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DVD Review: Arizona Colt Returns

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There are a few Spaghetti/Euro Westerns that have become synonymous with “masterpiece.” For every one of those, there are about twenty that would be hard-pressed to find television timeslot coverage in the early hours of the morning. And then, you have movies like Arizona Colt Returns from 1970, a low-budget run-of-the-mill Spaghetti Western that takes Sergio Leone’s “Good/Bad/Ugly” formula and successfully adds a new category to it: “So-so.”

For me, the best Spaghetti Westerns emerged from the 60s. But the 70s proved to be rather uneventful by comparison: many of the creative minds from the previous decade had moved on to other things, leaving a lot of fresh faces to make their mark. One such face belonged to Sergio Martino, a man who become better known for his entries to the giallo genre, as well as his unbelievably wacky horror/sci-fi/fantasy rip-offs (see: Island Of The Fishmen or The Big Alligator River).

As the name implies, Arizona Colt Returns is a sequel. But its relation to 1966’s Arizona Colt is a minor one. The only bona fide connections between the two movies are that they share the same co-star (Roberto Camardiel) and one of the writers (Ernesto Gastaldi, who wrote several of Martino’s “epics”). Apart from that, I seriously doubt that these movies are related in any way. Leading the cast in this second and final Arizona Colt outing is Anthony Steffan.

Having been passed the torch of Spaghetti Western characters Django, Ringo and Sabata at one point or another, Steffan added yet another second rate performance to his list of second rate successions with this one. His role here is almost completely lifeless, and the late actor seems as if he were just going with the flow — killing time until his paycheck arrived. Worse, it would appear that Steffan’s five-o-clock shadow just wasn’t effective enough in Sergio Martino eyes, so they added black greasepaint to his stubble. The end-result makes Arizona Colt look like a clown. Ew.

The plot here has bad guy Keene (Aldo Sambrell, one of the most frequently-seen faces in Spaghetti Westerns, including Sergio Leone’s films) framing Arizona for a crime, for which our hero is sentenced to hang. That way, Keene is assured no one will be able to stop his dastardly plan to steal a shitload of gold from Arizona’s semi-regular employer, Mr. Gonzalez Moreno (José Manuel Martín). With the help of his faithful and aptly named whiskey-guzzling sidekick, Double Whiskey (Camardiel), Arizona fakes his death. With his status official “dead,” Arizona takes this opportunity to creep up on Keene, who not only took off with the gold, but has taken Moreno’s daughter (Lady Frankenstein’s Rosalba Neri) as well. Marcella Michelangeli plays Arizona’s forgettable love interest.

For the most part, Arizona Colt Returns has little going for it. The theme song is rather silly — even by Spaghetti Western standards. The theme’s lyrics, “I guess I gotta get my gun/I guess I gotta shoot someone,” manage to stick with you long after the less-than-memorable movie is over. The film really only manages to pick up towards the end, when Arizona attempts to turn the tables on the bad guys. Apart from that, the only other reasons to see Arizona Colt Returns is the assembly of great Euro character actors, including Gildo Di Marco (as a character named Filthy Bottle), Raf Baldassarre, Luis Barboo, and Emilio Delle Piane (as the sheriff).

Mya Communications once again blows us away by releasing another title we thought we’d never see on DVD. The movie is presented in its original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio, with the original Italian credits and soundtrack. The image has its share of imperfections (I’m guessing this was not taken from the original studio negative) but never gets to the point of being unwatchable. The Italian mono stereo soundtrack comes through a little tinny here and there, but for the most part, it’s sufficient. Optional English subtitles are included (which contain a few errors — for instance, who ever heard of Tulson, AZ?).

Special features include a German-language trailer (Der Tod Sagt Amen, or Death Says Amen) and a gallery depicting some of the film’s theatrical and home video artwork). The DVD menu even loops the viral theme song — just to keep it fresh in your mind.

So, the bottom line: it certainly isn’t good. There are a few scenes that save it from being bad. And the frequent bits of dumb humor tone down any of the film’s overall violence, saving it from looking too ugly. And, so what do you have left? Arizona Colt Returns: a so-so Spaghetti Western.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.