Sunday, July 25, 2021

Major Dundee (2-Disc Limited Edition) – Arrow Video (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1965
Director: Sam Peckinpah
Writers: Harry Julian Fink, Oscar Saul, Sam Peckinpah
Cast: Charlton Heston, Richard Harris, Jim Hutton, James Coburn, Michael Anderson Jr., Senta Berger, Mario Adorf, Brock Peters, Warren Oates, Ben Johnson

Release Date: June 28th, 2021 (UK), June 29th, 2021 (USA)
Approximate Running Times: 135 Minutes 50 Seconds (Extended Cut), 122 Minutes 18 Seconds (Theatrical Cut)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Both Versions)
Rating: 18 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 English, LPCM Mono English (Extended Cut), DTS-HD Mono English (Theatrical Cut)
Subtitles: English SDH (Both Versions)
Region Coding: Region A,B
Retail Price: £34.99 (UK), $59.95 (USA)

"Major Amos Dundee, a vainglorious Union Cavalry officer, who mounts an expedition to hunt down Apache war chief Sierra Charriba. Building his own army of criminals, ex-slaves and Confederate POWs - among them one Captain Ben Tyreen (Richard Harris), whose intense former friendship with Dundee is tainted with a sense of betrayal on both sides - Dundee heads into Mexico, his eye fixed firmly on a last shot at greatness." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.25/5 (Extended Cut), 4/5 (Theatrical Cut)

Here’s the information provided about the extended cut's transfer, "4K scan by Sony Pictures".

Major Dundee extended cut comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 49.8 GB

Feature: 32.8 GB

Here’s the information provided about the theatrical cut's transfer, "from a 2K scan".

Major Dundee theatrical cut comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 40.6 GB

Feature: 32.6 GB

The sources used for both versions are in great shape, colors and flesh tones look correct, image clarity, contrast and black levels look strong throughout, there are no compression related issues and grain remains intact. It should-be noted that the image does not look as strong when there’s an optical. Also, though both transfers seem to come from the same source that Twilight Time used for their Blu-ray, the result is a stronger encode from Arrow Video.

Audio: 4.5/5

The extended cut comes with two audio options, LPCM mono mix in English with original score by Daniele Amfitheatrof and a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English with new score by Christopher Caliendo. The theatrical cut comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English. All three audio mixes sound great, dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and ambient sounds are well-represented. With the DTS-HD 5.1 offering up a solid track that does a good job expanding the original mono source. Both versions comes with removable English SDH subtitles.

Extras:

Extras on the disc that contains the theatrical cut include UK theatrical trailer (3 minutes 17 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), UK theatrical trailer uncropped (3 minutes 18 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), US theatrical trailer (3 minutes 28 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), German theatrical trailer (3 minutes 28 seconds, LPCM mono German with English subtitles), deleted and extended scenes: compiled scenes with audio commentary by film historian and critic Glenn Erickson (6 minutes 40 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), Major Dundee and Teresa’s Swimming scene (40 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), Knife Fight (3 minutes 38 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles) and Silent Extended Outtakes (4 minutes 20 seconds) and a vintage featurette about Major Dundee’s stunts titled Riding for a Fall (7 minutes 23 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles).

Extras on the disc that contains the extended cut include Animated Galleries: Major Dundee on the Set, Major Dundee Colour Stills, Major Dundee Portrait Stills and Promoting Major Dundee, 2005 re-release trailer (2 minutes 26 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with filmmaker Mike Siegel who discusses his beginnings and his ongoing historical project about director Sam Peckinpah titled Mike Siegel: About the Passion & Poetry Project (43 minutes 35 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), a featurette with nine actors who talk about working with legendary director Sam Peckinpah, featuring Kris Kristofferson, Ernest Borgnine, James Coburn, David Warner, Ali MacGraw, L.Q. Jones, Bo Hopkins, R.G. Armstrong, Isela Vega titled Passion & Poetry: Peckinpah Anecdotes (25 minutes 43 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), a documentary about the making of Major Dundee by Mike Siegel, featuring James Coburn, Senta Berger, Mario Adorf, L.Q. Jones, R.G. Armstrong, Gordon Dawson titled Passion & Poetry: The Dundee Odyssey (75 minutes 25 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English/German with removable English subtitles for German language), a visual essay by David Cairns titled Moby Dick on Horseback (29 minutes 6 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles) and three audio commentary tracks, the first audio commentary is with Nick Redman, David Weddle, Garner Simmons and Paul Seydor, the second audio commentary is with film critics Glenn Erickson and Alan K. Rode and the third audio commentary is with Glenn Erickson.

