Wednesday, February 3, 2016

COMIN' AT YA! (1981) (MVD Blu-ray 2D/3D Review)

COMIN' AT YA! (1981) 

Label: MVD Entertainment Group
Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 91 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA Surround 5.1 Surround, DTS-HD MA Stereo 2.0
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 

Director: Ferdinando Baldi
Cast: Tony Anthony, Gene Quintano, Victoria Abril, Ricardo Palacios, Lewis Gordon

American star Tony Anthony and Italian Director Ferdinando Baldi teamed-up again for one more spaghetti western following the success of The Stranger films from the '70s. This movie is not part of that cycle, this was something altogether different, a novel idea at the time, they made an in-your-face 3D spaghetti western. Truth be told, against the odds this movie seems to be the one that launched the third-wave of three-dimensional films we saw in the early 1080s> Without this eye-popping Western there might not have ever been a Jaws 3D, Friday the 13th 3D or even an Amityville 3D ...for better or worse, depending on your view of '80s 3D cheese. As a kid in the eighties I remember when Jaws 3D aired on TV and you had to go to the local grocery store to get your 3D glasses to watch, which was cool, because unfortunately I never caught any of the '80s 3D movies in the theater. 

In Comin' At Ya! Tony Anthony stars as H.H. Hart who at the open of the movie is about to be married to his beautiful bride Abilene (Victoria Abril, Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down) when two low-life white slavers burst into the church and blast the priest and Hart. They make off with Abiline slung over their shoulder while Hart lays helpless on the floor, wounded. Hart's wounds heal ridiculously fast and he sets off in search of the villainous scum who nabbed his wife.  The wife-nabbers are the Thompson Brothers, Pike (Gene Quintano) and Polk (Ricardo Palacios), treacherous white slavers who raid borders towns for young women, whom they sell to brothels and despot generals down south in Mexico. 

That's pretty much the plot of the movie, we have Hart tracking down the duo, saving his bride and having his revenge -- there's not much else to it. As a late period spaghetti-western director Ferdinando Baldi packs in a lot of the tropes you've come to expect, even borrowing a few from his previous films with Tony Anthony. The movie is short on originality or substance of any kind, but it does capture the look and the feel of a classic spaghetti-western with the widescreen scope cinematography and dusty vistas. 

For his part Anthony is decent enough if somewhat bland at times as H.H. Hart, the guy doesn't have a whole lot of character about him, but he looks good in the part and handles the action well-enough. Victoria Abril who would go onto fame in a string of Pedro Almodovar productions is an attractive woman, though she is not given much to do aside from getting smacked around when she offers lip or getting dragged behind a horse through the ocean surf just long enough to bare her breasts.  Our white-slaver villains are decent, particularly the heavy-set Ricardo Palacios who comes off with a bit of Paul L. Smith about him, he's the greasier of the pair, way more menacing than his brother. 

As the movie that fired the first shot on the '80s 3D renaissance it does manage to throw just about everything right into your face from the opening credits, which seem to go on forever, this one is definitely padded for running time. This is the sort of shameless in-your-face we no one is willing to do anymore, now it's all about depth of field, but back in the '80s it was all about what can we throw in your face, and I loved it. The use of the 3-D is fun, but overused to the nth degree, however, if you love it when stuff is flying off the screen and seemingly into your face you are in for quite a treat. The opening title credits alone offer a a snake, watermelons, beans and a pistol being fired into your face, throughout you get the standard yo-yo scene with it right in your face, and other assorted cornball stuff, it's cheap but I loved it. 

Some of my favorite use of the gimmick comes when Hart is pursued by a native American who is part of the Thompson's gang, he throws spears which come straight into your face. A short time later Hart is chased into a ban, his pursuer firing a quick succession of flaming arrows which set the barn on fire. The third dimension is used to great effect, and the scene is a bunch of action-packed 3D fun. There's also a lot of slow-motion action in the movie, and for the most it works pretty well. As with the 3D it is used a bit too much, but when taken in as a gimmick-riddled 3D spaghetti-western I was alright with it. 

Audio/Video: Comin' At Ya! arrives on Blu-ray from MVD Entertainment from a brand new 4K Master supervised and produced by Tony Anthony himself and Tom Stern (In God's Hands), through his company Sternco 3D. Benefiting from a frame by frame digital conversion of the polarized over-and-under format of the original print, sourced from a brand new internegative into the MVC 3D format. The results are generally pleasing, the source shows some minor white speckling and scratches throughout, as are what appear to be numerous instances of dirt or debris on the the actual lens in numerous shots. While the movie may have been converted frame by frame for digital 3D conversion it doesn't appear to have been treated to a frame-by-frame restoration or clean-up. Though generally colors and black levels are adequate, they're just not stunning. This was my first watch of the movie, with nothing to compare it to I cannot say for sure how accurate this is to the original theatrical presentation. I would assume that some of the 3D effects have been modified to a degree, but for those who complain that modern 3D movies don't jump off the screen enough, you're in for a treat, the depth of field for this one is right up in your face!

Audio options come by way of DTS-HD MA Surround 5.1 and DTS-HD MA Stereo 2.0, the new surround sound mix is pretty good, with some nice use of the surrounds. I did hear some minor audio hiss and a few pops throughout the movie though, but it was not awful. There are no subtitle options on the disc. Of note is the lyrical score from Carlo Savina, which seems a much finer score than this particular movie would call for, that was an unexpected treat, and the lossless audio option only sweetens it.

The only extras on the disc are a six-minute promo trailer and a two-minute trailer for the movie. I would have loved a restoration demo or something about the Blu-ray 3D conversion process, or even an interview with star Tony Anthony, the lack of anything is a missed opportunity.

Special Features:
- Promo (6 Mins) HD
- Trailer (2 Mins) HD

While the story offers nothing new and the performances are just decent, I think the 3D gimmick saves this western to a degree, it falls a mile short of the Westerns we saw from Sergio Leone or Sergio Corbucci but it is nonetheless a wildly entertaining 3D novelty for fans of the Italian westerns.