Unsure what to think about Matalo, really. For the first twenty minutes or so, I’m thinking, this is it. The most perfect Spag of the lot. For me, like. Grim, gritty, entirely murderous, and populated by ugly people, or in the case of principals Corrado Pani and Claudia Gravy (Grrr! She’s gorgeous!), good-looking people who happened also to BE ugly and hateful, with a horror movie score and something… badly off-kilter. Purposely. Just brilliant. And even though, following a stagecoach holdup, the pace slows considerably, I was still thinking that this movie is/was as cool as f*ck.
The storyline started to fall apart though. Most specifically, a key part of the story: Bart’s “plan”, which, once brought to its conclusion, didn’t make a lick of sense. Let me just see if I’ve got this, because I’m sure I’ve missed something vital here: Bart’ plan was to pretend to die during the stagecoach robbery, hope to fupping Jeebus that his comrades don’t bury him or check him for fatal injuries or anything (they don’t) and just leave him there (they do) so’s he can wander the streets of the ghost town, mostly at night, ominously poking his gun hither and thither and disappearing again like a Scooby-Doo bad guy, waiting for the hidden gold - which wasn’t hidden until AFTER he’d fake “died” anyway - to make its reappearance thanks exclusively to the industry of a stranger he couldn’t possibly have known was coming and couldn’t possibly have known would engineer a circumstance where the gold is now out in the open and on a donkey’s back, at which point, he’d spring into action by just sauntering into the scene, slutty vixen in one hand, pistol in his other, and announce that he’s taking Phil’s missus AND all the gold. I mean, if that’s all he was going to do, couldn’t he have done that without pretending to be dead and stalking around the place pointing his gun at things?
No matter. It’s still a real visual feast of unsettling disquiet, and it wouldn’t be the first Spag I’d seen which didn’t quite flow story-wise. Every bloody one of them like to take a quick swan-dive off of the narrative deep-end from time to time, so that’s… not fine, but I can swallow that. Strangely, I wouldn’t let another genre off the hook like that. Surrealist comedy, maybe.
Speaking of surreal comedy, two more scenes basically threw away the store of respect the film had garnered with me. In fact I’ll need a rewatch or two to decide whether I can find these scenes kind-of lovable in their way, and retain (and even improve) my good feelings towards the movie, or I find that they do indeed stop the film in its tracks and kill it like a lame dog. Firstly, the scene in which Ray the Stranger’s horse defends him from Ted’s attack and beats Ted senseless. And it wasn’t the concept; as daft as that is, I think there’s a fantastic nobility and romance to that concept. Done right, it could’ve been brilliant. The score, alternately horribly jarring and bloody excellent, suddenly really fitted, lending the whole thing a supernatural air. No, it was the execution of the scene, so laughable that director Cesare Canevari should’ve just looked at the results and abandoned it. Some shots of Ted’s outer wrists being daubed gently in red paint by a horse’s hoof just wasn’t cutting it. He’s been gently daubed (almost) to death, everyone! Hm… no. The second scene also involved Ted and this time it was his actual death scene, this time from boomerangs. Boomerangs! Oh, f*ck me sideways! He stays in the same static position while our boom-slinging hero around the corner, Ray, hurls the 'rangs down the main strip, past Ted’s position behind the wall, so’s Ted can watch each 'rang alter course and spin towards him. Does he move? No, each time he stands there patiently waiting as each one hurtles towards him (via a camera shot featuring an empty, boomerang-free frame) until - oh! - the boomerang is gently tossed towards him off-camera. Ow! It was just rubbish. Was it charmingly rubbish or just fuckawful? I’m unsure as yet. There was another scene prior to that, the main shootout, which was just dreadfully choreographed, almost exclusively involving spinning the camera round and around furiously while Ms. Gravy cried out, “BAAAAAAAAART!” every now and then, all set to some inappropriate but fairly groovy prog rock noodling. I didn’t dislike this scene, however: since there was sod-all on-screen to look at, thanks to the spinning camera, I decided to make the most of the prog-rock noodling and do an arm-waving gyratory hippy-dance in the middle of my room, and I felt all the better for it. It occurred to me that nowhere near enough films stop to allow their audience an arm-waving gyratory hippy-dance.
So: I think I enjoyed it. I hope I did.