A gambler, pregnant prostitute, psychic and an alcoholic go traveling through the desert. Sounds like the start of a really bad joke right? Well sorry to say it’s the start of a really bad western on which I wasted two long hours.
When I first heard of Lucio Fulci’s Four Of The Apocalypse, I thought to myself how could I go wrong? It had a cool title and a director renown for over the top violence in his films. However, Fulci’s landmark films such as Zombie and The Black Cat would come later on in his brilliant career. In early to mid 70s, he tried a few spaghetti westerns on for size. What he ended up with in this film was something that doesn’t even resemble his normal bold style of direction.
The movie tells the story of a gambler named Stubby who immediately is arrested for fraud. He is thrown in jail with fellow inmates Bunny the prostitute, Clem the boozer and Bud who can see and talk to the dead. The first fifteen minutes of the film hold promise with a decent gunfight and a city being under siege by gunmen. However the film goes quickly down hill when the four vagrants are set free without food nor weapons into the desert.
Immediately the viewer is hit with the soundtrack which is just as boring as the movie’s next hour and a half. The songs (played by a group who’s music is vaguely familiar to the band America) follow the group’s actions. “Actions” which include trotting along on a dusty trail and stopping by rivers to get water. Not a whole lot of entertainment here folks. We find out Bunny is indeed pregnant and a budding romance starts to take place between her and Stubby.
The film brings a much needed change of pace when a drifter by the name of Chaco joins the group. He is handy with a rifle and supplies the group with protection and food. However, Chaco shows his true side when he forces hallucinogens on the group. He ties them up for a sadistic round of torture which is the only thing that really reminds the viewer this film is directed by Fulci.
The group sputters along and before you known it Clem dies of a gunshot wound and Bud heads out on his own. What we end up with after this is the annoying romance angle between Stubby and Bunny. Eventually they end up in a town full of men where Bunny gives birth and dies. After sitting through all of this boredom, I was hoping the film would pull it all together in a great revenge sequence involving Chaco’s gang and Stubby. Rather, the movie goes out just as somber as it was through out the whole plot.
Every director has a film that many will not like. Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Stanley Kubrick all have skeletons in their directorial closet. So why not the great Lucio Fulci? The movie came late in the spaghetti western genre so I’m sure most plot ideas were already washed up.
Still, I had to wonder what he was thinking when he made this film. The film basically jumped around from scene to scene without really providing any real rhyme or reason into why we should care about these folks and their journey to the desert. The characters are horribly unlikable and in a way, I’m sure most viewers will end up cheering for Chaco who is the film’s only saving grace.
Like I said, yes Fulci hit his specialty with gore films later on in his career. As the bumper sticker would say, “Fulci Lives” and he always will be one of the great godfathers of horror. Sadly, there really wasn’t much life of any kind in this film.