'Keoma: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Franco Nero, William Berger, Olga Karlatos, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1976) 2019 / Arrow Films UK)
Overview: A half-breed ex-Union gunfighter attempts to protect his plague-ridden hometown from being overridden by his racist half-brothers and a Confederate tyrant.
Blu-ray Verdict: Castellari's 'Keoma' was part of the late 1970's second wave of spaghetti westerns. It is typically considered one of the better entries in the genre, some even rate it as a classic alongside Leone's masterpieces.
However, while it has clearly been attempted to make the film look stylish and sophisticated, and at a casual glance it does look pretty well made, a more in depth look shows that it falls quite a long way off the mark.
Basically, it's clear that what Castellari has is a bunch of director's tricks up his sleeve - slow motion, unconventional camera angles, subtle merges into flashbacks and so on - all of them thieved from the work of other filmmakers.
That in itself is no bad thing - after all Tarantino has made a career out of doing the same - but the difference is that Castellari clearly has no idea how and when to use these techniques.
He simply throws them in at every opportunity, so that they actually stick out rather than enhance the film. The most obvious example is the Sam Peckinpah style slow motion deaths after someone is shot.
In Peckinpah's films it was used skillfully to highlight the brutality of certain killings here and there throughout the movie. In 'Keoma' it is used more or less every time someone is shot - about forty or fifty altogether - totally losing any impact it might have had.
Add to this that 'Keoma' is a completely boring spaghetti western character - basically just a hippy with a colt - and not one of Franco Nero's better performances.
Ergo, the dialogue is terrible. The plot is text book spaghetti western back-for-revenge. This movie doesn't really have a lot going for it in truth, sorry!
And then there is the music. Famous itself among spaghetti western fans for being almost unlistenably bad it also seems to sum up the feeling of the entire film. Quite a nice melody, but either sung in a piercing shriek by the female vocalist or an unnerving growl by the male vocalist.
In short, 'Keoma' is a perfect example of style over substance - it's all dazzling flair in an attempt to cover up a pretty poor film. Viewers should stick to the real classic spaghettis like Sergio Leone and Sergio Corbucci's work. This is a Full Screen Presentation (4:3) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
New 2K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Uncompressed mono 1.0 LPCM audio
Original English and Italian soundtracks, titles and credits
Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
New audio commentary by spaghetti western experts C. Courtney Joyner and Henry C. Parke
The Ballad of Keoma, a new interview with the legendary star Franco Nero
Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, a new interview with director Enzo G. Castellari
Writing Keoma, a new interview with actor and writer Luigi Montefiori AKA George Eastman
Parallel Actions, a new interview with editor Gianfranco Amicucci
The Flying Thug, a new interview with actor Massimo Vanni
Play as an Actor, a new interview with actor Volfango Soldati
Keoma and the Twilight of the Spaghetti Western, a newly filmed video appreciation by the academic Austin Fisher
An Introduction to Keoma by Alex Cox, an archival featurette with the acclaimed director
Original Italian and international theatrical trailers
Gallery of original promotional images from the Mike Siegel Archive
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips
Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Simon Abrams and Howard Hughes