Chain Reaction – Rediscovering ‘Cut-Throats Nine’ (Spain 1972 – 90 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - March 12, 2014
Chain Reaction – Rediscovering ‘Cut-Throats Nine’ (Spain 1972 – 90 mins)

Bleak, bloody and brutal, the 1972 euro-western; ‘Cut-Throats nine’ may be the most violent movie of its type. With its relentlessly grim tone and downbeat ending, it’s certainly not for all tastes, but lovers of cult euro-westerns will enjoy this engrossing tale of murder and greed.

After surviving an attack on their wagon by a gang of vicious outlaws, cavalry officer Sergeant Brown and his beautiful daughter Sarah, are left on foot to escort seven ruthless convicts across a snowy mountain terrain, to their death-row prison. The prisoners are at first unaware that the chains that link them are in fact made of gold, and have been painted black to disguise them. With the realisation that they are in possession of a fortune, they are determined to dispatch of the officer and his daughter, and make off with the gold. All the while Sergeant Brown is aware that one of the convicts brutally murdered his wife, and is determined to find out which one it is before they reach their destination.

Macho Italian lead; Robert Hundar (Claudio Undari), is very good as the heroic sergeant Brown, keeping a vengeful eye on the convicts whilst protecting his innocent daughter. Hundar was a regular star of euro-westerns, and had earlier played the title role in 1967’s ‘Dakota Joe’, and co-starred in the cult Lee Van Cleef actioner; ‘Sabata’ (’69). Director Joaquín Luis Romero Marchent was a talented filmmaker, and a master of atmosphere, and here he skilfully creates an eerie feel of impending doom. Marchent had early success with a couple of Zorro movies before finding his forte in westerns. His 1964 revenge flick ‘Gunfight at High Noon’ again had starred Hundar as one of three brothers seeking retribution for the murder of their father. Pretty Emma Cohen plays Hundar’s daughter Sarah, and does a good job as the lone female, convincingly unsure and increasingly scared of the scheming convicts. Cohen would become more well-known the following year when she appeared in two cult horrors; Eloy de la Iglesia’s ‘The cannibal Man’, and ‘Horror Rises from the Tomb’ with Spanish legend Paul Naschy.

Not for the faint-hearted, ‘Cut-Throats Nine’ contains some very gory moments, including various flashback scenes of disembowelments, hangings and stabbings, all gleefully committed by this brutal bunch. The soundtrack by prolific Spanish composer Carmelo Bernaola is fairly haunting, but becomes rather repetitive by the end. Cinematographer Luis Cuadrado does an excellent job here, creating a claustrophobic feel among the snowy landscapes. Already going blind, Cuadrado’s greatest achievement would come the following year with his superb work on the wonderful Spanish drama ‘The Spirit of the beehive’ (’73).

‘Cut-Throats Nine’ is a great euro-western if you can stomach the sometimes graphic content. The cast is excellent, with the supporting players suitably nasty in the extreme. The story is compelling, and the location convincingly harsh. The explosive final moments are fitting with the depressing tone of what has gone before. They definitely do not make them like this anymore!

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