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Cut-Throats Nine (1972)      Joshua (1976)


(aka "Condenados a Vivir" or "Bronson's Revenge" or "Der Todesmarsch der Bestien")

 

directed by Joaquín Luis Romero Marchent
Spain 1972

Sgt. Brown (Robert Hundar, SABATA) and his daughter Cathy (Emma Cohen, HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB) are escorting a chain-gang of seven lifers - gambler/forger Thomas Lawrence (Alberto Dalbes, MURDER MANSION), scalper Joe Farrow (Ricardo Díaz, APOCALIPSIS SEXUAL), traitor Slim (Carlos Romero Marchent, DEAD MEN DON'T COUNT), arsonist Ray Brewster (Antonio Iranzo, WHO CAN KILL A CHILD? and the dubber of Mr. T of THE A-TEAM for Spanish audiences), rapist John McFarlane (José Manuel Martín, VIRIDIANA), killer Dick Patterson (Rafael Hernández, THE CANNIBAL MAN), and Dean Marlowe (Manuel Tejada, ONE AGAINST ONE) whose crime is unknown - from a mine back to Fort Green when they are ambushed by gold-hungry bandits. When the frustrated bandits - led by Buddy (Xan das Bolas, THE CEREMONY) - find no gold, they kill the wagon's driver and spook the horses. Unable to regain control of the wagon, Brown and his daughter are forced to jump off of it before it overturns. Slim's leg is broken and Brown makes the men take turns carrying him. At night, the men draw straws and one of them kills Slim to lighten the load, but Brown makes them continue carrying him when they refuse to tell him who killed the man. When the men discover that the chain binding them is made of gold, they realize that Brown is not on the up and up, but Brown tells Cathy that he chose the men because he believes one of them killed her mother (Mabel Karr, DIABOLICAL DR. Z). When Patterson refuses to keep moving, Brown shoots him (and then uses his machete to cut the two corpses loose). Running out of previsions, they are all weakened by the trek across rocky terrain and thick snow. When they find shelter in a cabin, the men overtake Brown and then Dean when he tries to protect Cathy. Cathy is raped and Brown tortured before being burned to death in the cabin. Thomas, having taken Brown's gun, assumes control and Cathy is taken with them as a hostage. The men lay their chains across train tracks and a passing train severs the chains from one another; although they are now free (and their individual lengths of gold chain become their own share of the fortune) from on another, they still cannot remove the shackles which will be a tell-tale sign that they are escapees. Thomas wants to head towards the a trading post near Fort Green to steal provisions and a wagon, but Ray is wary of the soldiers nearby. Ray takes off in the night with the group's provisions and suffers from delusions of Brown's reanimated burnt corpse coming after him. He runs into Buddy and his gang who also realize that the chain is made of gold and wants him to lead them to the rest of the convicts. Meanwhile, Thomas, Joe, Dean, and Cathy arrive at the trading post (Dean having murdered Cathy's rapist John). When one of the solders (Eduardo Calvo, BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL) playing poker at the trading post recognizes Cathy, the soldiers are taken hostage and the proprietor is offered a length of the chain in exchange for horses, guns, and a wagon; however, he does not have the horses or the wagon. They decide to wait until the morning and hijack the Fort Green coach when it comes by in the morning, but greed, revenge, and outright sadism may mean that few if any will survive until the dawn. CUT-THROATS NINE has a reputation as one of the goriest westerns ever made (reportedly, the US distributor reportedly funded some gory reshoots). Some shots are inserts while others feature the actors (although they may have been able to get the actors back). The burn make-up for Brown's apparition that torments Ray is less grizzly than the insert of the corpse in the actual burning scene. Special effects artist Pablo Perez and make-up artist Carlos Paradela had both worked on some of the gorier examples of Spanish seventies horror (including entries in Amando de Ossorio's "Blind Dead" series). The beefed-up violence does set it apart from other Eurowesterns of the time - particularly in the early seventies when the genre was waning - as do the snowy Pyranees locations (previously the setting for Sergio Corbucci's change-of-scenery spaghetti western THE GREAT SILENCE with Jean-Louis Trintignant). It's also less of a shoot-em-up western and more of a Herzogian tale of endurance for most of the running time (it's actually a bit of a disappointment when they move to an interior set - however rustic - for the final act). While flashbacks fragmented throughout the narrative to reveal some traumatic secret are nothing new to the genre, flashbacks suggesting the identity of Cathy's mother's murderer are mixed in with the flashbacks to the pre-prison lives of the chain gang members (in that respect, it somewhat recalls the use of the flashback backstory device in women in prison movies, particularly 99 WOMEN). Although none of the characters are particularly sympathetic - Tejada's Dean is more blank than bland - and Cohen's Cathy pretty much remains a victim, the film's strength is its unpredictable narrative (spiked by escalating levels of gore). Director Joaquín Luis Romero Marchent (I DO NOT FORIVE... I KILL!) prefaces his flashbacks with sudden freeze frames and then uses match-cuts to return to the present tense of the story. Carmelo Bernaola's (HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB) score fits the period, but sounds dated next to the more psychedelic arrangements of the contemporary spaghetti western scores of the Italian westerns. Bernaola and art directors José Luis Galicia and Jaime Pérez Cubero - as "Cubero and Galicia" - all went worked on Paul Naschy's COUNT DRACULA'S GREAT LOVE and HUNCHBACK OF THE MORGUE (also shot in the Pyrenees) the following year, while cinematographer Luis Cuadrado followed this project up with Victor Erice's SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 10 July 1972 (Spain)

