sooner or later pass his judgment on all mortal souls. The Ghost town in the movie can interpreted as the catholic limbo, the flames of the final scene representing hellfire.

Notes:

  • 1) Marco Giusti, Dizionario del western all'italiana


# Kill the Wickeds v. Matalo!

Some things are done better in Matalo! The old woman is played by an actress of the right age and some of the characters are better defined. The psychedelic Matalo! is the more outlandish and baroque of the two movies, but it also feels more dated today and Kill the Wicked is definitely the more nitty-gritty one: (spoiler alert) The scene in which Meniconi is slowly, very slowly killed by Ward is particularly gruesome for a film made in ’67. Although I don’t dislike Matalo! I prefer Kill the Wickeds. It’s not a masterpiece, it has its share of flaws, but it’s a damn fine little spaghetti western, and warmly recommended. For an analysis of the other movie, see: Matalo! Review.


Dir: Tanio Boccia - Cast: Larry Ward, Rod Dana, Furio Meniconi, Massimo Righi, Daniela Igliozzi, Vivi Gioi, Maria Silva - Music: Angelo Francesco Lavagnino


--By Scherpschutter

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