July 19, 2023

BLOOD MONEY: All-You-Can-Eat Spaghetti

1967-1970 / 360 min (4 movies)
Review by Mr. Paws😺

This boxed set collects four spaghetti westerns from the genre’s heyday. None of them are iconic, nor would any be considered essential viewing. There are no Leones, Morricones, Eastwoods, Van Cleefs or Neros to be seen or heard (though their shadows loom large over a few of ‘em). Still, there’s enough spaghetti here for an entertaining night of Italian binge eating, with plenty of garlic bread (extras) on the side.

Conceived as one of many unofficial sequels to 1966’s Django, Gianni Garko (billed as Gary Hudson) assumes the iconic name as a bounty hunter in $10,000 Blood Money. He’s first hired to rescue a man’s kidnapped daughter from ruthless bandit Manuel Vasquez (Claudio Camaso), but later agrees to help the latter with a gold heist. But when he’s double-crossed, resulting in the death of a woman he loves, Django goes on a revenge-fueled rampage. A fun movie overall, Garko is no Franco Nero, but he exudes enough coolness (and deadly skill) to keep us interested. However, Camaso steals the movie with an unhinged performance (he also looks like a sweaty, psychotic Adam Lambert).

Garko and Camaso return as two different characters in Vengeance is Mine. Garko is another county hunter, John Forest, who did 10 years in prison after his resentful brother, Clint (Camaso), killed their father and pinned it on John. Clint has since become a bandit with a large bounty on his head, which John plans to collect…though he’ll try to keep a promise to his mother not to kill him, or at-least not shoot first. Like $10,000 Blood Money, this one lacks the style and panache of a Leone film, but is cut from similar cloth and pretty entertaining. Interestingly, both stories prominently feature women as love interests, something Leone generally never bothered with. 

Manuel, the emo hombre.
Though watchable, Find a Place to Die is the weakest movie in the collection. The plot has Lisa Martin (Pascale Petit) hiring disgraced soldier Joe Collins (Jeffrey Hunter) and a band of mercenaries to save her husband, who’s trapped in their gold mine after being attacked by a gang led by notorious bandit Chato. However, the laborious middle act kills most of the momentum (with plenty of scenes dedicated to ogling the lovely Ms. Petit, who has more overall screen time than anyone else). The music score notwithstanding, this one doesn’t even feel like a spaghetti western, and dubbed American Hunter doesn’t make a very compelling lead. 

Matalo! (aka Kill Him) provides strong evidence that Woodstock wasn’t the only place where people ignored warnings about eating the brown acid. The plot is fairly straightforward…ruthless sociopath Bart (Corrado Pani) escapes the hangman’s noose, hooks up with his old gang and robs a stagecoach. While hiding out in a ghost town, they taunt and torture others unfortunate enough to venture there, including a stranger named Roy (Lou Castel). But Roy turns out to be pretty skilled in his own right…using boomerangs as weapons. Light on action or dialogue, this is the weirdest western I’ve ever seen, with a surreal aesthetic and bizarre camerawork, compounded by a bonkers performance from Pani. But even though we’re convinced everyone involved on both sides of the camera were high as hell, Matalo! is an oddly compelling film.

All films in the Blood Money collection are nicely restored and offered in Italian and English versions. Additionally, Arrow Video provides plenty of interesting bonus features for each, with back stories, critical commentaries and retrospective appreciations for some of those involved. None of these spaghetti westerns are classics, but for those with a taste for the genre, it's a satisfying feast.


NOTE: Free Kittens Movie Guide was provided with a promo disc for review purposes. Physical supplemental material included with the final product (booklets, artwork, inserts, etc) were not available for review.


NEW INTRODUCTIONS - By Italian critic Fabio Melelli. 



NEW INTERVIEWS - Individual interviews with producer Mino Loy, screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi.

“TEARS OF DJANGO” - Featurette includes archival interviews with actor Gianni Garko and director Romolo Guerrieri.

AUDIO COMMENTARY - By film historian Lee Broughton.



NEW INTERVIEW - With producer Mino Loy.

ARCHIVAL INTERVIEW - With composer Nora Orlandi.

“CAIN AND ABEL” - Featurette includes archival interviews with actor Gianni Garko and director Romolo Guerrieri.

AUDIO COMMENTARY - By critics Adrian J. Smith and David Flint.



“TRADITIONAL FIGURE” - Music collector Lovely Jon discusses composer Gianni Ferrio.

ARCHIVAL INTERVIEW - With director Guiliano Carnimeo.

AUDIO COMMENTARY - By Howard Hughes.


“A MILANESE STORY” - Filmmaker Davide Pulici discusses the weird career of director Cesare Canevari.

“UNTOLD ICON” - Music collector Lovely Jon discusses composer Mario Migliardi.

AUDIO COMMENTARY - By the always reliable Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Hawthorne.


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