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Author Topic: An SW Virgin's Guide to SW or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Dubb's  (Read 75813 times)
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« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2005, 07:47:01 AM »

15.10.05

Django

Now I knew of the reputation that this film had on these forums. It wasn't a very positive one, but going in to watch this film I tried to keep an open mind. When the screen went dark and the DVD reverted to the menu I came away with a feeling that I actually did enjoy this film. Not incredibly so but as a piece of entertainment, it was an enjoyable film.
       Django (Franco Nero) walks onto the screen dragging a coffin. He see's a bunch of mexicans trying to whip a woman. Before he has time to react men covered in red balaclavas shoot the mexicans and come down to punish the woman themselves. However this time, Django intervenes and kills the red hooded men. He enters a town with the woman and sets up camp at the saloon. He find's the town is nearly empty and if informed that this is because there are two gangs fighting over the territory. One under the control of Major Jackson and his red scarves and the other led by a mexican bandit who can't return home. As the film carries on and Django gets into more and more scrapes between the two groups, we learn that Django has an ulterior motive concerning the major which involves the death of a loved one.
     The film is different in its portrayal of the West then the previous Spaghetti's I have seen in my non-Leone series of films. The town is shown in the height of winter, its muddy, dirty, empty and wet. The film has a low budget, ewhich I think is used to quite an effect in the mood of the ghost town but does lend itself to quite a few continuity errors. This could be seen when Django fires a tripod mounted machine gun and the bullets either side of the loading bay don't move, and in one close up, it seems the gun flares are being created by flash bulbs. There are other faults with the film as well. A camerman can be very distinctly seen during a bar fight. Also the red hoods of the Colonels Men are not very effective at all. Again, according to the accompanying featurette this was done because the background artists were not 'handsome' enough to be his men so they had to be covered up. It seems to me they have taken the idea of the cowboy's, who during the era of Wyatt Earp and Tombstone (shown in, what is my opinion a darn good western called Tombstone) used to wear a small red sash to show they were apart of the cowboy group. However in Django the bright red doesn't really work and does seem very out of place with the mood of the film.
      The characters and acting in the film are also very interesting. Django is a very enigmatic figure, especially with the rather bleak image of him carrying the mud and slime encrusted coffin. For those who haven't seen the film I wont disapoint them by telling whats in the coffin, but for those who have seen it, would (hopefully) agree that the idea of what was in the coffin could perhaps have been made more upon to give it perhaps a more meaningful presentation of Django's life at that moment.  Nero's portrayal of him as a very tortured man is actually quite touching and the very severe beatings that he gets does leave you with sympathy for him.
    Colonel Jackson (Eduardo Fajardo) is an interesting antagonist. Throughout quite a bit of the movie he does seem to be very scared of Django and therefore looses a bit of his threatning air that we would often associate with Spaghetti villains. The mexican bandit leader however does have some humour to his person, but is actually also the most violent. This leaves the viewer with the feeling that both groups are as bad as the other and Django's seemingly one man war against them isn't that bad.
    The girl that Django rescues at the begining of the film does seem to be a bit sidelined and perhaps lost a bit in the action but she does serve as one of the major points in the story.
     Corbucci's direction is efficent. He seems to be working well with the means that he was given but mistakes definatly occur (another is a car can be very distinctly seen in the graveyard.) He handles the scnes of brutal violence quite well, with the ear cutting off sequence (definatly an influence on Tarantino) and the severe beating of Django definatly still shocking, even if the makeup does seem a little off. The cinemematography is quite interesting with some arresting composistions and the camera often doing some interesting movement. Dubbing is often of a sub-standard condition, but the sound design and the music all help to make this an entertaining film.
      Blue Underground bring us "Sergio Corbucci's immortal classic - now restored from the original negative!" At the bottom of the blurb at the back of the DVD they cite the fact that "This definitive edition of DJANGO has been re-mastered from the original camera negative, recently discovered in a Rome vault untouched for over three decades. Also included for the first time is the optional Italian audio track featuring Franco Nero's own voice. Following two years of extensive restoration, Blue Underground is now proud to present the most stunning version of DJANGO you will ever see." The restoration of the film is very good. The video is sharp, preserving the muted colors of the original transfer and is presented uncut. There is some damage but Blue Underground helpfully put a notice at the front of the film actually apologising for some of the damage that couldn't be removed during the restoration.
      The audio is also very good with no hiss and clicks. It does highlight the poor dubbing of the English track but I also listened to the Italian language track which was much richer.
            The film comes with the featurette Django: The One and Only. This is made up with interviews with the star Franco Nero and the AD, Ruggero Deodato, and they freely discuss their opinions of the film and the director. I found this a very intersting doco, which I watched after the move as a title card appears before you being to watch it, advising that due to the fact that it contains spoilers, it is recomended not to be viewed before the movie. Also included is a theatrical trailer, an interesting photo and still gallery as well as some Talent bios.
          Also included of the DVD is the short The Last Pistolero starring Franco Nero. It is a film of style over substance. Beautfully shot in black and white, it looks sumptious but I hated the electronic rubbish they added to Morricone's score from FOD. The film was very cold and to be honest I didn't really like it with my only admiration being the look of the film.
         Django was an interesting film. Whilst I no way think its "Immortal classic" or a "Landmark classic" I do think it is an entertaining film in its own right which is let down by its very low budget. I think those who have seen it certainly have their own opinions on it, and for those who haven't seen it, I do recomend a viewing so you have seen one of the supposed "Must See" Spaghetti's.

