Here is a list of giallo-esque spaghetti westerns. I like both Spaghetti westerns and gialli, so I decided to find out if there were any hybrids. I wrote all the films that I found down on a list, so I could remember which films to watch. I decided to improve the list with comments, alternate titles, and more so I could share it with anybody who might be interested in it.
What defines a giallo is debatable, but for this list I decided that the film must have a murder mystery in it. I know that there are spaghetti westerns that have other mystery and/or thriller elements in them, but they have not been included here.
I guess I can’t assume that people know what a giallo is on a spaghetti western forum, so I would recommend visiting www.GialloScore.com, for anybody who is interested. GialloScore ranks different gialli based on how typical they are of the genre (it also has a ‘faq’ page).
Please let me know if I have missed any films.
Killer Caliber .32
Italian: Killer calibro 32
Directed by Alfonso Brescia
A stagecoach is robbed and the witnesses are brutally killed. A cool gunman named Silver (played by Peter Lee Lawrence) is hired to find the robbers. As his investigation goes further, more and more people are being killed off.
This is the first of three films, on this list, to star Peter Lee Lawrence. The Silver character is often considered a precursor to the Sartana and Sabata characters. It is very entertaining and it has a decent mystery. The soundtrack by Robby Poitevin is also quite good, especially the main theme.
aka Killer Goodbye
aka Winchester One of One Thousand
Directed by Primo Zeglio
A young man (played by Peter Lee Lawrence) goes back to his home town after many years. Almost as soon as he gets there somebody tries to kill him and people are being murdered. The best clue is a rare Winchester rifle.
Another one starring Peter Lee Lawrence. It’s very entertaining and the mystery is quite good. It is not easy to figure out the killer’s identity.
Ringo, It’s Massacre Time
Italian: Giunse Ringo e… fu tempo di massacro
aka Wanted Ringo
Directed by Mario Pinzauti
Ringo’s brother has disappeared, and Ringo (played by Jean Louis) goes to a small town to find out what happened. In the town people are getting murdered with poison, and it’s up to Ringo to find the killer and discover what happened to his brother.
I find this film to be a little boring, and it feels very cheap. It has some awful voice-over in the beginning of the film. The mystery is pretty uninteresting. On the plus side, it is pretty short and fast paced.
The Last Traitor
Italian: Il tredicesimo è sempre Giuda
aka Thirteenth Is a Judas
Directed by Giuseppe Vari
There is going to be a wedding, and 13 people are sitting at a table, waiting for the bride to arrive. When her stagecoach arrives she and everybody on the stagecoach have been murdered. We quickly discover who murdered these people, but then those guys are killed off with dynamite.
Giuseppe Vari’s second film on this list. This one is barely a mystery. The audience pretty much knows early on who is behind the whole thing (unless the viewers are not paying attention, which I wouldn’t blame them for), but I guess it is never directly said or shown in the film until there is about 20 minutes left. It does have a certain detective mystery feeling. It’s not recommended. I found it extremely hard to care about anything that was going on in this film.
The Masked Thief
Italian: In nome del padre, del figlio e della Colt
aka In the Name of the Father, of the Son and of the Colt
Directed by Mario Bianchi
It looks like the local Sheriff (played by Craig Hill) is the notorious Mace Cassidy who kills and rapes, but is he really? On top of that, we also have another killer who wears a mask and black gloves, so who is that guy?
This one is the most giallo-like. It has a masked killer wearing black gloves. There are a couple of death scenes that are very giallo-esque. It is just a shame that this movie lacks any atmosphere and several scenes that are supposed to take place at night, are clearly shot in the daytime. It doesn’t even look like they bothered to use any day for night effect. The identity of the masked killer is also too obvious.
The Price of Death
Italian: Il venditore di morte
aka Last Gunfight
Directed by Lorenzo Gicca Palli
A young Mexican woman is accidentally killed during an attempted rape. Later, four people are killed in a saloon robbery. The local black sheep (played by Klaus Kinski) is found guilty of the saloon murders in a corrupt trial. The professional gunman Silver (played by Gianni Garko) is hired to prove his innocence and find the real killer.
This one has a lot in common with ‘Killer Caliber .32’. Both films have a cool gunman named Silver, who insists that you should call him Mr. Silver. It’s very entertaining even if the killer’s identity is a bit obvious for anyone who has seen a lot of gialli.
