The Hills Run Red
That, Ken Seagull (Nando Gazzolo), eh? What a nasty piece of work he is. Well, if it wasn't bad enough he and his gang of henchmen have an entire town running scared, on top to that, did you know this scumbag also had me sent to prison for five whole years and killed my wife while I was away?
Yeah. I'm not messing about. Not now anyway. Because now I'm back -- me, Jerry Brewster (Thomas Hunter) -- and along with my partner in crime, Winny Getz (Dan Duryea), I'm gonna do what I must until we can both penetrate his inner most sanctum, and take Ken down from the inside out.
Granted, I'm sure his top-dog Mendez (Henry Silva) won't be an easy obstacle to over come. And depending on what side she takes, I can say exactly the same thing about his sister Mary Ann (Nicoletta Machiavelli) as well. Then again, that's most probably why what next transpires all gets rather touching when I spot my estranged son from the corner of my eye. As the locals start to fight back - always remember to bet on the black - a one sided battle exhibits some stormy weather - and at the end of the day, whilst one family dies, another finally comes together.
In an indirect manner I'd say 'The Hills Run Red' reminded me a cross between a Burt Lancaster and a Sergio Leone western. On the one hand it exhibited all of those traits you can expect from a Burt movie -- such as the wholesome American spirit, plus a pretext that is one part earthy and one part pure. Where as on the other hand it also exhibited all of those traits you can expect from a Leone movie too -- such as the wide panoramic visuals, the operatic music, plus all of those scenes where the good guy gets the crap kicked out of him, as if to give him a reason to fight back.
In fact, I loved Henry's and Dan's performances so much; I'd go so far as to say that I would have liked to have seen a lot more of them in it.
Of course, I do mean this with all due respect. It's just that from my point of view Henry and Dan seemed more in-line with the Sergio Leone style of film-making, whilst Thomas seemed more in-line with the Burt Lancaster style of film-making. And this, in turn, once again divides this movie into two distinct camps that I stated previously as being 'strange'. Strange -- yet perfectly complete -- as if this film were the love child of these two aforementioned styles without really meaning to.
A good example of this can be seen in that scene nearing the end of this adventure. In it there is a big shoot-out between these three actors and a group of henchmen, where we get to see how each of them acts in the field of battle. Now in Thomas' case he seems to be an acerbic character like Burt usually plays, running around from man to man and shooting them down accordingly. Yet in Henry and Dan's case, they come across like two different sides of the 'Tuco character' seen in 'The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, either pontificating in Mexican slang or throwing jovial grenades whilst shooting with the rest of them.
Not that this is a bad thing mind you. If anything it actually allowed the dichotomy between these three roles to be more clearly defined. And funnily enough, this is something you can't actually say about the main villain of this piece -- as played by Nando Gazzolo -- whose presence was only felt at the very start and very end of this movie. Making him feel more like a 'shrouded villain' rather than an 'in-your-face bad-guy'!
Anyway. By now I'm sure you got the basic gist of what I thought about this very good western. So how about we all now sit back, relax, and check out the following filmic-facts. (1) 'United Artists' first released this production in
on the exact same day Adam Sandler was born. It was on the 9th of September, 1966. (2) Loosely translated,
this project was entitled ' '
in River Of Dollars Poland;
'Blood In The Hills' in Mexico;
and 'Dollar Power' in Finland.
(3) Just prior to making this adventure, Carlo Lizzani decided to give himself the
directorial pseudonym, Lee W. Beaver. (4) Piero Regnoli, who was the screenwriter
that penned this flick, is best known for writing such b-movie classics as
'Lust of the Vampire', 'Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror'; and 'Gunan, King
of the Barbarians'. (5) Even though the majority of this movie was shot at
'Dino De Laurentiis Studios', ,
a large chunk of it was shot on location throughout the Spanish city of Rome, Italy Madrid
-- most notably, Colmenar Viejo and La Pedriza. (6) One of the taglines used to
promote this picture, was, 'The man who had five years to think about killing his
best friend! Finally they meet'. (7) In
2008 there was a documentary developed about this spaghetti
western entitled, 'A History of Dollars'. (8) After this shindig stole a
salami, Thomas Hunter starred in the TV series, 'Hawk'; Henry Silva starred in
an episode of 'Tarzan'; and Dan Duryea starred in the western series, 'The
Overall I'd say 'The Hills Runs Red' is a very good film. It's well acted. It's well structured. It's well composed. It's well paced. And without putting too finer point on it, this movie reminds of the love child of Sergio Leone and Burt Lancaster.
Hey! This is always a good thing in my book! Strange, but good! Nuff said.
THE RATING: A-