I DON'T KNOW if it's possible to mark the precise point where the spaghetti western genre died, but 1975's Get Mean is as good a place as any to drop the pin. The fourth film in Tony Anthony's "Stranger" series, this completely bananas miscarriage from director Ferdinando Baldi follows Anthony's nameless character out of the Old West and into a lost-in-time Spain populated by Vikings, Moors, hunchbacks, golden horses, wrestling lesbians, and slap-happy ghosts. Get Mean is so harebrained, so overgrown with discordant genre elements, that watching it is like trying to piece together a stack of old comic books that have been fed into a wood chipper. It's easy to understand why the film originally failed to obtain a distributor and languished in obscurity until it was digitally restored this year. It's audacious, ridiculous, and disastrously fails as a movie on all levels. But Get Mean's cheerfully logic-defying attitude and embrace of any and all types of adventure stories make it a pretty fascinating thing to sit through. It'll play great in front of a crowd.
The setup: The Stranger is hired by some gypsies with crystal balls to escort a Spanish princess back to her homeland. (So far, so good.) Once he's there, he gets wind of the treasure trove of a dead king named Rodrigo, and a disjointed quest ensues. Parts of the film look terrific while others are laughably bad, like the crowd scenes where it's obvious that more than half the people are propped-up dummies. There's a very dated sequence where some wicked spirits turn the Stranger's skin black (ah, the '70s), and there's a gay stereotype made sentient who's force-fed what I hope to god is only oatmeal until he pukes up a cursed necklace.
In other words, it's a garbled mess. But there is a certain pleasure to Get Mean's rambunctiousness—it's like listening to a kid breathlessly retell a classic adventure story and getting all of the details very, very wrong.