Night of The Serpent, aka Ringo Kill or Nest of Vipers, was one of five spaghetti westerns directed by Giulio Petroni and considered the most obscure. More familiar titles might be Tepapa starring Tomas Milan and Death Rides A Horse starring Lee Van Cleef. Then a good print turned up in South Africa. Spagetti fans seem divided over this one. Some consider it a minor effort, others one of his best.
The script is a bit different in that it is not a revenge film or a tale of revolution. What it is is a story of the redemption of a man’s soul.
Luke(Luke Askew) was once a feared gunman. some incident, an accident, in his past broke him, spinning him into hiding in bottles of tequila. He does anything for a drink: shine shoes, crawl. He’s the butt of jokes among the band of revolutionaries who rescued him from death in the desert. Led by Pancaldo(Guglielmo Spoletini). he’s picked to be a killer and a patsy. Known only to a few, a small boy named Manual has been left ten thousand dollars American after the death of his father, a man who fled the law, leaving the boy to be raised by his mistress, the village healer. He has four relatives alive in the village: an innkeeper and his brother, the village priest, and the town puta. An army colonel, Hernandez(Luigi Pistilli) figures it out and horns in. It is he who hires Pancaldo to give him the patsy for Manual’s murder.
All Luke is told is to be at a certain spot in the morning and kill the man there. But Luke has already been befriended by the boy and memories of the past incident come up in visions. Naturally it involves another small boy and a bit of braggadocio on Luke’s part that results in disaster. Suddenly he’s the boy’s protector who must overcome his eroded skills, and his alcoholism, as he hunts for the reason someone wants the boy dead.
Quite enjoyed this one.