Ollie

Next Update: 15.10.05 - Django Kill...If You Live Shoot!

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« Reply #16 on: October 15, 2005, 08:21:17 AM »

15.10.05

Django Kill... If You Live Shoot!

Boy! What an incredibly stange film. This is a very violent western with some very, very good editing and direction and an interesting story.
      Tomas Milian is The Stranger, a half breed band who was double crossed and the left for dead. He climbs out of his grave, and with the help of two native Indians goes to track down the men who double crossed him. He discovers they have gone to a town only known as the 'Unhappy Place' and when he arrives he finds that all but one of the men who betrayed him are dead and the object that he was double crossed for is missing. He enters a world of gruesome torture, graphic violence and sexual depravity.
      This film is as nasty as it sounds. The stranger is constantly beaten, betrayed and upset. He is haunted by horrific dreams of the betrayal by his friend who stole a precious item from him. When he enters the town, he finds he only has one friend, a boy played by Raymond Lovelock, who begs to come with him so he can leave this horrific town. The town seems to be run by a mexican bandit called Zorro, whose men are dressed in Nazi like uniforms and march about everywhere as if they were stormtroopers. We also unfortuanatly find out, though the boys experiences that they have violent homosexual tendencies and in a very uncomfortable scene they 'have their way' with the boy.
      In the town no one seems to be who they are. Friends become enemies and supposed enemies become friends. The towns folk seem as guilty in violence and greed as Zorro is and this is highlighted by various horrific acts such as men literally pulling an injured mans chest apart to reach some gold bullets and a lynch mob who skin a man whilst all the participants look on, seemingly enjoying the violence a bit too much .
     Milian's stranger is horrified by it all and this is very well played by the actor. We belief his grief when a person he sympathises the most with is killed because of greed. Zorro, the boss, is played with overt menace and during the scen with the boy, which plays out like a very horrific nightmare, seems to almost aprove of what his men are doing.
      The direction by Questi is very good. He seem's expert at making use intriguing framing and cinematography as well as adding to the nightmare qualities of the film. He is very adapt at pulling off the shocking violence in the film, amazingly showing some restraint at his depiction also. The editing and writing by Franco Arcalli (who should be familair to Leone fans because of his co-writing credit on Once Upon A Time In America)are also very intriguing and of a very high standard. The editing adds to the nightmarish element of the film through its almost subliminal cuts and images. The sound design was also very good, with the score, whilst not being very grand, served the film well in emphasising its disturbing mood.
    An element of the film I didn't like was a torture scene involving bats. It was so low budget all we had we reaction shots of Milian and then some stock footage shots of some cute looking bats (and I'm not really a fan of bats but the ones they showed in this film did look rather sweet) hanging on tropical zoo looking branches.
    Blue Underground have given us a sterling DVD. On the back of the box they cite "This definitive presentation of DJANGO KILL! has been created from original Italian negative materials with all its infamous scenes of savgery and slaughter now fully restored for the first time ever in America." The transfer is very good. The 'scope' cinematography looking very sharp and the whites and yellows of the ever unforgiving desert look particualy good. There is very little print damage. As said the film is presented uncut and oon starting the film, a title card appears telling the viewer that the scenes restored never had an English soundtrack dub done for them so they are presented in their original Italian audio and supplied with English subtitles. There is very little drop in quality when these scenes occur and I Found the switching of the audio to be not at all intrusive. The English audio track is very good with no hiss and pops. The film is also presented with its original Italian soundtrack.
    The main extra on this release is the featurette entitled Django, Tell! which is made up with interviews with Co-Writer/Director Guilo Questi and stars Tomas Miian and Ray Lovelock. All three frankly discuss working with each other, on the film and they also debunk and add fire to myths surrounding what occured on the set. We learn that Django Kill is Questi's least favourite film title as the film has nothing to do with Nero's Django character and that he prefers (which I must admit my prefered title) Se Sei Vivo Spara   (If You Live, Shoot!) Also to be found are three easter eggs. One can be found on the special features menu, the other on the main menu and the last on the languages and subtitles menu. These are quite interesting and fun to watch. Also included is a (quite rubbish to be honest) theatrical trailer and an intersting poster & still gallery.
     This film made for interesting, if uncomfortable viewing. However it hurtles on at such a fast pace that the time will go quite quickly. A film I wouldn't recomend to the easily disturbed, I would recomed it to Spaghetti fans and newcomers who were looking for an 'extreme' spaghetti.

