Friday, January 9, 2009

Spaghetti Western Grindhouse Double Feature: Blindman and Find a Place to Die

Blindman 1971 and Find a Place To Die 1968, were paired up for a Drive In double bill. Blindman star, Tony Anthony, had been pushed, unsuccessfully I might ad, as the next Clint Eastwood. He had been cast in a couple of westerns, The Stranger & Return of the Stranger, which were Man With No Name rip offs.

Blindman’s casting coup was that of Ringo Starr as Candy, brother of the head bandit, Lloyd Batista. I guess the producers figured that Ringo’s name would translate into box office magic. It didn’t. Blindman was playing at The Troy Hills Drive In on Rt 46 in the wilds of Jersey. Four of us and a couple of cases of beer piled into my ‘63 Dodge Dart for the evening’s entertainment.

Blindman rides into town on his seeing eye horse, no I’m not kidding. He’s looking for a guy named Skunk, who he was supposed to deliver 50 women to some horny miners with. Skunk sold the women to a bandit named Domingo. Blindman drops a bundle of dynamite on Skunk’s front door.

This film starts off pretty slow, so we started drinking heavily to make up for the lack of action. Candy has a fascination with a girl named Pillar, that he steals from her father. Ringo looks more like a Hasidic Jew than a Mexican bandit. Blindman arrives and shoots the remaining bandits with his rifle that never seems to run out of bullets. Funny thing is no matter who Blindman messes with, he always gets this rifle handed back to him.

Blindman catches Candy and wants to exchange him for the women. The women are sold to the Mexican army, but Domingo cuts them all down with a gataling gun. He saves the General to hold for ransom. Domingo goes through with the trade, but substitutes old women & his sister for the women. The sister is just as nasty as Domingo. Blindman is captured. He is tortured a bit before getting loose and tying the sister naked out in the court yard. He blows the place up to attract Domingo, then rides off, saying to the sister “the sun don’t shine on the same dog’s ass everyday”. Words to live by.

The women escape, but are caught by Domingo & his gang. They are brutally raped & beaten by his men. Domingo shoot a few of them just for the hell of it. Using Pillar for bait, Blindman kills Candy. Domingo catches Pillar and is about to bury her and Candy in the same coffin. Blindman starts blowing shit up again. Pillar escapes.

Blindman is about to take on the whole gang, when the General returns with his army. In a scene high on the cringe factor, the General burns out Domingo’s eyes with a lit cigar. Now he and Blindman are on an even playing field. Blindman shoots Domingo. The General steals the women and we are wondering what the fuck happened.

Intermission time & piss break. Hate to eat that snack bar crap, but now we all have the munchies. We return to the car with about twenty dollars worth of junk food that most will wind up on the floor of my car.

Find a Place To Die, what a horrible, choppy print. Jeffery Hunter is the lead. Jeffery may or may not have turned down the lead in Star Trek. His career in decline, he did this film and another before dying of stroke complications in ‘69.

Directed by Anthony Ascot (Giuliano Carmineo), this is a violent little film. Protecting their gold mine, a man is pined under some rubble. He sends his sister back to town to find some help to free him. She hires “Joe” an ex Confederate soldier, and three other men. By the time they get back, the brother has been tortured and killed by the bandit, Chato, and his gang. Chato also has the gold. One of the men, Gomez, had been feeding Chato information. He kills Chato and takes over the gang. Gomez and the remaining bandits shoot it out with Joe and the others .Joe, the sister, and one of the others, Paco, survive and split the gold. Joe gets the girl and they ride off into the Italian sunset.

Exhibitors routinely paired older westerns with newer ones. Even if the older film had been shown on late night TV, it was still re-released to the Drive In & Grindhouse circuit. Perhaps the fact that nobody really gave a damn about spaghetti westerns until Eastwood’s Man With No Name franchise took off. Then a lot of early 60’s stuff found new life being paired off with the newer releases.
42nd Street Pete