Death Played the Flute / Lo ammazzò come un cane … ma lui rideva ancora (Angelo Pannacciò, 1972)

Database page:…_ma_lui_rideva_ancora

Apologies for those of you that may have already seen my write up of this, from the SWWB, Leone site or my own Euro Western pages. But as this is a place to talk about the films, I thought it would be worth pasting my comments on Death Played the Flute here also :

This is an extremely entertaining film from a director (Angelo Pannaccio) and cast that I know very little about.

Burton (Michael Forest) returns to his ranch to find his family have been raped and murdered by a gang of cattle rustlers, with his daughter Susie the only survivor. Vowing revenge, Burton soon encounters a lone gunslinger, known as Whistler on account of his flute playing, who indicates that he saw the faces of the culprits. Burton does not realise that Whistler was part of the gang that night, and agrees to pay him to help him track down the murderers. The gunslinger has his own agenda, and agrees to Burton’s proposal.

The two start to track down the gang, but Burton soon becomes suspicious once Whistler starts to kill the gang members before they can talk.

This is a very dark film throughout, with the grim scene set right from the outset as the gang graphically attack the family ranch. The movie’s black theme is suitably set by its compelling guitar driven soundtrack, with its quirks owing as much to the horror film industry as it does to the Italian western.

At times the editing leaves much to be desired, but lets face it that can be quite an expected (and somehow appealing) trademark of the spaghetti western genre. It certainly doesn’t detract from the feel and mood of the film.

The character of the flute playing Whistler is a very interesting one. Despite his prowess with the gun (and of course the flute!) he always seems to demonstrate a level of vulnerability. And on the English soundtrack rarely speaks without a nervous laugh.

In summary, this film is gripping throughout, with its dark and bitter mood continuing until its great climax. It is not a movie that I had previously heard of, and in such cases I am usually dubious as to the likely quality. However, this turned out to be a really pleasant surprise, with a compelling yet grim and downbeat feel. For those searching for a hidden gem, I would definitely recommend it as a film to try and unearth.

Feel free to visit and rate this (and many other) film.

Sebastian - You may want to add this film to your database. Its Italian name is Lo ammazzo come un cane… ma lui rideva ancora - Imdb page Lo ammazzò come un cane... ma lui rideva ancora (1972) - IMDb

sounds nice. I added the film (here’s the link…_ma_lui_rideva_ancora)

Woh, that was fast!

Its a film def worth looking out for!

wow, this film was really a pleasant surprise. Half-soldier’s review above hits the nail. Dark film and also quite strange at some points, reminded me little of El Topo too but that was just because of the look of the Whistler (he’s wearing black leather and playing a flute)

Strangely, Pannacia’s only other western is Porno erotico western from 1979. Anyone seen it?

The story seems to be similar to Death Rides a Horse or W Django.

Saw this last night and I agree with what’s been said. A pretty dark movie that stole it’s plot from Death Rides a Horse. Nevertheless a 3 star movie, because of the sinister atmosphere. I also agree with Shobary’s review, when he says the flute player looks like Elvis. Good music by the way (not Elvis but in the movie). If you understand Dutch, you’re invited to read my more extensive review of the movie:

Just viewed this one and what a great title to a film.

I knew I would like this one!, as I am a huge fan of dark and negative films and the Whistler character is a joy to watch…and of course he plays the flute.

A pleasant surprise, a very good one. It was obviosly shot with a very low budget, but it managed to overcome it showing originality and some creative ideas.

Low budget? LOW BUDGET!

BTW where was this one filmed?

Sorry chaps, I just watched this and I did not like anything about it. Mean and moody nonsense … but pehaps I missed the point.

Viewed as a trash film it’s not a too bad film and could get a 4/10.

There wasn’t obviously enough of a story even to fill the short 77 min runtime. There are lots of repetitive moments, plot holes, Fidani like unnecessary scenes, unfinished ideas and at least the film is shot in a rather unbalanced way, never finding a consistent style, only with some pretty moments along the way.

I’m surprised at the warm comments for this one. For me it’s a wretched film without much merit, not even the wackiness of a Fidani.

As Stanton says, it is woefully short of ideas, so much so that Pannacciò resorts to padding out the action with inconsequential events.