Ollie

Next Update: 16.10.05 - Run, Man, Run.
     

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« Reply #17 on: October 15, 2005, 01:26:25 PM »

dont mean to be a bit of a smart ass but
the music in THE LAST PISTOLERO is taken from A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS. i share youre opinion on the electronic theme they mixed it in with the music,it was pure crap.

either way great job on these reviews. Wink
keep em coming. though i dont see how u enjoyed  DJANGO KILL

over DJANGO

but everyone has there preferences. and there always interesting to hear.













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« Reply #18 on: October 15, 2005, 01:30:40 PM »

Thanks Hex, I do apologise over my little continuity gaff, I watched this film on Friday night and did the review this morning and I obviously put the wrong film down. Watching it now I can't believe I made such a stupid mistake Sad.  Anyway I have corrected it now.

I don't think it was a preferance for Django Kills, but I think the film tried to be different unlike Django and in some way pulls it off, but hey its only my opinion.

And thanks for the encouragement! Still got a few more to go but I'm enjoying writing about them.

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« Reply #19 on: October 16, 2005, 07:40:34 AM »

16.10.05

Run Man Run!

I really, really enjoyed this last night. The film has everything going for it, great story, great actors, great direction and a great score by Morricone and it all adds up to a very entertaining experience.
     Milian is Cuchillo, a peasent knife thrower who finds himself in jail. His cell mate turns out to be an important member of a Mexican revolutionary group, and he offers Cuchillo $100 dollars to get him free. Curchillo breaks them both out of jail and takes the 'poet' to his destination. On arrival the poet is killed by a bandit group and he commands Cuchillo to go to Texas with a newspaper he gives him to bring back $3 million worth of gold back for the revolutioanry fund. Cuchillo finds himself being chased by American Agents, his hot blooded fiance (The fiery Chelo Alonso) and a sheriff turned bounty hunter (Donal O'Brien.)
    The film does contain politcial overtones, which you would expect in an Italian film dealing with a revolution. But, the message is forced upon the audience every second of the film and this helps to create a very enjoyable atmosphere. This is a 'journey' film with Cuchillo meeting lots of wierd, wonderful and nasty people and the entire presentation of the film, from the direction, characterisation and score help to represent this.
      The acting in this film is of a very high quality. Milian is as great as always and his character, who is almost always very likeable and quite honorable is always welcomed on screen. The fiery Alonso is more of a comic character, with her scenes of chasing down her man, not really helping, but also not really harming, the story. O'Brien plays the gringo bounty hunter very well, bringing over his gruff demanor but also a sense of personal honor that does seem to be out of place in this harsh world.
      Direction in this film by Sergio Sollima was excellent, the pace was fast and furious, the action is expertly handled and the humor is done just right, with its pitch black tones so well found in rthe spaghetti western genre.  The sequences in the snow were absolutely beautifully shot and the cinematography of this film is of a very high standard.
      The music was also excellent. Its an interesting story that because of contract obligations from another movie, Morricone scored this film but had to put the name of the conductor, Bruno Nicolai as the composer. The score is very rich, with many motifs that are found in Morricone's work and the different themes for all the character stay with you for a long time.
