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An unfairly scorned and mocked movie
Cristi_Ciopron13 July 2006
I know I'll have to comment this movie on a future occasion,but,for now,I want to state at least some things about it."Keoma" is a very mocked movie,even scorned,despised.Nero might have seemed to look somehow ridiculous,with his long hair and big hat;but he's not.The score could have sound ridiculous.But it does not.Various rigmaroles have been told about this unique,respectable and ambitious film which is thought by some to be ...religious.It's not.

The story of a halfbreed,a half-Indian,"Keoma" is a powerful and accomplished movie.It gets even at the poetry of the innocent happiness,although for only a few moments (Nero riding across the hilly country,once he has rescued Mrs.Karlatos for the second time). The photography is fine.

Does "Keoma" lack humor?No,because it's not supposed to have any. "Keoma" is one of Nero's best performances (he was the coolest in "Django" ,"L'Uomo,...",and,above all,in" Texas, ...").As for Strode,this is perhaps his finest part. Castellari complained about the lyrics of the soundtrack and said he doesn't like it (because of the lyrics,I guess).Well,I have found the music good enough.The whole movie is,obviously,an essay,and doesn't deserve the harshness of many unfair critics.OK,the music could be improved;but,as it is,it's not shameful,it's not bad.Let's not make too much out of that music!

Castellari has also made a good vigilante movie with Franco Nero ,in '74 ("Il Cittadino...").

Nero has made (only) 14 westerns,in 36 years.Judging by his roles in "Texas,..." and "L'uomo...",he is one of the greatest actors that ever honored the Westerns' sets with their talent."Keoma" is his 11th. Western.

Men like Margheriti,Castellari,Baldi,Fulci,Bazzoni,and many others,are for the European cinema what I. Allen,Siegel,Peckinpah,Aldrich,are for the American one.

In a future comment,I'll discuss "Keoma" more in detail.
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Oneiric murder tapestry
Review of English-language Blue Underground version:

My, my these Spaghettis. In Keoma (Franco Nero), we have a man who has descended into hell, he has become an annihilator. The landscape is infernal, from the Breughelesque sets to the leering henchman to the blasted mountains. For his enemies, he has two barrels of a shotgun, and no pity. The hell is as much in his mind as it is in the town he rides into. He is a man with no place, ideology or purpose. Unlike Eastwood's characters in the dollars trilogy who are without history or neuroses, with Nero as Keoma we have a profound psychological portrait of a man in spiritual agony, on the road to obliteration and self-immolation.

The scenario is also hellish, we have a town and a region that has been taken over by a warlord. He and his henchman block access from and to the outside world. The townsfolk are all infected with a plague, and rather than given access to medical aid, they are put in a concentration camp and forced to mine for silver, or simply murdered. The town is left to the henchmen and their trollops. This for me is very unlike a western in the traditional American sense. In the American western, there are always the upright people of the town to appeal to, there is a sheriff, or as a last resort the cavalry. People may be run off their land or be claim-jumped, but they are never forced into slave labour.

What we have in Keoma, and in similar movies such as Django and Django Strikes Again, is a fundamentally African western, which is probably why Spaghetti goes down so well on that continent. The town in Keoma is more reminiscent of somewhere in Sierra Leone than the Sierra Nevada. There is total brutal oppression of the populace. There is a reckless attitude towards the value of life. Keoma is likewise a more fitting hero for such a landscape, he is almost a Christ-like figure in the sense that he is betrayed or deserted by everyone in this movie, his family, the oppressed, and the liberated. When Keoma is crucified on a wagonwheel the artisans, politicos, henchmen and whores celebrate a change of leadership in the saloon that was entirely down to him. He is constantly grimy, his hair is totally overgrown, he is hirsute, sweaty, and wears no overshirt. Seeing him shove his pistol down the back of his trousers against his bare back will make the ladies a little queasy.

This movie has a very dreamlike atmosphere. The reason for this is that there is no real cohesive plot. Apparently Castellari threw the script in the bin immediately prior to shooting and adopted a completely improvisational approach. The only consistency to the movie is that of image and emotion. Throughout the movie is laced with the anguish of haunted souls, and punctuated by the slow-mo killings after the fashion of Peckinpah. The improvisation can unfortunately be quite clear. Some of the actors were writing their own lines the night before shooting. The dialogue is not always brilliant to say the least, and it is not helped by Nero's far from accent-less English. However this is about the only film where improvisation could work, simply because it is entirely beneficial to the oneiric, logic-less atmosphere.

The De Angelis brothers' soundtrack will be interesting to some because of the untrained voices. Nero sings quite a lot of it himself, and you will have to suspend disbelief and accept it, because although the man clearly has no singing talent, there is an authenticity to his singing that is refreshing.

I'm not sure what Woody Strode was doing in this picture, but flashbacks of him shooting his bow add to the trippiness. Keoma the movie is not quite as far-out as something by Jodorowsky, but it's on the way.
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Too Self Conscious and too Many Elements from Every Genre
adrianswingler28 January 2016
I watched this wondering about Keoma Rises and am a fan of the director's work. I love any Spaghetti Western that is better than mediocre. So, bottom line, it was a disappointment to watch one that I basically just didn't like.

I think we all agree the soundtrack is awful. But the awful songs can be muted while they're wailing away (I don't know one can really call it singing). But the big problem for me was that it was obvious that the director had been told it was the last SW the studio was doing and he's WAY too conscious of that fact. Also, we watch SWs for what they are, not for how they inspired other genres, creating some kind of weird cinematic echo chamber. Elements of Peckinpaugh and Hong Kong action flicks- but not integrated in any way. Just kind of, "Let's do some of that..."

