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The old West: Print (Aaron Stielstra) is a weird man: He is deeply
religious, considers himself a philosopher, and is also a poet ... oh, and
he's a professional killer. Oddly he doesn't see the contradiction between
being a religious man and being a killer, but his philosophical streak
allows him to kill only for a reason. And as far as his poetry goes, he
always arranges the people he has killed to macabre pieces of art, often
fitting their crimes.
These days, Print works for cattle baron Mr.Paul
(Montgomery Ford), a religious man himself (but also a bigot) who uses
Print's predilections to his own ends. Print's best friend, his only
friend in the world, on the other hand is Hank (Kevin Giffin), a drunkard
and former professional killer and the only man who ever had the courage
to stand up to Mr.Paul - and Mr.Paul respects him for that, even though
Hank feels nothing but disgust for Mr.Paul.
Now Mr.Paul has two
assignments for Print: On the one hand he wants him to train young Lee
(Derek Hertig), a young bully without manners but quite promising as a
marksman if trained well. On the other, Mr.Paul wants Print to take out
Heinrich Kley (Dan van Husen), a brothel owner who also performs abortions
on his girls if they're with child.
The first assignment is relatively
simple, Lee's just a young guy without guidance who needs to be taught
some manners - and poetry. True, Lee is not exactly one of the bright
ones, but as a sidekick he'll do.
The second assignment proves to be
more difficult, since Print is not one to walk into a place and kill a
guy, he wants to get to know him first, so he convinces Kley to give him a
job at the brothel, as sort of his right-hand-man - and as such, he soon
learns a lot about Kley's philosophy. As it turns out, Kley is also a very
religious man, one who can't only quote the bible from cover to cover, but
who also understands the bible, and for him, running a whorehouse is
keeping his town in order. Sure he knows it's not right, but it's a
necessary evil - after all, according to him he keeps the rapist off the
streets. And the abortion business? Is it really fair to bring the child
of a whore who has no chance whatsoever from the day it's born into the
world? In a way, Print starts to admire Kley, and he feels much closer to
him than he ever felt to Mr. Paul - but that doesn't mean he's not going
to kill him ...
While Print got friends with Kley, Lee posed as his son
and fell in love with Annabelle (Rita Rey), one of the girls in the
whorehouse. So when Print tells him it's the day to kill Kley and tells
him his plan, it's only natural for Lee to warn Annabelle and persuade her
to leave. Annabelle though is friends with several girls at the brothel,
and she wouldn't be a friend if she wouldn't warn them, and ...
suffice to say, Print walks into a trap ...
here to open the Spoiler Pop-up!
That's probably the word to describe The
Scarlet Worm best. This is not a film that tries to reinvent the
Western genre by filling it up with some post-modern bullshit or forcing
gender issues onto the genre without rhyme or reason. Instead it tells an
original, intelligent genre story, fills it up with interesting characters, several
leaning towards the eccentric, macabre details, and genre references that
are subtle enough to not stand in the way of the story at hand. And all of
this is elegantly directed, well-paced and filled with enough action to
keep everyone entertained. If more of today's Western were like this, more
people would watch Western today.