28 April, 2009


Lawyer James Webb (Klaus Kinski) stalks the villains of Tombstone with his deadly law books in the delightfully trivial 1971 Spaghetti Western, BLACK KILLER.

I could watch Klaus Kinski doing next-to-nothing forever!

Lawyer James Webb (Klaus Kinski) is the Black Killer of the title. A suspicious character who rides into Tombstone with a stack of large format law books. He doesn't read the tomes, though, he hides guns in them, and has special mechanisms which can fire the weapons without the Counselor at Law having to worry about cracking a book.
An ultra low budget Spaghetti Western directed by "Lucky Moore" aka busy Italian character actor Carlo Croccolo (DIABOLIK). A fun little item with edgy camera angles courtesy of DP Franco Villa, who also lensed KK in SLAUGHTER HOTEL the same year. In fact, KK wears the exact same shaggy hairstyle in that sleazy giallo. Kinski seems to be quietly enjoying himself as he awaits another paycheck but I find him endlessly fascinating as does little more than stare out of windows as he prepares for his next deadly lesson.
Kinski makes this film both watchable and enormously entertaining by his simple presence. He skulks around the balsa wood sets eyeing the villains, the "O'HARA" gang, who seem like your typical Mexi-bandits (named O'Hara?!), gathering evidence against the local corrupt judge (Dante Maggio) and laying low while the new Sheriff (Fred Natural Born Star Robsahm) teams up with an abused Native American woman (Marina Malfatti) to wipe out the gang. This movie is briskly paced and has a very amusing sub Morricone score which more than helps make up for its no-budget aesthetic. Oh yes, and Marina Malfatti is white hot in her Native American garb and gets nude at one point!
A lot of action scenes from this number were subsequently used as stock footage in Joe D'Amato's 1972 BOUNTY KILLER FOR TRINITY, another poverty-stricken affair featuring "Jeff Cameron", but no KK. Cameron, KK and Joe D'Amato (as DP) would team up in Demofilo Fidani's FISTFUL OF DEATH, also made in 1971 with Kinski sporting the same hairstyle and black wardrobe, this time as "Reverend Cotton." We'll be looking at another Joe D'Amato-KK collaboration featuring a favorite Kinski character.
Watching KK lovingly handle his loaded law books as he takes care of business is a pleasure beyond words.

Thanks to Squonkmatic for helping me see the razor-sharp Franco Cleef restoration of BLACK KILLER and to Nzoog for the screencaps.

(C) Robert Monell, 2009

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