The Hellbenders | Chicago Reader

The Hellbenders

This 1967 spaghetti western stars Joseph Cotten as a former southern colonel on a mad mission to revive the Confederate army. His plan involves smuggling stolen money to a base site somewhere in the southwest; to avert the suspicions of authorities and bandits, he and his grown sons hide the money in a coffin and kidnap a random woman (Norma Bengell) to pose as a widowed family member. The movie has its fair share of gruesome showdowns—seeing as it was directed by Sergio Corbucci (Django, Navajo Joe), how could it not?—but much of its energy derives from the warped psychodrama between the colonel, his sons, and the captive woman, who becomes an object of desire for the younger men. The Freudian implications are about as ugly as the violence, which feels appropriate.

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