If you notice the firearms and the year it'll drive you nuts. Obviously supposed to be circa 1870, mostly it's what you'd expect to see immediately after the Civil War. But it's like they ran out of period arms and just grabbed whatever else was around for some scenes. Lots of 1873 Winchester rifles and I thought even saw the odd 1890's model. Ditto the Colt Peacemaker, alongside your standard issue Civil War Colt. I suppose it could be 1874, but were those arms instantly available everywhere??? Given the rest, one thinks they weren't too concerned about it.

Bottom line for me, it was a seriously misguided attempt that is waaaay too conscious of its being what it is, the swan song of the classic pasta western.
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Half-breed this, half-breed that.
lost-in-limbo4 June 2007
A half-breed Indian Keoma returns back to his hometown after fighting in the Civil War, and finds his town is being run by an ex-Confederate soldier Caldwell and his outlaws. He holds power over the town by letting the plague infect the inhabitants, and since he won't let any sort of treatment be transported in. He sets up a community for those infected, and this where Keoma rescues a pregnant woman on her way there and returns her back to town. His three half-brothers have joined Caldwell, and I don't think that highly of their brother's return. But loyalty to their father, they won't kill him. His father William Shannon and former family servant/only friend George eventually join Keoma to break the strangle hold Caldwell possess.

Whoa! How good? Real good. Director Enzo G. Castellari's grand looking and interesting spaghetti western comes across as a powerful and beautifully constructed Greek tragedy with a cynical and almost psychological edge bound to it. There's a bit everything chucked into this passionate and intelligent exercise. Breathing high on mood and atmosphere, photographer Aiace Parolin exquisitely frames the mercilessly brooding locations and Castellari's stylishly first-rate direction keeps the film sombre with a brutally unsparing and dirt-laced tone in its dramatic images and context. Good use of abstract lighting and composition, he knows how to keep the viewer at bay with slam-bang set pieces towards the end and a downbeat undercurrent. Inventive framing and exposition also shows the quality of his direction. The glorious slow-motion shootouts and editing technique (ala Sam Peckinpah) are dazzling and how about the constant jumping or leaping in the air. Was there a hidden trampoline on set?! Everything about it held a nice rhythm to it and you just get swept along. Even the flashback sequences are positioned in the story accordingly and in a fulfilling style. The lyrical story is full of symbolic and thematic issues (freedom being the main focal point) that do pack a punch, but also showing a vulnerable side. This gave it a real singular vibe to set it apart from the crowd. Hell, I didn't mind the uncanny and soaring ballad soundtrack too. The way it actually interlocked with the film's sequences, I thought it gave the film some soul and a backbone (well other than always charismatically reliable Nero). A rugged Franco Nero was outstanding. Both mentally and psychically in his scrappy determination and seldom figure Keoma. The impressively committed Woody Strode was excellent. William Berger brought class, and Olga Karlatos decently balanced out an innocent side that really was moving. Donald O'Brien nails it down in a starch turn as the villainous Caldwell.
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Latter day Spaghetti Western shines in all departments...... apart from the soundtrack
marc-36621 March 2005
Talk to most Spaghetti Western fans and they will declare Keoma to be one of the finest of the genre's movies, and probably the best of the latter day ones. However they will also most probably comment on the atrocious soundtrack, which does take some getting used to. I honestly believe that if this movie had been given the Morricone touch, it would be firmly cemented as a true Spaghetti classic, standing side by side with The Big Gundown, Face to Face and Bullet for the General.

Aside from Django, this is Franco Nero's best role. A half breed venger, riding into a town decimated by both the plague and a gang of racist ex-Confederates, which includes his three hateful "brothers" in their ranks. There are also fine turns by William Berger as Keoma's adopted father Shannon, and Woody Strode as Keoma's childhood hero turned drunk, George.

As always, Castellari has injected true class into this film, with slow motion shootouts, effective flashbacks and clever camera tricks. This film is a true fitting end to the Spaghetti hay day, which had begun to loose its charm due to the ever increasing stupidity of the comedy westerns. The only negative aspect is that wretched soundtrack. Oh where was Morricone when we really needed him?
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A Man Who Is Free Never Dies
claudio_carvalho20 October 2006
After the American Civil War, the half-breed Keoma (Franco Nero) returns to his homeland and rescues a beautiful pregnant woman accused of having plague, Lisa (Olga Karlatos), from a gang leaded by the landlord Caldwell (Donald O'Brian). Later he meets his former slave servant and friend George (Woody Strode), now a drunk free man, and his father, William Shannon (William Berger), and he is informed that the town is under siege of Caldwell's men, without supplies of medicine or food and justice, with the dweller dying of plague and starvation and sick people is being isolated in an old mine. Further, his three dangerous half-brothers have joined Caldwell's force. Keoma decides to help Lisa and the dwellers to retrieve their freedom and dignity, and he finds how despicable the inhabitants are.

The unknown western "Keoma" was a great surprise for me. Although predictable, the story is great, disclosing the relationship of Keoma with his brothers and father through his recollections from his childhood, and does not have a happy commercial end. Franco Nero is amazing in the role of a lonely half-Indian with a great sense of justice and freedom, love and loyalty to his father and regret and resentment to his half-brothers. The direction and cinematography are excellent, with a fantastic choreography of the fights, set decoration and costumes: in the dusty, windy and dirty city, the men's clothes (and themselves) are very dirty, and not like in most of Hollywood movies, where the cowboys wear very clean clothes. There is a particular scene that I believe is unique in the cinema, when Keoma promises four bullets for four hit men, and while bending his four fingers, we see each of his targets. The annoying soundtrack, although having the good intention of creating a narrative of the feelings of the characters, is the only negative aspect in this movie. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Keoma"
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KEOMA (Enzo G. Castellari, 1976) ***
Bunuel19768 September 2006
Director Castellari is nowadays perhaps best-known (if at all) by the younger generation of film buffs for one thing: making the original INGLORIOUS BASTARDS (1977), which Quentin Tarantino has been threatening to remake for years now. However, in my opinion, he should instead be remembered for making this impressive, belated Spaghetti Western gem.

