Friday, December 6, 2013

Massacre Time (Lucio Fulci, 1966) Director of the Month Series 1.1

So yes, this is the first entry in what I hope becomes a weekly feature on Celluloid Terror, the director of the month series. In this I hope to pick a director each month and discuss one of their films each week. These directors will range from well known horror directors to modern day guys with a lot of hype surrounding them and even art house type fellas. If will be a good chance for you, the reader, to possibly discover some films from a director whose work you enjoy that you may not have known about (and this is great for me to as it will inevitably force me to dig deeper into director's filmographies) and it will help me keep up an (hopefully) interesting feature. I chose Lucio Fulci as the first director, not because he's my favorite director or that I love all of his work. I chose Fulci because he's well known and widely loved but has a wide array of films that many of his fans have overlooked along with having dabbled in many genres.

The spaghetti western became an international phenomena after the success of Sergio Leone's A Fistful Of Dollars in 1964. 2 Short years later Lucio Fulci made his debut in the genre with MASSACRE TIME (aka THE BRUTE AND THE BEAST) from a screenplay by Fernando Di Leo, king of the Euro-Crime genre. Starring Franco Nero who was fresh off the set of Django, the film that would make him a star, MASSACRE TIME is a story about vengeance and the meaning of family. Nero stars as Tom Corbett a gold prospector who returns home when a sadistic land owner, Mr. Scott, takes over his families ranch.

Upon returning home, Corbett finds his brother Jeff (George Hilton) is a lousy alcoholic who is on the bad side of many and his mother is distraught and wants nothing more than Tom to leave and return to safety. Tom confronts Mr. Scott only to be badly beaten by his son Junior and bloodied badly with a bull whip. Later that night tragedy strikes the family and the brothers Tom and Jeff vow vengeance on the Scotts until Tom learns of a rift in the family bloodline, one that will forever tie him to the Mr. Scott and his despicable son, Junior.

MASSACRE TIME is a well made if albeit predictable western that doesn't try to reinvent the mold that was still being formed when it was released. This film features the classic "stranger" character, the bar fight scene, a comic relief coffin maker (that was obviously taken straight from A Fistful Of Dollars and the movie that it was a remake of, Yojimbo, from acclaimed director Akira Kurosawa. Franco Nero dons all black on more than occasion which obviously makes the viewer think of Django. Nero is solid in the lead role, as would be expected but not seeing him as the most experienced gunslinger in town is a bit hard to look passed.

Lucio Fulci would go on to make a handful of westerns, some of them are better and more interesting than MASSACRE TIME but for a director still forming his style, in a genre still forming its style, MASSACRE TIME will go down as a respectable entry into the genre with a good cast and a typically satisfying score and a memorable soundtrack. Fans of Fulci's gore soaked horror works of the 80s will find plenty of blood and violence to enjoy here as well. Do yourself a favor and check out the beloved horror directors first western. 


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