Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 12th, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, August 10th, 1966
Director: Lucio Fulci
Writer: Fernando Di Leo
Cast: Franco Nero, George Hilton, Linda Sini, Giuseppe Addobbati, Nino Castelnuovo, Tom Felleghy, Franco Morici, Rina Franchetti, Tchang Yu, Aysanoa Runachagua
DVD released: April 10th, 2012
Approximate running time: 88 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Letterboxed Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
Region oding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $14.99
Synopsis: After being away for many years a prospector named Tom Corbett returns home after receiving a cryptic note from an old friend. Corbett soon discovers after returning home that this once peaceful town has been overrun by a man named Scott and his henchmen. The Scott’s have taken away the Corbett’s farm and now Tom’s brother Jess has been reduced to a drunk. When Tom and Jeff Corbett start to stir things up they end up in a fight for their lives against Scott and his hired assassins.
Franco Nero had a handful of Spaghetti Westerns before his performance in Django made him one of the most in demand actors within the Spaghetti Western genre. In 1966 he was star in three of Spaghetti Westerns Texas, addio, Massacre Time and Django. The story for Massacre Time bears many similarities to Texas, addio. Both films start off with a death of two brothers’ fathers and they both end with a similar twist where one of the brothers discovers the man they are seeking revenge against is actually their farther. Here is where the similarities end with the violence more prominent and sadistic in Massacre Time. One of the film’s most memorable moments is beating Franco’s Nero’s character Tom Corbett suffers at the hands of his nemeses’ Mr. Scott’s son ‘junior’. Nino Castelnuovo is gleefully demented in the role of Jason ‘junior’ Scott.
Massacre Time was the first of three Spaghetti westerns directed by Lucio Fulci. The other two being Four of the Apocalypse and Silver Saddle. A fourth Spaghetti Western A Bullet for Sandoval and his exact role is this production has never been fully confirmed. Before directing Massacre Time Lucio Fulci had primarily directed comedies and there is some of this present in Massacre Time especially in the character of Jeff Corbett, who is deliriously played by George Hilton. When we are first introduced to the character of Jeff Corbett he is an alcoholic with no ambitions beyond securing his next drink. One interesting attribute of the Jeff Corbett character is his uncanny ability to shoot a gun while inebriated. Visually Lucio Fulci creates menacing tale filled with tension which leads up to a bloody finale that will stratify even the most hardcore Spaghetti Western fan.
In the lead role of Tom Corbett is Franco Nero, who’s performance while solid is not as memorable as his work in other Spaghetti westerns like Django, The Mercenary and Companeros. Nero as usual has a strong psychical presence that really shines during action sequences. The most enjoyable part of Massacre Time the pairing up of Franco Nero with George Hilton whose comic relief perfectly balances Franco’s stern exterior. Coriolano Gori’s score for Massacre Time features the style often employed in most Spaghetti Westerns from this era. This is not to say that the score is not without its own merits it just lacks the timelessness present in many of Ennio Morricone’s scores. Overall Massacre Time is fast paced tale about revenge that fully exploits all the elements that one would expect in a quality Spaghetti Western.
Echo Bridge Entertainment presents Massacre Time in a 2.35:1 letterboxed aspect ratio. The lack of anamorphic enhancement is just one of many shot coming for this transfer. The image look soft, colors tend to look muted, there are issues with compression and edge enhancement rears its ugly head throughout. There are at least two other releases of Massacre Time that trump this releases transfer, the first being the Italian region 2 PAL release from Eagle Pictures and a region 1 NTSC release from Wild East Productions. And though this release from Echo Bridge Entertainment is a NTSC release its running length matches up with the aforementioned PAL release from Eagle Pictures. This looks like a PAL to NTSC conversion and a very poorly done one at that. Also this release from Echo Bridge Entertainment bears the same foreign language title card and credits that were used for the Italian DVD release.
Thankfully the audio mix for this release fares much better than the transfer. Though there are some mild instances of distortion, background noise is minimal and dialog always comes through clearly.
Being that this is a budget release it is not surprising that there is no extra content related to Massacre Time or the other seven films included with this release. The other seven films are as follows, Some Dollars for Django, Holy Water Joe, Little Rita, Light the Fuse… Sartana is Coming, Sartana Killed Them All, Dig Your Grave… Sabata is Coming and Buffalo Bill, Hero of the West. All of them films are at least presented in a letterboxed widescreen except, Dig Your Grave… Sabata is Coming and Buffalo Bill, Hero of the West. Both of film are presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio that crops their intended aspect ratio. Layout wise this release comes with two dual layer DVD’s which each contain four films. Overall though the presentations of all of the film’s included with this release are at best serviceable. This is after all a budget release and its asking price is more than reasonable.