Rounding out the extras is a fold out poster and a sixty-page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled A Tale of Ambition, Obsession, and Desperation: Sam Peckinpah’s Major Dundee written by Jeremy Carr, an essay titled Major Dundee written by Farran Smith Nehme, an essay titled War Without End written by Roderick Heath, an essay titled Sam Peckinpah: Romantic Existentialist written by Neil Snowdon and information about the transfers. 

Summary:

In the early 1960’s Sam Peckinpah quickly established himself as one of better American directors making westerns. Where most of his contemporaries made westerns that by that time felt dated due to their looking backward instead of forward. Sam Peckinpah was a visionary filmmaker who would give the western genre and action cinema a much-needed kick in the ass with his explicit depiction of violence and his revisionist take on the American western.

By the time Sam Peckinpah directed Major Dundee, he had only directed two feature films, The Deadly Companions and Ride the HIgh Country. And though he showed a lot of growth from his first film, two his second film. The amount of creative growth from Ride the High Country to Major Dundee was ten fold.     

Major Dundee is an epic film about a larger than life protagonist who’s driven by his obsessions. Cast in the role of Major Dundee is Charlton Heston, an actor who’s portrayed many larger than life characters. Most notably Moses in The Ten Commandments and the protagonist in Ben Hur.  Charlton Heston delivers a solid performance that has just the right amount of gravitas. That said, the rest of the cast has many recognizable faces and they are all very good in their respective roles.

Though there had been western set in the Civil War before Major Dundee. The result is a film that stands apart from all Civil War themed American westerns that came before Major Dundee. And nowhere is this clearer, then when it comes to elements that are undeniably Sam Peckinpah.

From a production standpoint, though they're not many areas where Major Dundee does not excel. There are a few areas where Major Dundee comes up short. Most notably a haphazard narrative that starts off very strong, only to lose momentum after Major Dundee achieves his first goal. That said, most of these shortcomings can-be attributed to the film being altered by the producer for its theatrical release. And fortunately this release offers a more rounded out extended cut that corrects some of the theatrical cut’s shortcomings.

To say, they don’t make films like Major Dundee anymore, would be an understatement. It’s from a bygone era of filmmaker when director’s had a significant role in the creative process.

Arrow Video gives Major Dundee an excellent release that comes with two versions of the film and a wealth of insightful extras, highly recommended.

Extended Cut Screenshots.









 Theatrical Cut Screenshots.








Written by Michael Den Boer

Friday, July 23, 2021

The Sergio Martino Collection – Arrow Video (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Dates: Italy, 1971 (The Case of the Scorpion's Tale), Italy, 1972 (Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key), Italy, 1975 (The Suspicious Death of a Minor)
Director: Sergio Martino (All Films)
Cast: George Hilton, Anita Strindberg, iIda Galli, Janine Reynaud, Luigi Pistilli (The Case of the Scorpion's Tale), Edwige Fenech, Anita Strindberg, Luigi Pistilli, Ivan Rassimov (Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key), Claudio Cassinelli, Mel Ferrer, Lia Tanzi, Gianfranco Barra, Patrizia Castaldi, Adolfo Caruso, Jenny Tamburi (The Suspicious Death of a Minor)

Release Date: August 2nd, 2021 (UK), August 3rd, 2021 (USA)
Approximate Running Times: 95 Minutes 12 Seconds (The Case of the Scorpions Tale), 96 Minutes 43 Seconds (Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key), 100 Minutes 24 Seconds (The Suspicious Death of a Minor)
Aspect Ratios: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (The Case of the Scorpion's Tale, The Suspicious Death of a Minor) & 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key)
Rating: 18 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: LPCM Mono Italian, LPCM Mono English (All Films)
Subtitles: English, English SDH (All Films)
Region Coding: Region A,B
Retail Price: £59.99 (UK), $99.95 (USA)

"In The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail, recently widowed Lisa Baumer is summoned to Athens to collect her husband’s generous life insurance policy, but soon discovers others are willing to kill to get their hands on it.

In the Edgar Allan Poe-inspired Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, abrasive drunk Oliviero amuses himself by holding drunken orgies and abusing his long-suffering wife… but when a series of grisly murders shakes the local community, Oliviero finds himself in the frame.

