Plot: What’s it about?
Roy Colt (Brett Halsey) and Winchester Jack (Charles Southwood) are part of a criminal gang, but in their case, crime doesn’t pay. No, the two have found limited success in their underhanded activities, which means minimal payoffs. As such, the pair decides to split up and take their chances, since the partnership didn’t pan out. Roy even seeks to leave behind his old ways and turn to making money the old fashioned way, in a normal job. Jack stays with the rest of the gang and continues to look for scores, since going straight isn’t his style. Meanwhile, Roy arrives in Carson City and before he knows what hit him, he is made sheriff and entrusted with the town’s safety. This might seem like an odd position for a man just out of the criminal business, but Roy jumps at the chance. His enthusiasm isn’t based on his new position however, but instead something that comes with his office, a stolen treasure map. Well, a replica of a stolen treasure map and if the directions are followed, the path leads to a fortune in gold. As with all good things, word quickly spreads about the potential riches, so Roy has to act fast. Soon enough, a number of interested parties have learned of the gold and want a share, including Winchester Jack. But when the smoke clears and the dust settles, who will wind up with the treasure?
As a fan of both Mario Bava’s work and spaghetti westerns in general, I was pleased to Bava’s Roy Colt and Winchester Jack released. This is not your typical western however, as Bava infuses it with satire and even lowbrow humor, a kind of Italian Blazing Saddles, if you will. Unlike that Mel Brooks classic however, this one asks that you know a lot about the material, or else the jokes and satire don’t work well. The more you know about spaghetti westerns, the more you should pick up and by turn, the more you’ll like this picture. So if you’re just a casual fan of the subgenre, then you might not be as entertained, since most of the in-jokes will go right over your head, though you’ll still pick up on some of the content. Not to say this is a complex, intelligent picture, it just assumes you’ve spent a lot of time with the movies it satirizes, that’s all. Bava’s direction is solid, while the cast is also passable, with Brett Halsey and Charles Southwood in the leads. The storyline is tried and true western fare, with some comedic content thrown in to shake things up, but rest assured, this is a premise you’ve seen before. This turns out to be a decent, mostly entertaining feature, though Bava devotees might be a tad let down. Even so, fans of Bava or spaghetti westerns should give this one a look, as its a fun watch.
When you think of Mario Bava, you probably think about horror movies and that’s with good reason. Bava is best known for his work in horror cinema, from gothic, atmospheric pieces to giallo movies to body count escapades. Yes, Bava hit on almost all the numbers in the horror movie realm, putting his own spin on those subgenres. His knack for atmosphere and visuals is well known, to the extent he is listed among the finest European horror filmmakers. When you hear Bava’s name, it is often mentioned with Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci, two other men who created stunning, visually charged horror. But Bava spent a lot of his career outside of the genre that he is best known for, as he worked on pictures of all kinds. In the case of Roy Colt and Winchester Jack, Bava helmed not only a western, but one loaded with satire, so it is a far cry from his chilling efforts in the macabre, to be sure. Other films directed by Bava include Black Sunday, Rabid Dogs, Twitch of the Death Nerve, Planet of the Vampires, and Black Sabbath. The cast here includes Brett Halsey (The Godfather: Part III, Devil’s Honey), Charles Southwood (Deep West, Fistful of Lead), and Marilu Tolo (Companeros, My Dear Killer).
Video: How does it look?
Roy Colt and Winchester Jack is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This treatment is rough around the edges, but given the age and nature of the material involved, I am glad that it even looks this good. The print is soft, worn, and has ample grain and debris, but never enough to ruin the experience. I would love a restored version, but let’s be serious, that won’t happen and this is as good as it gets in this case. I found colors to be dull in most instances, with a focus on brown hues, though some brighter colors can be seen at times. The contrast is less than stark, but holds up well and never dips too much. As expected, this is a beaten up print in all respects, but for what it is, this is a passable presentation.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio here is quite good, though it scores points by not being worn, not by dazzling the ears. Even with some years behind it, the movie sounds clean and clear, much better than I had expected. I heard no hiss, distortion, or other signs of age, which is great news, given the material involved. The music has a little wear evident at times, but the sound effects seem clean and well presented. This is an older mono option of course, so no surround presence, but still a solid mix in terms of overall audio. I found dialogue to be crisp and never drowned out, so no troubles in that department to report. The audio is presented in an Italian language track, with optional English subtitles available.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes no bonus materials.