Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Spaghetti Western Location ~ Tor Caldara, Anzio, Italy

Tor Caldara, Anzio, Italy is a 104 acres of beach, an inlet, a sandy clearing and a stream surrounded by woodland oaks, south of Anzio. It also boasts unusual fauna and flora, and is a protected WWF site. There’s a circular medieval watchtower on the headland and the Nature Reserve features sulphurous springs – in some films distinctive yellow strata can be seen in the landscape – which when they are bubbling give the area the smell of rotten eggs. It was one of the beaches used by the Allies during Operation Shingle – the Anzio Landings in Italy in January 1944 – and since then it’s seen plenty of action, both as a popular beauty spot and, especially in the 1960s, as a filming location.

Scenes featuring Tor Caldara can be spotted in Pasolini’s “The Gospel According to St Matthew” and “Medea”, and it’s the beach with a defensive German bunker that is assaulted in the low-budget WWII movie “Hell in Normandy”. It was particularly popular with makers of sword and sandal epics and features in, or is the principle setting for, “Hercules Conquers Atlantis”, “Maciste Against the Vampire”, “Mole Men Against the Son of Hercules”, “Perseus the Invincible”, “The Giant of Marathon”, “The Giants of Rome” and most prominently in “Hercules against the Moon Men”. It was later a useful ‘desert’ (with the sea and headland kept well out of shot) in many, many spaghetti westerns, including “Texas Adios”, “Django Shoots First”, “Vengeance”, “This Man Can’t Die”, “Adios Gringo” and “Johnny Hamlet”.

Whenever Italian filmmakers needed a modest stretch of desert and woodland or cliffs and a beach close to their Rome studios, Tor Caldara was the go-to location. The site was particularly popular with directors Mario Bava and Sergio Corbucci. Bava featured scenes at the beach and inlet in “Danger: Diabolik”, “Hercules in the Center of the Earth” (aka “Hercules in the Haunted World”), the Viking movies “Erik the Conqueror” and Knives of the Avenger”, the horror titles “The Whip and the Body”, “Five Dolls For an August Moon” and “Shock” and extensively in the alleged comedy western “Roy Colt & Winchester Jack”. It also cropped up in several of his westerns, including “Ringo and His Golden Pistol” (aka “Johnny Oro”) “Navajo Joe” and “The Hellbenders”.
Perhaps the most famous scene shot at Tor Caldara was the opening title sequence to Corbucci’s “Django” in the winter of 1965-66, with Franco Nero dragging a coffin through the mud and pouring rain. You’d never guess the Mediterranean is only a few hundred yards away, over that rise.

Tor Caldara was also used for “Django’s” later scenes at the rope bridge – including the infamous moment when Nero has his hands mangled by horses’ hooves – and for the final shootout amid the crosses of desolate Tombstone cemetery.

“Django” (1966)

“Texas, Adios” (1966)

“Navajo Joe” (1966)

“Little Rita of the West” (1967)

“Vengeance” (1968)

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