In a secluded mansion, the Hilton patriarch curses his family on the hour of his death. Soon, many of the heirs are murdered by a strange killer under the instructions of a witch who knows the secret of the Hiltons.
A rare and little known gem from the spaghetti western genre
This is an extremely entertaining film from a director (Angelo Pannaccio) and cast that I know very little about.
Burton (Michael Forest) returns to his ranch to find his family have been raped and murdered by a gang of cattle rustlers, with his daughter Susie the only survivor. Vowing revenge, Burton soon encounters a lone gunslinger, known as Whistler on account of his flute playing, who indicates that he saw the faces of the culprits. Burton does not realise that Whistler was part of the gang that night, and agrees to pay him to help him track down the murderers. The gunslinger has his own agenda, and agrees to Burton's proposal.
The two start to track down the gang, but Burton soon becomes suspicious once Whistler starts to kill the gang members before they can talk.
This is a very dark film throughout, with the grim scene set right from the outset as the gang graphically attack the family ranch. The movie's black theme is suitably set by its compelling guitar driven soundtrack, with its quirks owing as much to the horror film industry as it does to the Italian western.
At times the editing leaves much to be desired, but lets face it that can be quite an expected (and somehow appealing) trademark of the spaghetti western genre. It certainly doesn't detract from the feel and mood of the film.
The character of the flute playing Whistler is a very interesting one. Despite his prowess with the gun (and of course the flute!) he always seems to demonstrate a level of vulnerability. And on the English soundtrack rarely speaks without a nervous laugh.
In summary, this film is gripping throughout, with its dark and bitter mood continuing until its great climax. It is not a movie that I had previously heard of, and in such cases I am usually dubious as to the likely quality. However, this turned out to be a really pleasant surprise, with a compelling yet grim and downbeat feel. For those searching for a hidden gem, I would definitely recommend it as a film to try and unearth.
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