Sunday, April 5, 2009
Four of the Apocalypse (1975, Lucio Fulci)
More Fulci? Yup. This one is a little different. It doesn't have zombies, though I wouldn't say it's not a horror film. It's real classification is as a Spaghetti Western, but I'd say it also has elements of Horror and Exploitation as well. There are plenty of scenes in this film that would appease the fans of Fulci's more gory films. My friend actually let me borrow this awhile ago and I loved it immediately. I ended up picking up a cheap used copy of the out of print Once Upon a Time in Italy box set put out by Anchor Bay, which includes this film, Companeros, Bullet for the General, Keoma and Texas Adios. I highly recommend this set for any fans of Spaghetti Westerns.
This film is about 4 misfits who wind up in jail together - a gambler named Stubby Preston (Fabio Testi), a preggo hooker Bunny(Lynne Frederick), a drunk Clem (Michael J. Pollard) and Bud, a dude who sees dead people (Haley Joel Osment...just kidding, it's really Harry Baird). When the town they are in is over run by hooded bandits, Stubby makes a deal with the sheriff to let them go. On their journey to make a better life, they stumble upon Chaco (Tomas Milian in an incredible performance) who befriends them but soon shows his true colors as a sadist and murdering bandit. Chaco tortures them and leaves them to die but they escape and continue on with their journey, only to meet further obstacles along the way.
Four of the Apocalypse pretty much has it all. Some other reviews I've read have stated that Fulci can't help but add his soon to be trademark of gore and sadism to a film that has a lot of other things going for it. Though this is certainly true, some of us happen to like both. I actually think the film would be boring if it didn't have the Chaco character as brutal as he was. I think the balance of touching moments (mainly between Testi and Frederick) and terror is great and it just makes for a really different type of film. All of the actors are really great here, the gore is top notch and the story is excellent. I like a lot of spaghetti westerns but the main problem I have with them is that they have too many scenes of cowboys sitting around a bar fighting over land or property or their town or whatever and not enough action. The action they do have is often just silly, bloodless gunfights. Four of the Apocalypse has not one dull moment and the action is much more violent. So, I guess this film isn't for everyone but it's definitely for me.