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Celebrating B Movies, Cult Films, and Indie Classics.

More Dead Than Alive (1969)

by  |  May 25th, 2011  |  Western

Vincent Price.  What can I say about the man?  His career is truly epic!  Personally, I have been a fan of the man's work even before I ever actually had seen any of his movies!

The reason that I can honestly say that I am fan of Mr. Price's work even before I had seen anything that he had ever done is because when I was a kid, my father was a fan of both horror movies as well as Science Fiction Films (As a matter of fact my mom used to tell me stories about how both me and my sister were like 4 and 5 years old, that we would come home from a visit with my father all excited at the fact that we had watched movies like A Nightmare On Elm Street

Now with that said, one of the stories that my Dad had told both me and my sister, when I was a kid, was the story of Pit And The Pendulum. This story I had found to be a rather entertaining when I first heard it, but I would later find out how prolific that story would actually end up being…

You see, it turns out that the story that my Dad told both me and my sister when we were kids, turned out to be the story he was re-telling us from a movie that he had seen some time in the past called Pit And The Pendulum (1961) starring none other than, drum roll please… Vincent Price himself!

Now of course when I finally got to see the movie, I found this movie to be fascinating because it is the big screen adaption of an old Edgar Allan Poe short story, and I also thought that Mr. Price did quite frankly a brilliant job as the creepy Don Medina!

Vincent Price as Don Nicholas Medina in 'Pit And The Pendulum.'

With that said, I have seen other horror movies that he has done, and they were all great, but we aren't here to talk about those…

In the case of More Dead Than Alive, I happened to be talking with my buddy and fellow ABMer Matthew Dowling, and I found out that this week would have been the centennial of the birth of one of the original masters of horror!

With that said, we all know about Vincent Price's many achievements as a horror movie actor, having done such classics as House On Haunted Hill (1959) and the one I mentioned above Pit And The Pendulum (1961). And I mean I love his career in the horror movie genre, but when I found out about Mr. Price's centennial birthday, I decided to find out if there was something different that I could find to recommend that was maybe a little more obscure from his work, and I thought a good one would be a Western Movie!

With that said the movie that I decided on was the movie, More Dead Than Alive (1969):

Written by: George Schenck (Future World). Directed by: Robert Sparr (Once You Kiss A Stranger) and starring: Clint Walker (The Dirty Dozen), Anne Francis (Forbidden Planet), Vincent Price (Pit And The Pendulum), Mike Henry (Soylent Green) and Paul Hampton (They Came From Within)

You know the old saying, 'I tried to get out, but they just keep pulling me back in'?  Well this movie is a great example of that. The best way I can explain what I mean about this, is to give you a little bit of the story…

The story is about Cain (Walker) a former out law, gunslinger, and general murderer…

Cain (Clint Walker) in 'More Dead Than Alive'

That was 18 years ago, now Cain, who is in prison for the murders that he committed is waiting the last little bit of time before he can get out of that place and start a new life; a life devoid of guns, and death, where he could make an honest living for an honest days work, and maybe settle down and raise a family… That appears to be a very difficult thing for an ex-con to do back then…

This is an interest that Cain takes quite seriously and tries to set that as an example for other people as well… So much so that when he is given a chance to escape from prison and head back to his old life, he not only refuses to leave his cell but ultimately does the reverse by actually stopping a friend of his and fellow cell mate from making that mistake!

What I mean by this is that during the last little bit of prison time that he has left, his cell mate/friend Wes Santee (Played by Eric Matthews), is a member of his brother Luke's gang (Henry).  Now Luke is prepping to bust his brother out of prison, and has set the stage for a truly awesome fire fight!

During the ensuing firefight between Luke, his gang, and the inmates that he frees, and the prison guards, Cain and Wes are in their cell, with Cain trying to convince Wes not to leave. When Cain can't convince Wes to stay, he decks Wes in the stomach hard enough to make sure that he can't leave, which of course angers Luke…

Later on when Cain is released from prison, he heads in to the town of Las Rinas looking for work.  During his time wondering around town, he encounters Dan Ruffalo

(Price).  You see Ruffalo runs a traveling shooting show that has a guy that is supposed to be the 'best' shot.  Also included in this show is a museum of artifacts from various key moments in the history of the wild west (such as the piece of lead that was taken out of Jesse James back.)

