Excellent Early Euro Western Cowboy & Indians Movie!!
This movie RULES!
Directed by FEAST OF SATAN'S Jose Marie Elorietta before Spaghetti Westerns had become a bona-fide genre, FURY OF THE APACHES straddles the divide between Cowboy Movies and the Spaghetti approach by having the minimum story necessary to explain what is happening and let the action speak for itself. Even The Duke probably would have liked this nasty, violent, and immensely entertaining film that manages to NOT rip off FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, though mostly because it wasn't a hit yet when this was made.
THE PLOT: A group of disparate "Ark" type humans find themselves barricaded in an old Mission turned stagecoach station in frontier era Arizona after a young, hot-headed idiot mistakenly shoots & kills the chief of the local Apache tribe. Oops! The "Injuns" surround the makeshift fort, the arrows & bullets fly, personal conflicts turn deadly, and it is only a matter of time before the savages spill over the walls and hack everyone to death in an orgy of genocidal fury. THE END.
Seriously, though, this film has what most of the "great" Spaghetti entries lack, which is a genuine human story. Frank Latimore, an actor I am otherwise unfamiliar with, was well chosen to play the wrongfully disgraced former Army officer, now paroled and working the station with all of the cynicism of Bogie. And by Jove if fate hasn't sent the crooked judge who arranged for his misfortune into his very arms, complete with a fortune in hard cash and a pretty young wife to be (Liz Moreno, who is so gorgeous it almost makes you want to cry) who, it turns out, hates the bastard as well. Add a couple of ex-cons (one of them played by Spaghetti legend Aldo Sambrell, insane as always) who want to slit everyone's throats and make off with the goods, and THEN throw a thousand heavily armed Indian braves at them, and by golly you can kiss 90 minutes of your life good-bye. The film moves at a breakneck pace, complete with an ending that is oddly evocative of THE ROAD WARRIOR, which is probably the point, since George Miller doubtlessly grew up on the FORT APACHE type Cowboys Vs Indians thrillers that no doubt also inspired Elorietta & company.
FURY OF THE APACHES is also interesting in that it is one of the few Euro Westerns (filmed in Spain by an Italian & Spanish crew) to directly involve Native Americans. One of the things that always struck me as odd about Spaghetti Westerns is how they seemed to forget that there were Natives here before the Gringos and the Pistoleros both, but other than a few comic relief moments and Sergio Corbucci's painful, anti-fun NAVAJO JOE, there really aren't too many examples of Native Americans playing a big role in Spaghetti fare. A lot of that has to do with the simple logistics of how the films were made: If you're shooting in Spain, you tend to use Spaniards as extras, and so we'd usually watch stories about Gringos encountering swarthy Mexican banditos and curvy cantina Senoritas. This time, it's just good old Cowboys & Indians, though it is too bad that all we see of the Apaches are the kind of pop up target bad guys that the Bugs played in STARSHIP TROOPERS. And yes, I bet Paul Verhoeven saw this movie also at some point.
I wouldn't dare give away the ending, though I can confirm that fans of Elorietta's slanted twist on story convention will not be disappointed by how he dishes out the goods: Everyone gets what they had coming in the end, with even the young idiot provided an ample chance to redeem himself and save the others. Excellent musical score by Fernando García Morcillo, some good carnage and an interesting ensemble cast that really doesn't have a standout performance, but no weak spots either. SEEK IT OUT: Something Weird Video has a VHS release of the film you can order off their website.
Another excellent example too of how the great Eurohorror directors all plied their wares in the other genres before making their Gothic Classics; Jose Elorietta may be better known for his horror shockers, but this is easily my favorite of his films and I love Gothic Eurohorror. Not to be missed!!
**** out of ****
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