Kill the Poker Player
Italian: Hai sbagliato… dovevi uccidermi subito!
aka Creeping Death
Directed by Mario Bianchi
One of three bank robbers kills the other two with poisonous snakes. A man employed by Loyds of London (played by Robert Woods) comes to investigate it.
This is director Mario Bianchi’s second attempt at a giallo western (the first one was ‘The Masked Thief’). The mystery is okay, but the film is pretty boring. On the plus side, it does have some terrible fake-looking snakes in it.
Revenge of the Resurrected
Italian: Un dólar de recompensa
aka Prey of Vultures
Directed by Rafael Romero Marchent
Danny (played by Peter Lee Lawrence) survives a stagecoach robbery and witnesses his father’s murder. The killers are masked, but Danny remembers one specific detail about each of the killers (like a scar or a hat). He goes to a nearby town, gets a job, and starts investigating the crime. Whenever he discovers one of the killers’ identities, he makes an anonymous public announcement under the name The Resurrected.
The third film to star Peter Lee Lawrence. The idea of having the protagonist remember specific details about the killers is very similar to ‘Death Rides a Horse’, but this one has more mystery to it. However, it does feel more like a revenge film than a detective film. It is entertaining, but a little average. It’s no ‘Death Rides a Horse’.
The Crimson Night of the Hawk
Spanish: La ciudad maldita
Italian: La notte rossa del falco
aka Red Harvest
Directed by Juan Bosch
A Spanish/Italian production with a giallo-esque title. This is the only one I couldn’t find anywhere. On the Spaghetti Western Database it is described as, “a murder mystery set in the old west”. I would really appreciate it if anybody could tell me where to find this film.
Here are a few westerns that have murder mysteries, but calling them ‘giallo’ is really stretching it.
Tomb of the Pistolero
Spanish: La tumba del pistolero
aka Grave of the Gunfighter
Directed by Amando de Ossorio
Tom Bogarde (played by George Martin) visits a small town to discover how his brother died, but the townspeople are not happy to see him.
This film doesn’t quite belong on this list, because it’s not a spaghetti western. It’s a Spanish western directed by the guy who did the ‘Blind Dead’ films. It feels more like a classic mystery film than a giallo. It is pretty entertaining with a decent mystery.
Poker with Pistols
Italian: Un poker di pistole
Directed by Giuseppe Vari
Lucas (played by George Eastman) loses a lot of money in a poker game against Ponson (played by George Hilton), and he ends up being in debt to the rich Mexican Lazar (played by José Torres). Ponson offers Lucas a job where he is supposed to help transport a wagon. The original driver had been killed, and Lucas ends up in a lot of trouble.
This is barely a murder mystery. The mystery of the original driver of the wagon is not a big part of the film. It does have many other thriller elements and twists. I found it to be pretty boring, but it was probably made even worse by the terrible image and audio quality my copy has.
Death Rides a Horse
Italian: Da uomo a uomo
aka As Man to Man
Directed by Giulio Petroni
As a child, Bill Meceita (played by John Phillip Law) witnessed his family getting murdered. The murderer’s identities are unknown, but Bill can remember one specific detail about each of them (like a tattoo or an earring). He sets out to track them down, and at the same time, Ryan (played by Lee Van Cleef), who has just been released from prison, has a score to settle with them too.
I decided to include this film simply because there is a sort of murder mystery going on, but calling it a giallo is really stretching it. It is much more of a typical revenge film than a detective film. It is very enjoyable and comes highly recommended for any spaghetti western fan who hasn’t seen it (probably very few). Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack is excellent, and the worst thing about this film is John Phillip Law’s wooden acting. But, you shouldn’t watch this for the mystery, because it not much of a mystery film.
The Grand Duel
Italian: Il Grande duello
aka The Big Showdown
aka Storm Rider
Directed by Giancarlo Santi
A powerful man called The Patriarch has been murdered and Philipp Vermeer (played by Alberto Dentice) is accused of killing him. Philipp gets help from former sheriff Clayton (played by Lee Van Cleef) who claims to know who killed The Patriarch, but Clayton isn’t willing to reveal it.
This technically has a murder mystery, but it doesn’t feel like a giallo at all. It is by no means a detective film. Besides that, it is very good and it has a great soundtrack by Luis Bacalov.