Reviews        More Reviews       DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Code Red Releasing (Lawless Land Double Feature) - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

Code Red Releasing

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:31:24
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.41 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Code Red Releasing

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Theatrical Trailer (4:3; 2:56)
• Trailers for RING OF DEATH (as DETECTIVE BELLI), BRUTE CORPS, and BLACK GESTAPO

DVD Release Date: 16 August 2011
Amaray

Chapters 14

 

Comments

Code Red's progressive, anamorphic transfer is not spotless, but definitely an improvement over the cassettes and gray market DVDs of the title. Derived from a UIP theatrical print, there are plenty of scratches and digs, but there is no evidence of digital manipulation (there is also no "from the negative" European alternative, likely because this is a purely Spanish production rather than an Italian/Spanish co-production so it is not at the top of the heap when it comes to spaghetti western restorations).

The German and Brazilian DVDs are reportedly the same previous non-anamorphic version. Previous US releases (tapes and 35mm prints) lost sound synchronization during the climax. Code Red's edition corrects this problem for the first time in the US. The US theatrical trailer is not individually selectable, it appears either as part of the trailer reel or when you play the "42nd Street Experience" option which parses out the trailers in between the features.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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(aka "Black Rider" or "Revenge")

 

directed by Larry G. Spangler
USA 1976

 

Joshua (Fred Williamson, MEAN JOHNNY BARROWS) returns home from the civil war with land to farm so his mother Martha (Kathryn Jackson, THE BLACK GODFATHER) will no longer have to keep house for Sam (Henry Kendrick, RAISING ARIZONA) and his mail-order bride (Henry Miller muse Brenda Venus, FOXY BROWN). When he reaches home, he learns from a wounded Sam that five men killed his mother and took Sam's wife with them into the mountains. Joshua mounts up and starts trailing the men (lead by Jed [Calvin Bartlett, SEXTETTE] and sidekick Weasel [Ralph Willingham]). He takes out the first guy with a rattlesnake and the second with a wooden spear, and continues tracking them (instead of just taking all of them out at once, which seems possible since he does that to a group of renegades that try bar him from following Jed and his men into an outlaw town). Isela Vega (BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA) guest stars as Maria, a female gunslinger who nurses a wounded Joshua back to health and sleeps with him. Poor Brenda Venus. As Sam's wife, who is never named despite all her character's suffering, the script takes the incredibly sexist route of having fall for Jed after he and his men have raped her several times (thus, making her no more worthy of survival than Joshua's mother's murderers). The uncredited cinematography attempts to ape the spaghetti westerns (or maybe just HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER), but the camera has trouble keeping its long lens focused on the riders and does not always handle the extreme contrasts of the sunny desert locations too well. The action scenes suffer from some laughable choreography and some of the worst foley effects choices that better suit a cheap karate movie on the grindhouse circuit. Acting ranges from okay to poor to downright annoying (that of Willingham). Mike Irwin's electronic score is the film's most successful element.

Eric Cotenas

Poster

Theatrical Release: 1 March 1977 (USA)

Reviews          DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Code Red Releasing (Lawless Land Double Feature) - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

Distribution

Code Red Releasing

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:22:51
Video

2.30:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.53 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Code Red Releasing

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.30:1

Edition Details:
• see above

DVD Release Date:
Amaray

Chapters 16

 

Comments

The progressive, anamorphic transfer for JOSHUA is clean-looking (a brief from around 18:30 to 19:10 seems to have been patched in from another source due to damage before the reel change), but subject to edge enhancement. I'm going to chalk much of the softness and haziness to the shoddy cinematography.

The Dolby Digital mono audio is full-bodied with the bass of Mark Irwin's electronic score and some ridiculous foley punches coming through nicely. No trailer for the feature is included.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


Screen Captures

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 


DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Code Red Releasing

Region 0 - NTSC

 




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