An odd blend of violent action and heady mysticism apparently concocted by one of the credited screenwriters Luigi Montefiori (better known to hardened Euro-Cult fans as an actor under the alias of George Eastman) but, as star Franco Nero and Castellari himself state in the Anchor Bay DVD supplements, the script took so long to get written that they decided to work without one and make the dialogue up as they went along! That the end result is so satisfying (and practically unique in the subgenre) is a remarkable achievement in itself.

Keoma is a half-breed returning home from the American Civil War to find his hometown ravaged by the plague and overtaken by the villainous Caldwell (Donal O' Brien); among his cohorts are Nero's three half-brothers who had made his childhood a living hell, with his surrogate father (William Berger) and colored mentor turned banjo-playing town-drunk (Woody Strode) unable to do much to counter Caldwell's oppression. A Bergmanesque, cadaverous old woman is frequently seen roaming the streets dragging a cart behind her...

What follows is the typical confrontation between Good and Evil but Castellari infuses the familiar mixture with several directorial flourishes: occasionally striking compositions (particularly a memorably Fordian opening shot), frequent use of slow-motion in true Peckinpah-style, flashbacks in which Keoma is a spectator to his own past experiences (inspired by Elia Kazan's THE ARRANGEMENT [1969]!), a touch of elliptical editing, Christian symbolism (Keoma is crucified at one point) and, most distressingly of all, a folksy soundtrack (inspired by Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, no less and by a shrill, high-pitched female singer and an out-of-tune deep-voiced male) which narrates in song the action we're seeing on the screen. I say distressingly because the Guido and Maurizo De Angelis compositions found here have forever been a thorn in the side of even the film's staunchest admirers!! Personally, I didn't mind the female singer so much after a while but when her (possibly drunk) male companion took over in the last half hour, I was in for some cringe-inducing moments for sure...!

Despite these misgivings, the film is still one of the best Spaghetti Westerns out there (and certainly the last great example of the subgenre); its undoubted highlight is provided by a terrific, lovingly protracted action set-piece in which Nero, Berger and a reformed Strode (back to his former arrow-shooting glory - perhaps a nod to the role he played in Richard Brooks' splendid THE PROFESSIONALS [1966]) wipe out most of Caldwell's gang. Their triumph is short-lived, however, because both Berger and Strode lose their lives in the ongoing struggle (Berger poignantly so, while Strode's death scene is particularly great), with Nero almost bowing out himself under the strain of his siblings' torture - who have subsequently disposed of Caldwell and taken over the town themselves; the final confrontation, then, between Keoma and his three half-brothers is eerily set to the "strains" of Olga Karlatos' (playing a woman Keoma had earlier on saved from a plague-infested colony) wailing and screaming as she lies giving birth to a child amidst the carnage!

While at first I was disappointed that the Anchor Bay DVD only included the English dub, having watched it now it seems clear that the actors were all speaking their dialogue in English on the set - although, as connoisseurs will certainly know, this was all re-recorded back in the studios anyway (as was common practice in the Italian film industry). Still, if ever it gets shown again on Italian TV, I'll be sure to check it out just for completeness' sake. Thankfully, however, Castellari contributes a highly enthusiastic and informative Audio Commentary in which he discusses his major influences while making the film, among them Sidney J. Furie's THE APPALOOSA (1966), Altman's McCABE AND MRS. MILLER (1971) and Peckinpah's PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID (1973).

Ultimately, Franco Nero in the title role is almost as iconic a figure as Django and, hopefully, I should be getting to another fairly obscure but highly intriguing Spaghetti Westen of his - Luigi Bazzoni's MAN, PRIDE AND VENGEANCE (1968), an eccentric updating of Georges Bizet's opera "Carmen", co-starring Klaus Kinski and Tina Aumont - pretty soon...
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Classic spaghetti? Er... nope!
Steffi_P29 January 2005
Castellari's Keoma was part of the late 1970's second wave of spaghetti westerns. It is typically considered one of the better entries in the genre, some even rate it as a classic alongside Leone's masterpieces. However, while it has clearly been attempted to make the film look stylish and sophisticated, and at a casual glance it does look pretty well made, a more in depth look shows that it falls quite a long way off the mark.

Basically, it's clear that what Castellari has is a bunch of director's tricks up his sleeve - slow motion, unconventional camera angles, subtle merges into flashbacks and so on - all of them thieved from the work of other filmmakers. That in itself is no bad thing - after all Tarantino has made a career out of doing the same - but the difference is that Castellari clearly has no idea how and when to use these techniques. He simply throws them in at every opportunity, so that they actually stick out rather than enhance the film. The most obvious example is the Sam Peckinpah style slow motion deaths after someone is shot. In Peckinpah's films it was used skilfully to highlight the brutality of certain killings here and there throughout the movie. In Keoma it is used more or less every time someone is shot - about forty or fifty altogether - totally losing any impact it might have had.

Add to this that Keoma is a completely boring spaghetti western character - basically just a hippy with a colt - and not one of Franco Nero's better performances. The dialogue is terrible. The plot is text book spaghetti western back-for-revenge. This movie doesn't really have a lot going for it.

