Roared on by the success of Sergio Leonne in Hollywood, a host of Italian directors followed is his wake; making a raft of Spaghetti Westerns during the 1960s. Whilst similar in many ways to their American cousins these films revelled in turning genre cliches and tropes on their head. Instead of the likes of John Wayne saving the day we were served up unlikeable anti-heroes and unflinchingly brutal action. Arrow have brought four great examples together here in Vengeance Trials.
Lucio Fulci took a timeout between moving from comedy to horror to direct this tale of redemption and revenge. Franco Nero and George Hilton star as two estranged brothers who must work together to defeat a rich landowner. Massacre Time uses the sibling rivalry well to create a thrilling and tense western, which takes no prisoners.
My Name is Pecos
As a child, Pecos Martinez (Robert Woods) witnessed the massacre of his entire family at the hands of Joe Clane (Pier Paolo Capponi). Years later, he returns to Houston to exact his revenge, only to discover that his target as good as owns the town. He must implement an audacious plan just to get close to him. Maurizio Lucidi’s film is full of twists and turns, using an impressive supporting cast well and landing the ending.
Massimo Dallamano graduates from cinematography to direction in this brutal and bloody tale of revenge. A renowned gunslinger (Enrico Maria Salerno) vows to kill Billy Kane (Venantino Venantini), the man who shot his hands, destroying his livelihood, during a train robbery. He recruits an escaped convict (Terry Jenkins) and secretly trains him for the task. It’s a beautifully handled film which is fraught with danger at every turn.
And God Said to Cain
Klaus Kinski stars as Gary Hamilton, a man framed for a crime he didn’t commit. After spending a decade in prison, he’s pardoned. With only one thought in his mind, he returns home to wreak revenge on those who framed him. Antonio Margheriti’s western relies heavily on Kinski’s dead-eyed determination to create a relentless and intelligent western.
Vengeance Trials is an impressive collection of Spaghetti Westerns from four directors who are better known for their work in genre cinema. Whilst the themes might be similar, the way each anti-hero goes about their quest is different and engaging enough to keep things fresh. This uniformity means that each film compliments the others. Creating a fascinating and enthralling picture of a distinctly Italian response to Hollywood cinema.
4-Disc limited-edition contents:
- High Definition Blu-ray™ (1080p) presentations of all four films
- 2K restorations of all four films from the original 35mm camera negatives, with Massacre Time, My Name is Pecos and Bandidos newly restored by Arrow Films for this release
- Restored lossless mono Italian and English soundtracks
- English subtitles for the Italian soundtracks
- English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtracks
- Galleries for all four films
- Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by author and critic Howard Hughes
- Fold-out double-sided poster featuring newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx
- Limited edition packaging with reversible sleeves featuring original artwork and a slipcover featuring newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx
Disc 1 – Massacre Time
- Alternate US dub
- New commentary by authors and critics C. Courtney Joyner and Henry Parke
- New documentary featuring a new video interview with actor Franco Nero and an archival video interview with actor George Hilton
- New video interview with film historian Fabio Melelli
- Italian trailer
Disc 2 – My Name is Pecos
- New commentary by actor Robert Woods and C. Courtney Joyner
- New interview with actor George Eastman
- New interview with actress Lucia Modugno
- New documentary featuring a new interview with Fabio Melelli and an archival interview with cinematographer Franco Villa
- Italian trailer
Disc 3 – Bandidos
- New commentary by author and critic Kat Ellinger
- New interview with assistant director Luigi Perelli
- New interview with actor Gino Barbacane
- New interview with Fabio Melelli
- Alternate end title sequence
Disc 4 – And God Said to Cain
- New commentary by author and critic Howard Hughes
- New documentary featuring a new interview with Fabio Melelli and a new audio interview with actress Marcella Michelangeli
- New interview with actor Antonio Cantafora
Vengeance Trials is released on Blu-ray by Arrow Video on 26 July.