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I Am Sartana, Your Angel of Death Review

The second film in the series, and the first to be pioneered by director Giuliano Carnimeo, I Am Sartana, Your Angel of Death wastes no time at all in adding depth to the titular character. Taking those iconic clothes and the defining power they have over the character, Carnimeo applies it to the plot, showcasing a series of double-crosses, backstabs and hidden riches after Sartana is framed for a bank job. Framed robberies are not as typical as one would expect within the spaghetti western, as most villains and dastardly anti-heroes wish to face one another head-to-head, rather than disrespect and mock one another with disguises and foul play.

It is not often, too, that a hero of the west must set out to clear their name. The stumbling stranger is no more, he has not come to redeem a town of a villainous prey, but to relieve them of himself. A returning Gianni Garko makes the most of his time on-screen, providing another chiselled and grizzled performance. He is effective as ever and has a mission beyond tearing the terror out of a town. He does so, still, it wouldn’t be a western without some effective gunfights and a dusty collection of houses in need of salvation, but Sartana is more fixated on salvaging himself and his name than anyone else. It is self-preservation at the heart of this one, and with Klaus Kinski and Gordon Mitchell supporting Garko, I Am Sartana, Your Angel of Death has all the makings of a truly great tale of revenge.

Does it capitalise on this interest, though? Somewhat, yes. Credit where it is due, Carnimeo and Garko work with a refreshing palette of spaghetti western ideals. They are conforming to the standard set of the genre, but are carving out their own stake in the system. It is a necessity. By this point, the western genre had hit its commercial peak, and at the turn of the decade, the genre would be spiralling in some form of harrowing self-destruction. I Am Sartana, Your Angel of Death caters to this self-destruction somewhat, throwing caution to the wind and engaging with the final fleeting years the good times had to offer. Garko and Carnimeo are responsible for swift shootouts, daring moments of action and a roundly competent script, one that asks for very little but receives much in return.

There is always a time and place for those westerns pushing ever so slightly beyond what is expected of them. For me, I Am Sartana, Your Angel of Death does just that. It is a film that slowly creeps towards something far beyond what the genre had seen at the time. Eventually, it spilt out into riotous moments of comedy, yet held onto its sincerity and respect for the cowboy hat-wearing folks that would sooner shoot someone than barter with them. Carnimeo’s encapsulation of this is bright and vivid. He creates a landscape that is full of dastardly beings, and the name-value Sartana can hold as a character aid this greatly. I Am Sartana, Your Angel of Death is not the peak of the series, that would come when they include an organ machine gun. But this is where the Sartana character begins to make a name for itself, and a reliable one at that.

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Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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