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Keoma A.k.a The Violent Breed
Directed by Enzo G. Castellari 1976, Italy
Starring Franco Nero, Woody Strode, William Berger, Donald O'Brien, Olga Karlato's, Giovanni Cianfriglia, Orso Maria Guerrini, Gabriella Giacobbe, Antonio Marsina, John Sinclair, Leon Lenor, Wolfgango Soldati, Victoria Zinny, Alfio Caltabiano
You would never be able to tell Keoma is directed by the same individual responsible for such entertaining cheese as 1990: The Bronx Warriors and Warriors Of The Wasteland. Italian auteur Enzo G. Castellari like most of his Italian cohorts such as Fulci and Lenzi moved from genre to genre but with this western its clear to see Castellari's style pays off best.
Much like the late great Italian horror director Lucio Fulci who made a couple of great early giallos (Don't Torture The Duckling, A Lizard In Woman's Skin) before going on his gore film rampage. Castellari has made quite a unique piece of work with Keoma, now all we need is a good classy film from D'amato or Deodato then the gap would be filled to prove the directors have some real talent besides showing gruesome gore and bare flesh. Don't get me wrong, I love this stuff but sometimes you need a movie with some substance (besides the blood substance I mean). It's a shame Keoma is so hard to find because it definitely deserves a re-release of some sort.
Keoma is the name of an incredible half white, half Indian (half Italian too, nice thick accent there, hehehehe) man who possesses some major talent for being a quick and accurate shot. Keoma returns to the town he grew up in to find out the place is in turmoil due to the spread of a plague and a man named Caldwell (Donald O'Brien) who now runs the place. Caldwell will not let anyone dying from the plague out of town or let any medical supplies in.
Keoma shows up and saves woman thought to have the plague (the beautiful Olga Karlottos, who can forget the eyeball splinter scene in Zombie?) and then rides into town where he fights Caldwell's men and reunites with some old family. Besides this he experiences a number of flashbacks from his childhood and is followed by a lady able to change his destiny. It all ends off in a not so usual finale.
With most of Castellari's films I was foaming at the mouth during the excellent slow motion shootings, their so damn stylish and not bloody. There is a heap of violence in it but nothing graphic, much like the old westerns. I also really liked the style in which some of the flashback scenes were carried out and integrated into the film without switching camera's especially at the beginning.
Keoma is a great film, the only minor annoyance is the narrative song which keeps looping throughout the film. I was pleasantly surprised to see the story for Keoma was written by George Eastman (Luigi Montefiori). Do yourself a favor and track this one down, you won't be disappointed.