For hard-core 3D and Drafthouse films fans, Comin’ at Ya! should definitely ring a bell. The 1981 3D Spaghetti Western directed by Ferdinando Baldi was one of the their first acquisitions back in 2011, screening at Fantastic Fest followed by a limited release. The film finally hit Blu-ray last week thanks to MVD Video just in time for its 35th anniversary.
Comin’ at Ya! is the story of H.H. Hart, a bank robber whose be wife was kidnapped at the altar by two brothers who are known to sell their captives to the brothels in Mexico. Hart not only wants to get his wife back, but get bloody vengeance with his trusty shotgun on the men that took her. While the film is a bit light on dialog and plot, it delivers plenty on its title with some great 3D gags that were single-handedly responsible for the 3D resurgence of the early ’80s. Being the 3D fan I was, I was excited to finally check this film out in in its native 3D since most previous releases were either 2D or anaglyph 3D (Red & Blue).
From the opening credits you see there is nothing subtle about the use of 3D in this film; as the name implies, rattlesnakes and guns immediately are plunged from the screen into the audience. The film was shot in SuperVision, an over-and-under brand of 3D concocted just for this release that allowed then-current projection to easily be retrofitted to screen in the film. The rumor around the release is that the film was so popular it was eventually pulled from distribution when the 3D glasses couldn’t be manufactured fast enough. Comin’ at Ya!’s use of the 3D feels lost on the current generation of 3D films; it feels at times more like a amusement park ride than simply a theatrical experience.
The film itself feels par for the course for a Spaghetti Western. Tony Anthony is a fun anti-hero who can’t seem to catch a break as his plan to rescue his wife doesn’t go quite as smoothly as he would have liked. Anthony not only starred in Comin’ at Ya! but also produced and wrote the film as well, after acting in his fair share of westerns. I only wish Victoria Abril, who plays the damsel (who is not so much in distress) got more to do, since she definitely give the film a strong female presence which most of these films sadly lack. The film follows the formula you would expect as a Spaghetti Western but doesn’t dig too deep, allowing the film’s visuals pickup the slack.
You can tell almost every frame here has been meticulously planned and executed to get the maximum use of the technology. That, accompanied by the use of space with its grand desert vistas, lends a much different look and feel to the film thanks to its gorgeous cinematography. Comin’ at Ya! is indeed a fun watch and a great experience for fans of 3D since a lot of these older films that were released in 3D have yet to get a proper release.
Since Baldi passed away in 2007 the restoration on Comin’ At Ya! was supervised and produced by Tony Anthony and Tom Stern (In God’s Hands), through his company Sternco 3D. The transfer here on the disc was sourced from a new 4K master, and boasts a frame by frame digital conversion of the polarized over-and-under format of the original print, that was sourced from a brand new inter-negative. While the Blu-ray still has a very film-like quality with just enough damage and grain, there appeared to be a few scenes where the 3D doesn’t quite come off as sharply as it does in others with some shots not lining up properly. The film presented here is dubbed “The Noir Version,” with changing of a few key scenes mimicking Sin City with a mixture of black and color used to emphasize key elements. The disc presents 2 versions of the film both 3D and 2D; sadly the only thing this disc lacks is special features or anything really discussing this film in depth or the process in bringing it to the screen.
I really dug Comin’ at Ya! While some may be turned off by the revisionist changes, they were much fewer than some posts would have lead you to believe. It hits all the right notes for a good western while delivering an experience worthy of its name; for 3D geeks it doesn’t get any better than this. It’s great to see older 3D films get some much needed love and attention, which leads me to think hopefully Tony Anthony’s amazing 3D Indiana Jones knock off Treasure of the Four Crowns will finally get a release too.