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Category:    Home > Reviews > Western > Spaghetti Western > Revenge > Mystery > Italy > Spain > Hellbenders (1967/Anchor Bay DVD) + Red Hill (2010/Sony Blu-ray) + Triggerman (2011/Lionsgate DVD)

Hellbenders (1967/Anchor Bay DVD) + Red Hill (2010/Sony Blu-ray) + Triggerman (2011/Lionsgate DVD)

 

Picture: C/B-/C†††† Sound: C+/B-/B-†††† Extras: C-/C-/D†††† Films: C+/B-/C-

 

 

The Western is as beat up a genre as the clothes you see in the more realistic renderings of it.Every few years, it comes back in a new form and several projects try to emulate the success of that superior film.The fact that the latest wave is off of a remake of True Grit speaks volumes about how worn the genre is.When the last, original version of True Grit was made with John Wayne, the Spaghetti Western was in full swing.We now look at one of the original films from that wave and two recent entries.

 

Sergio Corbucci had directed several of them and Hellbenders (1967) followed the formula with a big Hollywood star (Joseph Cotton in this case), a beautiful foreign actress (Norma Bengell of Planet Of The Vampires), a new younger actor they were hoping to launch (Julian Mateos) and a formula story with a hook.This one is a coffin being transported, but carrying a million dollars instead of a corpse, which in a film like this means more corpses will pile up to fill it.It is watchable, but not great despite some good locations and performances.Too bad it was not so predictable.

 

Patrick Hughes in an impressive debut feature helms Red Hill (2009), which reflects two new trends, more interesting films from Australia (see Animal Kingdom elsewhere on this site) and modern mystery/action films with more than passing visual references to Westerns (TVís Justified, also reviewed elsewhere on this site, all issued in the U.S. by Sony).To its advantage, this film has locations we have not seen much, a fine cast too few have seen outside of Down Under and is an intelligently, well made film.

 

A young cop (Ryan Kwanten) transfers to a small town to give his wife a break from the stress of the city, something they both blame for a recent miscarriage.He meets the tough local sheriff (Steve Bisley) who heíll be working for, but before they can get to business as usual, a violent prisoner (Tom E. Lewis) has escaped from a local prison and is on his way to avenge himself against the town and yes, it has an ugly secret to hide.

 

Despite some of this being also predictable, not all of it was and the actors are not only good, they have chemistry.It is sad that Australia is now producing more mature, intelligent films than franchise-obsessed Hollywood, but they are just trying to make a good film.This is definitely worth a look.

 

That leaves Triggerman with Terence Hill co-directing and starring in this awkward, weak, lite, nostalgic throwback to older Westerns that are so readily available, the writers think that is enough to go on, but this whole project just runs on fumes and Hill deserves better.Paul Sorvino shows up as a sheriff, but he canít save it either, making this for only the most diehard of fans of the genre or those actors.

 

The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Hellbenders is from a mixed print with color variations and other issues, plus it is a bit softer that it should be.The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Hill is stylized down a bit to be a little darker than it ought to be, but is the best-looking disc here as expected and has some nice shots throughout.The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Triggerman is the weakest with a soft, motion-blur filled HD shoot that looks like a bad TV movie.

 

The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Hellbenders is better than the image, with good sound for an older monophonic recording with much looping throughout.The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Hill has some moments where the sound is not as clear as it could be, but this is nicely recorded and mixed for the most part otherwise.The Dolby Digital 5.1 on Triggerman is better and clearer than expected, helping the poor picture issues out.Extras are few with trailers on all the discs and nothing else.

 

 

-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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