Wednesday, January 13, 2016

REQUIESCANT (1967) (Arrow Video Blu-ray Review)

Label: Arrow Video
Region Code: A/B, 1/2
Rating: 15 Certificate 
Duration: 107 Minutes 
Audio: LPCM Audio Italian Mono 1.0, LPCM Audio English Mono 1.0 with Optional English Subtitles  
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Carlo Lizzani
Cast: Lucio Battistrada, Andrew Baxter, Lou Castel, Mark Damon, Franco Citti, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Barbara Frey

Synopsis: Directed by Carlo Lizzani (Wake Up and Kill, The Hills Run Red) and with a superb soundtrack by Riz Ortolani (Day of Anger, Cannibal Holocaust), Requiescant – Latin for ‘Rest in Peace’ – ranks among the finest Spaghetti Westerns. Alex Cox named it the “one film to prove that the Italian Western was not solely Sergio Leone’s”. Lou Castel (Fists in the Pocket, A Bullet for General) plays a young man who was raised to be a pacifist by a travelling preacher after Confederates massacred his family. But when his step-sister runs away, the pursuit reveals a natural talent as a sharp-shooter as well as a bloody and unexpected confrontation with his past.

At the top of the movie a group of Mexicans and US Army meet to a disagreement over land rights, they drink together and enjoy music, but the Mexicans are betrayed and are massacred in a hail of treacherous machine gun fire. Dozens of unarmed men, women and children lay dead on the ground, the lone survivor is a young boy maned Requiescant who has a minor head-wound, and left to wander the desert alone. Luckily the injured boy is found he by a religious man named father Juan (Pier Paolo Pasolini, Salo) who takes him in and raises the boy as his own son, along with his wife and young daughter Princy (Barbara Frey). 

As Requiescant grows into a young man he is played by actor Lou Castell (A Bullet for the General) and like his adopted father is man of the Lord, but one with an unnaturally accurate gun hand. When his sister Princy disappears with a group of chorus girls looking for the finer things in life Requiescant sets out to find her. His search leads him to San Antonio where he finds his ginger-haired sister working as a whore for saloon owner Dean Light (Ferruccio Viotti, Day of Anger), who works for wealthy aristocrat Ferguson (Mark Damon, Black Sabbath), both men turn out to have ties to the massacre that orphaned Requiescant, which leads to Requiescant remembering the traumatic vents. 

Requiescant sets out to free his sister from her slaver, winning her back in a drunken shooting match, but he is betrayed and hanged, left for dead. he manages to survive the noose and aligns himself with a group of Mexican freedom fighters and returns to San Antonio seeking vengeance against the slave-owning aristocrat and his henchman, ending back where it all began, at the site of the massacre in a pretty damn exciting shootout.

Director Carlo Lizzani made some solid Italian Westerns, Requiescant isn't overly epic or grand in the scheme of Italian westerns but it is a tight and entertaining one that has some serious grit to it. Lou Castell as the hero of the movie keeps you plugged-in. He can come across a bit aloof at first, an early shot of him riding off in search of his sister with a cooking pan as a horse prod made me laugh a bit. His persona is modest and unassuming, that is until he quick draws and sends you to your grave. Another nice touch would be his dedication to the Lord, after he guns down rivals he says a prayer over the corpses and insists they receive proper burials, which when observed by passerbys creates a sort of urban legend about the young man. Mark Damon turns in a wonderfully performance as the aristocratic baddie, very charming and charismatic, but a bad man through and through, his pale complexion, easy charm and hypnotic eyes made me wonder if he'd ever been cast as a vampire.  

Audio/Video: Requiescant arrives on Blu-ray from Arrow Video with a brand new 2K
restoration o from the original camera negative, and it looks impressive all the way around. Skin tones look natural, colors are vivid and theres some real nice fine detail in the close-ups, showing off the textures and grit of the fabric and faces. We have the option of both the LPCM Audio Italian Mono 1.0 and LPCM Audio English Mono 1.0 with newly translated English subtitles for the Italian track. The audio is nicely robust for a mono presentation, dialogue, gunfire and the Riz Ortolani (Cannibal Holocaust) score sound just fine, free of any hiss or distortion. 

Onto the extras we have a new fourteen-minute  interview with the star of the movie, Frenchman Lou Castel which is conducted in French with English subtitles. There's also a twenty-eight minute  interview with director Carlo Lizzani in Italian with English subtitles that covers a lot of ground. A three-minute trailer for the movie is also included.The screener disc sent for review dies not include cover art or the booklet, but retail copies have a sleeve or reversible artwork and a booklet with writing on the movie.

Special Features:- An all-new interview with Lou Castel, recorded exclusively for this release (14 Mins) HD 
- Archive interview with director Carlo Lizzani (28 Mins) HD 
- Theatrical Trailer (3 Mins) 
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx
- Illustrated collector’s booklet containing new writing on the film by Pasquale Iannone

Requiescant (1967) is solid pasta Western with a thoroughly wonderful A/V presentation from Arrow Video. Not every western can be on the grand scale of a Sergio Leonne epic, but Requiescant is quite entertaining with some unique qualities, I think the bible-thumping gunslinger is a nice touch. If you're a fan of the Italian Westerns you're gonna love this one.