14 August 2008 | Bunuel1976
PAYMENT IN BLOOD (Enzo G. Castellari, 1967) **1/2
This was the fifth(!) Spaghetti Western I've watched from director Castellari (whom I met at the 2004 Venice Film Festival) it's not too bad an effort actually, though still far away from the admirably elegiac quality he would eventually achieve in KEOMA (1976).
The plot is pretty typical of the genre: after the end of the Civil War, a Confederate Colonel (Guy Madison) wants to keep up the fight and recruits a band of outlaws to finance his campaign through random pillaging; given that the original Italian title makes an explicit reference to the fact that the gang totals seven men, I guess the film intended to be a roguish version of THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960)! Anyway, as expected, an outsider (Edd Byrnes) soon joins their ranks after having rescued one of them (Enio Girolami, the director's brother and who, in the role of a peon, irritatingly speaks almost exclusively in Spanish throughout!). However, it transpires (equally unsurprisingly) that he's really a government agent out to ensnare Madison and his men by ostensibly leading them to a buried cache' of Confederate money! Along the way, a female character is also thrown into the fray which, naturally, causes discord among the Colonel and his 'underlings' since, rather than share her with them as was their habit, he decides to keep her for himself; at the end, she too turns out to have been on the side of the law (and in cahoots with Byrnes all along)!
The film features plenty of action set to a rousing score by Francesco De Masi and climaxes agreeably with an atmospheric sequence set inside a cave (where the now worthless money is stashed) that served as burial ground for some Indian tribe or other.