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Cry Blood, Apache

          "I guess I'll meet that Apache sooner or later ... I guess I'd rather it be later."

 -- Pitcalin padding out the film. Again.    




Gonzoid Cinema




"Hi! I'm the skeletal remains of Deacon, just in case you was wonderin' what happened to me."


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Sights &
Cry Blood,
  Jack Starrett
  Sean MacGregor
  Harold Roberts
  Jody McCrea
  Harold Roberts
 Entertainment Inc.

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A Jack of
All Trades:
The Films of
Jack Starrett.

Run, Angel, Run!

The Losers

Cry Blood, Apache


Cleopatra Jones

Race with the Devil


The Hell?!

If that's Don Henley of The Eagles then I'm Alvin from Alvin and The Chipmunks.


Our film this week opens innocently enough at a small Indian village, where the friendly natives whoop it up with several, for the moment, friendly non-natives: two fur-trapping/scalphunting brothers, Benji (Rick Nervick) and the brutish Billy (Don Henley); Deacon (Jack Starrett), a less than devout missionary; Two-Card Jones (Robert Tessier), an even less than honest gambler; and Pitcalin (Jody McCrea), mountain man and the hero of our piece.

While the others drink and make merry, Billy dances with Jemme (Marie Gahva), a young Indian girl. But Billy isn't much of a dancer, and when they accidentally break some old adobe pots, an old squaw quickly gathers up several gold nuggets that had been secreted inside them. Alas, she wasn't fast enough and things quickly turn sinister ... Seeing what she grabbed, Jones demands the gold. When the old chief tries to stop him, the gambler stabs him the gut. Things quickly degenerate from there as the rest of the Indians are massacred in the blink of an eye, including a woman and her baby, who was shot in the back while trying to flee. Things get even uglier as the men -- well, pull a train on Jemme; except for Pitcalin, who didn't take part in the massacre, but didn't really do anything to stop it either. And the others aren't done with Jemme yet. Having contracted a bad case of gold fever, the band of degenerates assume she knows where they can find more.

Pitcalin, who was going to leave, decides to stick with them -- we assume to protect the girl as his guilt gets the better of him. And when Jemme says the mine is far away in the desert, concerns for water are quickly pushed aside over the desire of more gold.

After they're long gone, Vittorio (Don Kemp), a lone Indian brave, returns to the camp and takes in the carnage -- and I think we're supposed to assume that the dead mother and child were his wife and son. But his grief is short lived, replaced by a grim resolve to make those who killed them pay. Following the others tracks, he begins a blood hunt to extract some bloody vengeance. And he won't stop until all of them are dead...

Actor/Director Jack Starrett has had an odd film career. Starting out as an actor in a couple of Al Adamson biker flicks before expanding his horizons and moving behind the camera as director, the man didn't limit himself and had a hand in many a '70s vintage genres, including offbeat westerns like this one, the blaxploitation classic Cleopatra Jones, and even took on the Cloven One with Race With the Devil -- where everyone in the state of Texas is a member of a satanic cult that menaces Warren Oates, Peter Fonda, Loretta Swit and their RV until the biggest cheesedick ending ever blindsides us when we weren't looking. (You know, we should probably review that turd someday.) Starrett wasn't done acting yet, either, and turned in a hilarious performance as Gabby Johnson -- the guy speaking prairie gibberish who gets drowned out by the bell when he tries to warn that the new sheriff is a nig-BOOOOONG! in Blazing Saddles.

Now, I bought this DVD because it was part of a Westerns 4-Pak, but what I was really after were a couple of Lee Van Cleef vehicles, Beyond the Law, Death Rides a Horse and God's Gun. And I think this oddball was tacked on because, according to the sleeve, it featured The Eagles drummer, Don Henley. Well, even though the IMDB used to back up that claim, I hate to break it to the fine folks at Quality Special Products, but that's a Don Henley and not thee Don Henley. Take a look at the screen-capture I got of Benji over in the sidebar to your left. What do you think? Yup. That ain't him. Somebody seriously got their wires crossed on that one, but there is one more familiar face amongst the crowd, though you might not recognize him with that hairdo.

Well, not the hairdo, per se, just the fact that there's hair on that normally bald noggin at all. That familiar looking mug is Robert Tessier. Tessier was a decorated war hero (-- he was a paratrooper during the Korean War and received the Silver Star and a Purple Heart --) before he got into the movies; first as a stuntman, and then a prosperous career playing thugs and henchmen. Tessier was the co-director and stunt coordinator on this film, and together with fellow stunt guru, Hal Needham, formed Stunts Unlimited.

Jody McCrea, meanwhile, was trying to break out of his goofball image that he established playing Deadhead in all those American International Beach Party movies. Moving behind the camera, he started producing films like this and starred in the outlaw biker staple, The Glory Stompers. His dad, Joel McCrea, a famous western star himself (-- the epitome being Ride the High Country with Randolph Scott), also appears, book-ending the film as the elderly Pitcalin. Yeah, the entire film is his flashback -- so I guess we already know that Pitcalin is going to survive. But this isn't his father's kind of western. Nor his mother's brother's sister's or second cousin's twice removed as Jemme leads our troop deeper into the desert, where the water sources are growing scarce. And the inevitable romance between good guy Pitcalin and Jemme is cemented when he winds up brawling with Deacon and Billy after they spy on the naked Indian girl while she bathes and have some more unclean urges. Paranoia running deep, Benji, Jones and Deacon feel Pitcalin and Jemme are planning a double cross, conspiring to ditch them and take the gold for themselves. Pitcalin denies it, but Jemme won't, encouraging dissension in the ranks, feeling it will only help her escape.