    Blue Underground describe the transfer used in this DVD release as being "Fully restored from the original vault materials and is now presented uncut and uncensored for the first time in America." The visual quality of the transfer is of a high standard. It's not flawless, there are some splices, debris and detritus but it certainly looks miles better then the scope films of the Wild East DVD's. The English mono soundtrack sound excellent, bringing out the dialogue and the fantastic soundtrack really well. Also included is the original Italian mono track.
    Blue Underground has also included a 17 minute featurette entitled Run Man Run: 35 Years Running which contains interviews with the Director, Sergio Sollima and the star Tomas Milian. This is a very interesting featurette, with both imparting little known facts about the production as well as describing working with each other. Also included is the rarely-seen (and in my opinion for a good reason) 60's documentary about the spaghetti western phenomenon called Westerns Italian Style. This documentary doesn't impart any infomation that we don't already know and its staged sequences are quite embarrasing (as well as the sound track from the band John & Wayne.) However it does contain interviews with directors Castellari, Corbucci and Sollima as well as some behind the scenes footage from the Great Silence and Run Man Run as well as the best bit which is an all too brief behind the scens footage of the making of the rail road outside the McBain ranch in Once Upon A Time In The West.
     Also included is a very good trailer, a good poster and stills gallery as well as some Talent Bios and the Italian Main Title sequence, which differs a bit from the English language version.
     I had been really looking forward to this film ever since I saw the trailer and it did not dissapoint at all. It's a testiment to how good it was because I stared watching it at 2am and it finished at about 4am and it kept me riverted through out. I really recomend this to all spaghetti fans, new and old. It really is a great spaghetti.

Ollie

Next Update: 18.10.05 - Mannaja: A Man Called Blade

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« Reply #20 on: October 16, 2005, 08:03:13 AM »

Totally agree, Admirer, about Run, Man, Run ... it's one of my favorites..& IMHO one of the best of the Non-Leone Spaghettiers...
 Tomas Milian is terrific as 'Cuchillo'... even better than in "Big Gundown"....Donal O'Brien's very good, in a somewhat different role than his usual Italian Western characters,  ( The character 'type" is definitely Van Cleefian)...John Ireland in a small role.. a rousing score. Both brutal and funny... The title music ranks 10/10 in the "I can't get this outta my head" category..it's very catchy.

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« Reply #21 on: October 16, 2005, 02:36:33 PM »

I've been really enjoying reading the reviews, and slowly but surely adding them to my site.  Keep it up!   Grin

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« Reply #22 on: October 16, 2005, 02:46:20 PM »

Thanks Marco! I've jsut seen some of my reviews on your site and its very good to see them! I hope its been as enjoyable for yourself to read them as it has been for me to watch and review.  Nice to see someone agrees with me as well boardwalk, I am looking forward to watching The Big Gundown on Tuesday.

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« Reply #23 on: October 17, 2005, 05:56:17 AM »

LA only one already too late suggestion you probably should have watched The Big Gundown first, that one introduces us to Cuchillo.

If I may make another suggestion, from your list of ones to watch save Companero's for last, its always best to go out with a bang. Grin But it looks as if you are having fun, keep up the great reviews.