And then there is the music, famous itself among spaghetti western fans for being almost unlistenably bad, which seems to sum up the feeling of the entire film. Quite a nice melody, but either sung in a piercing shriek by the female vocalist or an unnerving growl by the male vocalist.

In short Keoma is a perfect example of style over substance - it's all dazzling flair in an attempt to cover up a pretty poor film. Viewers should stick to the real classic spaghettis like Sergio Leone and Sergio Corbucci's work.
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Some good gun play but it could have been better
westerner35727 September 2004
I have to pretty much agree with the two negative reviews below, and I'll explain why in a minute.

Franco Nero plays "Keoma" a half-breed Indian raised by a white man named Shannon (William Berger) who also has three sons (adoptive brothers of Keoma) who hate him and have never accepted a 'half-breed' as their brother.

There's also George (Woody Strode), an ex-slave and friend of Shannon's who teaches Keoma all he knows about fighting.

Cut 20 years later after some flashbacks and Keoma returns to the town near where he was raised and finds that a plague has engulfed the town with a quarantine imposed by a wealthy mine owner Caldwell (Donald O'Brien) who would just as soon have it's inhabitants all die off so he can fully control the area. Keoma steps in to save a pregnant woman who Caldwell's men suspect as a plague carrier and all hell breaks loose.

Yeah, some of the knife throwing does look ludicrous, but the fist fights look good and there's an excellent gun battle in town between Keoma, Shannon and George vs. Caldwell's men. It's really done well and it looks like it was filmed in the same western set built outside of Rome as DJANGO was ten years earlier. By this time though, the place looks pretty run down and cluttered which makes a good setting for a plague-infested town.

As far as negatives go, the music sucks. It's an annoying high pitch (mostly female) whine that appears periodically throughout the move, inter sprinkled with 'singing' done by Franco Nero himself. It sounds awful as he tries to imitate Leonard Cohen but winds up sounding like a lame Tom Waits. I don't know why anybody likes it. To each his own, I guess.

There's also the annoying Sam Peckinpah-like slow-motion effects that become a cliché used over and over. It ruins some of the great gunfights, especially at the end where Keoma is battling his brothers in a barn while the pregnant lady's screams drown out all the gun battle sound. A little too arty for my tastes.

The dubbing is OK and it sounds like Nero dubbed in his own voice which comes off as strange and foreign for a half-breed American Indian. I suppose one gets used to it as the film goes along.

The Anchor Bay DVD uses an anamorphic widescreen print that looks pretty good. Only a few scratches during the opening and closing titles. No closed captioning. Nero also does a 10 minute interview explaining how the film came about, along with a secondary audio track by director Enzo Castellari giving details about the filming. Yeah the spaghetti western genre was dead by the time this film was made, but Castellari says it did very well in Italy although not enough to revive the genre. Tastes were moving towards gangsters and crime dramas by the mid-70s, so this film was an exception, not the rule.

It has some good ideas but I wouldn't consider it a masterpiece for the genre or anything. However I did enjoy some of the gun play and fistfights.

6 out of 10

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Castellari's best film!
Aylmer2 November 1998
Without a doubt, this Italian-made western is right up there with ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, El TOPO, and THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY. Enzo G. Castellari's best film. Great cast and excellent slow motion shootout scenes, not to mention some truly amazing camera angles. One of the most engaging storylines and examples of character development I've seen. The music is great, as long as you don't mind the annoying sung narrative. Starts great and ends great, just stick around through the 20-minute dull spot in the middle of the film. It's quite a rewarding experience overall. Have fun trying to track down a copy of this gem, I sure did (NOT)!
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a spaghetti tour de force!
spider8911929 November 2008
This is one of the great spaghetti westerns. Franco Nero puts in what is perhaps his best performance ever, and it's great to see that his voice is not dubbed by someone else here. This is an action packed, gut wrenching, on the edge of your seat western from start to finish. It also has all the style, symbolism, and violence one could ask for from a spaghetti western, and then some.

This film has been criticized for a few different reasons, and I feel compelled to address a couple of those comments. The number one topic for discussion seems to be the soundtrack. Yes the soundtrack is a bit strange, but so is the movie, so in a way it's fitting. Personally, I think it's kind of hit and miss, but it works for the most part. I really like the female vocals. Her voice has a creepy, melancholy, and otherworldly quality to it that matches the film perfectly. The male vocals, on the other hand, sounded like an Italian muppet to me at first. Perhaps the cookie monster. I do have to say though that I just watched the film for the third time and the guy doesn't sound nearly as bad to me as he did the first time. This is a damn good movie anyway, regardless of whether or not one likes the soundtrack.

Another criticism I've heard is that Franco Nero plays an Indian with an Italian accent. First of all, this kind of thing is very common in films. Think of all the Romans, Greeks, Martians, etc. that have had English or American accents in the movies. This is no different except that in this movie it actually adds to the characterization of Keoma. He is an outsider, and the fact that his accent is so unique to the setting just adds to the effect.

Keoma's flashbacks to his boyhood are extremely well done, and the children they picked to play him and his half-brothers are very realistically matched to their adult counterparts. There are some cool slow-motion action scenes, and the action scenes in general are top-notch. I also like the character of the old woman who seems to have some kind of supernatural link to Keoma. We're never quite sure what her relationship is to him, or even whether she is real or not. The acting from all of the main players is also very well done, and the cinematography is beautiful.

