Four of the Apocalypse (1975)

Genres - Western  |   Sub-Genres - Spaghetti Western  |   Run Time - 87 min.  |   Countries - Italy   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Jason Buchanan

An unusual and, at times, unexpectedly tender spaghetti Western from Italian gore-master Lucio Fulci (The Beyond, Zombie 2, and The Gates of Hell), Four of the Apocalypse remains remarkably original despite the occasional inclusion of such well-worn Western themes as revenge and life on the Western trail. The first clue viewers may have that they're in for something a little different might be the film's unusual psychedelic score. Eschewing Ennio Morricone's genre-defining instrumentals for a more contemporary sound scheme, Fulci's gamble may initially seem somewhat awkward, through it will likely grow on viewers as the film progresses. Though those looking for another blood-drenched gore-fest from the notorious Fulci will get their fill of the red stuff in the outrageously violent opening, the remainder of Four of the Apocalypse generally abandons the usual gunplay for a more introspective story concerning personal growth and the ability to look outside ones' self for the truly gratifying things in life. Star Fabio Testi's transformation from vain gambler to caring drifter is both convincing and effective, and Tomas Milian's Charles Manson-like villain offers one of the more chilling and sadistic screen heavies of the genre. Sure there's the obligatory quest for revenge following a horrific and unforgivable wrong done to the protagonist, but this relatively brief plot point takes a back seat to more internalized human issues. As with some of Fulci's later work, Four of the Apocalypse does contain moments of terrifying brutality and violence, but by tempering it with moments of uncharacteristically moving beauty and emotion, Fulci proves without a doubt that he was capable of much more than many give him credit for. Though Fulci's die-hard horror fan base may not initially be drawn to this film, they owe it to both the director and themselves to take a look at what could very well be the Italian splatter-master's most personal, poignant, and compelling film -- not to mention one of the most original spaghetti Westerns ever filmed.