in the 1980s for his gory horror films, in 1966 Lucio Fulci was just
another director with a few sucessful comedies on his CV. Meanwhile the
Spaghetti Western had exploded onto European screens thanks to Sergio
Leone, and every producer was seizing the opportunity to cash in, with
any director available roped in to helm the films.
(Franco Nero) is panning for gold when he receives a message from his
hometown insisting on his immediate return. He travels back to the old
family ranch, only to find that it has been taken over by a Mr. Scott.
He eventually tracks his brother Jeff (George Hilton) down, to a small
shack. Scott owns everything in the town, and his men take a brutal
attitude to the townspeople, and in particular, Jeff. Tom sets out to
confront Scott, but finds himself at the brutal mercy of his son
Ferdinando de Leo was to become quite a major figure in Euro-cult
cinema, particularly during the Euro-crime boom of the early 1970s. The
story here is a very typical Old West tale of family revenge, but de
Leo and Fulci fill it with a rather unexpected brutality thats sets it
above the plethora of mid-card Euro-Westerns that followed. A murder in
the town street early on in the film is met, not with gunfire, but with
a shocked silence for almost a minute. A savage whipping, and the murder
of a family later on, help to keep the tone very grim. There is an
attempt to lighten the mood with a stereotype Chinese man, who is annoying enough to have ruined the film, but
fortunately he only crops up a few times. The film builds up to a
rather inevitable and cliché shootout climax, and the ending does seem
rather sudden, but the pacing of the film is generally strong
throughout and it certainly never drags.
most of the film has a typical Spaghetti Western look and feel to it,
there are some clever shots; a point-of-view angle from Jeff as he
hangs below his horse is notably impressive. The brutality of the
script is emphasised in the fight and whipping scenes, with an absence
of music, and some visible wounds - the focus on Tom's scars during his
whipping is very remniscent of Fulci's later work in Don't Torture a Duckling (1972) and The Beyond
(1980). Composer Coriolano Gori provides the film's classic opening
song "A Man Alone" (Come back home someday), with some clever
variations on the theme forming most of the score
It often seems that Franco Nero was born in a Stetson, although this is only his second Spaghetti Western turn, after Django
(1966), while George Hilton makes his genre debut. They both
perform strongly, with some good interaction, and Hilton gives a very
good turn as a drunk. There are not many familiar faces here, but some
generally good performances, particularly from Nino Castelnuovo (who
resembles a young Oliver Reed) as Junior.
With some unexpectedly savage brutality, Massacre Time
stands above the mid-card of Spaghetti Westerns, but lacks the
originality to rank among the genre's best. It therefore comes partly recommended to genre fans who have already explored the
better known titles. As a Lucio Fulci film, it is one of his earliest
titles available, and does contain some interesting hints of the
future, and I would say it is of interest to those who want to see
what Fulci had to offer before his horror phase.
Anyone famous in it?
Franco Nero - best known as Django (1966), he later went on to star in Fulci's White Fang (1973). George Hilton - a popular euro-cult star who later played in many comedy Westerns and Giallo films.
Directed by anyone interesting?
Lucio Fulci - now infamous for his gory horror films Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979) and The Beyond (1980), he made a number of interesting films before that, including the sexy comedy The Senator Likes Women (1972)
Anyone else involved?
The script was written by Ferdinando de Leo who also penned the genre comedy Up the MacGregors (1967)
Quite a lot of blood, a vicious whipping scene.
Who is it for?
One for Fulci and Spaghetti Western fans, but both will find better places to start.
Ratio - 2.35:1. Anamorphically Enhanced. Colour A
below average print with some very noticable fading and a lack of
contrast - some scenes look sepia tinted. Fortunately print damage is
minimal, and the film is generally watchable. The transfer is good with
no digital artifacting.
Italian 5.1 remix and original mono. English mono. The Italian audio sounds sharper, English is a little muffled with some hisses and pops, but dialogue comes through fine.
The disc features:
Interview with George Hilton - Italian only, shot on video, audio is very muffled (17 minutes)
Italian theatrical trailer
English language title sequence (title: Massacre Time)
Photo gallery, plus poster, video and soundtrack cover art.
Short biographies of Nero, Hilton and Fulci, in Italian.
A fold-out replica poster.
Region 2 - PAL
only other official release is an R2 Japanese disc, although this is
non-anamorphic and has no extras, but might have better picture
quality. German and American released bootlegs have generally poorer
Believed to be fully uncut. Print has Italian credits. Note:
the presence of "Second Edition" on the title card, has lead some to
suggest that this is a re-edit of the film, although there is no
confirmation of this, and it might just relate to the Italian dub track.
A rather cliché story is joined
by some surprising brutality and solid direction, plus two good
performances. Partly recommended.
Picture and audio quality are
poor, but the film is watchable, and it does come with a fold-out
poster. Hopefully this film will get a fully restored release one day,
but until then, this is probably the best way to see it.