Massacre Time

(Lucio Fulci, Italy, 1966): Somewhere in between filming Sergio Corbucci’s Django and John Huston’s The Bible (Between Django and The Bible — a fine euro-western title in itself ) Franco Nero found the time to take a major horsewhipping in Lucio Fulci’s Massacre Time. And we do mean major: as administered by a sexually ambivalent, white-suited snake jamed Junior (Nino Castelnuovo), the whupping is as long, intense and perversely crackling as the one taken by Jesus in Mel Gibson’s The Passion but a whole lot more fun. Where you know Jesus isn’t going to rise from the dead and take some righteous holy payback from his tormentors, you’re pretty sure Nero’s Tom Corbett eventually will. And he does, but not until a rather conspicuous amount of additional ridicule and humiliation has been heaped upon his handsome ass. Fulci’s first western, scripted by the euro-crime maestro Fernando di Leo, is a story of vengeance rather painstakingly deferred: Corbett doesn’t get his dose of justice for a long time, and one of the major obstacles standing in his way is his alcoholic good-time gunslinger brother Jeff (a slyly scene-stealing George Hilton), who gets to play the cynical world-weary sot next to Nero’s starchy-pants no-nothing do-gooder. Indeed, one way of looking at Massacre Time, which is so fascinating precisely because it’s so determined to demonstrate just how obliviously behind-the-curve Tom is, is as the collision of the old American western with the brand euro-new. Tom’s idealism equips him for just about nothing but disappointment and rude awakening, and his hapless journey to revelation unfolds like what might happen if Hopalong Cassidy fell off his horse and woke up in 1966. A twisted little number heartily performed and great fun to watch. (Televista)