Massacre Time (1966)

Much as Zombie Flesh Eaters kind of saved Lucio Fulci’s flagging career at the end of the 70s, so too did Massacre Time give him a boost in the mid-60s that he was apparently badly in need of. The interesting difference, of course, is that he never really followed the spaghetti western route thereafter in the way that he did the horror route… just imagine how different his career might’ve been if he had. Cos if nothing else, Massacre Time—and I am hardly the first, I’m sure, to observe how that title could’ve been applied to a number of Fulci’s later films—demonstrates that he surely did have at least some gift for the form… The film appeared just a few months after Django (which I intend to watch soon), so the film’s star Franco Nero was hot property; here he’s a gold prospector, Tom, called back to his old home town for mysterious reasons, to find the old place has changed, new owners have taken it over, and his brother Jeff has become the village pisspot. And Tom himself turns out to be not quite who he thought he was. And yet, despite being the hero of the film, Tom feels oddly secondary somehow; George Hilton, as Jeff, actually has a more interesting part and screen presence, particularly as the film unfolds and we discover that, however much blood may be in his alcohol stream, Jeff is markedly less useless than he first appears. As for Fulci, he shows that, when kept away from Dardano Sacchetti and forced to tell a story that makes sense, he was capable of strong, solid filmmaking; not particularly fast-paced stuff, this, but well-shot and well-played, indeed there’s one part of the lengthy climactic shoot-out—Nero charging his attackers in a carriage and executing a terrific somersault to land behind them—I actually had to applaud. I don’t suppose Massacre Time particularly reinvents the wheel or anything. but it made for rather splendid Sunday afternoon entertainment of the sort I suppose it was always meant to be…

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