I knew this movie would rule just by encountering a description of it, but I did now know how well written and insightful it really is, as far as blending a Western with the BAD NEWS BEARS formula of having kids take on adult qualities for a comedy film aimed at adults. I still remember the bitter disappointment of not being allowed to go see the original BAD NEWS BEARS because the film was Rated R and filled with profanity, vulgar humor, smoking, drinking, jokes about athletic cups and other things that my parents felt would not be a good influence.
I wonder what they would have thought of KID TERROR OF THE WEST, Tonino Ricci and Bruno Corbucci's later period Spaghetti Western about a band of tykes who get mixed up in a gold robbery in order to save their parent's land from a bunch of shady swindlers. While not as foul-mouthed as BAD NEWS BEARS this is also an action/comedy film for adults, though there really isn't any content in it beyond your average "family" kind of fare. The distinction is that much of the film's more twisted humor will probably be lost on kids, who would instead be amused by the more playful vulgarities of the script.
The gang of kids is a colorful bunch: There's the son of the famed pistol fighter, the son of the sheriff, a kid with red hair and freckles, another one who stutters, a kid who constantly needs to take a leak, various angelic young ladies dolled up like JonBenet Ramsey, a moppet Chinese kickboxer bambino with eyes for the hero, the schemer kid and the clumsy kid and the musical kid who plays the piano named "Fingers", of course. They all have some pretty colorful names, my favorite being "Crackers" and "Lollipop", both of which seem like sly jokes about character stereotype -- Lollipop is an androgynous boy or a girl dressed up as a boy, which when combined with the name is a somewhat perverse juxtaposition to say the least.
But my favorite kid in the movie is "Butterball", the requisite fat kid who comes equipped with a battery of fat kid jokes and steals the whole show: Every time the camera includes his pudgy face he is gobbling food of some sort, his favorite snack being butter sandwiches with extra butter that he carries around in his pockets. He also farts a lot, creating a running joke as he belts out a blast of gas whenever trying to cram his porky hide into a tight squeeze or jump energetically from the kids' wagon. He is probably the film's direct link to BAD NEWS BEARS, which also had a fat kid who was always eating chocolate bars whenever on screen. I wonder if it's writers saw KID TERROR and were inspired, since Butterball's point in the story is to remind viewers that fat kids are constantly gobbling food like greedy slobs & need to pass gas as a result of their gluttony. Especially if they eat lots of big sloppy butter sandwiches. Eww.
Like other films of this kind (see DEVIL TIMES FIVE for a creepy sadistic twist on the formula) the kids are brighter, smarter, more clever and more heroic compared to the adults in the film, all of whom are either swindlers or victims being manipulated by the film's villain. The kids even manage to teach the town sheriff a lesson about not judging others based on their size or age, and of course win the day in the end for their oppressed parents. Their leader is also as clever as MacGuyver, at one point employing one of Butterball's spare butter sandwiches ("I was saving that for an emergency!") and some handy gunpowder to rig a bomb. All of it leads up to a big complex final showdown scene where the kids take on the gang of crooks with their slingshots, bows & arrows, buckets of horse manure and kickboxing skills (??).
Which leads me to my conclusion about this film, which is that it is one of the more successful efforts from the later period of Italian made Spaghetti Westerns (1970 - 1976 or so) to inject some life into the by then passé form by mixing genre formulae. This one blends clever kids with kung-fu action and a caper formula, eschewing the tired "vengeance for murdering my brother and sending me to prison for 15 years" assembly line plotting that makes most Spaghetti's sort of blend together in their sameness. By contrast KID TERROR is still (35 years later) refreshingly different, cleverly written, inappropriately hilarious, filled with some wonderful crude humor, and in supremely poor taste for a movie filled with kids. I approve!!
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