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The Scarlet Worm (2011)

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An aging killer trains a young hired gun in a plot to assassinate a meek brothel owner performing barbaric abortion acts on his prostitutes.

Writer:

David Lambert
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Aaron Stielstra ... Print
Dan van Husen ... Heinrich Kley
Brett Halsey ... Mr. Paul (as Montgomery Ford)
Derek Hertig Derek Hertig ... Lee
Kevin Giffin Kevin Giffin ... Hank
Rita Rey Rita Rey ... Annabelle
Eric Zaldivar ... Gus
Mike Malloy ... Mathis Reed - Love Cowboy
Robert Amstler ... The Rifleman
David Lambert David Lambert ... Will Hardtmuth - Cattle Rustler
Raymond Isenberg Raymond Isenberg ... The Pugilist
Jojo Myricks Jojo Myricks ... Big Mercy
Lou Michaels Lou Michaels ... Indian Shaman (as Lucio Hernandez)
Ted Rusoff ... Print's Attorney (voice)
Michael Forest ... Judge Hanchett (as Mike Forest)
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Storyline

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 Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

In the old west, the lucky ones died first. Luckier still were the ones who were never born at all!

Genres:

Western

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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 August 2011 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cowboy Vengeance See more »

Filming Locations:

Agua Dulce, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$25,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Wild Dogs Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The shot of dust blowing off the skull in the opening credits sequence was done with a leaf blower. See more »

Goofs

Although the film is set in 1909, one character wields a carbine version of the Mosin Nagant rifle, the M44 (identifyable by its permanent folding bayonet), which was not produced until 1944. See more »

Alternate Versions

Amazon Prime "Cowboy Vengeance" release is missing graphic shots of the bloody aborted fetus, plus sex scenes and any scenes featuring nude prostitutes. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Credit Where Credit Is Due
7 February 2019 | by seriouscritic-42569See all my reviews

This movie was quite a surprise. Here we have quite a few ingredients for a complete failure; very low budget, a period film, lots of physical violence and action and a medium sized cast of mostly inexperienced actors (and a few well-worn veterans). On top of that the screenplay wasn't content to be just some genre template; I think it really wanted to be about something. The fact that they pulled off anything with those obstacles is a plus. I have to applaud the filmmaker's ambition even if he effectively shot himself in the foot because of it. A western might seem to be a simple type of period piece to do but if you are attempting it with limited resources you need to either scale your film down to maximize them, or really stay on top of your game and be attentive to all the details. Mr. Fredianelli did neither. I wonder what he would have created if he had?

It is a bit of a tough slog to get through if one cares only for the quality (or lack of it) on display. The screenplay, although it rises above the vast majority of low budget screenplays - in what it attempts - is still repetitious and frequently awkward. No doubt it's heart was in the right place but you don't film your "intention", you polish your darn screenplay and make it acceptable! It tries to provide interesting character "bits" but because the exchanges seem unrehearsed (or like poor quality improv) they don't feel believable and the film stumbles to a stop again and again. Dialogue veers from a conscious attempt to sound "period" to almost casual modern profanity while dropping anachronistic phrases and attitudes left and right. Much of it's serious aspects seem neither developed nor even well thought out.

Particularly deadly for a period film that wants to be seen as something other than neighborhood kids playing cowboys, there doesn't seem to be a clear grasp of the time and place while at the same time I got the impression the director knew there should be one: people are not as clean and neat as modern counterparts, however the effort to achieve this is comically bad - very specific smudges on cheeks and brows that seem only to have come from contact with a make-up artist. And how do you explain the town's barber who always wears chaps, unless they were part of a western costume he borrowed? And the town's hookers with their modern underwear and lingerie? The fabric of the shirts and the modern styled jeans? The lead character wears an anachronistic suit, but they knew he should have a different type of tie. Of course the fabric, fold and cut of the tie looks like it belongs to a last minute available resource, not the period, but at least there was the attempt.

The actors perform as if they are still in the process of learning their lines - nothing else could excuse the halting, labored way sentences slowly stumble out of actor's mouths. But, having said that, at least the performers were not encouraged (or allowed) to be unnaturally over-the-top; the sort of hammy theatrical style so common amongst wanna-be actors only experienced with the community or collegiate stage. So again, a big plus tempered by a big negative.

The director was wise enough to know he needed his frame filled with texture and dressing however this only translates into a wide disparity between the appropriateness of props and set dressing. A more experienced (or talented) visual eye could have also shown how to better compose shots so that the environments seemed real; as it is 90% of all interiors look as if they were shot in the same place, slightly - and unimaginatively - re-dressed. They are also shot in such a way that it looks like they could only dress one wall, and a corner, per "location" - I'm sure moving the camera would reveal things we shouldn't see. Because of this limitation more than half the film is visually flat and stagy.

Obviously the director aspires to be a Peckinpah or a Leone - and he is to be praised for aiming high - but the number of shootouts and violent confrontations require the ability to pull them off. In this he only achieves a fifty percent success rate, which is commendable; but if he'd had fewer of them he could have spent twice the time and effort to get them perfect. One can see him straining to recreate a Peckinpah blood-bath vibe, but when half your violence is rather embarrassingly staged and shot, you're not doing your film any favors.

Unfortunately it strikes me as the work of a film fanatic who is happy enough just to attempt something, and is far less concerned with whether he is doing it well. I'll give him respect for using blood squibs but why settle for such poor consistency blood? Or the over reliance on the terribly cheesy digital gun flash effect (when we'd be seeing much more smoke than flash from period firearms)? And if he wants his films to be good, as opposed to just ballsy, he should do some research (or recruit people with the appropriate skills and knowledge). The production reeks of enthusiasm over ability, and fosters the concern that he might not know the difference. And if there had only been more polish to the poorer parts, it wouldn't be so difficult to sit through.

I found myself curious, and mildly optimistic, to see what this filmmaker would do with future projects but a quick search reveals he's made another 29 of these little films in the past seven years so I'm wary the optimism, however slight, might be poorly placed.


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