The plot - stolen, as noted before, from Death Rides a Horse - is as threadbare as the budget, which wouldn’t matter if Pannacciò displayed any creativity (he doesn’t) or if the actors/characters displayed any vivacity (they don’t).

Michael Forest (who’s had an interesting career judging from his IMDB entry, starting out in Corman films and latterly voicing anime) makes a particularly stolid and stupid hero, one of those blinkered avengers who’s unable to see the wood for the trees (and there are lots of trees in this film - it’s shot in green countryside). He might complain that his companion, the flamboyant flautist ‘Whistler’ (Steven Tedd), keeps killing the bad guys before they can provide any information, but never addresses the likelihood of Whistler’s involvement (which is established for viewers in the first few scenes). In fact, Forest is almost entirely superfluous; he’s led by the nose throughout, doesn’t really get his revenge and is not even granted a showdown with Whistler.

The editing is all over the place, not helped by obvious censorship cuts during the opening rape/murder sequence, at least in the English-dubbed version. (Maybe some of this footage was used for Porno Erotico Western. Whistler has an encounter with a prostitute that I suppose could also have been re-edited for porno purposes.) The score is OK, but quickly becomes monotonous.

On the plus side, the original title is great…

I mainly agree with that but felt pretty much entertained by this nice, little SW anyway.
One of the better low, low-budget ones!

Watched this the other night and I was pleasantly surprised (I really only got it because I thought it was a decent title.) This thing is right up my alley… strange, dark, low budget… but more importantly, it had a totally different feeling that other spaghetti westerns but I have no idea why… it almost seemed like a late 70s - early 80s TV show from the USA, but not exactly. Also, everyone seemed kind of seemed kind of like wimps, which is strange, haha. Who knows… but I did enjoy it a lot!

Agree with all of the above. Those that don’t like it and think it “wretched” or with “unfinished ideas” are correct of course - but then again I have to side with those that like it.
Elvis impersonator Steven Tedd, in such a different role from Quinto - Fighting Proud , plays psychotic twitchy giggling leather clad killer in a plot stolen from Death Rides A Horse. Along the way there’s plenty of cold blooded killing and flute playing, and a visit to a prostitute who does a duet with him on the pink oboe (“Why do you always want it like this?”).
All it’s faults are it’s positives in this strange land we inhabit.
As the song says…
"A man is made of love and pain,

  • like leaves are made of sunlight and rain."
    Corny, derivative but somehow rather good. Autumnal.

And here you have it korano - we’re in Mitchelltown and Fidanicountry…

Just watched this one. Call me crazy but I found it darker than The Great Silence. In The Great Silence, it’s just the ending. Here it’s pretty much the whole film.

It doesn’t feel like a Spaghetti, it doesn’t even feel Italian. It doesn’t feel American either. It feels more Greek or Turkish or whatever. Very unusual at least.

I actually found Kimble likeable. He was an outlaw, but, this is Spaghetti Western after all. His death scene felt pretty unnessecary for everybody in the film. When everything was ok he was killed. That makes a downbeat and powerfull ending and the ending reminds me of Cemetary Without Crosses. And as mentioned it must be the longest death scene in a Spaghetti.

4.5/5 flutes!

After reading these comments, this will certainly be my next spaghetti to watch

this thread indicates the film polarizes board member’s opinions.
Some like it, some hate it.

Color me grey for this as I found it rather so-so.
I saw it some years ago and a few things stick out in my mind (which, being the film that it is, is a good thing). The rape scene (the only image I can recall really is a horror-like shot in which the rapist is choking one of the females to death), the character of Whistler (his strange mannerisms that have already been cited here) and the ending.

The straight hero is a dull one. If I recall correctly, he never even manages to avenge anyone of his family members. Whistler (the Anti-hero) kills them before he gets a chance (reason behind it being a not so concealed “twist ending” similar to that of W Django’s “twist ending”).
In fact, the main hero is so pathetic at this avenging thing that it is one of the live victim’s that eventually manages to avenge herself at the end of the film.

The “a man is made of Love” musical segment is so cringe-worthy I don’t even want to describe it.


What a great spaghetti. After reading all the posts here, I had a feeling this would be right up my alley and I was not wrong… A damn shame this director didn’t do any more westerns.