Four of the Apocalypse (1975)

Lucio Fulci in soft-focus spaghetti western shocker! Actually, the most shocking thing about this film is the soft-focus score, a string of very light soft rock tunes with lyrics (and bloody awful lyrics) about the film’s characters, probably meant to recall Pink Floyd’s late 60s/early 70s More and Obscured by Clouds soundtrack albums (plus the music they did for Zabriskie Point) while not being anywhere near as good. Four of the Apocalypse has other problems, it should be said, but none quite so fatal as the music. Fulci only made a handful of westerns and I’d not seen any before, so I wanted to check this out. After a pretty rip-roaring intro in which a vigilante gang basically massacres an entire town apart from four people the sheriff’s got in his jailhouse to apparently spare their lives for some reason, he then dispatches them on a wagon to wherever; eventually a gunman called Chaco joins the party and proves to be, well, bad company. Apart from the opening business, Chaco being Chaco and a bit of longpig consumption, the film is otherwise remarkably free of unpleasantness and almost comes across as Fulci trying to be subtle, which quality I don’t think he’s otherwise known for; quite a few of the reviews I’ve seen describe the film as a kind of character study. Except it doesn’t really work, cos Fulci only really seems interested in Chaco, Fabio Testi’s smooth gambler and, to a lesser extent, Lynne Frederick’s not especially believable prostitute (the childbirth business is icky, but not in the way Fulci’s films usually are). A more straightforward, much tighter revenge narrative might’ve worked better, so might a few more explanations (who are those other guys we later see Chaco with?), a bit more cohesiveness… actually a bit more of anything happening might’ve helped. And certainly less of THAT FUCKING MUSIC. Apparently one of Fulci’s own favourites of all his films, though I’m afraid I don’t exactly share the love.


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