Roy escapes from a work camp and receives help from a miner. The miners are held hostage by the local boss Mr. Redfield. Roy starts to help the miners and also to settle some scores for a friend from the work camp.
Spaghetti Western icon Anthony Steffen stars as Shenandoah, a man of mystery who joins a vicious band of highwaymen after passing a near impossible and death defying initiation. When the ... See full summary »
Even I have my limits for Italian genre cinema, it turns out, and Aldo Florio's "Five Giants From Texas" is pretty close to it. As far as I can tell there are exactly two reasons to see this film, three if you count the somewhat mind-numbing brutality depicted. The first is the presence of Guy Madison in one of his earlier Spaghetti Western roles, playing one of a group of cowboys from Texas who travel to some dusty hellhole to avenge the murder of a mutual friend & the rape of his wife. The second is the presence of Joe D'amato on the production staff, credited for "cinematography", which in this case translates out to standing by the camera and telling it's operator where to point it.
I lost track of the story very quickly though there isn't much to it. Look, I love ultra-low budget Spaghetti Westerns as much as anybody. One of my favorites is FOR A DOLLAR BETWEEN THE TEETH with Tony Anthony, filmed on a Mastercard budget on exactly three locations and packing ten times the artistry of this film. The difference has to do with not just the approach, writing and acting so much as the application of imagination, wit & style. None of the above is evident in this film, it's a dismal, ultra violent and talky slog through yet another vengeance plot that exists only as a way to make a genre film for grown-up audiences, with the inclusion of some strikingly graphic violence and a truly detestable rape scene.
In many ways this film stands as evidence to what the Italians and their Spanish collaborators were going for with Spaghetti Westerns. The Americanized approach is usually meant for more general audiences, with shootouts and hell bent for leather riding segments, maybe a romantic scene between the leading man & his lady out by the corral fence as the sun sets. The Italians and Spaniards instead used the conventions of a Western as a framework upon which to weave an adult melodrama complete with hangings, whippings, sexuality, scenes of torture & bloodletting that would never be acceptable by those Hollywood standards. Usually I can admire the approach no matter how seemingly heartless & cruel the results, provided it's made with a sense of style. Even composer Franco Salina's musical score fails to be involving, and if the musical score to your Spaghetti Western passes without notice you know you're doing something wrong.
Redeeming factors are few but one of them is that this is a decidedly Spanish Spaghetti, not just by counting the names in the cast with Spanish roots but in the methodology involved with telling the story, which lingers on the brutality & suffering of those involved. It serves to set up a vicarious sense of justice to the climactic and phoned-in shootout between the five heroes and the sadistic monsters who are fueling the plot. Spanish art has always had a pre-occupation with tragedy and suffering, a better example of the approach actually working in a Western is a film called FEDRA WEST which was filmed for as low of a budget and with even more graphic brutality & suffering than is on display here. The difference is that the film is made with that all important sense of style.
So I don't know about this one. It's a joyless, brutal and unrewarding film though that may very well have been the point and I am just being slow to appreciate it. The reason I adore Spaghetti Westerns so much is that they usually exist as fantasy pieces with an emphasis on arty indulgence that seems to be utterly lacking here. I am sure that the beatings, stabbings, shootings, whippings, hangings, rapings, maulings and assorted carnage & suffering may be right up the alleyway of some, but I gotta call things like I see them. This movie is appalling, difficult to enjoy, and almost impossible to recommend especially considering how many overlooked and clever little gems the industry produced. This isn't one of them.
4/10: Obscure to a point, and there's good reason for it.
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