Finally, The Suspicious Death of a Minor combines giallo and crime thriller tropes as undercover cop Paolo pursues the Milanese criminal outfit responsible for the brutal murder of an underage prostitute, but finds himself up against a killer-for-hire who’s bumping off witnesses before they have a chance to talk." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.5/5 (The Case of the Scorpion's Tale), 4.25/5 (Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key, The Suspicious Death of a Minor)

Here’s the information provided about the transfer, "a brand new 4K restoration of the film from the original camera negative."

The Case of the Scorpion's Tale comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 46.1 GB

Feature: 30 GB

The source used for this transfer is in excellent shape, grain looks natural, colors are nicely saturated, details look sharp, black levels look strong throughout and there are no issues with compression. And when compared to previous home video releases for this film, this new transfer is a massive upgrade that is vastly superior in every way.

Here’s the information provided about the transfer, "a brand new 2k restoration from the film’s original camera negative."

Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 42.9 GB

Feature: 21.2 GB

This is yet another solid transfer from Arrow Video that vastly improves upon all earlier releases for this film. It should-be noted that when you choose the English version of the film that it opens with the title Gently before She Dies.

Here’s the information provided about the transfer, "a 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative produced by Arrow Video exclusively for this release."

The Suspicious Death of a Minor comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 44.1 GB

Feature: 30.3 GB

The source used for this transfer is in great shape and when compared to previous home video releases, it is superior in every way. It should-be noted that there are some very mild instances of source related damaged and depending on the language you choose, this release comes with two titles sequences, one in Italian and the other in English.

Audio: 4/5 (The Case of the Scorpion's Tale, Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key, The Suspicious Death of a Minor)

The Case of the Scorpion's Tale comes with two audio options, a LPCM mono mix in English and a LPCM mono mix in Italian. Both audio mixes sound, clean, clear and balanced throughout. There are two subtitle options for this release. English SDH subtitles for the English language track and English subtitles for the Italian language track.

Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key comes with two audio options, a LPCM mono mix in English and a LPCM mono mix in Italian. Both audio mixes are in great shape as they show good range and when it comes to the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack these moments are well represented. Also dialog always comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. With the only differences in these audio mixes being one’s preference to English or Italian. Personally I prefer the Italian language track. There are two subtitle options for this release. English SDH subtitles for the English language track and English subtitles for the Italian language track.

The Suspicious Death of a Minor comes with two audio options, a LPCM mono mix in English and a LPCM mono mix in Italian. Both audio mixes are free of background noise and distortion. Range wise out of these two audio mixes; the Italian audio mixes is the more robust of these two audio mixes. With there being a few instances on the English language track where the dialog sounds underwhelming. The film’s score sounds robust on both audio mixes. Included with this release are two subtitle options, English SDH and English for the Italian language track.

Extras:

Extras for The Case of the Scorpion's Tale include reversible cover art, an image gallery, a trailer for The Case of the Scorpion's Tale (2 minutes 31 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Italian with English subtitles), a video essay by Mikel J. Koven, author of La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film titled Jet Set Giallo (20 minutes 5 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an audio essay by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films titled The Case of the Screenwriter Auteur (15 minutes 34 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with actor George Hilton titled Under the Sign of the Scorpion (20 minutes 56 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with English subtitles), an interview with director Sergio Martino titled The Scorpion Tales (20 minutes 56 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with English subtitles) and an audio commentary with screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi and moderated by filmmaker Federico Caddeo (in Italian with English subtitles).

Extras not carried over from Arrow Video 2018 The Case of the Scorpion's Tale Blu-ray release is a forty-page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled Re-evaluating The Case of The Scorpion's Tale: Sergio Martino’s Hitchcockian Giallo written by Rachael Nisbet, an essay titled Out of the Shadows: The Film Music of Bruno Nicolai written by Howard Hughes, as essay titled Anita Strindberg: Elusive Icon of the Giallo written by Peter Jimstad and information about the restoration/transfer.

Extras for Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key include reversible covert art , two video essays, the first visual essay by Michael Mackenzie is titled Dolls of Flesh and Blood (29 minutes 4 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles) and a visual essay by Justin Harries is titled The Strange Vices of Ms. Fenech (29 minutes 42 seconds Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with filmmaker Eli Roth (9 minutes 17 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival documentary titled Unveiling the Vice (23 minutes, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with English subtitles) and an interview with director Sergio Martino titled Through the Keyhole (34 minutes 42 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with English subtitles).

Extras not carried over from Arrow Video’s 2016 Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key Blu-ray release that was part of two movie set titled Edgar Allan Poe's Black Cats: Two Adaptations by Sergio Martino & Lucio Fulci are a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray and a eighty-page booklet with cast & crew info for Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key, two essays, the first essay tiled Ernesto Gastaldi’s Perversions of Poe written by Christopher Alexander and the second essay titled The Production of Your Vice is a Locked Room written by Andreas Ehrenreich. Content related to Fulci’s The Black Cat includes cast & crew info, an essay about the film titled 9 Lives of the Black Cat written by Mikel Koven, Lucio Fulci –The Final Interview conducted by Howard S. Berger, Edgar Allan Poe’s short story The Black Cat and information about both films transfers.

Extras for The Suspicious Death of a Minor include reversible cover art, a trailer for The Suspicious Death of a Minor (3 minutes 27 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Italian with English subtitles), an interview with director Sergio Martino titled Violent Milan (42 minutes 34 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with English subtitles) and an audio commentary with Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films.

Extras not carried over from Arrow Video 2017 The Suspicious Death of a Minor Blu-ray release are a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray and a twenty-page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled The Suspicious Death of a Minor written by Barry Forshaw and information about the restoration/transfer.

Summary:

The Case of the Scorpion's Tale: Sergio Martino is a master craftsmen filmmaker who has worked in about every genre of cinema. And in the early 1970’s when the Giallo was at the height of its popularity he would capitalize on the current trend. The 1970’s would be Sergio Martino’s most creative decade as a filmmaker. In this decade he would direct several classic Giallo’s, The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail, All the Colors of the Dark, Torso, Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key and The Suspicious Death of a Minor. Most of these films starred his brother Luciano Martino’ s girlfriend at that time Edwige Fenech.

The Case of the Scorpion's Tale filmed at several locations Italy, England, Spain and Greece. Visually cinematographers Giancarlo Ferrando and Emilio Foriscot beautifully capture these locations landscapes. And though the special effects during the murders set pieces hold up well. The same cannot be said for the model plane that blows up at the beginning of the film.

The Case of the Scorpion's Tale like most of Sergio Martino’s giallo’s has a solid cast that includes George Hilton (The Case of the Bloody Iris, The Sweet Body of Deborah), Anita Strindberg (A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, Tropic of Cancer), Janine Reynaud (Succubus) and Luigi Pistilli (Death Rides a Horse, Spirits of Death). The films two lead’s George Hilton and Anita Strindberg make an interesting pair. They have a strong chemistry that reinforces the sexual tension building up between them.

Composer Bruno Nicolai most know for his collaborations with Ennio Morricone. His score for The Case of The Scorpion's Tale is nerve-wracking and haunting as his gorgeous melodies give the film more depth. This film’s most memorable moment visually is a death scene where a character presses their face against a window looks contorted and grotesque.

The Case of the Scorpion's Tale is at times a perplexing story that weaves so many red herrings. And you will be genuinely surprise when the killer is finally revealed. Ultimately, The Case of the Scorpion's Tale is one of those films that start’s to grow on you the more you watch.

Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key: In the early 1970’s Sergio Martino directed several Gialli that were extremely successful like Torso, The Case of The Scorpion's Tale, The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh and All The Colors of The Dark. Serigo Martino for Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key would freely craft a script from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat. Edwige Fenech would star in Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key, she had previously worked with Sergio Martino in two other Giallo’s The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh and All The Colors of The Dark.

This time around Edwige Fenech is the protagonist instead of the victim as she is all too often cast as in other Gialli, still in this film as in most of her films she is more than happy to disrobe. I really enjoyed watching Edwige Fenech playing against type casting as she dug in her claws for what is one of her most devilish roles. The camera loves her and through out the film she's introduced into scenes in a grand fashion whether she is wearing knee-high boots at the train station or lay half dresses writing in bed.

Anita Strindberg performance as the cheated wife who goes over the edge is sincere as she lays her emotions out for all to see and it is one of her best performances. In this role Anita rally lays it on the line as her character is far removed from the glamorous characters she usually plays. There are a few moments like when she takes out her aggression on the cat that has pestered her that are dangerously over the top. Luigi Pistilli gives one of his most fearless performances of his career. His character is sadistic and he totally lacks any kind of sympathy.

