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Image Entertainment presents
Vengeance (Joko invoca Dio... e muori) (1968)

"These here are the ropes they killed Ritchie with, so start talking if you don't want to end up like those murderers will."
- Rocco Barrett (Richard Harrison)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: February 26, 2001

Stars: Richard Harrison, Claudio Camaso, Sheyla Rosin, Alan Collins
Other Stars: Werner Pochat, Louis Santis, Albert Carl, Ivan G. Scott, Larry Bona, Louis Zarini, Albert Nova, Fredi Unger, Paul Lino
Director: Antonio Margheriti

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: PG for (Violence)
Run Time: 01h:40m:13s
Release Date: January 01, 2001
UPC: 014381985825
Genre: western

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

They killed his friends, and now he's out for Vengeance. Richard Harrison stars as Rocco Barrett, the leader of gang involved in a gold robbery gone wrong. As the film opens, five men on horseback have young Ritchie, who was charged with transporting the booty, surrounded and roped to their horses, threatening to kill him if he doesn't reveal the whereabouts of Rocco. When he doesn't comply, they ride off in different directions, never letting go of the ropes....

We next see one of these men, Domingo (credited to Alan Collins), arriving home to his cabin, where a surprise awaits him. In the darkness waits Rocco, rifle cocked and ready, and he wants answers; specifically, the names of the men who killed his friends. Domingo claims he doesn't know what Rocco is talking about, which is when Rocco produces his evidence: five bloody strands of rope taken from the dead boy's body. As Rocco hunts down his quarry, leaving them dead and full of lead, the truth about his friends and the heist that went wrong begins to unravel, like the bloody ropes he returns to their owners.

This is one of those films that, although I enjoyed watching, I cringe when it comes to reviewing. Why, you may ask? Well, normally I would try to give some background on the film or the cast, but when the director's impressive (in number, though lacking almost anything I've seen) filmography includes such titles as The Killer Fish (which he also directed under an alias no less, with stars Lee Majors, Karen Black and Margaux Hemingway) or three dozen Italian thrillers with akas longer than their cast lists, I know I'm in trouble. The most I'm able to salvage in the way of interest is Antonio Margheriti's (alias Anthony Dawson) involvement as director of second unit on two Warhol classics, Blood For Dracula and Flesh For Frankenstein, neither of which he was credited for in the English versions. Moving on to our star, Richard Harrison, while gaining a credit in South Pacific for a bit part, is probably best known for his string of Hong Kong ninja flicks, none of which he actually acted in, since his performances were spliced into existing films for a western market. I'm not trying to sell these folks short, they hold an impressive body of work, though most of it will be unknown to all but the die hard B-film buff.

The observant will also note that the cover advertises this as A. Leone Production, which to most genre lovers would associate it with Sergio Leone, king of the spaghetti westerns, but take note of the period after the A, and the true meaning becomes clear: this is an Alfredo Leone production, a man who is probably better known to my colleagues here at dOc as the producer of Mario Bava's Baron Blood (or more properly Gli Orrori del castello di Norimberga). As a western, Vengeance is grittier and more violent than most mainstream films of the genre, sharing closer ties with a title like Django than The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Harris does an admirable job as the shifty-eyed and vengeful Rocco, and his leading lady, Spela Rozin (credited as Sheyla Rosin), is extremely charming. Like its director (who also penned the screenplay), most of the cast went by one of their aliases. The plot, while predictable, satisfies, and does contain a few decent twists. While hardly a lost classic, the film does deliver decent entertainment value, and there is some interesting cinematography, such as the opening aerial view of the banditos with their webbed prey or the handheld shot when Rocco approaches the body of Domingo and the camera's shadow is carefully concealed in the that of our hero.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Filmed in Eastmancolor, the source print for this anamorphic transfer accurately delivers the type of presentation you'd expect from a second run theater, with scratches aplenty. The image is fairly dark with minimal shadow detail, grain is bountiful, especially in deep blue skies, and what color there is shows signs of age, though still retains some saturation if not throughout the entire spectrum. While hardly a pristine delivery, given the nature of the film, it is appropriate.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is mono, and is fairly well presented, with a minimum of defects in the source. We get that nice, distorted guitar riff followed by a drum roll familiar to the western genre, served up in its poorly-synced English dub track. These films weren't designed as audio showpieces, and this soundtrack seems like an authentic reproduction.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Packaging: Snapper
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: It's hardly surprising that we don't get a host of extras for this western, though it would have been nice to at least know who the characters are.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

If you are looking for a B western with a little more grit than Hollywood will supply, and without the familiar biggies in the genre, Vengeance is a suitable candidate. Certainly not the top of my list, but a decent alternative just the same... and I'm not just stringing you along.


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