The unofficial fourth installment in Tony Anthony’s “Stranger” spaghetti western series, Get Mean (1975) is one of the more bizarre and inventive examples of this pliable, ambidextrous genre in its waning days. Anthony and Italian director Ferdinando Baldi (the influential Django, Prepare a Coffin with Terence Hill) had previously collaborated on the pasta-delic Blindman (1971). Borderline psychedelic, not to mention historically fakakta, Get Mean’s plot (Anthony’s wise-ass gunslinger is hired by gypsies in late 19th century Wisconsin to return a deposed Spanish princess to her desert kingdom) is a mere pretext to unleash a barrage of highly entertaining explosions, high-camp gay villains, laughing skeletons, gypsy soothsayers with supernatural mirror-balls, Barbarian hordes vs. Moorish hordes, gang-rape by angry harridans, and a hero who turns black and is almost roasted like a pig. —Howard Berger –
“Get Mean” (Vengeance of the Barbarians; Time Breaker; Beat a Dead Horse; Get Mean the Dynamite Man) (1976) (SPAGHETTI WESTERN / COMEDY / ADVENTURE)
“Get Mean” is the fourth and in the same time the last spaghetti western about Stranger played by Tony Anthony. However it’s much different from previous parts due to different style of directing (for this part Ferdinando Baldi was hired as a director), very bizarre plot and much more comedic approach.
Movie begins in a slightly unusual way, as the hero doesn’t ride into the town, he’s dragged behind his own horse who’s galloping as crazy! Finally Stranger approaches a strange “ghost” town where his horse…dies due to sudden heart attack (anyway it looks so). There he meets old woman who offers him 50000 dollars to escort Princess Elizabeth Maria de Borgos, who ought to get back her throne in Spain. Of course Stranger never refuses good money, he agrees and soon they (Stranger and Princess) comes to Spain…however Spain doesn’t look as we could imagine. In fact Spain in “Get Mean” is showed in such a bizarre way that you will scratch your head thinkin’ what’s wrong with this movie’s director! Spain seems to be invaded by some ugly looking barbarians (in fact they seem to be Vikings), while Spanish people hired Moors (Muslims) to protect them! As Stranger arrives he immediately witness a huge battle between those two forces, however sadly barbarians win thanks to…cannons. Soon Stranger falls into lots of troubles and he will have to really get mean in the final battle to save the queen and earn the money (he will use his four-barreled shot gun again, and also lots of dynamite!).
“Get Mean” is a really weird spag which deeply ventures into comedy, adventure and low fantasy territory (few hints of supernatural). Main actors: Tony Anthony as Stranger and Lloyd Battista as barbarian’s adviser are really good in their roles and Tony’s real life brother – David Dreyer as a gay is also fun to watch. However I have to admit that there’s not so much spaghetti western atmosphere left here. While previous movie in series which was set in Japan (“The Silent Stranger”) still managed to remain being a western; here adventure/comedy elements seem to occupy the dominant place. It’s not so bad per se, but if you’re looking for 100% clear spag, you better stay away from “Get Mean”. But if you’re a Tony Anthony’s films collector or you simply want to have fun – go for it! However I still so much prefer previous collaboration of Baldi and Anthony – “Blindman”…
P.S. Isn’t it coincidence that “Get Mean” seems to have so much in common with over-the-top goofiness and weirdness of cult classic 80s horror-comedy “The Evil Dead III: Army of Darkness”? Maybe Sam Raimi watched “Get Mean” before he shot his classic…
I found this review on the web. I have taken the liberty of posting it here as I thought it ‘looked’ good and had a lot of info in it ….although it leaves out Tony’s 3D films one of which, “Comin’ At Ya” is being theatrically re released ..
Anthony’s film career is a relatively short and rather odd one comprised of a fistful of spaghetti westerns and a smattering of others. His main claim to fame would be The Stranger series. The first film being A DOLLAR BETWEEN THE TEETH (1967), a pretty straightforward, but entertaining, low-budget rip-off of A FISTFULL OF DOLLARS (1964), the second being A MAN, A HORSE, A GUN (1967) and the third being THE SILENT STRANGER (1968) in which Anthony’s unnamed character goes to Japan. This was a genre precedent as RED SUN wouldn’t see the light of day until three years later. The film was not well received by MGM who decided to edit it and tack on a voice-over explaining the action early in the film and then shelved the film until 1975. In the end it barely got released to US theaters and went largely unreleased in many foreign territories. I am guessing Anthony had a bit of a fascination with Japanese cinema (as did most Italians at the time) which led to this ground-breaking crossover pic and then subsequently the superb Zatoichi reworking BLINDMAN (1971). Where it all goes pear-shaped is this quasi fourth installment (aka THE STRANGER GETS MEAN), which ends up in a surreal universe that is so completely bizarre that it really has nothing to do with the three Stranger films at all and almost makes EL TOPO (1971) seem rather rational.