Sergio Martino always the master craftsman, Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key's solid cast allows him to be bolder in his choices as he mixes bizarre camera angles with precise editing. There is some really cool compositions in the film most notably the murder scenes, shot from the killer point of view as he chases and finishes off his victims. Like most Giallo’s there are a few red herrings and one of the most important ones that come completely out of left field. The screenplay is the films weakest link it fails to bring something fresh and new to the Poe’s story.

And the vastly underrated composer Bruno Nicolai composes one of his most versatile score’s for Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key. The score has a chamber like music feel to it that perfectly fits the Poe elements of the film. Ultimately Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key cleverly mixes the works of Edgar Allen Poe with the visceral style that we have come to associate with the Giallo genre, highly recommended.

The Suspicious Death of a Minor: Sergio Martino’s rarely seen 1975 thriller The Suspicious Death of a Minor is a Poliziotteschi / Giallo hybrid that leans more towards the Poliziotteschi genre. And outside of the opening murder and a montage of Giallo like murders near the end of the film the rest of the film looks and feels like a Poliziotteschi film. The first murder is the most violent murder of the film and this first victim was killed with a blade, which is one of the genres more familiar weapons of choice.

Sergio Martino as usual delivers stylish set pieces that are offset by quirky moments like, a man nearly getting hit by a car and landing on his head or a bicyclist having his bike chopped in half by a speeding by car and leaving his with a tricycle. In fact, there is more elements of comedy than elements associated with Gialli in this film.

In regards to this film’s use of humor. There is a recurring bit happens with Detective Paolo Germi, who is constantly breaking his glasses. It does not matter if he is dancing or making love, he constantly finds a way to break them.

Standout action sequences include, a scene where a hit man tries to kill Detective Paolo Germi when he's trapped on a roller coaster. And the other standout action sequence is a shoot out on a roller coaster. With Detective Paolo Germi chasing the suspect through the subway.

Actor Claudio Cassinelli is best known for his role is the Massimo Dallamano Giallo What Have They Done to Your Daughters? And The Suspicious Death of a Minor would mark the first of the six films that Claudio Cassinelli has collaborated with Sergio Martino. Performance wise, Claudio Cassinelli is a solid choice as Paolo Germi as he perfectly balances the characters flaws with his more serious side without making the character seem contrived.

The score for The Suspicious Death of a Minor is at times is reminiscent of Goblin’s work on Dario Argento’s Profondo Rosso. The well-constructed narrative is best described as a melting pot of ideas. And this film’s brisk pacing ensures that there is rarely an opportunity to catch one’s breath while watching this film. Ultimately The Suspicious Death of a Minor is a tongue in cheek Poliziotteschi that hits all the right notes.

With The Sergio Martino Collection Arrow Video brings together in one collection three films that they originally released separately. All three films in The Sergio Martino Collection come with solid audio/video presentations and a wealth of extra content. That said, the only content new to this release is the box that houses the three films. Though most fans of Sergio Martino already own Arrow Video’s original releases for these three films. The Sergio Martino Collection is a convenient way for anyone who has not already purchased Arrow Video’s original releases. 

























Written by Michael Den Boer

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

 Vengeance Trails: Four Classic Westerns (Limited Edition) – Arrow Video (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Dates: Italy, 1966 (Massacre Time, My Name is Pecos), Italy, 1967 (Bandidos), Italy, 1970 (And God Said to Cain)
Directors: Lucio Fulci (Massacre Time), Maurizio Lucidi (My Name is Pecos), Massimo Dallamano (Bandidos), Antonio Margheriti (And God Said to Cain)
Cast: Franco Nero, George Hilton, Linda Sini, Giuseppe Addobbati, Nino Castelnuovo (Massacre Time), Robert Wood, Pier Paolo Capponi, Lucia Modugno, Cristina Iosani, George Eastman (My Name is Pecos), Enrico Maria Salerno, Terry Jenkins, María Martín, Venantino Venantini (Bandidos), Klaus Kinski, Peter Carsten, Marcella Michelangeli, Antonio Cantafora, Giuliano Raffaelli, Luciano Pigozzi (And God Said to Cain)

Release Date: July 26th, 2021 (UK), July 27th, 2021 (USA)
Approximate Running Times: 92 Minutes 12 Seconds (Massacre Time), 85 Minutes 10 Seconds  (My Name is Pecos), 95 Minutes 47 Seconds (Bandidos), 100 Minutes 12 Seconds (And God Said to Cain)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (All Films)
Rating: 18 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: LPCM Mono Italian, LPCM Mono English (Massacre Time, My Name is Pecos), DTS-HD Mono Italian, DTS-HD Mono English (Bandidos, And God Said to Cain)
Subtitles: English, English SDH (All Films)
Region Coding: Region A,B
Retail Price: £69.99 (UK), $99.95 (USA)

Massacre Time "In Lucio Fulci’s (Zombie Flesh Eaters) Massacre Time (1966), Franco Nero (Django) and George Hilton (The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail) star as estranged brothers forced to band together against the powerful businessman (Nino Castelnuovo, Strip Nude for Your Killer) and his sadistic son who’ve seized control of their hometown." - synopsis provided by the distributor

My Name is Pecos "In Maurizio Lucidi’s (The Sicilian Cross) My Name is Pecos (1966), Robert Woods (Johnny Colt) stars as the eponymous Mexican gunslinger, returning to Houston to settle a long-standing score against the racist gang boss (Pier Paolo Capponi, The Cat O’ Nine Tails) who wiped out his entire family." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Bandidos "In Massimo Dallamano’s (What Have You Done to Solange?) Bandidos (1967), Enrico Maria Salerno (Savage Three) plays a former top marksman who, years after being maimed by a former protégé (Venantino Venantini, City of the Living Dead), teams up with a fresh apprentice (Terry Jenkins, Paint Your Wagon) to get his revenge against the man who betrayed him." - synopsis provided by the distributor

And God Said to Cain "Finally, in Antonio Margheriti’s (Cannibal Apocalypse) And God Said to Cain (1970), the inimitable Klaus Kinski (Double Face) stars as a man who has spent the last decade in a prison work camp for a crime he didn’t commit and who, upon his release, immediately sets out to wreak vengeance on the men who framed him." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.5/5 (Massacre Time, My Name is Pecos), 4.25/5 (Bandidos, And God Said to Cain)

Here’s the information provided about the transfers, "Scanning and restoration work was completed at L'Immagine Ritrovata, Bologna. The original 35mm camera negatives were scanned in 2K resolution. The films were graded at R3Store Studios, London."

Massacre Time comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 46.5 GB

Feature: 27.9 GB

My Name is Pecos comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 39.8 GB

Feature: 22.8 GB

Bandidos comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 36.8 GB

Feature: 25.5 GB

And God Said to Cain comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 36.1 GB

Feature: 27.8 GB

Arrow Video has done a great job with all four transfers. Their sources are in excellent shape and any source related imperfection are minimal. Colors look very good, image clarity and black levels look strong throughout. That said, when compared to these film’s other home video releases and other Spaghetti Westerns released on Blu-ray, most viewers should-be very happy with these transfers.

Audio: 4/5 Massacre Time, My Name is Pecos, Bandidos, And God Said to Cain)

Massacre Time, My Name is Pecos, Bandidos and And God Said to Cain each come with two audio options, English and Italian. Massacre Time and My Name is Pecos come with LPCM mono, while Bandidos and And God Said to Cain come with DTS-HD mono. All of the audio tracks are in great shape, dialog comes through clearly, there are no issues with distortion, everything sounds balanced, ambient sounds are well-represented and the scores sound appropriately robust. It should-be noted that the English language track for Massacre Time has some instances of background hiss. Massacre Time, My Name is Pecos, Bandidos and And God Said to Cain each come with two subtitle options, English for the Italian language tracks and English SDH for the English language tracks. 

Extras:

Extras for Massacre Time include reversible cover art, German promotional gallery, a trailer for Massacre Time (3 minutes 2 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Italian with English subtitles), an interview with film historian Fabio Melelli titled The Era of Violence (18 minutes 32 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with English subtitles), a documentary featuring a new video interview with actor Franco Nero and an archival video interview with actor George Hilton titled Two Men Alone (49 minutes 44 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with English subtitles), an option to watch Massacre Time with a alternate US English dub track (92 minutes 12 seconds, LPCM mono English with English SDH subtitles) and an audio commentary with authors and film critics C. Courtney Joyner and Henry Parke.

Extras for My Name is Pecos include reversible cover art, German promotional gallery, a trailer for My Name is Pecos (2 minutes 44 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Italian with English subtitles), an interview with film historian Fabio Melelli titled Pecos Kills (19 minutes 52 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with English subtitles), an interview with actress Lucia Modugno titled Indecent Proposal (18 minutes 36 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with English subtitles), an interview with actor George Eastman titled A Giant in the West (21 minutes 5 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with English subtitles) and an audio commentary with actor Robert Woods and author/film critic C. Courtney Joyner.

Extras for Bandidos include reversible cover art, German promotional gallery, alternate end title sequence (1 minute 18 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), an interview with film historian Fabio Melelli titled Western Bandits (11 minutes 27 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with English subtitles), an interview with actor Gino Barbacane titled They Call Him Simon (11 minutes 40 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with English subtitles), an interview with assistant director Luigi Perelli titled A Man in the Saloon (18 minutes 51 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with English subtitles) and an audio commentary with author and film critic Kat Ellinger.

Extras for And God Said to Cain include reversible cover art, German promotional gallery, an  interview with actor Antonio Cantafora titled Of NIght and Wind (12 minutes 56 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with English subtitles), an interview with film historian Fabio Melelli and an audio interview with actress Marcella Michelangeli titled Between Gothic and Western (19 minutes 57 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with English subtitles) and an audio commentary with author and film critic Howard Hughes.

Rounding out the extras is a fold-out double-sided poster and a fifty-page booklet with cast & crew information for each film, a lengthy essay titled Vengeance Trails: Revenge, Spaghetti Western Style (Lashings of Violence: Lucio Fulci’s Massacre Time/A Rum Deal: Maurizio Lucidi’s My Name is Pecos/Master and Apprentice: Massimo Dallamano’s Bandidos/Divine Retribution: Antonio Margheriti’s And God Said to Cain) written by Howard Hughes and information about the restorations/transfers.

Summary:

Massacre Time: Franco Nero had a handful of Spaghetti Westerns before his performance in Django made him one of the most in demand actors in the Spaghetti Western genre. In 1966 he was the star in three of Spaghetti Westerns, Texas, Adios, Massacre Time and Django.

The story for Massacre Time bears many similarities to Texas, Adios. Both films begin with a death of two brothers’ fathers and they both end with a similar twist where one of the brothers discovers the man they are seeking revenge against their farther. That said, here's where the similarities end with the violence and sadism more prominent in Massacre Time.

Massacre Time’s most memorable moment is the beating Franco’s Nero’s character Tom Corbett suffers at the hands of his nemeses’ Mr. Scott’s son ‘junior’. Nino Castelnuovo is gleefully demented in the role of Jason ‘junior’ Scott.

Massacre Time was the first of three Spaghetti westerns directed by Lucio Fulci. The other two being Four of the Apocalypse and Silver Saddle. A fourth Spaghetti Western A Bullet for Sandoval and his exact role is this production has never been fully confirmed.

Before directing Massacre Time Lucio Fulci had primarily directed comedies and there is some offbeat humor in Massacre Time especially in the character of Jeff Corbett, who's deliriously played by George Hilton. When we are first introduced to the character of Jeff Corbett he is an alcoholic with no ambitions beyond securing his next drink. One interesting attribute of the Jeff Corbett character is his uncanny ability to shoot a gun while inebriated.

Visually Lucio Fulci creates menacing tale filled with tension which leads up to a bloody finale that will stratify even the most hardcore Spaghetti Western fan. Though Coriolano Gori’s score for Massacre Time features the style often employed in most Spaghetti Westerns from this era. This is not to say that the score is not without its own merits it just lacks the timelessness present in many of Ennio Morricone’s scores.

In the lead role of Tom Corbett is Franco Nero, who’s performance while solid is not as memorable as his work in other Spaghetti westerns like Django, The Mercenary and Companeros. Franco Nero as usual has a strong psychical presence that really shines during action sequences. Without a doubt, Massacre Time's greatest asset is pairing up of Franco Nero with George Hilton whose comic relief perfectly balances Franco’s stern exterior. Ultimately, Massacre Time is fast paced tale about revenge that fully exploits all the elements that one would expect in a quality Spaghetti Western.

My Name is Pecos: Though the premise covers familiar ground. The result is an inventive take that ultimately succeeds by making this as much a fish out of water story as it is a tale about revenge. With the protagonist Peco’s being a Mexican gunslinger who returns home looking for the man who murdered his family.