This is one of those spaghetti westerns that stands out from the crowd. It's a must-see if you are at all interested in the genre. I would recommend it to anyone who likes westerns, action flicks, or movies that are not made with a cookie-cutter.
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Nothing you haven't seen before.
gridoon15 September 2002
Franco Nero essentially reprises his role from "Django", playing yet again a shaggy loner who is the fastest gun in the West and almost singlehandedly fights and destroys an entire gang of crooks. However, what was fairly fresh in 1966, is no longer fresh in 1976. The movie is too self-conscious about its own style, too derivative. You can only milk the "strong man of few words" cow so many times. It does have some interesting, unusual flashbacks, though, and beautiful widescreen cinematography. (**)
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Amazing experiments with sound and pictures - Contains Spoilers
unbrokenmetal12 June 2001
Warning: Spoilers
The first thing people notice when watching this movie are Castellari's obvious references to Peckinpah: lots of violence in slow motion. The second thing they won't forget is the soundtrack with the male and the female voice. The two singers are narrating the story. Both ideas are stretched a little too much. I find the many unusual camera angles and various other creative experiments more interesting. To name but a few: a) the shooting competition between Keoma and his father is filmed from the target's point of view, b) the amazing shot when Keoma counts his enemies by his fingers – and they appear behind the fingers, c) the crucifixion of Keoma, when the pregnant woman comes to rescue him, d) the appearances of the mystical old woman seem like a quote from `Macbeth', a witch on a stormy heath, her prophecies of death, e) the many brightly colored flashbacks (mainly from Keoma's childhood) are so fluently and frequently integrated, you hardly ever see this in a movie. Most amazing, however, is f) the final shootout, when Keoma kills his 3 adversaries while you hear nothing but the mother's screams while her baby is born. The pictures of lives ended, the sound of new life born, so to speak. Very often in `Keoma', the sound is a comment on what's happening or will happen rather than just the usual noises of the action taking place.

Apart from the fascinating experiments with both picture and sound, the movie would be worth watching for the unconventional story alone. Keoma fights bandits who – in the name of common sense – built a concentration camp for victims of a disease. Remember a doc in any other western who did anything else than cutting a bullet out of somebody's arm? The fear of pestilence helps the bandits to take control over the town. No happy-end, of course: Keoma's father and the woman he loves are dead, and Keoma leaves her baby behind just like that (`he is free, he doesn't need anything'). Franco Nero gives the wildest and most manic performance in his entire career. And he has so many great one-liners (`it's easy to kill someone who's already dead').

The only reason I can imagine why this movie is not ranked equal to the Italian western classics by Leone, Corbucci and Sollima is probably that it was released 6-10 years later, when nobody cared about westerns anymore. I hope you do, especially in this case.
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End of the line "spaghetti western"....
merklekranz15 April 2008
By (1976) when "Keoma" appeared on the scene, the "spaghetti western" had clearly become an exhausted genre. "Keoma" adds absolutely nothing new or unique. It is simply a failed attempt at style covering up zero substance, and little more than a patchwork of worn out clichés. The slow motion killings are derivative and redundant. There is minimal character development. The musical score is a wailing mess. Already in it's death throws, "Keoma" definitely nails the "spaghtetti western" coffin shut. If you want to see a very good non-Sergio Leone western, "The Big Gundown" would be an excellent choice. Just be sure to avoid "Keoma", because it offers nothing new, is not entertaining, and clearly is the end of the "spaghetti western" line. - MERK
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The music alone make this one of the worst Italian westerns ever made!!
MartinHafer8 April 2013
unbelievably bad singing Woody Strode Rarely have I ever heard worse music in a film--and I have reviewed well over 14,000 movies! Without a doubt, the woman who sings during "Keoma" is a talentless individual who is best doing ANYTHING other than sing! Yoko Ono or my dog would have done a better job than this lady--her ever-present screeching is just awful and made me hate this picture.

As for the story (though I wouldn't bother if I were you) is about a guy named Keoma (Franco Nero) whose father is white and mother an American Indian. Because of this, he is ostracized and treated like crap--even by his own half-brothers. In fact, later when he enters a town being destroyed by an evil gang, his three siblings are among the gang--and he must decide whether to fight them or just let injustice reign in this crappy old town.

The story is only adequate at best---and not good enough to overcome the wretched, soul-destroying music. Pleas, for the love of God, don't watch this film unless you are deaf!
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Classic Spaghetti Western plenty of action , shootouts and violence
ma-cortes3 June 2008
An ex-soldier mestizo named Keoma (Franco Nero's long hair is a wig) helps a pregnant (Olga Karlatos) from cutthroats . Keoma (the word/name Keoma means freedom) returns to a small town after the Civil War . The ghastly village is ruled by violent outlaw gangs (led by Donald O'Brien) , along with the Keoma's three brothers . Half-breed Keoma is helped by an alcoholic old man (Woody Strode) and his adoptive father (William Berger). The bandits leader prohibits the inhabitants leave from damned little town besieged by pest .

