Made under Squitieri's psuedonym William Redford, Vengeance trail/ Vengeance is a Dish served Cold/ Three Amens for Satan is one of only 2 spaghettis made by him, the other being the pretty good Django Challenges Sartana of 1970. Vengeance Trail - (the title used on the cover of the C'est La Vie dvd, although the German Drei Amen fur den Satan actually starts the film) - has been criticised for looking cheap, on a/the review on imdb (where it gets a relatively poor 4.1/10), but it looks positively reckless regarding the purse-strings in comparison to the earlier film.
Leonard Mann (following on from Chuck Mool and The Forgotten Pistolero) also makes this his last SW (as we know,he never got to do Trinity, although it's worth listening to the podcast interview somewhere on the forum for the very interesting background info on this - I'll link to it if I can find it.).
He is excellent in this gem also, and remains silent, brooding and magnificently moody for most of the film - and that's how we like 'em!
Mann is Jeremiah Bridger, and we first meet him as an 11 or so year old, happily being brought up by his ma and pa, and with his li'l kid sister. The family have got an indian friend, Yatanka, who has taught Jeremiah to shoot rabbits and he's pretty darn good at it as well. Unfortunately, Jeremiah is gonna turn into an Indian-hater and use his skills with a rifle and pistol against Yatanka's kind. And this is why ...
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Perkins (Ivan Rassimov) is a local fella with aspirations to be a grand land-owner, and he resents both the Indians and the farmers (including the Bridger's), owning land, and having access to water, that he thinks would be better off his. He's accompanied by another racist Indian-hater by the name of Prescott (Klaus Kinski) who plays the part of a journalist who's out to rabble-rouse and cause trouble for the already dispossessed Indians. They warn the local farmers of potential Indian trouble and then come back at night, dressed as Indians and massacre them, burning the buildings to the ground and leaving a dead Indian or two as 'proof'.
And - it's the poor ol' Bridger's who have been chosen.
I might say here, that this is quite a violent film, moreso than its certificate 12 would have us believe. Anyway, needless to say, Jeremiah's li'l sis aint gonna be growing up much with one of them pointy, feathery things sticking out of her :P. Poor little mite! With imminent murder afoot, Jeremiah is bundled into the cellar, only to emerge later into the daylight - and into a new life - which is to be based on murder and silent retribution, as a scalp-hunter. All that practice at shooting and skinning rabbits is gonna pay off!
After coldly killing a bunch of Indians he is left with a (truly) beautiful squaw called Tena (Elizabeth Eversfield), and he binds her hands and takes her to town behind his horse. Whilst selling scalps, he has Perkins pointed out to him " ... or Mister Perkins as he likes to be called. He's come up in the world - richest man in the territory." And quite the dapper he is as well - wearing his velvets and silks. Ivan has never looked smarter.
A couple of his henchmen take a shine to a "nice piece of Indian" and offer our man 3 dollars for her - which after blowing smoke in his face, they drop on the floor. Not a good way to make friends, and we can see he's not gonna be impressed by such rudeness! After a bit of a scrap - and no ridiculous extended brawls these - the townspeople decide that tarring and feathering would be a suitable pasttime to involve Tena in social integration.
There's an example of almost certainly deliberatly used imagery and sybolism here, and this is representative of the care and consideration that has been put into this relatively low-budget film.
Just before Mann comes out of the shop, where he's been trading scalps, we see him eye to eye with a stuffed bird of prey - an unfeeling killing machine. Now the peaceful Tena is covered in white feathers (the dove), and the townspeople have at their lead a brightly coloured macaw parrot. The squawking and pecking by the parrot is mimicked by the townspeople in a cacophony of noise (squeeze-box included) and filmic close-ups of their ugliness and of the mayhem.
Rescued by Jeremiah, but followed by the henchmen, they depart to shack up in a ghost town saloon (always a good move in a sw) where Jeremiah reassesses his hatred of Indians by getting to watch Tena clean herself up and he then gets in touch with his, and her, feminine side as she proclaims that she will now "...live for yellowhair". Unfortunately for them, but not so much for us, they are interrupted in their lovemaking by head honcho-henchman Boone telling him "Indian flesh tastes real sweet once you get it clean, but I'm gonna have to spoil yer plans for the future ..." as and after a well crafted shoot-out our man takes a bullet and Boone takes the girl as a 'present' for his boss.
Enter the quirky mad-cap character that any self-respecting sw should include - in the form of 'Doc' the travelling ne'er-do-well thief, doctor and dentist. Waiting for ages for Jeremiah to regain consciousness, he then decides its time to remove the bullet (which seems a bit mean) and get him back into good health. Doc eventually tells him, as he's about to scalp another poor injun who's only crime is to be having a bit of a snog with his injun gal (slightest nipple glimpse here for a 'trained eye' ), "Enough of this blind hatred of yours" and spills the beans regarding the truth about Perkins and 'that' fateful night.
Anyway, the story is all set for a good bit of torture for Boone in a 'ring of fire', Jeremiah siding with the Indians, a sweaty whipping for Tena (for half biting Kinski's ear off), a bit of infiltration by Jeremiah and the Doc into Perkins' trust. Great comedic (and deliberately camp) over-acting by Doc (Steffen Zacharias) here as he pretends to be a senator and the cousin of President Ulysses S. Grant, and reckons he's been attacked by Indians. Prescott is duly brought in to write up the story that'll finally have the Indians completely dispossessed. And so Perkins is set to be a very rich man indeed. But, he's sent our man (Mann) to recruit a bunch of thugs for a bit more homestead burning already, and he's returned with a bunch of wannabee redskins - or maybe they're the real ones this time?
So, it's all set for 'la resa dei conti', and I wasn't disappointed in regard to this.
To finalise it all, the newspaperman is forced to print the truth and the townspeople ain't gonna be happy with a grovelling cowardly Kinski either - so, (with the exception of Kinski) is it all to end happily for the rest of us? Will the redskin and the white man live together in harmony? Will Jeremiah Bridger bridge the racial divide and get to taste some redskin skin? Well I can't give everything away now, can I!?
Still - this film can still be got easily - and the C'est La Vie print is widescreen, English language (only) and great quality.
Sartana in the Valley of Death and Acquasanta Joe may've put people of CLV dvds but this one is well worth owning. Highly recommended by this reverend. Any other views on this?