Passa Sartana... è l'ombra della tua morte / Shadow of Sartana... Shadow of Your Death
(Year: 1969 / Demofilo Fidani)
The film has plenty of violence and never becomes dull in that regards. There's not much present story wise, and nothing for character development. This kind of thing doesn't bother me much though, as long as the action is moving and interesting to watch- which it was for me. Jeff Cameron is cool as always. One aspect that bothered me in this, as well as other Fidanis, is the extended scenes of people riding horses- while I've seen worse from Fidani, it was still present and I'm assuming this was one of his favorite ways to fill time.
About 12 minutes in there's a scene where a guy's getting the crap beat out of him. The scene is shot in the first person view, which I have noticed being done in other Fidanis also. I quite like it that way, it at least makes the fight interesting to watch. And even the fights in Fidani's films that aren't filmed in the first person, seem to be superior to most fights in other spaghettis - there's always a much rougher edge. Back to this specific scene though, we are treated to a Fidani trademark: the cut to an out of place scene from a completely different film. This guy's being tossed around outside, and suddenly we're inside a cabin and some other guy is getting shot. This is the kind of thing that most people probably hate about Fidani, but I personally enjoy watching for these edits and laughing when they happen. Check out this scene here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zDVt1nPqFg
This was the only glaringly bad edit I noticed in this one, and despite it, there were many techniques employed which I found redeeming. Something simple but nicely done, like when Sartana is reading a note, and it transitions from a closeup on the note in Sartana's hands to the note in the hands of Fidani himself(as the mayor). Plenty of spaghetti camerawork, in fact the camera work has a distinct exploitation feel to it over a simply spaghetti styling. The camera is constantly moving with everyone, and moving into closeups, as opposed to the usual, quick zoom in from a static, steadily held angle. There are scenes such as after being gunned down by Sartana, and after Sartana has rode off, circling around the dead body and then zooming in on the face. The fact that Sartana had already rode off from the scene is particularly notable in creating the exploitation feel for me, not only is the camerawork doing this in the scene, but there's not even any real reason to be showing this... Its already shown Sartana kill the guy and Sartana's even left for other things.
Some other scenes of note include Sartana riding into face a villain, looking quite menacing. Another where a girl is kidnapped and the men are circling around her, laughing like maniacs. Again the camera is moving with them, cutting between her and them, and the effect is well achieved. Some first person shots from the gun's point of view, which I always like and are executed nicely. At one point, Sartana manages to use a tiny mirror on his necklace to see a guy very far behind him, which is quite unbelievable but still pretty cool.
Another aspect which pertains to all the Fidani films I've seen, lots of exaggerated death falls. Every single guy that gets shot outside of the duels(and there's lots of them) goes flying off a roof, balcony, cliff, or just the ground itself- they simply fly through the air spinning around if there's nothing to fall off of. This can be annoying, but while I'm not a fan of this particular spaghetti cliche, the falls seem to, like the fist fights, work better for Fidani than most.
Film could of got more points from me, had it ended the opposite of what it did. Overall, a satisfying Fidani experience and not even a bad spaghetti experience- granted you may want to have some alcohol on hand. Of particular note, especially since much I've commented on pertains to the use of the camera, Joe D'Amato did the camerawork for this film.
Version viewed was an old, crappy VHS source, one of the worst I've seen quality-wise but still watchable.