The Forgotten Pistolero & The Unholy Four (double feature) DVD review

From The Spaghetti Western Database

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The Forgotten Pistolero

THE FILM: Sebastian (Leonard Mann) lives a lonely quiet life in the middle of nowhere, when a stranger finds him, and tells him about a cruel past he had long forgotten. The stranger's name is Rafael (Peter Martell), and he was Sebastian's best friend when they were kids. The got separated when Sebastian's father was murdered by his wife Anna (Luciana Paluzzi) and her lover Tomas (Alberto de Mendoza), and Sebastian's sister Isabella (Pilar Velasquez), who has been in love with Rafael ever since, was forced into marriage with a shopkeeper. Anna is also haunted by this very cruel act in her life and she is constantly afraid the truth comes out so he hires gunmen to hunt those who know the truth, Rafael, and and to keep other like Isabella quiet. Rafael and Sebastian team up to return to Anna's hacienda to take revenge. Haunted by terrible childhood memories, filled with revenge, the two face up to the past. Rafael to reunited with his love Isabella, who wants Sebastian to kill Anna and the man who killed their father. In a dramatic final moment, revenge gets its way, but not without a terrible new truth to come to light....

REVIEW: Ferdinando Baldi, master of the family drama? Pistolero dell'Ave Maria is certainly a Spaghetti Western that sticks out among the rest. It is a gritty, dramatic and emotional family drama that gives you goose bumps and gets you close to shedding tears at the end. The screenplay is closely knit and does not waste too much time. It takes a step back to explain the past, then moves on to bringing the characters together in a climax of emotional intensity. The acting, and I will exempt Leonard Mann here, is very good down to the supporting parts, from Bond girl Paluzzi to bad guy Lulli. What I found most convincing was Velasquez' performance, her desperation jumped of the screen I thought. Baldi manages to hold together an almost Shakespearian drama, that is supported by one of the greatest scores of the genre, a dramatic melody that will stick with you. I love this film very much, and it has always been among my personal favorites. It is sinister, dramatic, full of great moments, great acting and the story does not get boring for one second. Bravo!

The Unholy Four

THE FILM: Four inmates of a nuthouse escape, while a gang of bandits rob a gold transport and light the nuthouse on fire for distraction. They are Woody (Woody Strode), Chuck Mool (Leonard Mann), Silver (Peter Martell) and Hondo (George Eastman). Chuck has problems remembering things. The bandits get screwed over by their associate who takes all the gold and kills them all. While a Sheriff's posse is hunting the escaped inmates, these try to get after the gold, which they know got stolen when their nuthouse burned down. They manage to overwhelm some of the posse and now head out and trace back the gold - and Chuck his memories. As they show up in a town, they end up in a rivalry between two families (the Udos and the Caldwells), and Chucks' presence seems to make people nervous. While Woody gets captured, Chuck is taken in by one of the clans (the Udos), supposedly his family, father, brother and sister. But Chuck's lack of memory make him a perfect tool of manipulation, and so things turn out to be not as simple, and as they told him, his memory would return at some point. The Gold is not too far either. The Unholy Four are yet to become those people's worst nightmare, wishing these gunslingers had never escaped from the nuthouse...

REVIEW: Wow was I surprised about this film. Positively. Enzo Barboni is not one of my favorite Spaghetti directors but this film might just be his most impressive effort, in my opinion. Chuck Mool is not only a film with a very interesting story, and an ensemble cast, it is also very well made. The script is elaborate and a bit complicated, but makes perfect sense. At some points I felt the film was dragging a bit, but then again, I watched this movie while staying up all night, so I paused a lot. What I found puzzling is the cast. Everyone is doing a great job (god forgive the horrible dubbing voices), and sometimes you forget that the movie is all about Leonard Mann's character. Unusual for a film of that era, there is remarkable chemistry between the actors, sometimes reminiscing of improvisation even. I especially liked Martell in this, and Mann is ages better in this movie. While he played almost a robot in Forgotten Pistolero, he really comes to live here. As for the action, Barboni goes all out here with some really remarkable gunfights, the one at the end doesn't need to hide behind some of the bigger productions. While the music adds a light-hearted tone to this movie and in general I think with a better score this one might've developed into a cult flick, it does work fair enough. The Unholy Four is a very entertaining film with a really interesting story and a great cast, a real gem I would say, having seen it for the first time ever.

The DVD

Wild East presents these two films as a double feature on one disc (both films are on the same side). While I think the idea of a double feature is great, I'm not sure if it was such a good idea to include them both on the same disc (not just for quality reasons). Both features are presented in anamorphic widescreen with an English audio track. Let me start with the audio. Forgotten Pistolero's track is decent and more or less free of major annoyances, but does bear some weaknesses especially during action scenes and louder moments. The track is okay. The Unholy Four's audio track suffers from constant noise and crackling throughout which is a bit disturbing, but then again is more or less stable during all parts of the film. The picture quality on both movies is sub-standard, and looks more like VHS (unfortunately as with many Wild East releases). What is good though, is that while both suffer from scratches, dirt, speckles, faded colors, lack of sharpness and grain, the overall impression is that the colors are vivid enough and unless the picture is moving rapidly, the material looks sharp and contrasty enough. I know this all sounds very negative, but I am not sure if I've seen Forgotten Pistolero look any better (I have to rewatch my Marketing Film DVD).

As for extras, they have included the trailers and some picture galleries. You can select the favorite chapters from the chapter selections. When you put the DVD in, you get all the menu items on the first screen.

Verdict

Wild East delivers a double feature that includes two very damn fine Spaghetti Westerns. The reason for the double feature can be argued about, there's at least three actors the two movies have in common though. What should be worth noting is, that both movies are really great, so you're not buying a double feature just to get your hands on one and then you're stuck with the other, as it sometimes happens. Forgotten Pistolero is one of my all time favorite Baldi westerns, and I was very happy to be able to watch it again. The Unholy Four is a surprisingly overwhelming effort by Barboni, who pulls out all stops to deliver a very interesting film with one hell of a cast. While neither of the two movies are presented in a digital quality that is even anywhere near that of a Koch release, the quality is fine enough to satisfy your Spaghetti hunger. A great double feature.

--Sebastian 10:44, 5 April 2008 (CEST)

This DVD was provided by Wild East Entertainment.

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