Monday, May 14, 2012

Dead or Alive Western Collection

Another month is here and it's time for another budget label collection of Spaghetti Westerns. This time around it's the Dead or Alive Western Collection released by Pop Flix back in 2010. This set features five movies on two discs.
The Cover Art
This two disc set comes packaged in a standard two disc DVD keep case which features an image of actor Klaus Kinski from the His Name Was King movie poster. The reverse shows the original movie poster for each film in the set while giving it a write up which includes the running time and if the films are widescreen - all of them are.

The Discs
The Dead or Alive Western Collection includes one single sided, dual layer disc and one single sided, single layer disc. The first disc holds three movies, while the second features the remaining two. The same image of Klaus Kinski appears on the discs.

The Menus
The menu loads after the obligatory FBI warning and Pop Flix advertisement. Just like the Gunslinger Western Collection, there is a Main Menu where you can select which film you'd like to watch which leads to the film's menu which features a four chapter stops and the option to play.

The Movies
This set contains five movies, two or three per disc, and all of them are spaghetti westerns. Again, the plot summaries will be taken from the back cover while the reviews are from Spaghetti Westerns: The Good, the Bad and the Violent by Thomas Weisser.
Disc One
Black Killer (1971)
Starring:  Klaus Kinski
Directed by:  Carlo Croccolo
Music by:  Daniele Patucchi
Original Aspect Ratio:  2.35:1
DVD Aspect Ratio:  2.35:1 (anamorphic)
Original Runtime:  95 minutes
DVD Runtime:  95 minutes
Synopsis:  Violent outlaws overrun the town of Tombstone until a mysterious lawyer teams with a newly appointed sheriff to end their reign of terror!
Review:  Here's a textbook example of the spaghetti western genre, incorporating the "revenge for a slaughtered family" theme with the "evil town boss" motif. There's even a pair of mysterious gunfighting strangers, and (as a special bonus) there's a nasty gang of seven Mexican brothers discordantly named O'Hara, plus Klaus Kinski in a prominent full-length role.
Notes: As far as I'm aware, this is the best release of this title in the United States. It's the full film, in anamorphic widescreen and the print is pretty good too.

His Name Was King (1971)
Original Title:  Lo chiamavano King
Starring:  Richard Harrison, Klaus Kinski
Directed by:  Giancarlo Romitelli
Music by:  Luis EnrĂ­quez Bacalov
Original Aspect Ratio:  2.35:1
DVD Aspect Ratio:  2.35:1 (anamorphic)
Original Runtime:  96 minutes
DVD Runtime:  73 minutes
Synopsis:  Searching for the men who murdered his family, a mercenary tracks an unscrupulous sheriff and a vicious gang of gunrunners across the Mexican border.

Review:  Another variation on the revenge for a slaughtered family theme. Klaus Kinski's participation in this one clocks in at five minutes.

Notes:  This release seems to be the longest version available to date and the best version released in the US.

There's A Noose Waiting For You... Trinity (1972)
Original Title:  Il ritorno di Clint il solitario
Starring:  George Martin, Klaus Kinski
Directed by:  George Martin
Music by:  Ennio Morricone
Original Aspect Ratio:  not listed
DVD Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (anamorphic)
Original Runtime:  89 minutes
DVD Runtime:  80 minutes
Synopsis:  A wanted gunman with a mysterious bounty hunter on his trail returns home after five years to find his town terrorized by a gang of outlaws.
Review:  A particularly significant film, primarily because it is the only spaghetti western directed by a genre actor, George Martin. It's a series of episodic encounters, strongly benefiting from the participation of Klaus Kinski plus an Ennio Morricone soundtrack.
Notes:  Again, this would appear to be the longest version currently available. Wild East released this as a double feature with Clint the Nevada's Loner as Volume 18 of their Spaghetti Western Collection; however, the Pop Flix version is anamorphic.

Disc Two
Heads I Kill You, Tailes... You're Dead... They Call Me Halleluja (1971)
Original Title:  Testa t'ammazzo, croce... sei morto... Mi chiamano Alleluja
Starring:  George Hilton
Directed by:  Giuliano Carnimeo
Music by:  Stelvio Cipriani
Original Aspect Ratio:  2.35:1
DVD Aspect Ratio:  2.35:1 (anamorphic)
Original Runtime:  96 minutes
DVD Runtime:  92 minutes

Synopsis:  A bounty hunter must outwit bandidos, a Russian prince, and a secret agent posing as a nun when he is hired to steal a fortune in jewels from Emperor Maximillian.

Review:  A "wheels-within-wheels" double-cross movie directed by the number one most prolific spaghetti western champ with 13 films to his credit. And this one is among his best.
Notes:  An uncut version was released as part of the Halleluja Italo-Western Box from Koch Media in Germany.

The Moment To Kill (1968)
Original Title:  Il momento di uccidere
Starring:  George Hilton, Host Frank
Directed by:  Giuliano Carnimeo
Music by:  Francesco de Masi
Original Aspect Ratio:  2.35:1
DVD Aspect Ratio:  1.85:1 (anamorphic)
Original Runtime:  92 minutes
DVD Runtime:  89 minutes

Synopsis:  Two infamous gunmen leave a trail of corpses on their quest to recover a cache of lost Confederate gold!
Review:  Here's another genre western lensed by future cult director Stelvio Massi.  It's an effective double-cross movie...
Notes:  The print used here is fairly washed out, and the worst looking one in this collection.  Volume 30 of Wild East's Spaghetti Western Collection features this title paired with Full House for the Devil. The same print could have been used for both releases. It's also the longest one available.

Special Features
"You'll hurt your eyes looking for the chicken."  In other words, no special features are included with this release.

The Bottom Line
I'm beginning to be a fan of Pop Flix. Both of their collections that I own are solid releases and very affordable.  If you need any of these films for your collection, you could certainly do a lot worse than the Dead or Alive Western Collection.


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