devistating battle in the American Civil War; Grayton, a Union Officer
kills the unarmed Confederate survivors and bursts into a farmhouse
where the wounded are being treated. Handing the gun to a young medic,
he orders him to kill a wounded soldier, but Grayton flees when he is
shot in the hand by one of the wounded men. Later the young medic,
known as the Sando Kid (Peter Lee Lawrence) is trained up by this
wounded man and joins the Army Rangers, patrolling the lawless
countryside. Becoming one of the best men in the force, he is sent to
his hometown of Springfield to deal with a group of bandits, lead by
Grayson, who are terrorising local people into selling their land so he
can sell it to the railroad...
Spaghetti Westerns in the 1970s were dominated by gimmicks (see Kung Fu Westerns) or slapstick comedy, but Raise Your Hands Dead Man
is a completely straight up and very familiar Western
story, remniscent of the classic American films. The first quarter
of the story provides almost a montage of Sando's development from a
shy medic, to a deadly Ranger - very quickly paced, it could have been
played out a lot longer but does help to give a background to the
character, and differentiates him from the typical Italian Western hero
who rides in from nowhere - making him a Ranger and a pure hero, not
the typical anti-hero Bounty Killer, only helps to confirm this
American Western atmosphere. Although the opening scenes set a very
grim tone to the film, it generally stays quite light with occasional
comedy moments - a few narrative jumps do confuse the plot slightly,
but it generally works well and the pacing is good, with frequent
action scenes, leading to an inevitable but well mounted climax.
Director Leon Klimovsky, best known for his Spanish horror films, is often rated as little more than a hack, but his work on Raise Your Hands Dead Man
is quite distinctive - almost the entire film is shot with hand-held
cameras, giving the action scenes a real sense of drama, and there is
some very effective editing throughout. Frequent genre composer
Alessandro Alessandroni provides an effective soundtrack.
baby faced and tragically short-lived Peter Lee Lawrence takes the lead
role here, and is perfect casting, needing to develop from boy into
man. Frequent genre star Aldo Sambrell plays Grayton very well, with
the attractive German actress, and frequent Spanish horror star Helga
Liné as his partner. Look out for another Paul Naschy co-star, Aurora
del Alba (Vengeance of the Zombies (1973)) as Leonor's mother, and Franco Agostini (The Case of the Bloody Iris
(1972)) as Brother Bamba. The otherwise unknown Espartaco Santoni and
the beautiful Maria Zanandrea play very well Dollar and Leonor,
and it is a pity they were not in much else.
Well written, directed and acted, Raise Your Hands Dead Man
is a surprisingly good film, from a time when the Spaghetti Westerns
were becoming stale and desperate. There are no real surprises in
store, and nothing that has not been done before in European or
American Westerns, but it all comes together well. Recommended to genre
fans, but not the best introduction for newcomers.
Lots of gunfights and fist fighting, some blood and bruises
A short sex scene, but no nudity.
Who is it for?
Spaghetti Western fans should enjoy this well made title.
Original Aspect Ratio - 1.78:1. Anamorphically Enhanced. Colour The
picture quality is strong with no print damage and only minimal grain. Note: the 1.78:1 ratio seems to be correct, there are no signs of cropping.
Original German and Italian mono tracks, both sound strong (the Italian dubbing and foley effects are noticably better) Note: The German track is missing in a few scenes that play in Italian.
German (translates the Italian). German 2 (for the missing scenes in the German track). English (translates the Italian).
The disc features:
Lengthy original Italian theatrical trailer. Spoiler filled. (4 min)
A short manually scrolling poster, lobby card and stills gallery