14 December 2013 | hitchcockthelegend
For whom the bell tolls.
And God said to Cain (E Dio Disse a Caino) is directed by Antonio Margheriti, who also co-writes the screenplay with Giovanni Addessi. It stars Klaus Kinski, Peter Carsten, Marcella Michelangeli, Guido Lollobrigida and Antonio Cantafora. Music is by Carlo Savina and cinematography by Riccardo Pallottini and Luciano Trasatti.
When Gary Hamilton (Kinski) receives a pardon from his sentence at a prison work camp, he has only one thing on his mind; revenge on those responsible for his unfair incarceration.
A ghost returns and he'll have, he'll have only one desire in his heart, only one thirst: Revenge.
How wonderful, a Spaghetti Western/horror hybrid with scary Kinski as an avenging angel good guy! For the first 30 minutes the film looks to be building up a head of steam for a standardised Spaghetti Western, but things shift once Hamilton approaches town and night begins to fall. From here the film plays out as a Gothic horror involving Western characters, resplendent with big creepy mansion set in a shifty looking town that is cloaked in murky moonlight.
The whole town teeters on the edge of panic as they know who is coming to visit on this dark night. Atmosphere is tightly coiled as things move in the shadows, windows blow open, strange sounds emanate on the impending storm, and the stench of death is everywhere. A bell tolls ominously, birds flee the vicinity, all while Hamilton moves about the town with deadly silence, even using a network of catacombs under the town that were left over from an aged Indian cemetery.
The production value isn't high, but Margheriti maximises what is at his disposal to great ends. The sound effects work is simply terrific, with the shrill of the birds and the dripping water in the caverns playing a tune being particularly striking. There's inventive deaths, sublime scenes (love that rider less horse sequence and the Orson Welles mirror homage) and Kinski being ace as a ghoulish phantom taking a string from the bow of the Count of Monte Cristo.
It's also great to find that Margheriti and Addessi give strength to the picture by way of psychological smarts within the characterisations. This is not merely a spooky revenge story, a chance to pile the bodies up, there is substance to the main players, their motives and means, their frailties and family fractures brutally laid bare. The dialogue is sometimes naff, the cliché's of Spaghetti Westerns rife, and of course not all the visual effects work like they should, but this is one moody and memorable movie that is well worth seeking out if you can see a decent enough print of it. 8/10