Hellbenders / I crudeli (1967)

3.5 out of 5

Joseph Cotten dreams of reviving the confederacy and this is the premise for a western heist and road movie. With a black humour, and a complete eschewing of white hat conventions, there are only rogues where there are often anti-heroes. Also, as with Django, the much underrated Hellbenders has an incredibly imaginative use of a coffin.

By, on the whole, placing a single stagecoach and its occupants at the centre of the action, what director Sergio Corbucci seems to have manage is to presage Mario Bava's Rabid Dogs somewhat. Indeed, there is another, coincidental, Bava connection here: the use of Tor Caldara.

One scene, rich in religious iconography and set in a graveyard upon a stormy night, is a slice of pure, Gothic western, genius. Even alone, this would be worth the price of admission.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics