• Kill Them All And Come Back Alone (Kino Lorber) Blu-ray Review



    Released by: Kino Lorber
    Released on: January 7th, 2020.
    Director: Enzo G. Castellari
    Cast: Chuck Connors, Frank Wolff, Franco Citti
    Year: 1968
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    Kill Them All And Come Back Alone - Movie Review:

    The spaghetti western with the best title ever will never rank as director Enzo G. Castellari’s best film (that honor would probably go to one of his crime films like THE BIG RACKET), but it’s a superb example of a somewhat derivative genre piece that manages to succeed as entertainment through sheer exuberance and a game cast.

    Chuck (TV’s The Rifleman, TOURIST TRAP) Connors is toothy gun for hire Clyde McKay. Clyde is rangy, tough and without scruples. He’s also charming and willing to do anything for a buck. He’s a mercenary gang leader as well, and as our story opens he’s staging an elaborate hostage taking/takeover of a Confederate controlled small town. This turns out to be a ruse though. It seems The Grays ate testing the skills of Clyde and his men because they have a dangerous mission in mind and want to see if these guys can cut the mustard. The mission? Raid a heavily armed Union garrison and steal a king’s ransom in gold. Further adding to the fun? The gold is stored in massive chests filled with dynamite. Talk about explosive coin rolls. One wayward shot and kaboom.

    The Confederate brass, who have tapped Captain Lynch (the wonderful Frank Wolff of THE GREAT SILENCE) to coordinate the mission, have some strict conditions too. They will disavow any knowledge of the mission if it fails, and while they are quite happy to pay Clyde upfront, they have have a strong suggestion. If Clyde finds the gold he should consider simply killing all his men, thereby skipping paying their fees and... coming back alone.

    Of course, the entire opening, which hits close to the 15 minute mark before we get our onscreen debut credits, is mostly an excuse to showcase the athletic prowess of Connors. And he doesn’t disappoint (or let’s say he and his highly gifted stunt double do not disappoint). Looking like an exquisitely tanned piece of premium leather, our antihero leaps off high slanted roofs, shimmies over frayed ropes and throws too many mean punches to count. We also get to see his men - Blade (Giovanni Cianfriglia), Bogard (Hercules Cortes), Deker (Leo Anchoriz), Hoagy (Franco Citti), and Kid (Alberto Dell'Acqua) strut their stuff. In the film’s first derivative plot point, each man has a specialty - whether knife throwing or hand to hand combat - and each a sketchy past that makes them ideal for a near suicidal mission. Yes. We all saw THE DIRTY DOZEN. And a few Sergio Leone westerns.

    Castellari had little interest in the political subtexts of Sergio Corbucci and Sergio Sollima or the lyricism of Leone. He was an action man with the populist touch. And he had a 50’s American Oater director streak in him. That means lots of fistfights, old school stunts and borderline slapstick humor. Pacing is paramount. The plot has more holes than a Swiss cheese factory but you’ll never notice since you’re having so much fun with the gang. Shit gets blown up, gold is found and lost and found again and men get shot and cannonaded through the air via multiple explosions by the shedload. But will Clyde come back alone?

    Connors is having the time of his life here. The character is practically a caricature but the actor relishes every hambone moment. The double and triple and quintuple crosses don’t faze our man a bit. The funnest parts of the film revolve around Clyde matching wits and fists with the duplicitous Frank Wolf’s Captain Lynch, who tags along on the mission to keep an eye on things. Wolff was a fine and reliable character actor who was often overshadowed in his films by flashier players, so it’s nice to see him get his best role here since THE GREAT SILENCE. As for the gang, most are forgettable stereotypes but the vicious Kid manages to make a lasting impression. Another interesting facet of the film is it’s use of accomplished underwater photography for certain key sequences. It’s one of the film’s few unique twists on the SW formula.

    Kill Them All And Come Back Alone - Blu-ray Review:

    Kino brings the film to HD with a rock solid 2.35.1 framed AVC 1080p encode which it applies to both cuts presented here. Differences in the two cuts (English and Italian) are minimal content-wise and the new 4K transfer looks great on both. This is a strong organic showing with nice depth and texture. Sweat (often hilariously over-spritzed on the actors) glistens, the Connors shark tooth smile gleams blindingly and the Spanish landscape (in truth KILL THEM ALL AND COME BACK ALONE was as much a Paella Western as a Spaghetti one) look wonderful. No digital image manipulation that I could spot either. Good job Kino.

    The Italian and English DTS-HD 2.0 tracks are steady presentations devoid of any dropouts or errors. The English track is preferable due to the retention of the unique Connors voice but dialog is clear and the sound field well mixed on both cuts. Aside from period recording limitations which hamper certain aspects like bottom end, this is a perfectly fine audio presentation. Optional English subtitles are provided as well.

    The only real extra of note is yet another superb Alex Cox audio commentary. Cox is an accomplished director (REPO MAN) in his own right and also an expert on the Spaghetti Western genre who has published an acclaimed book. I spent a fair amount of time singing the man’s praises on Kino’s highly recommended HELLBENDERS disc for this site previously but let me reiterate: the man knows this genre exceedingly well, has impeccable Italian pronunciation (no mean feat!) and genuine enthusiasm. His knowledge is impressive and this track has him in a pretty playful mood. Cox knows this one is no masterpiece but he has fun talking about Connors (“the man who acts with his teeth”), Castellari’s old-school ethos, the gorgeous Spanish locations and the many derivative elements of the film including the catchy but also somewhat forgettable score. This is a far less serious endeavor than his HELLBENDERS track but nevertheless an essential listen.

    The disc is rounded out with the usual theatrical trailer for the film and an ample selection of additional trailers for other titles in the Kino library.

    Kill Them All And Come Back Alone - The Final Word:

    KILL THEM ALL AND COME BACK ALONE won’t win any awards for originality and it has no message or subtext you’re likely to remember, but if you want a rip-roaring balls to the wall action extravaganza SW top lined by a charismatic long tall stick of deep fried tanned beef jerky you’re in luck. This is a damn fun flick and Kino’s presentation is top drawer. Two cuts, fantastic audio commentary and an AV job no one can quibble with. Recommended for fans of the genre and those looking for a good time Western and, of course, Chuck Connors fans.

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    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Andrew Monroe's Avatar
      Andrew Monroe -
      I'LL SELL MY SKIN DEARLY might give this a run for its money in the best title race.

      Nice review!