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« Reply #24 on: October 18, 2005, 01:17:51 PM »

18.10.05

Mannaja: A Man Called Blade

Supposedly one of the last, if not the last, great Spaghetti Western Mannaja is an enjoyable, if flawed movie.
   Blade (Maurizo Merli) rides into a town seemingly owned completely by a man called Edward Mcgowan. Looking to stay in town, he is made to approach a man called Voller (John Steiner) who is Mcgowan's right hand man. Blade and Voller have a fight and Mannaja retreats to Mcgowans house to find he has a daughter. Blade demands that Mcgowan hire him before leaving to sleep the night through. The next day he discovers the town is being almost worked to death at Mcgowan's silver mine. Blade meets up with Mcgowan and again they fight. He retreats from town where he finds a group of chorus girls and one, Angela, he falls in love with.
       The film has a very heavy dream like atmosphere though out. This is due to the erratic editing, excellent framing, the use of over and undercranking the camera (which the director, Sergio Martino, admits was heavily influenced by Sam Peckinpah) and the heavy use of fog and soft light filters on the camera and smoke machines. The reason for the smoke was actually practical as well. The film was shot on what was supposedly at that time, the last intact Western town set in Italy and even that was falling to bits, so they had to use a smoke machine to hide the disrepair of the set.
     The opening heavily influences this when an (at this point in the story) unidentified man (Donal O'Brien) is being chased through some dark and smoky woods by an unseen man on a horse. His footsteps are exagerated, he seems to be running in slow motion and the horse's hoofbeat seems to take on the appearance of the strangers heart beat. Then the stranger has his hand chopped off by the unseen man who turns out to be Blade.  The film then launches into the song and titles.
    This stark and eye opening introduction is, in my opinion, the best section of the movie. All the different areas of sound, cinematography, acting, editing and direction all collide together to make a truly arresting introduction, something the rest of the film cannot replicate despite how hard it tries.
      Merli is excellent as Blade. He pulls off the cool persona of a troubled and revenge driven man very well, and when he recovers from a horrific torture seqeunce, we feel through the use of POV and Merli's pained expression, the hurt that the man is going through. It is sad that Merli died only five years after making this movie, during a game of Tennis.
     I thought Steiner was quite a good villain. He certainly had the looks to be one and I hated the character (In the way you're meant too.) He was quite menacing when he needed to be and you could believe that he was capable of the despicable acts that he does in this film.
     I also thought Brochard was very good as Angela who was the 'tart with the heart' that Blade fell in love with.
      The film does have some plot holes. A character who is murdered in the last third of the film is never mentioned again, Blade seemingly doesn't recognise his tormenter despite seeing his name emblazoned all over town. This doesn't really detract from the moviegoing experience but it would have been nice if more care had been put into these plot points.
      As noted before, direction by Martino is excellent and cinematography is excellent, sometimes with some very arresting and startling images and angles. Music is of an over all high standard, but a song about one of the characters being a Judas was quite dire to be honest.
       Blue Underground present this DVD completely restored from "Original Italian vault materials" The picture quality is of a general high quality. There are some damage marks and there is a very high abundance of grain at the begining of the film (which I don't find a real negative point) but generally the anamorphic scope print quality is pleasing. The mono is of a good quality and is presented in either original English or Italian. The DVD also contains, restored back into the print an "Infamous 'eyeball torture' scene"
     The DVD contains the 12 minute featurette A Man Called Sergio which is an interview with the director Sergio Martino. Here was get to learn some interesting tid bits about the production. Also found is an interesting poster and still gallery as well as a Sergio Martino Bio.
      This film marks the end of my four film experience with Blue Underground. I think its a shame they haven't produced any more Spaghetti DVD releases and, after the high quality of these four, I implore them to do more.  The film itself was enjoyable, it played the usual elements of the spaghetti genre whilst using a fresh new cinematic perspective. Again I recomend this film to all established Spaghetti fans and newcomers.

Ollie


Next Update: 19.10.05 - The Big Gundown

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« Reply #25 on: October 18, 2005, 01:33:49 PM »

Good review again, sir.  I've only watched "Man Called Blade" once, and I did enjoy it (rated it 3/4, but it would have been a low 3).  The intro scene is the highlight of the movie for me.

Mine is a very old and well watched video that I got from ebay, and the picture quality is very poor.  It made it a struggle to watch, and maybe it merits replacement at some point.

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« Reply #26 on: October 18, 2005, 01:37:01 PM »

Thinking about the "Love the Dubbs" comment...... (which I did seconds after pressing the 'post' button!).........

