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  Light the Fuse... Sartana is Coming He's got a deadly organBuy this film here.
Year: 1971
Director: Giuliano Carnimeo
Stars: Gianni Garko, Susan Scott, Pierro Lulli, Bruno Corazzari, Frank Brana, Massimo Serato, Dan van Husen, Fernando Bilbao, Jose Jaspe, Renato Baldini, Sal Borgese, Giuseppe Castellano, Lino Colleta, Luis Induni, Franco Pesce
Genre: Western, Action
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: A judge is shot and his daughter molested by a corrupt sheriff and his sniggering deputies before a stranger dressed in black rides into town. Wrongly suspecting him to be a preacher, the villains sarcastically inquire whether he has come to pray over the dead man's immortal soul. "Maybe I should pray for yours", replies Sartana (Gianni Garko) and swiftly shoots them all dead. Our favourite spectral avenger promptly hands himself over to the local prison, where he is beaten up by warden Hanson (Giuseppe Castellano) and thrown in a jail cell in the ground where the guards amuse themselves by urinating or flinging acid at the inmates. However, Sartana's surrender is a ruse so he can spring Grandville Fuller (Pierro Lulli) out of jail for half a million dollars in gold.

Grandville relates in flashback how he and a band of conspirators including a banker named Johnson, a scuzzy outlaw named Monk (Jose Jaspe) and yet another corrupt lawman, Sheriff Manassas (Massimo Serato) were able to steal the gold before their shaky alliance collapsed in betrayal. Johnson supposedly killed the sheriff's brother and one of Monk's men, but was later found dead himself while the whereabouts of the gold remain a mystery. Sartana investigates and discovers a new batch of fortune hunters, including outlaw One-Eye (Frank Brana) are circling around Johnson's fragrant widow Belle (Susan Scott). He also runs into Manassas who claims it wasn't Johnson but Granville who committed those murders and is scheming to get away with the gold. Is somebody trying to play Sartana for a fool?

Fourth in the series of stylish spaghetti westerns, Light the Fuse... Sartana is Coming is by far the most outlandish, yet substantial entry. This is the one with the infamous finale where Sartana wipes out a veritable army of bad guys by playing a bullet and rocket-spewing church organ! For some this was a step too far towards the improbable, but for those who enjoy the more fantastical spaghetti westerns the action will no doubt prove an especially tasty treat. As well as his deadly organ (ooh-er, missus), Sartana employs his usual array of nifty gadgets including a watch and chain that doubles as a sort of ninja yo-yo, a hidden compartment in his shoe, his regular trick-shot derringer and a memorable wind-up toy Indian called Alfie with an explosive trick or two.

As in the earlier I Am Sartana Your Angel of Death (1969) the plot has the gunfighter play detective, although the mystery is more detailed and compelling this time round. Most Sartana movies spring a series of cynical twists but this has a uniquely darkly comic tone that serves it well, almost as if it were the spaghetti western version of Mario Bava's Twitch of the Death Nerve a.k.a. Bay of Blood (1971). Having said that, the story is overpopulated with characters and the usual murky storytelling means things get confusing at times. Series regular Franco Pesce returns, not as an undertaker this time but playing an expert on card tricks who gets a bullet in the head when he learns too much. Giallo regular Susan Scott (a.k.a. Nieves Navarro) is wasted in a seemingly important, but relatively minor role as the scheming Belle.

Giuliano Carnimeo helms his third Sartana movie and his direction typically alternates between zoom-happy and stylish use of the scope frame. He stages a unique stalk and chase through a steamy sauna and mines a rich vein of black humour throughout, such as the killer who immediately apologises after stabbing his boss and the so-called "best shot in the county" who keeps getting outdrawn. This was the last Sartana movie for suave star Gianni Garko, although he later headlined the unofficial entry Sartana Kills Them All (1971), making him one of the few actors to rip-off his own character. The Yugoslavian born actor continued to appear in spaghetti westerns, crime movies and giallo thrillers throughout the Seventies before sinking into cheap horror and sexploitation. However, critics "rediscovered" Garko as a "serious" actor in the late Eighties where he enjoyed a number of career triumphs on stage and in TV miniseries. Meanwhile, Carnimeo returned with the fifth official Sartana movie: Sartana's Here... Trade Your Pistol for a Coffin (1972).

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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