Cut-Throats Nine (aka Condenados a Vivir) (Joaquín Luis Romero Marchent, 1972)

posted in: Duane, Review | 2

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A military sergeant and his daughter are tasked with marching a chain gang of convicts though a desolate mountain pass, with tragic results.COSDS - Cut Throats Nine00008

Billed outright as a violent exploitation film (complete with a “terror mask” gimmick being distributed to audiences in theaters), Cut-Throats Nine is far from a typical Spanish western. Affecting, frank, and ultraviolent only begins to describe this bleak commentary on the sinister nature of mankind. The film is widely celebrated among genre fans for its unflinching violence, but to leave it at that that is actually doing the film a disservice; there’s a depth present that belies its more vapid reputation.COSDS - Cut Throats Nine00005

Sergeant Brown (Claudio Undari; Beast in Space, The Weekend Murders) has the unenviable task of forcibly marching a chain gang of murderers, rapists and ne’er-do-wells across a desolate snow packed mountainside, where it’s revealed that one of them raped and killed the sergeant’s wife – but he’s unsure which one committed the heinous act.  In addition there’s the sergeant’s beautiful daughter in tow (played by the always lovely Emma Cohen [The Cannibal Man, Horror Rises from the Tomb]) who’s naturally got these maniacs chomping at the bit to violate her at the slightest provocation. Add to the mix a fortune in gold hidden somewhere within the group and the fact that they all have to cooperate in order to survive and you have one deliciously disastrous group dynamic. Themes of greed, lust, revenge, and redemption are all explored at length.COSDS - Cut Throats Nine00004

The violence is unrelenting, with some rather persuasive gore effects that will surely get the blood of any seasoned horror fan pumping. There’s not a ton of carnage – this isn’t a splatter film after all – but when it happens it’s an unyielding assault on the viewer that lends a very satisfying edginess to the proceedings. The story is compelling, and the brutality leaves one on the edge of their seat anticipating what horrifying end the next character will meet. There’s also an unsettling rape scene that will likely leave a lasting impression on many viewers.COSDS - Cut Throats Nine00012

Cut-Throats Nine is an extremely well executed film in all respects. The performances by everyone involved are well beyond convincing, and the film manages to avoid feeling campy or cheap despite its unfortunate marketing ploys. Beautiful wilderness scenes shot in the Pyrenees mountains of Spain invoke a wonderful sense of isolation and despair. The moral ambiguity of the characters adds an aspect to the story that keeps the viewer immersed throughout, adding a thought-provoking facet beyond just waiting for the next death to present itself. Marchent brings a certain cinematic style to the table that may polarize viewers; his penchant for the overuse of still images during scene transitions I did find to be a bit off-putting. This doesn’t really detract from the film as a whole nor are they used as a way to shy away from the stronger imagery, however.COSDS - Cut Throats Nine00017

Cut-Throats Nine is a worthy addition to even the most discriminating collection. Exploitation elements coupled with the western setting and a brisk pace makes it appealing to a wide variety of tastes. Absolutely essential.

Official COSDS Nunspank Rating: NS-4_half

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Duane co-founded The Church of Splatter-Day Saints in 2005. When not immersed in film he's enjoying good whiskey, smoking meat in the backyard or thinking about sluts. He makes a damn fine habanero fire sauce.

2 Responses

  1. Am I the only one who can’t help but see Joe Spinell in that poster?

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