CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR 10,000 DOLLARS FOR A MASSACRE AND AND GOD SAID TO CAIN
I recently noticed a connection between Carol J. Clover’s “Final Girl,” theory and some of the Spaghetti Westerns I’ve seen over the past year. In case you’re unfamiliar, the “Final Girl” trope is essentially that many American slashers have one girl who acts as the hero by escaping the killer.
While this aspect of the trope could be applied to certain films like Shoot the Living and Pray for the Dead, there’s one part of Clover’s argument I found particularly applicable to some of my favorite Spaghetti Westerns. It’s the notion that the audience shifts who they identify with from the killer to the victim partway through the film.
In 10,000 Dollars for a Massacre, for example, we mostly follow the hero Django until the end of the film when he begins taking his revenge on the villain, Manuel Vasquez. As Manuel and his gang are being killed off one by one, we hardly see Django and it’s hard for a viewer (or at least it was for me) not to sympathize with the bandit as he struggles to survive against this unstoppable foe. And God Said to Cain is another example where the audience gets to see revenge enacted through the eyes of the villain. While we’re introduced to Gary Hamilton at the start of the film, most of the story focuses on Acombar and his son as Hamilton hunts them down.
I’m not sure if any more veteran Spaghetti Western viewers agree or not, but for me getting the perspective of the villain like this is one of the reasons why I liked these movies so much. Manuel Vasquez may be a bandit, but the fact that he’s doomed to die makes him all the more fascinating.