The Movie Waffler Re-Release Review - KILL THEM ALL AND COME BACK ALONE | The Movie Waffler


Kill Them All and Come Back Alone review
Confederate mercenaries attempt to steal gold from a Union fort.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Enzo G. Castellari

Starring: Chuck Connors, Frank Wolff, Franco Citti, Leo Anchóriz, Giovanni Cianfriglia, Alberto Dell'Acqua, Hercules Cortez

Kill Them All and Come Back Alone bluray

In the late 1960s spaghetti westerns started to turn towards comedy, with director Enzo G. Castellari's 1967 film Any Gun Can Play one of the first spaghettis to initiate this transition. The following year Castellari swam against the prevailing tide however with the very straight-faced and wonderfully titled Kill Them All and Come Back Alone.

Kill Them All and Come Back Alone review

That title is a decree issued by a Confederate general to the movie's rugged anti-hero, Clyde McKay (Chuck Connors). Inspired by the success of 1967's The Dirty Dozen, Kill Them All sees a band of cutthroats assembled for a suicide mission, though in this case their likely deaths are expected to come at the hands of the man in charge of their not so merry band.

McKay gathers five scumbags – Hoagy (Franco Citti), Deker (Leo Anchóriz), Blade (Ken Wood), The Kid (Alberto Dell'Acqua) and Bogard (Hercules Cortez) – to steal a stash of gold from a heavily guarded Union encampment. Riding along to keep an eye on things is Confederate Captain Lynch (Frank Wolff), who rubs McKay the wrong way, prompting fisticuffs from their first encounter.

Kill Them All and Come Back Alone review

As is often the case with Castellari's movies, Kill Them All is heavily front-loaded, opening with the movie's highlight set-piece. It's a sequence that would likely inspire Gianfranco Parolini, as it contains the sort of acrobatics found in his Sabata trilogy. Like the set-piece that opens Return of Sabata, it's revealed as a charade, in this case an audition for McKay's men to prove they can infiltrate a heavily-guarded area. Castellari and editor Edmondo Lozzi assemble it beautifully, with the action anchored by Connors' glaring blue eyes as he watches his men take over the camp in the silent manner of ninjas.

Heavily inspired by Sidney J. Furie's 1966 western The Appaloosa, Castellari comes up with some novel framing devices here, my favourite being a lounging McKay forming a v-shape with his boots to reveal the figure of Lynch looming over him. He keeps things visually exciting by placing his camera in dynamic positions, with one shot that frames McKay's pistol POV in the manner of the first-person shooter video games that would come decades later (it's a shot Matt Reeves later borrowed for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, replacing a six-shooter with a tank cannon).

Kill Them All and Come Back Alone review

While Castellari is a great action director, I'm not convinced that he's a great director. His movies really lag in between the shootouts and car chases, and he struggles to get his actors to make anything out of the one-dimensional characters his scripts usually lumber them with. That's the case here, with McKay and his bandits displaying none of the dimensions of the similar protagonists of films like The Dirty Dozen and The Magnificent Seven. For a guys on a mission movie to work you have to care about the guys, but there's nothing interesting about this lot beyond their costumes and weaponry (Deker's banjo/grenade launcher is a memorable piece of artillery).

Kill Them All and Come Back Alone
 is on UK blu-ray, DVD and VOD from June 6th.