Saturday, October 21, 2017

Cain’s Cutthroats (1970)

          Revenge is the focus in this grubby, low-budget Western, but don’t get your hopes up for something metaphorically vital in the mode of, say, a good Clint Eastwood oater or even a pulpy Lee Van Cleef offering. This one’s strictly by-the-numbers, so were it not for the presence of R-rated sex and violence, Cain’s Cutthroats—also known as Cain’s Way—would seem like an episode of some generic TV series. The biggest name in the cast is John Carradine, who plays a supporting role, and in the movie’s only novelty factor involves seeing Carradine play a somewhat normal character. After all, he spent much of his late career playing underwritten crazies and drunks and ghouls. Despite his second billing, bland he-man Scott Brady is the film’s actual star. He portrays Justice Cain (yes, that’s really the character’s name), a former soldier who declares a vendetta against his onetime colleagues after they wrong him. Specifically, the men who previously served under Cain’s command form a criminal gang and seek his leadership. When he refuses, they retaliate by gang-raping and murdering his wife, then leaving him for dead. Predictably, he survives and sets out to balance the scales.
          The premise of Cain’s Cutthroats is okay, and more adept filmmakers could have taken the material in worthy directions, such as exploring the moral gray areas between killing for one’s country and killing for one’s personal enrichment. Instead of visiting that lofty terrain, the folks behind Cain’s Cutthroats wallow in the mud of human depravity. The criminals are portrayed as filthy idiots, spitting and swearing whenever they’re not squabbling with each other. The rape scene features sensationalistic nudie shots, as does a subplot featuring the curvy woman who travels with Cain for spell. As for how Carradine fits into the mix, he plays a preacher who is also a bounty hunter, so his character also travels with Cain. A number of far superior films tell similar stories, including Eastwood’s The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), so while Cain’s Cutthroats is hardly the worst movie of its type, one is hard-pressed to put forth a compelling reason to watch the thing.

Cain’s Cutthroats: FUNKY

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