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For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016

EDITOR’S NOTE: The R-rated ‘Comin’ At Ya!’ has been on DVD before but it has not been seen in 3-D since it played theatrically some 28 years ago. So a new remastered 3-D Blu-ray (which also includes a 2-D or ‘flat’ version) will be welcome to fans of the 3-D process, since it actually did revive the format for a few years in the 1980s. Now, of course, 3-D films come out every week, but most of them aren’t designed with the original in-your-face action of the earliest 3-D films, tossing things at the camera so that audience members are prompted to duck. But that’s what this one is. Of course, it’s also a lousy film, as my September 2, 1981, Deseret News review attests, but I did have kind words for the 3-D process. (Foreign-film fans will note that the leading lady is Spanish actress Victoria Abril, who became an international star seven years later in Pedro Almodovar's one-two punch, 'Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown' and 'Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!')

I gave up on spaghetti westerns years ago when I finally realized no one could duplicate Sergio Leone’s style and flair, though many tried.

But “Comin’ At Ya!” is different. Oh, it’s a very standard spaghetti western, but “Comin’ At Ya!” is really just a come-on.

You will notice that the ads preceding the opening of “Comin’ At Ya!” have emphasized the 3-D aspect of the film — that’s because the 3-D is the only reason to see this picture at all.

As 3-D, it’s not too bad, but the movie stinks.

Actually, that may be some kind of recommendation in itself, since 3-D movies in the 1950s often stunk — yet many remember the process fondly.

Sure the glasses were cumbersome back then and if you tilted your head the picture went out of focus — and it took awhile to get used to it and settle into the film.


        Victoria Abril, Tony Anthony, 'Comin' At Ya!'

With the 1981 process, however, the glasses are still cumbersome, if you tilt your head the picture still goes out of focus — and it still takes awhile to get used to it and settle into the film.

In some ways, however, it’s worth it. There is a certain thrill as flaming arrows and shooting spears seem to fly off the screen and into your lap. And to that extent, this new 3-D system is a great success. I confess to having been jarred and thrilled a few times during the course of “Comin’ At Ya!”

On the other hand, since nearly all the major 3-D process shots are repeated at the end of the film, you could almost go in for the last five minutes and get the same thrills without wasting an hour-and-a-half watching this dumb movie.

The story has one H.H. Hart (Tony Anthony, who played the title role in “The Stranger” series of spaghetti westerns in the late 1960s) searching for his bride (Victoria Abril), who was abducted on their wedding day by a couple of very nasty brothers (Gene Quintano & Ricardo Palacios) who have kidnapped 50 women to auction off to bordellos.

Needless to say, Hart finds the crew, frees the women and prepares to dispatch the brothers and their gang, but the tables turn and they nearly dispatch him — until the tables turn once more.

Along the way is some disturbing violence (not as much explicitly gruesome as just upsetting — kidnapped women are beaten and killed, a man is stabbed with a pitchfork, another is chewed on by rats, and several are shot all over the place.

Much of it is in slow motion and there is a haunting background score that becomes awfully redundant and soon is anticipated by audience groans.


Victoria Abril being attacked by a rubber bat, 'Comin' At Ya!'

When Sergio Leone created his own stylistic violence in the “Man With No Name” Westerns that made Clint Eastwood a star in the mid 1960s (backed by Ennio Morricone’s evocative music), he showed us a film artist in his embryonic stage. Clones like this one merely show us a true artist cannot be successfully copied.

Of the 3-D effects, my favorites are the action sequences. But when the camera shoots upward from the ground, to show a yo-yo flying into the audience, or thrusting upon us a baby’s bare bottom or an apple peel or peanut shells or gold coins — the slow motion and amplified sound become wearing.

If the three writers who put this script together had had any sense of humor, it could have been a campy, laughable delight. But “Comin’ At Ya!” simply takes itself too seriously — so when the laughs come they are unintentional.

In fact, the real shame is that the writers who were employed to come up with that fantastic, hilarious theatrical preview of “Comin’ At Ya!” weren’t put to work on this screenplay. The only real laughs in this picture come from the sincere emoting of a bunch of amateur actors (led by Anthony, whose puppy dog, sad-faced sneer gets tiresome) and the phoniest bats you’ll ever see on the screen.

So, if you want some new 3-D thrills, you might enjoy “Comin’ At Ya!” But if you’re looking for a western of worth — look for it on TV.