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112526-taste-of-vengeance-0-230-0-341-cropGianni Garko, billed as John Garko in most of his films, is probably best known for his Sartana series of spaghetti westerns of which he played the lead in four of the five movies(George Hilton took the role in the middle one), he of the black outfits and fantastic weaponry. The films have a cult-like status among the fans of the genre. In A TASTE OF VENGEANCE(another U.S. title is Cowards Don’t Pray), he plays aganist type as Bryan Clarke, a tortured soul, in a film that rises above it’s simple vengeance(a staple of the spaghetti genre) plot.

Bryan had come home from the war to be reunited with his fiancee, only to have her killed by Northern vigilantes11 masquerading as the law. Bryan is gut shot and left for dead as they rape and murder her, then set the house afire(all that is off screen). The last thing Bryan remembers is a bright star on the chest of the leader.Nothing else, except for brief flashes now and again that evoke violent reactions before he can stop himself.

Next we see him in bed, pulled from the burning house by Daniel(Ivan Rassimov, billed as Sean Todd), who patched him up and stayed with him until he was sufficiently healed to travel. Daniel has his own problems. Home from the war, he found his home burned and his kid brother, Robert(Roberto Miali, billed as Jerry Wilson) held for ransom. They want five thousand which Daniel doesn’t have.

El vengador del Sur  (1969) 4The two men team up to rescue Robert. In that rescue, Daniel gets his first hint that Bryan is just a bit crazy. He’s cold and kills without thought. Daniel stops him from killing the last man, preferring him to face trial for his misdeeds.

Bryan is hired by one rich man to kill the gun slinging son of another to gain control of the valley. Neither rich man has any redeeming qualities. Three grand he’s promised for the job, a third up front. He doesn’t mention that to Daniel or Robert when they take jobs with the first rich man. He keeps pushing the son, flirting mainly with his sister, Julie( Elisa Montés) until a duel is arranged. He finishes the job.

Daniel and Bryan split over that deal when Daniel is told the truth. He leavesEl vengador del Sur  (1969) 22 and Robert decides to go with him. Julie does as well. Bryan doesn’t collect the rest of his money as his employer is killed by the father of the dead son. Bryan goes to collect his money, kills the rancher, and convinces the gunmen there to form a gang with him, promising an even split instead of a salary.

When Daniel takes the job of town marshal that sets up the last half of the film. Daniel wants to follow the law. He has affection for Bryan, but the man’s inner demons keep pushig him to more depredations and the army comes calling. Daniel is castigated for not stopping his friend and is put on notice. Two weeks he has to get him. But even in his sights, he can’t pull the trigger. Robert volunteers to go tell Bryan to get to Mexico. That will take the heat off him.

El vengador del Sur  (1969) 1Unfortunately the young man is wearing a shiny star and Bryan reacts without thinking, horrified immediately t what he’s done. And it takes the blinders off Daniel. The trailer below is mostly from the last fifteen minutes of the movie.

An excelleny movie and many cinsider it Garko’s best, as well as director Mario Siciliano’s (billed as as Marlon Sirko).