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Film / Death Rides a Horse

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When You've Waited Fifteen Years To Find A Man... It's A Shame You Can Only Kill Him Once!

Death Rides a Horse is a 1967 Spaghetti Western film starring John Phillip Law and Lee Van Cleef.

When Bill Meceita was a young lad, he watched his mother and sister be raped and murdered by an a gang of outlaws. Now, fifteen years later, Bill has become an expert gunfighter and is out to find the ones who did it. At the same time, an older man named Ryan has just gotten out of jail for a robbery the same gang committed. Both men meet up, and go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge agains the gang that wronged them. However, Ryan has a secret that threatens to tear the duo apart.

It has mostly been distributed by United Artists, but has also been released by Sony in Australia and 20th Century Fox in the Netherlands.


This film contains examples of:

  • Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: After Bill and Ryan take down their mutual enemies, Ryan allows Bill to kill him for his involvement in the murder of Bill's family. However, due to Ryan's assistance and the fact that he didn't actually participate, Bill shoots an outlaw about to kill him instead.
  • Best Served Cold: Bill trains for 15 years before going after his family's killers. Ryan waits the same amount of time to go after the gang for framing him because that's his prison sentence.
  • Big Bad: Mr. Walcott, the leader of the gang who killed Bill's parents.
  • Blackmail: Ryan's initial revenge plan is to blackmail the men who framed him for $15,000.
  • Buried Alive: Walcott has Bill buried alive from the neck down as punishment for opposing him.
  • Distinguishing Mark: Burt Cavanaugh, one of Bill's targets, has a tattoo of four aces on his chest. Another one, Pedro, has a scar near his eye.
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  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Pedro is an outlaw, but he goes absolutely ballistic and nearly whips Bill to death after he kills his equally-evil brother Manuel.
  • Frame-Up: 15 years before the main plot, Ryan was framed by the villains for armed robbery. When he's released from prison and goes after them, their leader frames him again for robbing his bank.
  • Gotta Kill Em All: Bill hunts down his family's killers one by one, knowing each of them by a distinguishing mark.
  • Great Escape: After Ryan is framed for bank robbery, Bill breaks him out of jail.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Ray was a member of Walcott's gang before being double-crossed. However, he didn't participate in any of their rapes and murders, and assists Bill in stopping them when he gets out of prison. Bill lets him live due to this fact.
  • Inside Job: Walcott worms his way into getting the state's public works fund transferred to his bank, which he plans to rob so he can be the only millionaire in the Old West.
  • Mighty Whitey: Over the course of their vengeance quest, Bill and Ryan save a Mexican village from the bandits they're pursuing.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: Bill is introduced as a child watching his family be slaughtered by the villains.
  • Morally Bankrupt Banker: Walcott, the leader of the outlaws, used his ill-gotten gains to found a bank. He's just as corrupt in his banking dealings, planning to rob his own bank when the state transfers one million dollars into it.
  • Outlaw: The main antagonists are a group of Western bandits who slaughter families and frame people with glee.
  • Rape and Revenge: The film concerns a young man's quest to kill the outlaws who raped his mom and sister before killing his entire family.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: A young man who had has family murdered and an older man who was framed for robbery by the same gang team up to take down their mutual enemies.
  • Trap Door: Walcott has one in front of his desk for when deals go wrong.
  • Vigilante Man: Bill and Ray go vigilante to take down Walcott's gang. In fact, Bill actively refuses to become a sheriff's deputy in order to not be shackled by due process.


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