My "upstairs" video player must have a problem with the heads or something, because whatever you watch on it the lip sync is out.  Therefore you can watch even the most modern films and get that spaghetti western dubbing feel!!!!   Cheesy

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« Reply #27 on: October 18, 2005, 03:34:59 PM »

excellent review again sir.


its true villains should be hated. any villian who is likable in anyway is a failed achievement of making a sinister character.

the one character i hated more then voller was definatly
*SPIOLERS*(IF U HAVENT WATCHED THE FILM DONT READ FURTHER)

vollers girlfriend(and the daughter of  MCGOWAN). what a little whore! it was a complete shock to see her with voller. she so should have gotten a hacthet impaled on her face at the end of that film.

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« Reply #28 on: October 20, 2005, 01:29:57 PM »

Thanks for the encouragment guys and am glad your all enjoying the reviews. Its very interesting to hear your views derringdo and looking back at Run Man Run I do agree with you on some of your points. Anyway on to the next two reviews...

20.10.05

The Big Gundown

This film has been "Rated the best non-Leone western by visitors to the web forum at www.sartana.homestead.com" I personally don't agree with that, but i still felt The Big Gundown was a solid Spaghetti Western.
    After a brief introduction in which we are introduced to bountry hunter Jonathan Corbett (Lee Van Cleef), we find him at a wedding party which is intertrupted when three men inform the host and guests that a 11 year old girl has been raped and murdered by a bandit called Cuchillo (Thomas Milian). Corbett jumps at the chance to hunt the man down and so begins a chase across the south west of the US into Mexico with both sides meeting strange and sometimes violent characters.
     The plot of the film is interesting, and is obviously the blue print that the sequel Run Man Run would follow. The film contains many interesting characters that the two main protagonists encounter such as Mexican Chief of police, Cuchillo's wife and an Austrian count who wants to have a duel with Corbett due to his reputations.
     The film contains alot less comic situations then Sollima's sequel Run Man Run and I think that with the inclusion of Van Cleef's character this works in favour of this film. This also coupled with the rather adult situation that sent Corbett on his quest to find Cuchillo, which I must admit caught me a little off guard, and it adds to the whole mood of the film. However I must admit, Cuchillo, whilst a quite comedic fellow does act through the begining of the movie as if he did it and this contrast with the comedic side of the film doesn't sit that well, especially in a scene with the Mormans and a little girl.
      The acting in the film is of a high standard. Van Cleef is excellent as usual as the gruff gunfighter who takes all hell to find the lowely Cuchillo. Cleef is able to play his characters with a human side and you genuinely feel, and along with the direction see, how out of place he is in the Mexican Town, very reminiscant of Hackman in The French Connection II.
     Milian is effective as Cuchillo. He manages to seem to be an untrustworthy toe rag, but also amusing. However I would admit that the character isn't as developed as it is in Run Man Run and therefore some of his less tangible qualities can leave you will little sympathy at times. Milian's almost animalistic moves add to the rat like qualities of Cuchillo.
     The film is directed with gusto by Sollima. We have fast horse rides, great gun battles, a humerous bull fight, spiderous femme fatales and large panaramic vistas. The frames often have a dry, dirty look on them, especially in the Mexico regions and it really emphasises the non-glamerous aspects of Corbett's job.
     The Morriconne score is great also. I have to admit it took me a while to like it and I prefer the orchestral version of the main theme, not the one that plays over the main credits but it is effective, whilst not being one of his most memorable scores, and certainly not as good as the one in Run Man Run. The best bits of the score are first, when he uses some what I belive is Beethoven as part of the Austrian count's theme which I thought was nice dark humorous touch, an aspect that this film has a lot of, and when the sound becomes almost like Jungle animal noises during a scene where Cuchillo runs in some tall grass whilst being hunted like an animal. This is a similar effect to the dingo call in the begining of TGTBTU.
    This DVD has been created by major Spaghetti Fan, Franco Cleef. He has used a transfer from an italian print for the best a/v as well as because it contains all the scenes that have been removed from the US Theatrical release. The 2.2:35 cinematogrpahy translates well on this disc with little print damage and high sharpness levels. The only negative point being that the picture is perhaps a little washed out. The disc also includes the longest English soundtrack version avaliable. Cleef has sourced English elements from TV Broadcast's, VHS's and other sources for the best elements and also to find English dialogue for the scenes that had been removed on the US cut. For the scenes that never were dubbed into English, Franco has kept the Italian soundtrack and included subtitles. For a person who has never seen the US theatrical cut, I was able to see how much had been cut out and how little sense the US version must make! Some of the music has been taken from a digital source to dramatically increase the quality. All the information about the reconstruction can be found in the extensive production notes Franco has written for this disc. The film also has the original Italian soundtrack. Both English and Italian tracks are in PCM Mono.
   The disc also contains the original US Theatrical trailer along with the reconstruction notes.
    This is a damn fine western, mature themes mixed with gritty humour and violence. A definate recomendation for Spaghetti fans both new and old.

