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The Hills Run Red DVD Review (US)

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The Hills Run Red NTSC Region 1 US MGM DVD

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The Film

Carlo Lizzani directed only two Spaghetti Westerns (Requiescant a year later in 1967 being the other) both under the pseudonym of Lee W Beaver. The Hills Run Red is one of only a dozen or so Spaghetti Western movies, which on Italian domestic release alone made a fortune.
Shortly after the American Civil War two Confederate Rebels Jerry Brewster (Thomas Hunter) and Ken Seagull (Nando Gazzolo) have stolen $600,000 of Government money and are being chased by the Yankees. Making a pact to take care of Brewster's wife and family should he get caught, Seagull escapes with the money while Brewster gets captured and serves a five-year jail sentence in Fort Wilson. On release from jail Brewster is ambushed by some of Seagull's men but is helped out of the tight spot by a mysterious stranger Winnie Getz (Dan Duryea). Brewster finds out that Seagull, now living in Austin Texas going under the name of Ken Milton hasn't kept his promise, he learns the horrible truth that his wife died from poverty four years ago and that Seagull has taken his son Tim away. Brewster and Getz hatch a plan to convince Seagull that Brewster was killed in the ambush. Upon hearing Getz's story (along with some convincing evidence) Seagull hires him as part of his gang of bullyboys led by Garcia Mendez (Henry Silva). Searching for his son and seeking revenge for the death of his wife, Brewster under the assumed name of Jim Houston arrives at the town of Austin where he gets into a fight with some of Mendez's gang and kills them. Talking to the town's spokesperson and saloon owner Mr Horner (Geoffrey Copleston) he learns Seagull is the owner of the Mayflower Ranch and has become tyrannical, eager to get his hands on the land of Austin's poor farmers. Brewster finds his son Tim living as an orphan in the town but Mendez and his men eager for revenge track down Brewster. Again showing his abilities as a great fighter (this time with the effective use of a frying pan) Brewster is befriended by Mendez and is hired for his gang. Now living at the Mayflower Ranch Brewsters's plans for revenge are complicated by the presence of his son, his growing affection for Seagull's beautiful sister Mary Anne (Nicoletta Machiavelli) and his attempts to protect the inhabitants of Austin. It's not long before Brewsters's real identity and true intentions are revealed, can the mysterious Getz come to his aid once again?
Ennio Morricone provides a suitable music score under the pseudonym Leo Nichols.

Opinion

I've been eager to see The Hills Run Red ever since I first heard about it and now having watched the movie I'm not disappointed. A thoroughly enjoyable revenge story with a feel-good ending, perhaps the ending is a little too American Western in style, but this is only a minor criticism. The film has a reliable cast, it's good to see Guglielmo Spoletini as Pedro a member of Mendez's gang, Thomas Hunter gives an earnest performance, but it is Henry Silva who steals the show for me. With some great dialogue including "Ha ha ha (applause) I'm not going to kill you, stranger. You're a champion. And you don't kill champions, you raise them, And you're coming with me to the Mayflower Ranch, and you're hired for top dollar. Bravo! Bravo! (applause)" and later "Senor, in this life there are those who talk a lot, and those who keep their hatred and desire for vengeance hidden in their hearts. I promise you that Horner will regret the day he was born. I promise you that he will loose five of his men for every one of my hombres killed. And I promise you that I will discover who betrayed us and I will kill him with my own hands." Silva laughs, sings and snarls his way through the film, a truly splendid performance.

Audio & Video

This MGM DVD is a double-sided single layer disc, both sides are the exact same cut of the movie, one side being widescreen and the other full screen.

Sound

  • Dolby Digital: English Mono
  • Dolby Digital: English Stereo
  • Subtitles: English optional
  • Subtitles: Spanish optional

Picture

  • Side A Widescreen 2.35:1
  • Side B Full Screen 1.33:1
  • NTSC Region 1
  • Colour
  • DVD Film Length: 89 minutes 35 seconds (each side)

Extras

  • 20 Chapter Selections

Verdict

MGM have decided to give us the choice of watching The Hills Run Red in two formats on this DVD release. The widescreen version while showing some grain in places is very clean and bright and is the only way to really enjoy this movie. The full screen version (pan and scan of the widescreen original) has contrast problems, making it difficult to see exactly who or what is on screen in some scenes. I really can't understand why MGM have bothered to include this far inferior version of the exact same cut of the movie on the disc at all. The lack of any extras on the disc is a little disappointing, I would have liked to see the original US cinema trailer at least. Perhaps the single layer format MGM chose for this DVD release, a format I personally favour where possible, made including one difficult due to space restrictions.
At last MGM have given us the opportunity to see this important Spaghetti Western with a high quality presentation of the film in its original aspect ratio with English audio. The DVD is attractively packaged in an Amaray keep case and is retailed at a very reasonable price. The Hills Run Red is a must buy for any fan of the genre and I hope MGM release more great Spaghetti Westerns from their catalogue in the near future. I would like to suggest A Professional Gun as the next one please. --The Halitosis Kid 13:39, 26 May 2007 (CEST)