Plot: What’s it about?
Even in the more wealthy areas, life in the rugged old west was tough, but in the fierce criminal circles, it was even tougher. The thieves would form small bands, but there was a minimal level of trust, as after all, they were criminals. So whenever a task went sour and there was blood spilled, it was never seen as much of a surprise. But a tremendous amount of gold is stolen and then desperadoes attack one of the thieves, this was too much for one man. You see, Rocco (Richard Harris) was this man’s partner and while he couldn’t return in time to stop the murder, he vows to take revenge on each of the men responsible. His partner was torn into pieces by ropes attached to horses, so Rocco gathers the five pieces of string and hunts down those they belong to. As Rocco searches the landscape for these desperadoes, he knows it will be a long and hard road, but even he has no idea just how dangerous it will become.
I’d never seen this film prior to this review, but the basic premise and my love for spaghetti westerns had me ready to spin the disc as soon as it arrived. This seems to be a pretty low budget, renegade type production and it shows at times, but Vengeance still ends up being a more than solid effort. I know some folks like their westerns clean cut with goods guys and bad guys, but I like the westerns like this one, where there are only shades of grey. This adds to the suspense a lot and also gives the film a less preachy feel, which is always good in my opinion. This film has a dark edge to it, to be sure, but then again, so do most westerns. The main theme is revenge and to a lesser degree, to let you know not to trust anyone, especially criminals. I liked Vengeance a lot and while it isn’t the best movie in the genre, it is one of the better ones and for fans, a title worth looking into. I was very pleased to find a new anamorphic widescreen transfer, but I also wish the disc packed on more supplements. In the end, I recommend this release as a rental, but genre fans might find it worthy for a purchase.
The man in the director’s chair is Anthony Dawson (often credited as Anthony Margheriti), who also helped pen the motion picture’s screenplay. I recognize Dawson’s name from all sorts of strange, cult films over the years, so I admit I was surprised to find him at the helm of a western like this. But all seems to be in order here, the visuals have the usual western flair and though Dawson never innovates here, he ensures the film fits in visually with other genre pieces. As it turned out, Dawson also helmed other westerns in his career, so I shouldn’t have been surprised in the least, which proves I need to brush up on my directors, huh? If you want to see more of Dawson’s work, I recommend Killer Fish, Cannibal Apocalypse, Yor The Hunter From The Future, Jungle Raiders, Hercules Against Karate, School Girl Killer, and The Fall of Rome, among other classic cult cinema must see titles. The cast of Vengeance includes such names as Richard Harrison (Black Orgasm, Master Stroke), Sheyla Rosin (Hercules the Invincible), Freddy Unger (Thunder Warrior, Chopper Squad), and Claudio Camaso (A Bay Of Blood, Wake Up And Die).
Video: How does it look?
Vengeance is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The source print is on the rough side at times, but the debris and grain is minimal, much cleaner than I expected. Some scenes look worse than others, but some look excellent, with no marks at all to be seen. But in any case, this looks very clean and much better than some similar movies from this time period. The colors look natural for the most part, but some hues show up brighter than others and flesh tones have a normal, warm appearance. The contrast is consistent also, detail is acceptable and black levels are well balanced. Aside from some flaws with the source material, this is a very good transfer and one that will please fans, without a doubt.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included mono track is good, much fuller and cleaner than most mono offerings. I think Image has a special process for their mono tracks, as they sound much better than most other studios’ mono options. In any case, this one sounds good and while limited, the music sounds terrific and blends well with the flick. The sound effects don’t show range of course, but they come off in distinct and crisp form also. The vocals might not always synch with the lips (as is the case with most spaghetti westerns), but the dialogue is sharp and clear, so no real complaints. You wouldn’t expect much from a low budget mono track, but this is a very stable and effective track.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes no bonus materials.