Klaus Kinski played parts in a lot of spaghetti westerns, usually a slightly off kilter killer, hamming it up outrageously sometimes. He had some of the most bug-eyed expressions I’ve ever seen in these things.
This one is a little different. For the first time, at least that I’ve seen, Kinski is the wronged man, the main player, a man imprisoned for ten years for a crime he didn’t commit.
Director Antonio Margheriti was well known in Italy for his horror films and it shows in this one. He has all the tropes of a good horror film. The main sequence is set at night, a storm is brewing, wind blowing heavily(a tornado has been predicted), resulting in a lot of doors/windows slamming loudly, curtains flapping, a church bell constantly tolling. There’s even a priest playing spooky music on an organ.
Gary Hamilton(Kinski) is pardoned by the President after ten years for his service during the war and he’s returning home by stage. A young man in an army uniform is talking with a couple of women about visiting home during a break from West Point. When he mentions his name, Dick Acombar, Hamilton reacts and we know there is a connection. He tells the boy to mention his name, Gary Hamilton, and tell dad that he will come by to see him later tonight.
You know this is the man that framed him and Hamilton is out to exact revenge for that bit of betrayal.
The bulk of the story from that point is one long sequence during the storm, dark, with Hamilton stalking Acombar’s men. He’s presented as soon sort of spirit, first appearing as a silhouette on the horizon, then the horse galloping through town riderless.
Where did he go?
An unusual western. Kinski is very good at those over the top villains. But I noticed one thing watching this movie. Most face shots of the actor, sometimes full, sometimes just the eyes. he’s remarkably calm. Still, with those eyes, he presents a scary look, more so than a lot of more animated faces I’ve seen.
Worth a look.
The poster here is from the German release. I’ve even included the German Trailer: