Gary Hamilton (Klaus Kinski) is pardonned after ten years of prison labor in the desert. The first thing he has on his mind, is getting a shotgun and a horse. It soon becomes clear that the man has his own reasons for making this a priority…
And God Said to Cain is the ultimate and irrefutable proof that Antonio Margheriti was one of the most underrated director of the Italian cult cinema era between 1960 and 1980. People almost solely refer to Mario Bava when listing the greatest Italian Gothic horror movies and to Sergio Leone for the Spaghetti Westerns, but Margheriti made multiple remarkable films in both fields as well. Moreover, with And God Said to Cain, he made a near perfect amalgamation of the two genres and that is something that – at least to my knowledge – none of the other contemporary directors ever accomplished. I can’t but wholeheartedly concur when people state that this is probably the darkest Spaghetti Western ever made. The basic plot is simple and concise, but Margheriti upholds the mysterious truth until the very last moment and reverts to multiple Gothic horror filming tricks to generate an atmosphere of suspense and morbidity. It brands the film with characteristics like chiming church bells, terrible weather conditions and mirrors. Add to this a fairly silent but seemingly ghostly protagonist (dazzling role for the charismatic Klaus Kinski) who appears and disappears all over town through a network of caves and secret passageways, and you’ve got yourself the most horrific western fable ever told.
And God Said to Cain is intense throughout and remains compelling from start to finish, and that certainly isn’t an easy thing to achieve when the basic concept is so mundane and derivative. It already begins with the introduction of Kinski’s character Gary Hamilton. He’s a tormented and nihilistic man with only one purpose left in life: vengeance. Hamilton is released from prison after serving a ten year sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. He promptly heads out to avenge himself against the guy who framed him; the rich and influential Sir Acombar (Peter Carsten). Conveniently, Hamilton’s arrival in town coincides with a harsh tornado which allows him to play a virulent cat and mouse game with Acombar’s henchmen. Everything about this great Spaghetti Western just feels exactly right: the gloomy musical score, Klaus Kinski‘s embittered facial expressions, the continuous menace coming from the tornado, the fear on the faces of the henchmen and the drama linked to Hamilton’s persona. It takes an incredibly long time before we finally find out why he spent ten innocent years in jail, but the reason is actually inferior to how Gary Hamilton is obsessed with his vendetta. The (fantastic) title refers to a Biblical text in which God disapproves such acts, but Hamilton is so entitled to his revenge that he can’t be bothered with God’s opinion on the matter.
And God Said to Cain features numerous brilliant sequences (like the ghostly entrance of Hamilton’s horse in town) and a couple of inventive horror-like killings (death by church bell!). The finale is even more nail-bitingly tense than the rest of the film. Just like it should be of course, and only when the movie is finished you’ll be able to breath normally again! That’s a great film! Kinski, in one of his best Spaghetti Western roles (and he starred in a lot of them) also receives excellent support from Peter Carsten as the relentless villain and Margheriti regular Luciano Pigozzi (nicknamed the Italian Peter Lorre for obvious reasons) as one of the petrified henchmen.
Quite a lot of complaints can be found on the internet from American viewers about the picture & sound quality of available DVD-versions, but if you live in Europe and speak a little bit of German and/or Italian: the German release, entitled Satan Der Rache is impeccable.