• Zachariah (Kino Lorber) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Kino Lorber
    Released on: February 5th, 2019.
    Directors: George Englund
    Cast: John Rubinstein, Patricia Quinn, Don Johnson, Elvin Jones, Doug Kershaw, Dick Van Patten
    Year: 1971
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    Zachariah – Movie Review:

    Touted as ‘the first electric western,’ George Englund’s 1971 film Zachariah is… strange. It really is a weird movie, one of the oddest gunslinger movies you’re likely to ever see. Granted, it never reaches the heights of surrealism as something like El Topo does, but it’s still pretty out there. Fans of cult oddities should appreciate it, however.

    So, what’s it all about? A young man named Zachariah (John Rubinstein) winds up in possession of a mail order gun. This serves as an impetus to team up with his beat pal, Matthew (Don Johnson), to travel across the western frontier in search of adventure. When a stop in a saloon heads south after a heated altercation with another patron leaves a man dead, Zachariah start to wonder if he’s got a talent for gunslinging. Soon enough, Zachariah and Matthew have hooked up with a gang called The Crackers whose members, oddly enough, are more into playing music than robbing banks.

    The more time they all spend together, the more its obvious that not everyone is going to get along here. As Zachariah makes time with pretty Belle Star (Patricia Quinn), tensions flare soon afterwards and as egos and puffed chests become the order of the day, men who were once friends soon find themselves bitter rivals.

    Loosely based on Howard Hesse's novel Siddhartha, Zachariah is entertaining enough. Set to an odd soundtrack featuring work from The James Gang and Country Joe And The Fish, the movie feels more like a selection of sometimes unconnected scenes than a narrative whole. Still, it’s interesting to watch. There’s a lot of creativity on display in the film, some nice camerawork, great use of color and just an overall vibe of weirdness that definitely works in the movie’s favor. Performances are fine. Johnson is quite good here and Rubinstein more than decent in his part. Those expecting to see Rocky Horror Picture Show’s Magenta will be disappointed, the Patricia Quinn in this movie is the one from Alice’s Restaurant, not Richard O’Brien and Jim Sharman’s musical.

    If there’s a sort of ‘Off Broadway’ experimental theater vibe to some of the movie, that isn’t shocking. Leading man John Rubinstein had a theatrical background and the movie would seem to have been at least partially written by members of the Firesign Theatre group (who wanted nothing to do with the finished product). The movie isn’t quite technically a musical in the traditional sense of something like Hair of Jesus Christ Superstar, but the music used in the film does play an important part in making it memorable.

    Zachariah – Blu-ray Review:

    Kino Lorber presents Zachariah on a 25GB disc in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 and it looks very good, taken from a new 4k scan of the original 35mm negative. There are plenty of optical effects on display throughout the movie, understandably, when the film employs these effects detail softens – it’s the nature of the beast – but otherwise the transfer here is a good one. Colors pop quite nicely and are reproduced very well without looking artificially boosted. Black levels are fine. The image is free of noticeable compression issues and it shows good detail and depth throughout.

    The DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track is fine. Subtitles are provided in English only. Dialogue is clean and clear and the music used throughout the movie sounds tight and strong without burying anything in the mix. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion to note.

    Extras start off with an audio commentary featuring Howard Berger and Nathanial Thompson, who are quick to note the film’s trippier qualities. As the film, and their commentary, plays out they talk up the performances, the direction, the sets and set pieces and wind up doing a nice job of detailing the film’s history as well as what makes it unique and interesting, particularly when they discuss the film’s unusual origins and production history. They also seem to be having a lot of fun with the talk.

    Also included on the disc is a new interview with actor Joe Rubenstein that runs twenty-two-minutes in length. In this excellent piece, the actor talks about how he wound up getting the part in the film, what it was like on set, his character and what he experiences in the story told in the film, collaborating with some of his co-stars and much more.

    Menus and chapter selection are also included, as is a theatrical trailer for the feature.

    Zachariah – The Final Word:

    Zachariah is a strange, trippy film set to a pretty killer soundtrack. It’s nicely shot, has some neat ideas at work and it looks good throughout. It doesn’t always come together perfectly, but there’s enough here that works well to make it worth seeking out for fans of eclectic cult films and quirkier westerns. Kino’s Blu-ray is a good one, presenting the film in great shape and with some decent extras too.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. David H's Avatar
      David H -
      I really liked this one. The soundtrack is cool- esp. the James Gang stuff.