Thursday, February 8, 2018

For All the Dollars ~ Part 4 “Death Rides a Horse”


Death Rides a Horse (1967), dir. Giulio Petroni
They say revenge is a dish best served cold. If so, then you'll love this spaghetti western! After all, who doesn't love to see a despicable villain get his just dessert, especially if the good guy is an underdog who was only a child when his whole family was murdered?

Death Rides a Horse is not only a great spaghetti western, but a great tale of revenge. Here, we see actor John Philip Law as Bill: a gunfighter who has spent a lifetime to set a score with those who murdered his family. Then we see Ryan (again Lee Van Cleef); another gunfighter who has spent a good portion of his life behind bars, but has now been released to settle his own score against those who framed him. Fortunately for these two loose cannons, they happen to be after the same men. Spaghetti westerns were known to be darker than American westerns. Death Rides a Horse appears this way even more amongst its own peers. The opening family murder scene takes place at night during a thunderstorm and ends with a burning house. Even a sandstorm drifts in during the final showdown. Ennio Morricone put his musical talents to work yet again, by harmonizing music and theme with sounds of thunder, crackling fire, howling winds, and kettle drums.

A hit in its day, in Italy and abroad, Death Rides a Horse has maintained a strong cult following since its release. Van Cleef continued to appear in more spaghetti westerns, while Law, on the other hand, never rose any further above his own cult status. Unlike most spaghetti western stars, Death Rides a Horse was his only venture into the subgenre. The next time the duo teamed up, it was for a western-themed Midas Mufflers commercial. However, today, the duo will always be remembered as the gunslinging pair who went on a rampage of retribution. Praised for its action, character development, and revenge theme, Death Rides a Horse is considered one of the more famous spaghetti westerns ever to come out of the pasta-loving country.

Trivia: Death Rides a Horse is one of the inspirations for the Kill Bill saga. Aside from some of the spaghetti western's music being re-used, the plot of Tarantino's film shares similar elements. For example, when both main characters encounter one of their targets, a flashback occurs, showing the villain's misdeeds against the protagonist.

lives in Rockaway Borough

He's a 2013 graduate of Centenary College (now Centenary University) in Hackettstown, NJ

He currently work as a freelance reporter

Anthony is an avid movie fan, reader, and lover of arts and entertainment. I've attended and covered music concerts, art exhibits, festivals, parades, book readings, library lectures, and even a movie premiere in Parsippany and a movie shooting in Roxbury.

[Continued next week]

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