Anthony Steffen in Blood at Sundown (1966) (aka: $1,000 on the Black)

It's Got the Look

It was more than a decade ago that Johnny (Anthony Steffen) was betrayed by his own brother, Sartana (Anthony Steffen), being set up for a murder and then having his girlfriend stolen from him. But having served time for that murder Johnny returns to town where his brother is not only the boss of everything but their mother refuses to believe anything bad about him.

"Blood at Sundown", one of this movie's many names, is an incredibly simple movie; on one hand we have the sadistic Sartana who has bullied his way to be in charge of the town and on the other you have Johnny who having been done wrong by his brother seeks not just revenge but an end to his brother's ways. It maybe because the storyline is so simple that director Alberto Cardone didn't focus too much on it and instead delivered a series of powerful scenes, such as one where a pretty blonde woman is surrounded by cackling men on horseback who taunt and abuse her. But what it does mean is that "Blood at Sundown" doesn't always flow as well as it could.

Gianni Garko in Blood at Sundown (1966) (aka: $1,000 on the Black)

But there is no denying that when it comes to the look "Blood at Sundown" delivers what you expect from a spaghetti western with that mix of close up face shots and then those distant shots such as when Sartana and his gang ride in to town to harass others. Throw in the classic sound of trumpets and guitars and this is every ounce a spaghetti western right down to the dodgy dubbing. In truth it is a shame that the storyline and characters are not focused on more because there is so much potential for Shakespearean drama when you have sibling conflict but instead we got plenty of visuals.

What this all bois down to is that "Blood at Sundown" has the look and the feel of a typical 60s spaghetti western and as such it is enjoyable. But part of me is equally frustrated by it as the potential in the story is never really given a chance due to it focusing so much on getting the look right.