Ollie

Next Update: 20.10.05 - Death Rides A Horse

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« Reply #29 on: October 20, 2005, 02:08:09 PM »

20.10.05

Death Rides A Horse

An excellent, rip roaring revenge spaghetti that grabs you from the outset, even if the "shocking surprise" at the end can be guessed within the first ten minutes this fun, nasty, dark, suspenseful, stuffed with action and humerous film is another great film in the spaghetti genre.
This film opens savagely with a family being raped and then killed. One boy survives who grows up to become Bill (John Philip Law) a man forever looking for the people who murded his folks. One day, a man called Ryan (Lee Van Cleef) is released from incarceration. Angry for being betrayed, he goes out to get those who framed him and put him in prison. Bill finds out that Ryan is after the same gang he is and is killing them off, before he lets him finish Bill chases Ryan and a strange partnership is formed.
       The opening of the film literally throws you into the deep end. You have no cute family scenes, the only scene before the massacre is some men and Bill's father arriving at Bills house with $200,000, told to the audience through rather clunky dialogue. The title sequence offers us no escape as we see through out the men sneaking up to the house to do the horrific deed. This whole opening is expertly directed by Guilo Petroni, who uses voyeuristic techniques by giving us the POV of the young Bill watching his mother and his sister being violated by the brutal men. In this sequence we see the only means that Bill has to identify each one. A face, a tatoo, an earring, a scar and a pendulant of the man who saved him.
     Lee Van Cleef plays Ryan as man haunted by his past events and driven by anger aimed at the men who set him up in jail. As soon as he meets young Bill, he becomes a father like figure to the young man, teaching him the elements of gun play and almost playing with him during the chase for the other bandits.
    John Philip Law plays Bill as if he was a younger Ryan, a fact that will become important later on in the story. He is constantly driven by anger and the desire to revenge his parents. His gun control is remarkable and even impresses Ryan. Bill looks up to Ryan affectionatly, calling him Grandpa and joking around with him. These two actors and characters make for a great partnership.
    These elements sound very familiar to another film I reviewed. It seems that Day of Anger, made a year later, would use a lot of the teacher, pupil theme from this movie, with dialogue in both films sounding very similar.
     Direction is of a high quality with action scenes, and those containing the dark humour so vital to the series being handled expertly. Cinematography is grand but gritty, often the frame is dirtied by dust or dirt. Morriconne's score is, in my opinion, better then the one he did for The Big Gundown. Whilst it maybe leaner in volume, it does contain some much more pleasing and intersting themes. Also the music that plays in the begining seems like an early guitar version of the theme from the underated score of John Carpenter's The Thing.
     MGM's R2 DVD release presents a very nice transfer. It is sharp, colors arn't too washed out and despite having some print damage seems to be in very good shape. Was surprised at how low the bitrate was for the entire film and I wonder if the transfer would look even better with a higher rate. The English 2.0 mono was good, even with its age limitations and I could detect no hiss or clicks. Other audio options found on the disc are, German Mono, French Mono, Italian and Spanish Mono. There are also a wide range of subtitles available including English language. There are no extras, a very ugly menu and a non-skippable ant-piracy advertisement (I am heavily against piracy but this advert is godawful.)
     Death Rides A Horse is an action orientated, buddy revenge movie. It has the right balance of all the ingredients to make a good spaghetti and should be checked out by fans new and old.

Ollie

Next Update: 21.10.05 - Sabata

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