The basic plot outline is thus: The Stranger finds himself in a dilapidated desert town that is under attack by Viking raiders. A gypsy fortuneteller and her son offer him ten thousand dollars to escort a Spanish princess (Diana Lorys) back to Spain where she can summon an army to assist in putting an end to the attacks. After The Stranger demands fifty thousand for the task, they are off. Once they travel from Wisconsin (!?) to Spain, they find that the Vikings and the Moors are at war and the Vikings now control Spain (though, the leaders seem to be more Moorish than Nordic) and are searching for the lost treasure of Rodrigo, which as the legend goes, only the princess can find. Naturally this causes some friction between The Stranger and the usurpers , the permanently enraged Diego (Raf Baldassarre), his gay advisor Alphonso (David Dreyer) and the hunch-backed puppet-master Sombra (Lloyd Battista) who has an obsession with Shakespeare’s Richard III. Oh, and yes, you read that right. Vikings in Wisconsin. Hey, maybe they migrated over from Minnesota.
Directed by Ferdinando Baldi (under the appropriately named “Strange Films Inc. Productions”) with some of the same stars as BLINDMAN, from the opening frame you know this is not going to be your average western. Opening with a close-up of a silver sphere sitting among the tumble-weeds on a desert plain (I think I have that album), we are re-introduced to The Stranger as he is literally dragged screaming into a windy, empty dirt town, where his horse promptly keels over and dies, while the town is being ripped apart by desert winds. If that isn’t one of the best character intros ever, I don’t know what is. No lazy, loping into town at noon ala Trinity or slogging through the rain and mud ala Django, nope, this one is not having any of it.
On arriving in Spain, The Stranger and the Princess find themselves trapped between the Viking/Barbarian army and the Moors who proceed to wage an epic battle with hundreds of extras that looks as if it’s lifted straight out of a ‘60s peplum! Once the Moors are routed by the barbarian forces, which include an amazingly cool horizontal gattling-cannon device, The Stranger finds himself strung up by his feet and shot with a cannon mortar while the barbarians take off with the princess. He is, of course, no worse for wear after this and is now pissed off and looking to settle the score. In BLINDMAN he wanted his 50 women. Here he wants his 50 thousand. Sure, it’s pretty simplistic, but I’m fine with that, which is a good thing because that’s all we are really going to get as far as plot is concerned.
One of the most bizarre moments has The Stranger searching for Rodrigo’s treasure in a cavern inhabited by a screaming bearded hermit with a knife. While trying to escape from the hermit, The Stranger is blown up in a black cloud that turns his skin completely black. He finds out that he is completely black by looking down his pants and shouting in horror “I’m black!!”
If there is some symbolism here…
But wait! It’s not over yet – he then scrambles out of a hole into a small valley that is occupied by a black bull that chases him around until he finally falls into another hole, back into the caverns and is able to steal what he believes to be Rodrigo’s treasure (a figurine of a horse and a scorpion necklace). Narrowly avoiding the hermit’s knife, The Stranger kicks him off of a ledge and escapes right into the clutches of Sombra and Diego who do not even bat an eyelash at The Stranger’s completely black visage. The only thing here that has any bearing whatsoever to the rest of the film is the necklace, called The Scorpion’s Sting, which is used by The Stranger to terrify the villains who believe it to be cursed. At one point he encases it in wax and shoves it down Alphonso’s throat, sending him back to the castle where Sombra has him force-fed on the wheel until he, errm, releases it.
Like many of Anthony’s films, there is a weird mean-streak running through it that is off-set by the amiable, if not downright gullible in this film, quality of his character. Here Anthony plays his character as not the stoic serape-clad loner of the Stranger series proper, but a southern-accented rube dressed in patched up rags. On the other side of the fence, his usual themes of the villains being cruel beyond measure are intact with Sombra forcing a gypsy girl into a duel with fencing swords, only to stab her in the back when she tries to flee. Battista, who co-wrote the script with Baldi, clearly is relishing his obviously self-scripted role by chewing the scenery while being vain, cruel and all the while quoting lines from the Bard’s play, including during his death scene. If nothing else, they were having a damn good time making this movie, that’s for sure. The whole Shakespeare angle is actually great fun and works well in the context of an exploitation film. As much as high-brow scholars pontificate about Shakespeare’s works being great art (which, granted, they were), they seem to skip over the fact that Shakespeare wrote entertainment for the masses. Exploitation plays as it were. Sure there are lots of beautifully crafted soliloquies, rife with subtext and word-play, but the man also worked in groin humor and graphic violence. People meet all sorts of nasty ends, get kicked in the balls and have illicit sex at the drop of a quill. It’s good stuff.