This twilight spaghetti Western packs a decrepit aesthetic , racist denounce and innovating scenarios set in Elios studios by designer production Carlo Simi , Sergio Leone's habitual . There is full of action in the movie , guaranteeing fist-play , stunts and shootouts every few minutes in Sam Peckimpah style . Franco Nero is cool , he bears a remarkable physical resemblance to JesusChrist , he helps a hapless pregnant and is crucified in a symbolic sequence . Interesting and thought-provoking screenplay by Luigi Montefiori or George Eastman who starred numerous Westerns . The plot of the film was mostly improvised same time the film was made , but director Enzo G. Castellari didn't like the original story . Because of problems with Schedule , they written script for next day every evening after filming of the day . It appears usual Spaghetti western secondaries, such as William Berger , Ken Wood, Robert Dell'Acqua and Ricardo Pizzuti . Sensitive , perceptible musical score by Guido and Maurizio De Angelis with an emotive atmosphere nearly to Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen songs . The picture was well produced by Manolo Bolognini , usual Italian Western producer : 'Django¨, ¨Goodbye Texas¨ , ¨Boot Hill¨ , ¨Gunman of Ave Maria¨ and ¨California¨. Director Enzo G. Castellari has stated that out of all the films he has directed, Keoma is his personal favorite . Followed by a sequel titled 'Jonathan of the bears'(1994) again with Franco Nero and director Enzo G. Castellari, being shot in Russia and including notable reminiscences with 'Dances with wolves', but the film failed at box office . Keoma was the 'swang song 'of Spaghetti because made not much after and resulted to be the 'coup of grace' of Italian Western.
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What a disappointment! (possible spoilers)
jcremona30 July 2003
Warning: Spoilers
After reading all of the online reviews, I was really looking forward to this one. I love spaghetti westerns, but this one just fell flat. Franco Nero was pretty good, but his dialogue felt forced and was generally awful. The part where he called his former friend and mentor a "nigger" and then said, "Oh, I'm sorry" was ridiculous and totally out of place with the scene and his character.

The score started out very nice, but was absolutely ruined by the inane singing from what sounded like a drunk Phyllis Diller and a sober Boris Yeltsin. I actually think it was Franco doing the singing for the man and the old witch-like-soothsayer singing the woman's part.

In one of first "fight" sequences some bad guy gets a knife thrown at his hand, knocking out his gun. Cut to Keoma, who is approximately 1/2 a mile away, looking mean, having been the one who "threw" the knife. Must have been attached to a rocket.

The fist-fight scenes were pretty good, and when Keoma does the four finger thing - that was probably the coolest part of the film. They had some pretty good ideas for this film, with the relationship between Keoma and his father and his half brothers, but Castellari just couldn't put these ideas into a film that engages the audience. You cannot begin to compare this film with the likes of Leone or Corbucci in their prime.

I rate this film one notch below Petroni's, "Death Rides a Horse." I didn't much care for that one either, but it was slightly more entertaining than "Keoma."
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Classic Spaghetti Western Flick
Director Enzo G.Castellari who also created other classic flicks, High Crime 1973 and The Inglorious Bastards 1978 has created another gem in Keoma.

Starring Franco Nero who has also been in another classic spaghetti western flick, Django 1966 and Enzo G.Castellari's High Crime.

Also starring William Berger who has also been in another classic spaghetti western flick, If You Meet Sartana Pray for Your Death 1968.

Also starring Olga Karlatos who has also been in another classic flick, Once Upon a Time in America 1984.

I enjoyed the shootouts and the slow motion sequences.

If you enjoyed this as much as I did then check out other classic spaghetti western flicks, Day of Anger 1967, A Fistfull of Dollars 1964, For a Few Dollars More 1965, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 1966, The Great Silence 1968, Have a Good Funeral My Friend Sartana 1971, Once Upon a Time in the West 1968, Deadly Trackers 1972 and Run, Man, Run 1968.
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Supernatural Western
cbdunn25 October 2003
This has to be my favorite Spaghetti Western of all time. The atmosphere and music by Guido and Maurizio De Angelis is haunting and adds alot to the mood of the picture. Of course Franco Nero does a great job ans the half Indian Keoma. There are alot of Sam Peckinpah slow motion style shootouts that are a homage to his classic "The Wild Bunch". There are no spoilers for me to give. I have the special edition dvd released by Anchor Bay and my biggest regret that there is not a release of the soundtrack on cd. See this classic western. 10 out of 10 rating.
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ravcon2 August 2004
I recently picked up Keoma as part of Anchor Bay's "Once Upon a Time In Italy" collection. This handy box-set also included "Texas Adios", "A Bullet For The General", "Companeros", and "Four Of The Apocalypse". After reading some pretty glowing reviews for Keoma, I had high hopes and expected it to be the best if not one of the better films included. Boy was I wrong!

While the film itself was fairly interesting and included some nice touches (especially an unexpected appearance by character actor "Woody Strode" - and some cleverly shot flashback sequences), it had an "overdone" quality to it. They were trying too hard for a "masterpiece". Mainly, this movie was plagued with the worst score I've ever had the misfortune to hear! The music itself wasn't the problem. What was however, were the annoying-as-hell female and male vocalists used to narrate the action throughout the movie. God they were AWFUL!!! They wouldn't shut up!

In the future, I plan to re-watch Keoma with the sound muted. That's the only way I feel I could sit through it again! Who knows? Maybe I'll enjoy it! I really wanted to like this movie.

I wouldn't normally recommend a movie that I gave a 4 of 10 rating for, but If you can rent this one, you need to hear the score just for laughs.
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Aaaahh waaannnaa ddddiieeeee
Bezenby25 August 2018
Notable actors: Franco Nero! William Berger! Olga Karlatos! Orso Maria Guerri! Antonio Marsina! Joshua Sinclair! Woody Strode! Donald O'Brien! Massimo Vanni!

Guido and Maurizio De Angelis Soundtrack!

This is one of my favourite Westerns; A windy, filth covered, Shakespearean dystopic nightmare where just about every character lives in a physical and mental hell that seems to end in some sort of bizarre Nativity play!

In an empty town where the only sound is the wind and a door banging, the most raggedy-ass gunslinger you've laid eyes on arrives, and is only noticed by an old woman scrabbling about in a pile of rubbish. The gunslinger is Keoma, just returned from fighting in the civil war. The old woman may or may not exist at all, as the only person who interacts with her is Keoma himself. Keoma does pause long enough to have a flashback to being rescued from a massacre, and you'll notice in this film, people have flashbacks to a more colourful time, while they also remain in shot, looking at their younger selves.

