Dull and forgettable, The Gatling Gun is a low-budget Western populated by C-list actors giving mindless performances in the service of a story so thin it barely exists. The title comprises virtually the entire premise, because the gist of the piece is that pacifist priest Rev. Harper (John Carradine) has stolen a Gatling gun from a U.S. Cavalry troop that’s battling an Indian band led by Two-Knife (Carlos Rivera). A group of soldiers under the command of Lt. Malcolm (Guy Stockwell) chases Rev. Harper and his followers into Indian territory, where Rev. Harper realizes that Two-Knife is just as bloodthirsty as the soldiers from whom Rev. Harper was trying to provide protection. A back-and-forth battle for possession of the gun ensues, with heavy casualties on all sides. There’s a teensy bit of “oh, the humanity” gravitas to the end of the story, but getting there isn’t worth the effort. The film’s production values are so bland that The Gatling Gun looks less impressive than an average episode of Gunsmoke, and the picture is marred by several unintentionally funny moments. For instance, at one point, Rev. Harper gives a speech about human compassion even as he’s being impaled with arrows fired from unseen Indian assailants. It’s a little much. Carradine, a fresh-baked ham on the best of days, delivers a performance so overripe that it’s off-putting, and even the normally respectable Woody Strode’s stoic screen persona gets bludgeoned by the overall mediocrity of the endeavor. Leading man Stockwell is a non-entity, while bargain-basement actors including Barbara Luna (a sexy regular on ’60s TV shows) and Patrick Wayne (son of John) deliver amateurish supporting work. At best, The Gatling Gun rises from substandard to mediocre, as when familiar character actor Pat Buttram lays on hokey “charm” as the Cavalry group’s smart-mouthed chef, Tin Pot. But to say that you’ve seen it all before doesn’t come close to communicating how numbingly trite this movie feels as it grinds through 93 long minutes.
The Gatling Gun: LAME