The lure of the impulse buy is a hard one for the film geek to resist. We’ve all fallen prey to those cheap box sets filled with forgotten Spaghetti Westerns, Kung Fu Films, Horror or whatever 35mm print someone found in their garage and was able to license for 3.97. Most of the time these films sit unviewed on the shelf still in their shrink wrap. Cheap License Theater is a weekly trip dedicated to exploring these cinematic backwaters of the not-quite-public-domain.
What’s The Film? And God Said To Cain (1970)
Cool Trailer? Und Deustch No Less!
Who’s Licensing It On The Cheap? Vigilante Western Collection
Worth Watching? When Klaus Kinski wasn’t vying for title of craziest loon alive, he also managed to have a pretty storied career in the Spaghetti Western genre. Of course, being the popeyed weirdo that he was Kinski rarely got the lead in such films, instead usually filling roles like, “Walleyed Weirdo Henchman #1” or at best “Villain Who Appears To Be Wearing An Entire Bear” (The Great Silence).
An important exception to this cavalcade of perverts and sadists was Kinski’s role as the lead in And God Said To Cain in which he plays the honest to God hero of the film. Kind of…
And God Said To Cain focuses on Kinski as Hamilton, a man who has been wrongly imprisoned for a decade and sentenced to backbreaking labor in a desert hell prison. You know, as you do when you’re in a Spaghetti Western. No sooner is he pardoned then he sets off to seek vengeance on the man who put him in prison by framing him for the theft of Confederate gold.
The set up is pretty par for the course for a Spaghetti Western, brutal false imprisonment, Confederate gold, long sought revenge, yadayadayada. The usually dependable Antonio Margheriti manages nevertheless to give this cliché plot a unique spin. As soon as Kinski finds his quarry the movie practically abandons him and focuses on the target of his vengeance as he prepares for Kinski’s arrival and tries to keep his son from discovering his father’s dirty past. Kinski almost becomes supernatural force, appearing at will to attack his target from the shadows.
As a result you can’t help but feel as though Kinski is yet again reduced to a supporting character in his own film. He’s off screen for most of the movie while other characters whisper his name in hushed and fearful tones. He only appears occasionally to skulk and shoot people. Whether this was the design of the script, or Kinski was feeling particularly psychotic that month and Margheriti had to shoot around him, we can’t say. Either way Margheriti makes it work. He makes the film into a kind of deranged gothic, drawing on his extensive experience as a horror director, shooting mostly at night, and placing most of the action in a decaying, suitably baroque mansion. Still, despite however well And God Said To Cain works as a programmer, it’s more than a little disappointing to see Kinski sidelined in favor of the square jaws and empty eyes, as he was all too often throughout his career.