An aging killer trains a young hired gun in a plot to assassinate a meek brothel owner performing barbaric abortion acts on his prostitutes
“The Scarlet Worm”, is fantastic great western that has enough off-beat elements to make it a stand alone kind of experience. Helming the brunt of the film is actor Aaron Stielstra who is called by the single name of “Print”. Print is a western-era hired gun who wishes to execute all his kills with passion, style, and methodology. This usually means he gets his man, but leaves him in a unusual state of demise. In our opener, Print catches up with a cattle thief of whom he executes, strips naked, and stuffs within a cow’s carcass . This “way” of Print is reinforced with a simple elegance and “dandy” like persona that remains a focal point to the film.
Print is talkative fellow. He often proclaims that he prefers “his” way of doing things having an “artistic approach” rather than the straight-up shoot-em-dead redundancy. He also works for a local man by the name of Mr. Paul (Brett Halsey). Mr. Paul runs a ranch employing several locals to do his dirty work. Jobs range from tracking down an unjust criminal to simply inflicting retribution on those he feels are deserving.
Between jobs, Print spends his days usually with his grumpy business partner friend Hank Olive (Kevin Giffin), of whom has since quit the killing business to become a barber. Hank is also called upon by Mr. Paul but refuses his offers.
Print is assigned with training a new recruit understudy by the name of Lee (Derek Hertig). Lee is a smart-ass expert marksman who needs a bit of discipline to give him the creativity needed for more for advanced killing. Lee must be broken and educated in the ways of “creative killing” rather than his current recklessness. Print, although being paid by Mr. Paul, takes Lee under wing in an effort to pass on a bit of his own style.
One of the film’s more controversial elements arrive in the birthing of aborted fetuses by brothel whores who prefer to stay single over raising illegitimate children. Religious spouting Heinrich Kley who runs a well known brothel, employs his girls while also taking care of the dirty work needed. The usual run of activities are well grounded by satisfying those who seek out a session with one of the bar ladies. This is later explained as maintaining balance by reducing rape and pent-up aggression within the community. While abortion is not unheard of, it’s display of the morbid process in a Western movie is.
Other elements of interest include gaggles of gunplay and western style kills. These are shot with the noted “fast shutter speed” technique giving the gunshots a bit more substance than your usual cowboy gun fights. Print being somewhat of a specialist, usually has no problem using his intellect to surprise an attacker, but it’s his style that leaves a more lasting impression. Often his kills are left behind in a posed or repositioned state making for some interesting finds.
Actor Aaron Stielstra is an original character who feels strangely out of place while being perfectly suited to the tasks at hand. While not your usual gun-toting Eastwood model, Print shines as a clever talking artist who happens to be very good at what he does. Fans will instantly grab onto this dynamic character who expels unique dialog lines under the masterful direction of filmmaker,Michael Fredianelli.
“The Scarlet Worm” works its way on across the screen with its Spaghetti Western roots and cult stylings approach. It offers a slight hint to horror fans with alot of western sensibility serving it in a weirdly wonderful way. Scarlet Worm is great example of a shining achievement.
The Scarlet Worm (2011)