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Rafael Romero Marchent
Peter Lee Lawrence,
Alberto de Mendoza,
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Mean, Lean, Low Budget Later Period Spaghetti Western
Oh sure, as far as film goes, it's awful. But if you adore Italian produced spaghetti westerns as much as I do Roberto Montero's THUNDER OVER EL PASO (as the version I saw was titled) is pretty much everything fans of Italo Westerns watch them for. Cynical anti-heroes, offbeat locations, low-rent production values, atmospheric photography, some pretty Euro damsels ready to hop in bed with the lead actor and a healthy, bone crunching quota of violence ruthlessly dished out. Plus a compelling little musical score, this one an upbeat harmonica led folker by Carlo Savina.
Polizichetti tough guy actor Antonio Sabato joins forces with Chris Avram as a pair of surprisingly vicious black hat heroes who go after a big greasy pistolero boss and his gang of cutthroats who nabbed $200,000 in gold bars. So much for the plot; The rest of the movie is an enjoyable if forgettable mish-mash of shootings, beatings, knife throwing, jail breaks, showdowns, plots, counter-plots and a few minutes cozying up with jaw droppingly beautiful Pilar Velazquez. Her pickup line "I'm 18 and I know what I like!" would work on me too.
Director Roberto Bianchi Montero is perhaps better known for his Giallo exploitation masterpiece SO SWEET SO DEAD and demonstrates a similar skill at moving the plot forward. The pace never drags and while nothing overtly spectacular or memorable happens the movie never pushes a wrong button. Even the requisite Torture Scene is over & done with without much fuss, and interestingly is inflicted by the protagonists rather than on them. Here are two guys who'd waterboard somebody without thinking about it, the only difference between themselves & the villain being that they get to score with the leading ladies.
One interesting aspect about the film is that it's pretty much an all Italian affair with no imported big-name Yankee star. Then again by 1972 the Italians no longer felt the urgency to have a recognizable name for the American markets and just got on with the business at hand of making their movies. Also for a 1972 spaghetti western it is notable for not having a comedy formula ala the Trinity films, and instead focuses squarely on the juvenile fantasy & violence angle. Good show!
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