After being roasted like a pig on a spit, The Stranger has had about enough out of the barbarian trio and loads himself up with enough weapons and explosives to make Schwarzenegger shake his head at the excess and says “when things are even up, a man really should fight fair, but oh, when they just keep puttin’ it too ya buddy, and they’re stompin’ on your ass… there’s only one way to fight… get mean!” Yep, for my money, no matter how bizarre the premise, how ludicrous the situations, you just can’t go wrong with Tony Anthony and Ferdninando Baldi blowing stuff up.
Eric Zaldivar Oddness ensues in this spaghetti western as everybodies favorite under dog of the genre “The Stranger”, is hired by a witch to escort a princess to Spain. Once in Spain The Stranger must ward off evil Barbarians, a crazed Hunchback, a gay man (played by Anthony’s brother), Lesbian warriors, a raging bull, magic and even spirits who want to turn him into a wolf ( ? ) in order to escort the Princess back to her castle and collect his reward of 50,000 dollars. Unfortunatly for our poor anti-hero the princess is kidnapped by the leader of the barbarians, Diego (played by Raf Baldessare), and so The Stranger must rescue her. By the first hour of the film Anthony’s character has been burnt, hung up by his feet, pounded to a pulp and roasted like a pig until finally he takes up his trusty four barreled shotgun, some dynamite and a jar full of scorpions and decides to GET MEAN!
This is the fourth and final flick in “The Stranger” series and it is largely considered to be the weakest. However, I have a high tolerance for lunacy in my spaghettis so this was right up my alley. True not the best of the series (a title I save for the great “The Silent Stranger”) but I find it far more entertaining than the first (“A Stranger In Town”) which, at times, plods along with the pace of a snail.
The budget is higher this time around and every last penny of it is seen on screen. We get these massive sets (admittedly, some were re-used from Anthony’s/Baldi’s previous western venture “Blindman”), an abundance of pyrotechnics and a large scale battle with what seems like a thousand extras. The battle sequence is actually a bit too long and becomes quite dull because the action moves away from The Stranger and his quest, but it is still a novelty to see a large scale battle between Moors and Barbarians in a spaghetti western.
That being said… is it a western?
Heck yes it is! It’s actually a very contexturally subversive little film with some delightfully post-modernist thinking going on. What Anthony and co. did is essentially make a Euro Western set in Europe, or at least a fantasy vision of Europe, set at the time of a Western. The fact that it was actually made in Europe is the key, since it sort of defies the usual “that isn’t really a Western” stigma that mainstream viewers often have in regards to Spaghetti since capturing the look of a Western really wasn’t the idea. The history being shown is no more accurate than “Monty Python And The Holy Grail”, but it has a kind of dialectic reality to it that does away with the facade of a Western that is usually imposed upon Spaghettis by the needs of capturing that “Wild West” look. It looks more like a gothic horror or period costumer than a Western, other than the hero packs a six shooter and rides a horse.
More than anything else though it’s a Tony Anthony movie, with all the good, bad and totally demented things that implies.
Anthony seems to be hamming it up more than usual this time around with a slight country bumpkin drawl. The funny quips are still there but this time he wears a campy looking yellow poncho (serape,blanket, whatever) while delivering the lines. Which throw things even further into the realm of hilarity.
There is also an inspired role by Loyd Battista as a crazy hunchback who fancies himself a great shakespearean actor!
Baldi’s direction keeps the film moving at a brisk pace and doesn’t let little things like logic and plot hamper the procceedings.
The intention was that if “Get Mean” was a hit, sequels with the Stranger as a time traveler would follow. Unfortunatly, but not surprisingly, the film failed to find an audience.
A true shame.
Not your average spaghetti western, 25 February 2007
Author: spider89119 from United States
This movie is a lot of fun, and deserves more credit than it gets. It is quite unique among westerns, or even spaghetti westerns. It’s so odd, in fact, that it really defies categorization.
