• The Wicked Die Slow (Scorpion Releasing) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Scorpion Releasing
    Released on: September 6th, 2019.
    Director: William K. Hennigar
    Cast: Gary Allen, Steve Rivard, Jeff Kanew, Susannah Campbell
    Year: 1968
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    The Wicked Die Slow – Movie Review:

    Directed by William K. Hennigar in 1968 and released by Cannon Films, The Wicked Die Slow has languished in obscurity for decades, never receiving a VHS or DVD release in its American homeland. Scorpion Releasing sets things right and brings this New Jersey-shot western obscurity to Blu-ray.

    The film tells the story of "The Kid" (Gary Allen), a lone cowboy who is in search of his brother Luke, who wound up getting “The Kid” into a bit of trouble. His goal is to produce the evidence that he has and to clear his name. On his travels, he meets a beautiful young woman (Susannah Campbell) who lives alone on a farm, after her father molested her and then committed suicide. Luke was involved for a while, showing up afterwards to deal with her father’s body and then further abuse the poor woman.

    Regardless, “The Kid” and the woman form a friendship of sorts and he’s allowed to use her farm as his base of operations, going on day trips throughout the area in search of his brother, soon getting some help from a Mexican dubbed Armadillo (Jeff Kanew). While out together looking for Luke one day, the woman is left alone and raped by a quartet of Native Americans, understandably upsetting “The Kid” who swears he’ll avenge what was done to her. Things get even more complicated when the pair shoots down some cowboy baddies who harass Armadillo and attempt to rape a woman named Yolanda, the daughter (Yolanda Signorelli) of an older Mexican man (Richard Palenske). Unfortunately for “The Kid” and Armadillo, the men were in the employ of Bart Lenoir (Steve Rivard), a powerful and influential man with a whole lot pent up anger who doesn’t take kindly to their interference.

    Clearly made on a modest budget in an attempt to cash in on the popularity of spaghetti westerns in the late sixties, The Wicked Die Slow starts off with a pretty lengthy prologue that might leave you scratching your head a bit. Once we get through that and the story proper starts moving, this turns out to be a pretty entertaining, and surprisingly sleazy, exploitation picture. It’s heavy on rape and has a fair bit of nudity in it, and it’s also quite violent and fairly bloody. Never mind that fact that much of it looks to have been shot on someone’s nicely kept back yard (pay attention to the grass in the movie – it looks freshly mowed!), that there are a few hard to miss anachronisms in terms of the fashions on display in the film and that the acting is uniformly bad across the board.

    The whole thing is clearly dubbed, which is an odd choice but does make it ‘feel’ more like one of the Italian western pictures it is so clearly influenced by. Production values are okay, again, the budget was low here so things aren’t perfect. Still, there’s some gritty ambition on display that you have to appreciate, even if the film frequently makes little sense. You’ve also got to appreciate the blatant rip off that the film includes, essentially remaking one of Leone’s most iconic sequences.

    The Wicked Die Slow – Blu-ray Review:

    Scorpion Releasing brings The Wicked Die Slow to Blu-ray on a 25GB disc in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed in the film’s original 2.35.1 aspect ratio taken from a new 2019 master and it looks excellent. The feature takes up 23GBs of space and has a nice, strong bit rate. The image shows excellent detail and color reproduction. There’s a tiny bit of print damage here and there but the image is mostly spotless, yet the natural film grain inherent in the elements is rightly preserved. There are no noticeable issues here with any edge enhancement, noise reduction or compression issues. All in all, the movie looks great!

    The only audio option for the feature is a 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track, in the film’s native English. Sound quality is just fine, no problems here. The track is properly balanced and crisp and clean sounding. There are no alternate language options or subtitles of any kind provided.

    The main extra on the disc is a new interview with actor Jeff Kanew (the same man who directed Revenge Of The Nerds and Eddie Macon’s Run) that runs sixteen-minutes. He speaks here about how he got his start in the business, co-writing the film as well as acting in it, where some of the story ideas came from, why they decided to shoot the film without sound and dub it in post-production and how when Cannon Films got ahold of the film they completely changed the opening of the picture.

    There’s no trailer for the feature here but there are bonus trailers for California Dreaming, Act Of Vengeance, 3:15, The Beast With 1,000,000 Eyes and Record City as well as menus and chapter selection options.

    The Wicked Die Slow – The Final Word:

    The Wicked Die Slow is far from a perfect film but those with an affection for gritty, sleazy westerns should appreciate the picture, warts and all. Scorpion Releasing has done a great job bringing this genuinely obscure western picture to Blu-ray in a very nice presentation and with a fun interview with Kanew as its main extra feature.

    Click on the images below for full-sized The Wicked Die Slow screen caps!