Westerns have their constants -- drunken brawls, gunfights, cowboys, barren landscapes -- but the genre is rather malleable and can support all kinds of interesting narrative and thematic angles. For example, consider the indie western called The Scarlet Worm.
It's about, of all things, abortion.
The Scarlet Worm seems to be going for a Spaghetti Western vibe as evidenced by the trailer, its gritty subject matter -- John Ford didn't make movies about cathouse abortions -- and a cast that includes actors such as Dan van Husen (Sartana, A Bullet for Sandoval) and Montgomery Ford aka Brett Halsey (Cut Throats Nine).
The description provided by the filmmakers is as follows:
Based on an original screenplay by Western historian David Lambert, the story concerns a cruel brothel owner (van Husen) who mandates abortions on all his prostitutes, seeming to derive some sick pleasure out of the act. A rancher (Ford) with whom the brothel owner has an unfriendly history, hires a "dandy" assassin (Aaron Stielstra, "The Men Who Fell") to rub out the demented abortionist with his trademark flourish. All the while, the assassin must school a young understudy in his stylish and creative manners of killing.
As to the abortion theme:
Despite the hot-button issue of abortion, the movie is not meant as advocacy. "I'm not interested in message movies," says screenwriter Lambert. "It was never my intention to write a movie that made generalizations about the abortion controversy." Nevertheless, the movie remains provocative and is likely the first Western to ever center around the issue.
The film, which was shot in HD with 35mm lenses, was directed by Michael Fredianelli (The Minstrel Killer, The Big Sleaze) and shot by music-video cinematographer Michael A. Martinez . Cinema historian/documentarian Mike Malloy is one of the film's co-producers.
Photo by Heather D'Augustine
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