A middle-aged hired gun named Print (Aaron Stielstra) is obsessed with having style and poetry to his assassinations. He has been working with loyalty for his boss, Mr. Paul (Montgomery Ford), for years. But his latest assignment - the killing of a brothel owner (Dan van Husen) who mandates cruel abortions on his whores - presents two challenges: he must train a young understudy during the assignment, and he's been told to pull off the killing "quick and dirty" -- which may not leave time for Print's usual, obsessively imaginative methods. Written by
A Triumph in Low-Budget Filmmaking; Fredianelli's best film to date.
Kind of surprised this film (despite being well regarded by critics) holds only a 4.1 rating on this site (as of today). Even though it is so far the only film of Michael Fredianelli's to receive a really wide DVD and Blu-ray release, such is a bit odd given this film is easily Fredianelli's most accomplished and (all around) best film to date. This is a movie that despite being made on a meager budget stands as perhaps one of the best Westerns of the last 12 years or so. It is gritty, violent, and hearkens back to (and was clearly influenced by) some of the genre's best entries in the 1960s and 70s.
One critic described this film as a cross between Terence Malick and Sam Peckinpah and they are largely right. Nevertheless the film is quite unique and is perhaps the first Western to deal with abortion. That said, this subject matter is not all that central (the movie just happens to represent it as a reality) and the film doesn't play politics at all or resort to being a message film because this subject is explored. Aside from examining this topic, the film manages to feel fresh and unique all around (even if it's just because films, particularly Westerns, just aren't made like this anymore).
David Lambert penned the script for this film and shows great skill paying particular attention to the period in which the film takes place. His characters are interesting and well fleshed out and Print (the lead character) in particular is an extremely memorable protagonist. Actor Aaron Stielstra shines in his portrayal of Print who is a middle-aged gunman; a dandy who has a knack for poetry and a penchant for religion. It's really difficult to compare Print to any other Western protagonist, but Stielstra's character lands right up there with being as interesting and and as memorable as some of the icons of the genre. The rest of the cast is for the most part also spot-on in their performances with veteran actors like Dan van Husen and Brett Halsey making nice additions to the cast. While a Spaghetti Western influence isn't quite apparent, fans of the sub-genre will no doubt recognize these two along with cameos from actors/dubbers Michael Forest and Ted Rusoff.
Director Fredianelli and cinematographer Michael A. Martinez craft a great looking film with some truly well crafted scenes and shots. Fredianelli proves to be a highly skilled director especially with the larger budget he has here (although still pretty meager by most standards) and really shines through this work. Set-pieces are abound and many of the shootouts that take place are thrilling and tense. If Fredianelli continues to make films on this level (which I hope he does), he will no doubt be a force to be reckoned with in the film world.
THE SCARLET WORM stands as a fine film that fans of Westerns or tough-guy genre and action films in general should find thoroughly enjoyable. Highly Recommended.
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