Dan Ruffalo (Price) Working the main booth at his traveling 'Shooting Show' in 'More Dead Than Alive.'

Well one of these artifacts that Mr. Ruffalo has is the gun that belonged to 'Killer Cain' (the moniker for the man that Cain used to be.)  Well of course Ruffalo recognizes Cain and decides to offer Cain a job as his new star attraction, which Cain  refuses…

Well needless to say that despite the fact that there is work in the town, and the fact that everyone knows who Cain is now.  Almost no one else is willing to hire the man!  That is until a man decides to hire Cain to take some supplies up to a local cave (probably mining supplies.)

When Cain gets up to the mine, he encounters for the first time Luke Santee and his gang… Luke who is still upset by the fact that Cain had stopped Luke from busting his brother out of prison decides to make Cain's life difficult by having his gang beat the hell out of him.

After this is done, and with Luke's threat that the violence will continue, Cain takes off to the closest town.  Now this town turns out to be an abandoned ghost town, where the only inhabitant is a woman who had gone to the ghost town to capture the decaying town on her canvas.

When Cain gets there though, he hasn't seen the girl yet, and only sees the canteen in the cart and decides to take a swig from it… When he notices the woman by the name of Monica Alton (Francis). He apologizes for stealing her water, but never the less gets her approval to drink it anyway.

After all this is done, the two introduce themselves, and become quick friends…  Monica ultimately convinces Cain to head off to one of the bigger cities, where no one knows him, or his past and where he can get a fresh start…

Well at first everything seems to be working out pretty well, Cain is working in a bigger town called Prescott as a bouncer under the name of 'Justin', and has a whole slew of friends.  This of course works out until Ruffalo and his current main attraction 'Billy' (Hampton) come and set up shop in town…

What happened was one night, after the show was over, Billy comes in to the gambling parlor that Cain is working in to get a drink, and being the arrogant, semi-sociopath that he is, begins to harass the Bartender about not being allowed to drink (Billy is under aged.)  After Billy is done harassing the Bartender, he then begins to harass the lady that runs the roulette wheel (she had taken a break.) Well needless to say, Cain breaks it up, and is recognized by Billy, who makes a big to-do about it!

This makes Billy loose his job. After this Cain has no choice but to take Ruffalo up on his offer, and take up using weapons in his show for awhile.  This of course slowly makes Billy more and more insane as Ruffalo decides to laud all of his praise on to Cain as his new star attraction.

Killer Cain shooting his gun for one of Ruffalo's shows.

Now during this time there is some one who is hunting for Cain for the death of his father years earlier…

With that said, with Cain slowly being pulled back in to a world that he had grown to hate! It is up to Cain to do what he set out to do, and to make enough money, so that he can retire his gun for good, before it is to late and any of the number of people out for his blood gun him down in a hail bullets!

Now I gotta say that what I liked about this movie, and what I also think makes this a spectacular B movie is a couple of things:

1.  I gotta say that I truly am impressed with all of the cast, I mean from Clint Walker playing a man who wanted to get beyond his past and to settle down and live his life as a good man was awesome! And Vincent Price was surprising at just how well he pulled off the money hungry entrepreneur, 'Ruffalo'. As well as everyone else did great to!

2. The next thing that I gotta say, is that I loved the cinematography on this film!  I mean there were some scenes that I have seen in this movie that I never would have thought of that were true brilliance! I mean the whole concept of the scene where we first meet Monica, with how it kind of panned around Cain till the camera showed Monica was sheer dare I say it… AWESOME!

3. The next thing that I wanted to say that I liked about this movie, and this goes true for just about all Western movies, is the historical representation of the old west that is shown in Western films (and especially this one.) I mean I am sure that at least some of it is exaggerated, and the stories are fictional, but it is almost like seeing a fictional documentary about the old west!

Anyway folks, if your a fan of Vincent Price and are looking to watch something different that he has done.  Or if you are just a fan of Westerns in general, then I highly recommend checking this one out! I loved it, and I suspect you guys and gals will enjoy it as well!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiwp7DSHMYU

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Nathan Strack

About

I am a huge Horror/B-Movie/Grindhouse movie fan! Rather it be Writing/Acting/Directing or just watching one I love it all!

The Magnificent Seven (1960)
Stagecoach (1939)
Noose For A Gunman (1960)

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