Savage Guns Volume 3 – DVD Boxset Review
By Sarah Morgan
Mention Spaghetti Westerns to your average film fan, and they’ll probably be able to name Sergio Leone’s Dollar trilogy and maybe his equally impressive Once Upon a Time in the West. After that, well, they may struggle. And they may be surprised by how many entries there were in the genre too.
These films tended to be darker, grittier and feature a different, more dubious moral stance than Hollywood Westerns, and that less-than-rose-tinted approach is perhaps why they continue to gain new fans, 50 or more years since their heyday.
“A grittier performance”
US actor Craig Hill takes the lead in 1968’s I Want Him Dead, stylishly directed by Paolo Bianchini. Hill plays an ex-Confederate soldier out for revenge on those who raped and murdered his sister, little realising how close his quest will bring him to a plot to disrupt the peace talks between the North and South during the American Civil War.
Then, in perhaps the weakest in the set, Edward Mulargia’s El Puro from 1969, Robert Woods portrays a legendary gunfighter who comes out of hiding to find the killers of a barmaid who inspired him to consider embarking on a new life.
Terence Hill takes the lead in Mario Camus’ Wrath of the Wind, which was released in 1970, the same year he became a genre superstar with the first of the Trinity films. Here he offers a grittier performance as Marcos, an assassin who, alongside his brother, is hired by a ruthless landowner (played by The French Connection villain Fernando Rey) to bump off the tenants rebelling against his oppressive rule. However, once in the area, Marcos begins to sympathise with the locals and decides to make a stand against his erstwhile employer.
The best, however, has been saved until last. I know director Lucio Fulci best for his horror films, but he delivers a fine Western with 1975’s Four of the Apocalypse, albeit one with decidedly chilling elements, including torture, rape and cannibalism. Here, a quartet of misfits are preyed upon by a ruthless bandit before the survivors begin to fight back. Fabio Testi takes the lead, with Peter Sellers’ future wife, Lynn Frederick, as a pregnant whore-with-a-heart, and Michael J Pollard as an alcoholic outlaw.
None of these four films are for the faint-hearted, but they’re a must for anyone keen to explore the genre beyond Leone’s groundbreaking works.
Hard-hitting, gritty and violent, they still pack a punch today, boosted by glorious high-definition restorations. What’s more, each disc is packed with special features, including interviews with some of the surviving stars, which offer fascinating background information.
- High Definition Blu-ray™ (1080p) presentations of all four films
- 2K restorations of all four films from the original 35mm camera negatives, with El Puro newly restored by Arrow Films for this release
- Italian and English front and end titles on all four films
- Restored original lossless mono Italian and English soundtracks on all four films
- English subtitles for the Italian soundtracks
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtracks
- Brand new introductions to each film by journalist and critic Fabio Melelli
- Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the films by author and critic Howard Hughes
- Fold-out double-sided poster featuring newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx
- Limited edition packaging with reversible sleeves featuring original artwork and a slipcover featuring newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx
- Brand new audio commentary by critics Adrian J. Smith and David Flint
- The Man Who Hated Violence – brand new interview with director Paolo Bianchini
- Cut and Shot – brand new interview with editor Eugenio Alabiso
- Nico Unchained – archival interview with composer Nico Fidenco
- English theatrical trailer
- Image gallery
- Two versions of the film: the 98-minute cut, presented in Italian and English, and the longer, 108-minute version, assembled from the original camera negative and an archival print and presented in both Italian and a newly created hybrid English/Italian mix★
- Brand new audio commentary by critics Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson
- Brand new interview with actor Robert Woods
- Brand new, in-depth appreciation of the soundtrack and its composer, Alessandro Alessandroni, by musician and disc collector Lovely Jon
- Two versions of the film, presented in Italian and English, a 106-minute Spanish-language version of the film, featuring additional and extended scenes not found in the Italian or English versions
- Brand new audio commentary by author and critic Howard Hughes
- The Days of Wrath – brand new interview with camera operator Roberto D’Ettorre Piazzoli
- They Call It... Red Cemetery! – a short film from 2022 by filmmaker Francisco Lacerda, serving as a love letter to the spaghetti western genre
- Alternate “Revenge of Trinity” opening titles, newly restored for this release
- Image gallery
- Brand new audio commentary by author and producer Kat Ellinger
- It Takes Four – previously unreleased interview with production manager Roberto Sbarigia
- Brand new, in-depth appreciation of the film by author, critic and Lucio Fulci scholar Stephen Thrower
- Brand new, in-depth appreciation of the soundtrack and its composers, Franco Bixio, Fabio Frizzi and Vince Tempera, by musician and disc collector Lovely Jon
- Newly restored theatrical trailer
- Image gallery
Savage Guns: Four Classic Westerns Vol 3 is released on Limited Edition Blu-ray by Arrow.