A Town Called Hell aka A Town Called Bastard
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From Robert Parrish, the director of The Wonderful Country and The Destructors comes this top-notch western set during the Mexican Revolution. Greed and violence explode as a dual manhunt reaches it terrorizing climax and the Town becomes like a fiery hell as it s held hostage. An ex-soldier turned priest, Robert Shaw (Figures in a Landscape) shares a brutal town with Telly Savalas (The Scalphunters), a bandit with a bloodthirsty gang of sadistic killers. The stunningly beautiful, Stella Stevens (The Nutty Professor) hauntingly dressed in black arrives in town on a hearse, accompanied by a deaf-mute gunman (Dudley Sutton, The Devils) and in search of her husband s killer... also arriving in town is a small platoon of soldiers and their Colonel, Martin Landau (They Call Me Mister Tibbs) looking for the legendary revolutionary leader, Aguila. The all-star cast also included Fernando Rey (The French Connection I & II), Al Lettieri (Mr. Majestyk) and Aldo Sambrell (Navajo Joe).
Special Features: Trailer for NAVAJO JOE and A REASON TO LIVE, A REASON TO DIE
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While Italians had nothing to do with this movie it smacks of a Spaghetti Western. Thankfully, it’s thoroughly austere and lacks the goofiness of some Italo oaters. The grim atmosphere is palpable with dust and heat. Typical of Euro Westerns, the score by Waldo de los Ríos is notable. There’s a constant sound in the background, almost like the chirping of crickets, but obviously manmade, which I’ve never heard in a movie before. The cast is great, highlighted by Stevens’ beauty. Speaking of whom, why does she sleep in a coffin like a corpse?
The story’s another matter, however. The first half of the movie involves everyone looking for this guy named Aguila. Then shortly after the midway point we discover who he is but, no, he’s not really Aguila; and so the search continues as the movie shares flashbacks. At the very end one of the characters seems to find Aguila and shouts out his name, but who cares? I’m sure if you re-watch the movie and pay close attention you might be able to put the pieces together, but the mumbling dialogue (with no subtitle option) would make it a difficult task. Still, the solemn ambiance, quality cast and interesting score make “A Town Called Hell” worth catching for those who favor creative Westerns. Unfortunately, just because something’s creative doesn’t mean it’s good.
A UK/Spanish production, the film runs 87 minutes (some prints run about 5 minutes longer) and was shot in Spain.
GRADE: Borderline C/C- (4.5/10 Stars)