A wagon load of convicts on their way to prison is being escorted through the mountains by a cavalry troop. They are attacked by a bandit gang, and only a sergeant, his beautiful young ...
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A wagon load of convicts on their way to prison is being escorted through the mountains by a cavalry troop. They are attacked by a bandit gang, and only a sergeant, his beautiful young daughter and an assortment of seven sadistic, murderous prisoners survive, and they are left without horses or a wagon. The sergeant must find a way to get his prisoners to their destination while protecting his daughter, watching out for the still pursuing bandits and trying to determine which one of the prisoners was the man who raped and murdered his wife. Written by
Intriguing, grim and gritty Spanish Western has a very harsh, uncompromising tone. Sgt. Brown (Claudio Undari), a cavalry officer, is escorting a sextet of lowlife criminals, all of them chained together, across rugged terrain to prison. As it turns out, he has more than one reason for being deeply committed to this task. Accompanying him is his daughter Sarah (beautiful Emma Cohen). However, a gang of bandits intervenes, and they end up having to make their journey on foot. As the viewer may expect, the forceful personalities of these cretins ensure many angry confrontations along the way. A flop upon its original release, an enterprising distributor came up with the idea, upon re-releasing it, to punch it up by adding a lot of gory business, all of it quite effectively nasty, and providing theatre goers with cardboard masks that they could wear if they couldn't stomach this material. This really didn't help the movie either, but it did acquire a cult following nevertheless. Making no clear distinctions between "good" and "bad" in terms of its characters, it comes up with a fairly surprising and sadistic twist at about the half way point, and is very compelling for its portrayal of human beings at the mercy of the elements. With exteriors filmed in the Aragonese Pyreneo region of Spain, the scenery is breathtaking and the winter atmosphere genuinely chilling in more way than one. The characters are interesting and entertaining in their own sordid way, with the actors delivering convincing performances. The music by Carmelo A. Bernaola is good if repetitive, and the frequent use of flashbacks is arresting, with much use of freeze frames. The ending is effectively downbeat, too. The pacing is rather unhurried, yet there are always fine moments, especially around the 67 minute mark as one of the convicts is stumbling through the wilderness on his own. Western fans looking for something dark, violent, and morally ambiguous might want to check this one out. Seven out of 10.
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