Keoma (Italy 1976)

Rating: **
Review Date: 7/15/17
Cast: Franco Nero, William Berger, Olga Karlatos

"The man who is free never dies."

A bizarre Italian Western about a half-breed Native American named Keoma (Franco Nero) who returns to his hometown after fighting in the Civil War. It's not a happy homecoming, as a plague has swept through town and those who remain are ruled by an ex-Confederate tyrant named Caldwell and his band of violent thugs. After rescuing a pregnant woman (Olga Karlatos) from certain death, Keoma becomes an increasing threat to Caldwell's grip on the town, which prompts an escalating series of gunfights. Keoma also has to contend with his three half-brothers, who are just as rotten and dangerous as Caldwell.

Franco Nero does a wonderful job as Keoma, who is a dark and brooding loner, constantly on the verge of intense rage and violence. His physical presence is also very intimidating, and his action scenes are surprisingly raw and powerful. The gunfights are exciting and well executed, and the film is very fond of showing people getting killed in slow motion. Olga Karlatos is shockingly pretty and provides Keoma with something to live for, even though fate has other plans for her. The story is a bit odd and disjointed, and the inclusion of a witch adds a surreal and supernatural element. Is she real or just a figment of Keoma's imagination? Does she represent a part of Keoma's tortured psyche, or is she a ghost from his past? It's never clear, but she always shows up during critical scenes, and only when Keoma is alone. The worst aspect of the film is its atrociously awful soundtrack, which features a shrieking woman and a tone-deaf man singing about the plot. It's really hard to listen to. But apart from that, "Keoma" is a decent late entry in the Spaghetti Western genre, and one of Franco Nero's best performances.