Though it is without question a gloriously over-the-top spaghetti western, it actually relates more closely to “Army of Darkness.” In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Sam Raimi was influenced by this film before he directed that great third installment in the “Evil Dead” series. In this film, Tony Anthony plays his usual role of “the stranger” (kind of a “man-with-no-name’ type of character). We learn right away that there is something supernatural going on here as the movie opens with the stranger being dragged by his horse into a ghost town. On the way there, they pass a strange silver orb, then when they get there, the horse has a heart attack and dies as the town bell tolls unexplainedly. Anthony walks into a building where he meets a witch who has the same silver orb at the table where she sits. He finds out he’s been summoned to escort a Spanish princess back to Spain and help her regain her throne from “barbarian” invaders who appear to be from another time. This all happens in the first five minutes! I don’t want to give away too much of the story, so I’ll just say that the stranger’s tasks are to deal with the barbarians, rescue the princess, find a treasure that is guarded by ghosts, and collect money that was promised to him by the witch. The movie is quite comical and full of slapstick, and just like Ash in “Army of Darkness,” the stranger unloads a huge can of whoop-ass on an army of foes. I would love to see the plot of this movie “borrowed” for a sequel to the Evil Dead series. Ash could once again be sent back in time, but this time to the old west where he would be the stranger. Change the treasure to the Necronomicon, have it guarded by Deadites, and bam you’ve got Evil Dead 5! They wouldn’t even have to change much of the dialog as most of the stranger’s lines would be perfect for Bruce Campbell as Ash.
Tony Anthony is great, as usual, in this one. He’s like the Rodney Dangerfield of spaghetti westerns in that he doesn’t get the respect he deserves. Eastwood’s “man-with-no-name” may be the king of “cool,” but Tony Anthony’s “stranger” is more of a character, and just as tough. The other actors and actresses in the film do an excellent job also. I especially liked the character of “Sambra,” a crazy Hunchback who thinks he’s the reincarnation of Richard III.
This movie isn’t for everyone. If you go into it thinking it is just a wacky late-era spaghetti western, and try to fit it into that mold, you will think it is trying too hard, and will probably find it to be just slightly amusing and nothing more. But if you can understand and appreciate the film for what it really is, and especially if you’ve enjoyed “Army of Darkness,” you should definitely enjoy this one.
This excellent and RARE DVD in the SPAGHETTI WESTERN genre is entitled GETS MEAN. The movie stars the TONY ANTHONY in his familiar role as “The Stranger” and LLOYD BATTISTA.
The Stranger encounters Vikings and Moors (I’m not kidding!) in a film with very impressive visuals and is a VERY entertaining entry in the Euro-western field!
In this utterly bizarre spaghetti western, the “Stranger” must cope with a wide assortment of strange villains. Through the course of the story he fights with Vikings who suddenly appear in a western ghost town; a strange Elizabethan family costumed in period clothing who live in a desert castle; and medieval knights whom he battles using machine guns, TNT, and his gun. A bizarre silver ball hangs over the melees, watching the strange goings on. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide
Now this one really is an oddity! The Spaghetti Western did throw up a few odd films (think Django Kill and its homosexual bandits, Blindman with its 50 wives and nudity, the circus troupes of Sabata, and Providence with its Chaplin-esq antics). But, my, if you thought they were weird, wait until you get a load of “Gets Mean”.
Tony Anthony returns as the Stranger, but rather than being a parody/rehash (depends on how you view it) of A Fistful of Dollars, this film involves our hero on a quest to Spain to escort a princess for money, amidst the battling Vikings and Moors. Proof if any that the Spaghetti boom was on its last legs, desperately seeking new ways to be innovative. Anthony is very ham-fisted throughout, but I guess that is part of his charm in this genre. The rest of the cast are, in truth, fairly forgettable.However strange this film may be (and believe me, it is strange), it remains watchable. Not as a western, but as an oddball art-flick.
Tony Anthony is the lone drifter. Hes strong, silent, and deadly. Hell do anything, go anywhere, kill anyone for a price. His mission: to restore a beautiful princess to her rightful place in Spain. His reward: a kings ransom in gold. The only problem is, to achieve his end, he must get mean. A wild bizarre offering much comedy. Also stars Lloyd Battista. Directed by Ferdinando Baldi. (1975) Widescreen, in English.
Also known as For a Dollar Between the Teeth (a title that links to an image near the end of the film) this was the first outing by Tony Anthony as The Stranger, a character based heavily on the Clint Eastwood persona from Leone’s Dollar trilogy. Followed almost immediately by The Stranger Returns, later by the hybrid curiosity The Stranger in Japan and finally by the surreal Get Mean, this series varied largely in quality but the first two, at least, proved to be solid efforts that overcame the shackles of their largely derivative origins.