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It’s hard to come up with something to say about this movie besides “Klaus Kinski hot.” Even conspicuously dubbed over, his raw magnetism is undeniable, with those twinkling blue eyes and that perpetual grizzled grimace. He plays Gary Hamilton, a black-hatted revenge killer with a strangely blase name, who is pardoned after serving a decade on a chain gang and seeks out vengeance on the man who set him up. Kinski is ideally cast as a spaghetti western anti-hero — the mean, hard man you can’t help but cheer through his various murders. Hamilton is a bit more anti- than hero, of course. His justice is personal, rather than moral. “If innocence is repaid with prison, then I’ve earned the right to kill!” he at one point proclaims. Kinski’s charisma makes this an easy sell.
The film takes place almost entirely on a single stormy night, when Hamilton rolls into town to confront his nemesis, Acombar. And God Said to Cain plays out almost like a precursor to the John Wick films. Hamilton uses underground tunnels to secretly traverse the town and take out Acombar’s men one by one, teaming up with amenable townsfolk along the way. Hamilton is a predator stalking his prey. It’s never a question of if Acombar will win. It’s a question of when he will lose. Hamilton is a force of nature. He is the storm blowing into town.
He’s also something of a figure of terror. And God Said to Cain plays out a bit like a horror movie in places, with Hamilton as the unstoppable, cretinous villain. Whenever it cuts to Acombar and his men finding another one of their own slaughtered, the film plays like a slasher movie. Hamilton even leaves some of the bodies in elaborate traps to frighten his enemies, like Michael Myers in Halloween. That he barely says a word throughout most of the film contributes to the idea of him as more the animation of bloodthirsty desire than a human being. It’s a thrill to watch.
I’ve only seen one other film from Antonio Margheriti, that being his infamous Yor: The Hunter from the Future. And that was with the addition of MST3K or Rifftrax or some such comedic commentary. A quick look at his long filmography reveals a longer history of horror than of westerns. It also appears that he’s really obsessed with The Lady from Shanghai; its iconic hall of mirrors climax occurs in And God Said to Cain as well as in Margheriti’s Devil of the Desert Against the Son of Hercules. (That’s another John Wick connection as well.) He seems like the kind of insanely prolific guy that the Italian film industry was chock-full of in the 60s and 70s, guys who would crank out wild stuff day in and day out without stopping to catch their breath. I really admire that as a filmmaking ethos, just the relentless creative drive without any auteurist pretension. Not that I don’t love me a pretentious auteur! There’s just something you can’t help but love about a director who just directs.