Was puttering around after an awesome dinner of beer can chicken and roast veggies (plus homemade apple pie for dessert) trying to figure out what I was in the mood to watch. Frankly, I really wanted to watch ZOOM IN: SEX APARTMENTS which I got in a review package the other day, but I wasn't sure I wanted my five-year-old walking in during a Japanese giallo in which victims get their genitals set on fire!
With ARACHNOQUAKE saved for a viewing with with my wife later this week my brain started going through my review stack and Netflix queue to see if there was anything that caught my fancy. While I was floundering for a title, my buddy Bob (of VIDEOOZE zine fame) texted to inform me that Comcast Multiplex was currently carrying 1971's BARREL FULL OF DOLLARS, a Miles Deem western with Klaus Kinski and Gordon Mitchell! (Thank God he scans these free movie channels because I always forget to. The flick is also available from Amazon as a Region 2, PAL DVD.)
The title was vaguely familiar but I couldn't remember if I'd seen this one before. A quick check confirmed that I had not and was probably more familiar with it as SHOWDOWN FOR A BADMAN or COFFIN FULL OF DOLLARS.
Kinski stars as Hagen, the "brains" (and bangs) behind a gang of desperadoes operating near the Mexican border. When his two brothers are killed he flips out, spasmodically shoots one of his own men for the news ("You deserve to die like a rattlesnake!") and sends off frequent Miles Deem star Hunt Powers (aka Jack Betts) as Tamayo to exact revenge on those responsible.
The gang sets fire to a ranch, killing everyone, but not before Tamayo leaves behind a piece of evidence – the musical watch that Hagen had given one of his brothers. The watch is found by Sam (Ray Saunders) and given to Nevada Kid (Jeff Cameron) when he returns home to find his family slaughtered.
From there BARREL/COFFIN FULL sets off on its textbook Spaghetti Western course with Nevada Kid teaming up with a cackling bounty hunter (a welcome Gordon Mitchell) to find the owner of the watch. Yawn.
Like 90% of the Spags I've ever seen this is how I viewed BARREL FULL OF DOLLARS: settle in to enjoy myself (this time also excited to be watching a Klaus Kinski flick). Realize, usually about 30 minutes in, that the flick is nothing special and succumb to boredom-induced sleep. Wake up about 30 minutes later and decide to watch till the end, then rewind so I can make sure I didn't miss anything earth-shattering. Find out I didn't. The end.
In its defense I'll admit that BARREL isn't incompetent like many Miles Deems flicks have a reputation for being. Kinski zeroes in on a spot that's somewhere between cameo indifference and over-the-top shenanigans and settles on a style that uses a lot of spasmodic running about, gun thrusting and outrageous bangs. Gordon Mitchell provides a nice counterpoint to Jeff Cameron's snooze-inducing Nevada Kid (Cameron looks like Bobby Sherman playing Western dress-up) and the Joe D'Amato cinematography looks good given what must have been a fast and cheap production.
Unfortunately, BARREL goes strictly from points A to ZZZ without much ingenuity. The gunfights are plentiful but unexciting and the finale is the very definition of anti-climactic. But if you love fake mustaches, painfully bad musical interludes and Spastic Kinski, this is the flick for you.
Check out a review of BARREL FULL OF DOLLARS from the Fistful of Pasta blog.
Trailer (don't be fooled... pretty much every good part is in this):