director Lucio Fulci
Lucio Fulci isn’t known for his Spaghetti Westerns, but wouldn’t you want to see one anyways? Cinematographer Sergio Salvati gives Four of the Apocalypse a classier aesthetic than a lot of Fulci’s films, still operating with a good production budget, one would assume. Good looking and interesting doesn’t necessarily add up to cinematic greatness. Cinematic goodness, yes.
Based rather loosely on some Bret Harte short stories, I actually took Four of the Apocaplypse as possibly a semi-psychedelic social critique and play on John Ford’s classic Stagecoach (1939). The motley crew of our four include a card sharp, a pregnant prostitute, an inveterate drunk, and a somewhat crazy gravedigger.
From the very get-go they meet up in a jail cell and are kicked out of a town that lynched everyone on the street after a certain point of night. Set adrift with their wagon, they find themselves bonding despite their differences, against a landscape of barren ghost towns and carnage. That is until they meet up with a consummate villain, Chaco (Tomas Milan), who feeds them peyote, rapes the woman, and maims the drunk.
By the end, two are dead, one is insane, and they’ve managed to literally cannibalize themselves. Though revenge is wreaked, the havoc reigns and this bloody and morose story can sit with the most pessimistic of the genre.
The cast is strong and the ideas are interesting. Flashes of Fulci-esque gore underscore the gritty picture. And yet it’s only SO good. Definitely worth seeing.