9 September 2010 | Michael_Elliott
Bland Western With a Few Nice Touches
Five Savage Men (1970)
** (out of 4)
Michele Carey plays a school teacher heading out West who just happens to be on the same stagecoach as criminal Pudge (Keenan Wynn). Sure enough Pudge's four goons attack the coach to get him off and of course they take the teacher hostage. Later that day they all gang rape her and leave her for dead but she's nurses back to health thanks to an Apache Indian (Henry Silva). He also teaches her the Apache way and trains her to go kill her attackers. This Western is also known as THE ANIMALS and THE DESPERADOS but no matter what title you saw it under at the drive-in, the end results aren't as good as one would wish. I swear while watching the film I thought this was an Italian movie but apparently it was made in America, which struck me as strange because it's obvious that a lot of the dialogue has been dubbed. I'm not sure how on Earth dubbed Carey but her voice sounds horrible here and is way too high-pitched. It sounds as if someone wanted to play a teenage cheerleader and I'll apologize in advance if that is her real voice. The movie is pretty much a pre-clone of DEATH WISH but the screenplay doesn't give the teacher that much to do. She seems to get over her ordeal fairly quickly and we're never really explained anything she's doing. We never really get to understand why she wants this revenge or why she doesn't seem to have any effects of the rape. The screenplay also doesn't give the Apache too much to do as he pretty much just stands by doing his own thing and this includes at the start of the rape. Those expecting graphic violence are going to have to look elsewhere as none of the shootings are all that graphic and the rape scene isn't shocking either. The rape sequence was shot in an interesting way and it appears the director wanted it to be psychedelic with its strange visuals and zooms. Carey is just way too bland in the title role and Silva appears to be wishing he was somewhere else. Wynn, on the other hand, delivers a terrific, if over-the-top performance that at least keeps you watching. The ending is a pretty effective one and has a clear message through the rest of the film's short-comings but at least it does end on a strong note.