Further into the desert they go, then, where if you get the sense that Jemme is leading them all on a wild goose chase, tiring the men out, running them out of water, meaning they will probably die you'd be right -- but these scurves kinda deserve it. And as the water supply dwindles, Deacon starts to go a little light happy. When night falls, Jemme promises them that by noon, the next day, they will not only find more water, but the gold as well.

The next morning, the others wake up to find their canteens dumped and Pitcalin and Jemme gone. They didn't run off together, though: Jemme dumped the water during the night and tried to sneak away, but Pitcalin hears this and goes after her. Catching her, he brings the prisoner back to camp, where the others aren't real happy with the latest development. While they argue, Vittorio, who finally catches up (-- and about *&#% time), manages to sneak in and steal their horses away. With that, the surly Billy goes berserk and attacks Jemme. However, he doesn't get very far before an arrow pierces him in the back, severing his spine. But even with this new added danger,  survival instincts are still secondary to gold fever. Without the horses they can't carry the paralyzed Billy, so they decide to leave him behind with his pistol and what little water they have left. With the promise to come back for him, the others head off for the alleged waterhole -- and the gold, of course.

After they're gone, Billy weighs his options: Die of thirst, get scalped, or suicide? Suicide it is ... As he turns the pistol on himself, Vittorio has other ideas and knocks the pistol away before slowly dumping out what's left of the water. Meanwhile, the rest of the group is starting to splinter. Deacon starts getting religious -- deliriously religious, if you know what I mean, and wanders off alone into the desert to have an epiphany (-- or something). When Benji finds Billy's pistol (-- that I'm assuming is bait for a trap), his conscience gets the better of him. Turning back to check on his brother, when Benji gets back to the campsite Billy is gone. Following a trail of Billy's discarded possessions leads him to a waterhole, where Vittorio left the paralyzed Billy mere inches away from the water (-- that he'll never reach.) Suddenly, the apache pounces and Benji soon finds himself hogtied and suspended upside down over the waterhole. And as his own weight slowly bends the branch he's tethered to, lowering his head into the water, Benji curses the Indian and then apologizes to his brother and their dead mother for dragging him out to the west. Vittorio watches until his cries are drowned out. Then all is quiet at the waterhole.

Nearby, Pitcalin and Jemme want to move on, but Jones refuses to budge. So they leave him behind to be Vittorio's next victim. He, too, gets trussed up, but instead of drowning him, Jones gets a sack full of rattlesnakes tied over his head. This is topped off by being kicked down the mountain to stir the snakes up, which works splendidly. Meanwhile, still searching for that epiphany, Deacon finds Jones' body. He then mistakes Vittorio for his holy vision and gladly lets himself get lassoed and drug off to his doom. 

Which is what? Hello? Movie?

So with all the rats out of the way, what's in store for our noble hero and protector of the fair Indian maid? Well, after a climatic knife and antler duel (-- don't ask), Jemme winds up with Pitcalin's musket and must decide on which brawler to shoot, her brother or her new boyfriend.

Who does she shoot? I ain't telling. I had to sit through all this and so will you, dammit. 

What? I already gave it away, like, ten paragraphs ago.

And that's that, then.

The End

Well, I will tell you to stick through the credits to see what happened to Deacon. A nice morbid twist that this film probably didn't deserve.

Having a slapped-together-over-a-weekend feel to it, which it probably was, Cry Blood, Apache sets up the premise in the first five minutes, quick and dirty, but then we have to sit through fifty-odd minutes of anti-action as we wait for Vittorio to catch up with the others. And then, in the last ten to fifteen minutes, Cry Blood, Apache almost redeems itself with its gruesome climax as the apache warrior takes his revenge in some -- well, really uncomforting and disturbing ways. But believe me, brother, until then, this film is one plodding hemorrhage to sit through.

Admittedly, this film is not easy to endure but it does manage to get under your skin on several occasions. These men are despicable, and we wallow around in the dirt with them, but you can't help but feel a little sorry for them the way they're dispatched; especially Benji, when he's crying for his mother. All sympathy for Vittorio is put to the test in these protracted death schemes. Putting political correctness and Kevin Costner movies aside, you have to realize, people, that sometimes the natives just weren't all that nice. Yes. I realize they've been totally screwed over by the man. On that debate I'm already on your side. But there are numerous tales of murder and torture committed by Native Americans against each other, not just the invading palefaces, that will make you're skin crawl.

These types of films just bug me. I don't know. There's just something about seeing a person tortured to death, watching someone else's sadistic pleasures, and then stringing it out for as long as possible while committing it to film -- no matter how justified -- that goes against every fiber of my being. And I have a helluva time shaking these images after I've seen them, like when the poor native-bearer is cooked alive in The Naked Prey, or that poor gal who gets skewered on the pole in Cannibal Holocaust, and yes, even while Benji is being strung over the water there's a little part of my psyche shrieking "That just ain't right." 

I hope this kind of crap disturbs you, too. Sure, a lot of these people might have deserved their fate, but if you derive any kind of enjoyment or pleasure watching these people done in in such a sadistic and brutal fashion, then the real question is, What in the hell is wrong with you?

Originally Posted: 07/18/04 :: Rehashed 10/22/09

Knuckled-out by Chad Plambeck: misspeller of words, butcher of all things grammatical, and king of the run on sentence. Copy and paste at your own legal risk. Questions? Comments? Shoot us an e-mail.
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