Keoma finds that all is not well in the place he grew up. A mysterious plague has taken over the town, but the town's new leader, a jerk called Caldwell, will not help the townsfolk and instead has his men forced sick people to work in a mine. Keoma also finds that even though his father is still around, he's too old now to take on Caldwell himself, plus Keoma's half brothers have sided with Caldwell "because he's the strongest". Keoma's old friend George (Woody Strode), who tutored Keoma as a kid (and plays a nifty banjo) has now turned into a hopeless drunk who is racially abused by Caldwell's men.

What really sets Keoma off however is the treatment of a pregnant woman (a nice vulnerable turn from Olga Karlatos). He finds her being carted off to the mines, and we find out very shortly into the film that Keoma is the quickest draw in the land, as he unloads his shotgun directly into Massimo Vanni's chest. This is all basically leading up to a showdown between Keoma and Caldwell, his many minions, and the three brothers.

There's a lot of trippy stuff going on in this film, and a lot of mumbly philosophy from Keoma, George and Keoma's Dad (the great William Berger), but the film is directed by Enzo Castellari, a man who never forgets the action. When things do finally kick off big style later in the film, the kill count goes absolutely through the roof, and that's before the gunfight that happens during the birth of Olga's kid (in a barn, while Keoma fights the three wise men I guess).

Enzo's eye for a strange angle or shot is amped up to the max, as is the slow motion, so that's good too. What puts people off however is the soundtrack, which features a lady doing a falsetto while a man does what sounds almost like Siberian throat singing. I don't mind it though - it adds to the otherworldly feel of the film, and if you can make out the lyrics, you'll find out why Keoma protects Olga so much (she remind him of his mum!).

There's good performances from William Berger (the man can excude genuine charm), Nero (who appears to be covered in filth from head to toe, but does his most expressive 'wet eye' acting) and Olga Karlatos (who is resigned to death and can't believe someone's helping her). Donald O'Brien, Joshua Sinclair and such like don't get too much room to move however as the bad guys.

Words can't do this one justice, really. And remember: No man born free shall ever die!
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A revelation
BandSAboutMovies7 May 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Franco Nero (Django himself, as well as The Fifth Cord, The Visitor and many others) is Keoma, a half-breed survivor of the Civil War who has returned home to find his home destroyed by a plague and the gang leader Caldwell (Richard O'Brien, Zombi), who has Keoma's half-brothers on his side.

When our hero saves a pregnant yet plague-ridden woman (Olga Karlatos, Zombi) from Caldwell's men, he must go to war with his brothers while trying to mend fences with his father (William Berger) and his actual father figure, the freed slave George (former pro wrestler Woody Strode, Spartacus).

This sounds like a great set-up for a Western, but this movie transcends the genre thanks to a script written by George Eastman and the directorial skills of Enzo G. Castellari (1990: The Bronx Warriors, Warriors of the Wasteland). Beyond the extreme violence in nearly every scene, this movie boasts dramatic illusions that push it past the spaghetti genre and into a work of extreme drama. There are parts that remind me of a Japanese film as well as the next level of Western as prophecized by El Topo, a fact confirmed by Eastman's interview on this film's extras.

Throughout the film, Keoma is constantly visited by an old woman pulling a cart filled with army boots. In the filmed version, she is simply a woman who saved him during the massacre of a Native American camp, while the script had her as the personification of death itself, always chasing Keoma even as he saved others from her.

While sold in some countries as a Django film, this stands on its own. Starting with the Eastman script, Castellari rewrote on a daily basis with the help of his cast and crew, drawing inspiration from the works of Shakespeare and Peckinpah.

Adding to the mystical feel of the film is the soundtrack, which was composed by Guido & Maurizio De Angelis, who you may know better as Oliver Onions. They've scored plenty of Italian favorites, such as Torso, the theamtically similar western Mannaja, 2019: After the Fall of New York and, of course, the stunning theme song for Yor Hunter from the Future.

Arrow's new release of Keoma features a new 2K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative, the choice to enjoy the film in English or Italian (with newly translated English subtitles), audio commentary by spaghetti western experts C. Courtney Joyner and Henry C. Parke and tons of documentaries.

There's The Ballad of Keoma, a new interview with star Franco Nero; Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, a new interview with the director; Writing Keoma, a new interview with George Eastman (this is the entire reason I wanted this release to come out!); Parallel Actions, a new interview with editor Gianfranco Amicucci; The Flying Thug, a new interview with actor Massimo Vanni; Play as an Actor, a new interview with actor Volfango Soldati; Keoma and the Twilight of the Spaghetti Western, a newly filmed video appreciation by Austin Fisher; an archival piece called An Introduction to Keoma by Alex Cox; the original Italian and international theatrical trailers; a gallery of original promotional images from the Mike Siegel Archive and a reversible sleeve featuring the original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips (whose comic book Criminal is great).

The interview with Nero is worth the price of this disc, as his recollections are great. How does he look better at 78 than I do at 46? And when else are you going to find George Eastman discussing his writing or that Castellari has Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen in his mind for not only the soundtrack but the dialogue of his characters? Man - this is pretty much a dream release for me!

Of course, this being an Arrow release, everything is as perfect as it gets. The print is stunning, rich in both blackness and colors, while the presentation is, as always, the pinnacle of modern media releasing. This is a film that screams that it demands to be in your movie collection.

