Machine Gun Killers / Quel caldo maledetto giorno di fuoco
Dorado Films has been a nice addition to the cult films niche, restoring all sorts of Euro-cult films and other oddities, including some spaghettis. Their latest spaghetti release is Paolo Bianchini's 1968 outing, Gatling Gun, starring genre stalwart Robert Woods and John Ireland.
Woods stars as Chris Tanner, a Union Secret Service agent who is framed when he is one of the few witness the delivery of the new Gatling Gun machine gun, when its inventor, Richard Gatling, is kidnapped along with his gun, and most of the other witnesses are murdered and disfigured. Tanner's boss, Pinkerton, arranges his freedom so he can clear his name and get back Gatling and his gun. We find out that the plot was undertaken by the half-breed bandit, Tarpas (played to the hilt by John Ireland) and an associate (who I'm not going to reveal for the sake of surprise). They plan on ransoming Mr. Gatling to the Union for one million dollars, as well as selling the gun to the Confederates for another million. Of course, until Chris Tanner gets in their way...
I'd read a lot of mixed reviews about this film, so I didn't go into it with any preconceptions. I ended up liking it quite a bit, for several reasons. First off, it was very story-driven. In this genre, it's quite often to see the typical cookie-cutter plot, where you've seen it all before, and you kind of know how it's going to play out; not so much in this one. Like Valerii's Price of Power, it takes a historical figure (in this case, Richard Gatling) and makes a rather interesting fictional story about it (Gatling was never kidnapped, of course). Although at times a bit of the editing can be a little puzzling, it's well paced, and for the most part, well acted, with a jazzy organ score from Piero Piccioni. There's quite a bit of action as well, such as some lengthy brawls, and Woods even wrestles with a raging bull at one point and shoots tiny poison darts out of a blow gun so he can sneak in somewhere. It even delves into the gore a bit,when Tanner has to dig a bullet out of his hand:
And of course, I love it when I can find one of those "oops!" moments, whether it be a shoddy prop, a cameraman's shadow, etc. This time, there was a styrofoam gravestone which looks like it's going to fall over when Woods hits it in a stunt jump:
Now, this is the second DVD release I've reviewed from Dorado, and once again, they did an incredible job with the restoration. With the exception of an occasional scratch on the film, it looks fantastic, clear and with good color, and the sound is good, too. It's really a pleasure to watch some of the more obscure spaghettis and see them so clear and vibrant, as opposed to the old VHS tape one often has to look at. The packaging is somewhat sparse, with a chapter list on one side of the box, and an image of a Spanish poster of the film on the other, as well as an insert for their upcoming releases. It would have been nice to get a bit more background on the film, like their insert for The Three Musketeers of the West had, but it's just a trivial gripe. There are also a ton of trailers from what I would imagine are upcoming Dorado releases, covering other spaghetti fare, as well as Eurocrime and Euro-screwball comedies. I hadn't seen any of these trailers (nor heard of most of the films), so that was an added treat.
All in all, this was a pretty decent, action-packed film, and an exceptional job on the DVD from Dorado, too. It's worth picking up, especially if you like story-driven plots and Robert Woods.