Though director Maurizio Lucidi spent more time in the Spaghetti Western genre than in any other genre. He’s most remembered for directing The Designated Victim, a thriller that takes Strangers on a Train’s premise and distills it through the lens of Italian cinema.

From a production standpoint, My Name is Pecos is a well-made Spaghetti Western that far exceeds its anemic resources. The premise is well-executed and a briskly paced narrative builds to a very satisfying ending. Another strength of My Name is Peco’s is Robert Wood’s portrayal of the protagonist. Though his character is a man of few words, his ability with a gun more than makes up for his moments of silence. Robert Woods would reprise the role of Pecos in Pecos Cleans Up. Ultimately, My Name is Pecos is a highly entertaining film that fans of Spaghetti Westerns should thoroughly enjoy.    

Bandidos: Made during the peak of the Spaghetti Western genre, Bandidos features all the core elements that have become synonymous with this genre. At the heart of Bandidos is a classic revenge tale that features the teacher and the student premise. With the plot revolving around a man who’s wrongly accused of murder, a skilled gunslinger named Richard Martin and the gunslinger’s former protégé a vicious killer named Billy Kane who left his mentor a cripple who can no longer hold a gun.

With Bandidos renowned cinematographer Massimo Dallamano made his directorial debut. As a cinematographer his notable Spaghetti Western credits include Gunfight in the Red Sands, Bullets Don't Argue, A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More.   

From its opening moments Bandidos establishes a harsh tone with scenes like a violent train robbery where men, women and children are all killed by the bandit’s indiscriminately. And to further drive home Billy Kane's brutality, there is a stylistic tracking shot that reveals the carnage left in the wake of his bandits robbing the train. Throughout Bandidos this character's sadistic side is constantly reinforced with each new victim he knocks off.

The most interesting aspect of Bandidos is the relationship between Richard Martin and Ricky Shot. Though on the surface they seem to have the same goal, one is more driven by revenge, while the other wants his former life back. Ultimately Bandidos heart and soul is the bond they forge. 

Performance wise, though the cast are all very good in their respective roles. No performance shines brighter than Enrico Maria Salerno’s portrayal of Richard Martin. Though Bandidos covers ground before explored in countless other Spaghetti Western’s. The result is a very satisfying revenge themed film that moves along briskly and there's never a dull moment.

And God Said to Cain: Though Antonio Margheriti was a versatile director who worked in just about every genre that was popular in 1960’s/1970’s Italy. His contributions to the Spaghetti Western genre would come later in this genre's cycle right before it transitioned to comedy/western hybrids that dominated the Italian box office in the early 1970’s.

By the time Antonio Margheriti directed And God Said to Cain, he had already directed two unremarkable Spaghetti Westerns, Dynamite Joe and Vengeance. And though most of his films feel like work for hire by the number’s filmmaking. In his filmography there are few diamonds in the rough. Case in point And God Said to Cain, his third foray into the Spaghetti Western genre.

Content wise, And God Said to Cain is a satisfying mix of all the elements that have become synonymous with the Spaghetti Western genre and some Gothic horror (the genre that Antonio Margheriti most excelled) elements is thrown in for good measure. Another strength of And God Said to Cain is how it never devolves into the silliness that had become all too common with the Spaghetti Western genre in the early 1970’s. Tonally And God Said to Cain is right in line with the Spaghetti Westerns made during the mid-1960’s.

From a production standpoint, there’s not an area where And God Said to Cain does not excel. The premise is superbly realized, the narrative does a great job building tension and the excellent finale provides a perfect climax. Another strength of And God Said to Cain are its visuals which are overflowing with atmosphere. Not too be overlooked is Klaus Kinski’s portrayal of Gary Hamilton, a wrongly accused man who’s out for vengeance. Ultimately, And God Said to Cain is a solid film that deserves its place among the best Spaghetti Westerns.

Arrow Video continues to put a spotlight on films from Italian genre cinema of the 1960’s and 1970’s by giving them phenomenal releases that come with solid transfers, multiple audio options and a wealth of insightful extra content, highly recommended.

































Written by Michael Den Boer

Major Dundee (2-Disc Limited Edition) – Arrow Video (Blu-ray) Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1965 Director: Sam Peckinpah Writers: Harry Juli...