Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 19th, 2005
|Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1968
Director: Giulio Petroni
Writer: Luciano Vincenzoni
Cast: Lee Van Cleef, John Phillip Law, Mario Brega, Luigi Pistilli
|Approximate running time:||114 minutes||110 minutes|
|Aspect Ratio:||4.3 Pan and Scan||2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen|
|Sound:||Dolby Digital Mono English||Dolby Digital Mono English,
German, French, Italian and Spanish
|Region Coding:||Region 1 NTSC||Region 2 PAL|
Brentwood’s Region 1 DVD
MGM’s Region 2 DVD
The Film :
Five bandits seek refuge after they rob a stagecoach that was transporting 200,000 dollars. Four of the five bandits find sanctuary from the nasty storm that is brewing outside in an out of the farm. The mood quickly turns ugly as the men start to molest the wife and daughter angering the husband who fights back which only further enrages the men who then slaughter the whole family. A fifth man arrives as the other four are putting the final touches on their massacre as they burn the home to the ground. Hiding in the corner all of this time is a young boy named Bill who is now the only living witness. Flash forward fifteen years Bill is now a grown man and he is ready to exact his revenge on those who murdered his family. He must first find the men and his only clue is a spur left behind by one of the men. Around the same time one of the men Bill is looking for named Ryan (Lee Van Cleef) has just been released from prison after a fifteen year stay and he also has his own score to settle with his former partners. Will Bill finally be at peace once he achieves his goal or will his quest for vengeance forever change him?
The Brentwood release suffers from washed out colors and the cropped image lacks detail. Overall this transfer has seen better days and it is below the VHS quality. The MGM release presents the film for the first time in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio on DVD. The colors look vivid and the image remains sharp through out. There are no problems with compression and edge enhancement is kept to a minimum. Another positive about MGM’s single layer DVD it is progressive scan. Overall MGM’s transfer blows every other Death Rides a Horse out the water with its excellent quality.
Brentwood’s release comes with only one audio option a English dubbed audio track which has noticeable hiss and the dialog sounds thin through out. MGM’s release comes with five audio options English, German, French, Italian and Spanish. All five are presented in a Dolby Digital mono. For this review I listed to the English audio track. The audio is razor sharp as it is always easy to hear and follow. The music and effects sound evenly mixed as they never drown the other out. There are no problems with hiss, distortion or any of sound defects. Overall this film sounds outstanding considering its age and mono limitations. The German and Italian audio tracks when I sampled then are in very good shape and on par with the English audio track. The French and Spanish audio tracks are not in as good as shape as the other as there is some noticeable hiss and distortion. French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch and Finnish subtitles have been included. This DVD also comes with English and German closed caption subtitles for the hard of hearing.
The extras on the Brentwood release consist with scrolling biography of Lee Van Cleef. The MGM release is completely bare of extras and it doesn’t even include the films’ original trailer.
There clear winner is MGM’s release that finally gives fan’s of Death Rides a Horse a chance to see the film that way it was meant to be seen in its original aspect ratio and it is a more then adequate DVD that will bid fan’s until a Death Rides a Horse special edition DVD surfaces.