Mostly Trapping

Hudson River Massacre
Feb 14, 2020 09:40 ET

[Reprinted from original]


"Hudson River Massacre” is a 1965 Italian Western originally titled “I tre del Colorado” and also released as “Rebels in Canada,” “Revolt in Canada,” and “Canadian Wilderness.” In the film, the Hudson’s Bay Company, an English corporation, is tightening its monopoly on the lucrative fur-trading business in western Canada in the late 1800s by driving independent French-Canadian trappers out of business. The French-Canadians counter with an uprising led by Leo Limoux, played by Franco Fantasia, a Spaghetti Western regular with a familiar face if not a familiar name. Trapper Victor DeFrois (George Martin) resists joining the rebels until his brother is executed for robbery and murder on charges fabricated by the ruthless Hudson’s Bay trading-post manager, Sullivan. When that happens, Victor throws in with the resistance. At Limoux’s direction, the young trapper kidnaps Sullivan’s sister Anne and holds her at a remote cabin for ransom. From there, veteran fans of old-fashioned Westerns can pretty much write the rest of the script themselves. What usually happens in these movies when a handsome, stalwart outdoorsman is cooped up with a genteel, gorgeous woman, and the two begin to rethink their animosity toward each other?

The director of “Hudson River Massacre,” Armando de Ossorio, is better known to Euro-movie fans for his four horror films in the “Blind Dead” series about undead medieval knights who rise from their tombs as zombies. As director and co-writer, he keeps the B-Western fistfights and shootouts moving at a fast clip in “Hudson River Massacre,” including the relatively large-scale “massacre” of the title in which the outnumbered rebels clash with a troop of Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the shadow of snow-capped Spanish peaks standing in for the Canadian Rockies. The role of the Mounties as Sullivan’s malleable dupes will surprise older fans who fondly remember Sergeant Preston of the Yukon. The Spanish actor George Martin had a busy career in Italian Westerns, sometimes playing against type as a bad guy but more often cast like here, as the hero. He appears to be performing most of his own stunts in “Hudson River Massacre” without the help of a stand-in, except for the more dangerous moments of a fight with a bad guy in a rugged stretch of rapids. He’s ably supported by an attractive trio of European actresses, Giulia Rubini as Anne, Pamela Tudor as a feisty action-heroine named Swa, a common fixture in today’s movies but unusual for a 1960s Western, Italian or otherwise, and Diana Lorys as Nina, a French-Canadian saloon girl whose unrequited devotion to Victor has unfortunate consequences.

A new Blu-ray edition of “Hudson River Massacre” from MVD Classics presents this obscure movie in a serviceable hi-def transfer. The only extra is a trailer, but the Blu-ray includes SDH subtitles that will be welcomed by those who saw unpretentious fare like “Hudson River Massacre” at the local drive-in as kids, back in the day. Italian Western enthusiasts will be equally happy to see another hard-to-find title now available on the commercial market.