Supposedly, Castellari has a movie called The Fourth Horseman in pre-production, with Franco Nero (as Keoma), Sid Haig, Michael Berryman, Bill Mosely, Kane Hodder, Fabio Testi, George Hilton and Gianni Garko (as Sartana!) listed as the cast. If this movie happens, I might have to fly to Italy to see it in an actual theater. Or projected in a screen while people get drunk around me in the hills outside the city, old school Italian movie style.
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Scarecrow-8815 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Hated half-Indian Keoma returns from the war finding soldiers condemning plague-ridden townsfolk to quarantined camp, rescuing a healthy pregnant woman from being sent there. This decision doesn't bode well with the soldiers(accompanied by his rival half-brothers)and Keoma is often at odds with them trying to keep the woman out of the camp so that she can have her child in a more comfortable, less dangerous environment. With help from freed slave George, his mentor, and father William Shannon, Keoma will have to shoot it out with Caldwell's innumerable army who have been keeping supplies and medicine from the town and sick of the plague. Meanwhile, The Shannon trio plan to let Keoma and Caldwell kill each other in the hopes of taking over the town when those two are out of the way.

Brilliantly utilizing Peckinpah slow motion to superb dramatic effect, along with some breathtaking tracking shots throughout, not to mention terrific lengthly gunfight between Keoma, his father, and George against Caldwell's endless army in the town, Enzo G Castellari crafts one hell of a western, further building the iconic status of Franco Nero as a formidable gunslinger hero. Enzo simply understands how to build a scene to it's crescendo, and his camera is able to capture so much, in terms of both exciting action and expressionistic faces of the many different characters who enter the picture. Heavy emphasis on musical influence to envelope the viewer, and Enzo's use of dusty wind(and rain at the end as Keoma is bound to a wheel overlooking the town)is phenomenal. Definitely an underrated western, and deserves to be more well known than it is. Woody Strode is such a welcome presence, as Keoma's idol, fallen into alcoholism, having sold his beloved bow to purchase liquor, now a laughingstock treated with ridicule. Olga Karlatos, even as a pregnant woman falling on hard times, is astonishingly beautiful as shot by Castellari, her face, like so many in the film, revealing so much without saying a word. I believe the greatest compliment to give to this movie is how Castellari arranges poetic scenes of characters communicating to each other through silence, eyes meeting yet speaking much louder than words(like the heartbreaking capture of William Shannon, by Caldwell, as Keoma knows he's defeated, only to witness a horrifying tragedy despite his surrender). William Berger, as Will Shannon, shares wonderful scenes with Nero, during their father and son chats, and their joining forces signifies their characters' love for one another. Gabriella Giacobbe has a fascinating part as "the witch" someone who reappears at various points in the film when Keoma is confronted with difficult tasks. Donald O'Brien is scoundrel Caldwell, a real dirtbag who uses his men to wield his power, with Orso Maria Guerrini, Antonio Marsina, and Joshua Sinclair as the Brothers Shannon. Castellari closes the film with the Brothers Shannon out to finally rid themselves of their lifelong nuisance, the gunfight juxtaposed with Karlatos''s kind of anti-climatic after all that preceded it, but we knew it would come down to this.
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Keoma is a perfect spaghetti western a 10 in my book
pressureworld13 July 2003
Excellent spaghetti western France Nero is simply outstanding as Keoma. Anyone with an interest in westerns should see this It has everything we fans love about these wonderful films. The action is made up of many slow motion sequences paying homage to Sam Peckinpah. When Keoma comes home he has to deal with his sadisic brothers and bandits in this tale of rage & jealously this is brilliantly directed with a one of a kind score check it out. (also see Mannaja a man called Blade )
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A Late, Great Entry into the Spaghetti Western Genre.
JohnWelles24 February 2012
"Keoma: The Avenger" (1976), is a Spaghetti Western directed by Enzo G. Castellari (who would late make the 1976 film "Inglorious Bastards", a film that Quentin Tarantino paid a large homage to in "Inglorious Basterds" [2008]) and stars genre stalwart Franco Nero. This film comes from the dying days of the genre, when it was in its protracted and some times painful decline. Only one or two more Spaghetti Westerns were made before it died, but this particular entry is among the best and can stand comparison with anything made in the 1960s. It is a great last hurrah, all the better for being resolutely un-nostalgic.

The script is by Mino Roli, Nico Ducci, Luigi Montefiori, and Enzo Girolami; it covers familiar territory but in an unusual fashion: Half-breed Indian Keoma (Nero) returns, after the American Civil War, to his border hometown where he finds it under the control of an ex-Confederate raider called Caldwell (Donald O'Brien) and his gang. Keoma's three half-brothers have also united with Caldwell and want to make sure Keoma doesn't hang around.

What distinguishes this banal storyline is the overt use of not just allegorical mysticism, but also borrowings from ancient Greek plays, such as the wandering Earth-mother character, which is splendidly played by Gabriella Giacobbe. This surprising if obvious use of symbolism coupled with apocalyptic imagery really makes the film standout in your memory.

The direction from Castellari is highly efficient, and one of the best parts of the film. However, the frequent use of slow motion, while well done, is derivative of Sam Peckinpah, but without his mature understanding of violence. Here, it is just done for "cool" effect.

The cast is exceptional in its bringing together icons of the genre, from Franco Nero, "Django" himself, to such great supporting actors as William Berger, Woody Strode and Donald O'Brien. All give performances perfectly suited to their roles and are almost reason enough to watch the film.

On the debt side, unfortunately, is a fairly terrible score by Guido & Maurizio De Angelis, with some terrible singing (sounding like drunken amateur folk singers) punctuating the action like nails on a blackboard; ah well, you can't have it all, can you? Still, this is a hugely enjoyable late entry in the spaghetti Western oeuvre that I highly recommend.
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