Blu-ray Review: Keoma (1976)

April 6, 2019

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Keoma (Franco Nero), a half-breed former Union gunfighter proves the old adage that you can’t go home again as he returns to the land of his youth to find the entire place stricken with a plague. As if that wasn’t bad enough, his racist AF half-brothers have teamed up with a real shit heel of a dude, the Confederate tyrant Caldwell (Donald O’Brian) and the lot of ’em keep the town strangled under an iron grip of terror. Soon our hero teams up with his father (William Berger) and aging mentor George (Woody Strode) to attempt to rid the town of those no-good sidewinders!

Coming near the end of the spaghetti western cycle, Enzo G. Castellari’s (1990: The Bronx WarriorsWarriors of the Wasteland) Keoma is stylish, loaded with over-the-top violence, and surprising levels of soul searching from our stoic, sharp-shootin’ hero.

And while the basics of the story…ultra-serious gunfighter blows into town and has to protect the people from a gang of evil bastards…are Western 101, Keoma presents the material with some truly off-beat and surreal flourishes including flashbacks that play out as dreams in the middle of sequences playing out in the story’s present, the presence of an aged witch (Gabriella Giacobbe) that advises Keoma and gives the proceedings a Shakespearean flavor (as does our hero’s relationship with his brothers), and a sound track (courtesy of Guido and Maurizio De Angelis) so absolutely fucking bananas your brain may well refuse to process what fills your eerie earholes!

Additionally there’s a rich sense of religious allegory (Keoma bares more than a passing resemblance to Jesus, and is even crucified and “resurrected”) that gives the entire a story a sense of epic neo-mythology.

As for extras to accompany the feature, Arrow Video have included an impressive array of bonus content! First up we get both the English and Italian language versions of the film, and an audio commentary featuring spaghetti western experts C. Courtney Joyner and Henry C. Parke. This is an energetic and illuminating listen that brings details of not only the production at hand, but the spaghetti western genre itself to light.

Following that comes all new interviews with Nero, Castellari, Screenwriter (and legendary genre actor) George Eastman, editor Gianfranco Amicucci, and Actors Massimo Vanni and Volfango Soldati, as well as a fascinating video appreciation of Keoma and the end of the spaghetti western biz (as well as the tropes of Castellari’s cinematic oeuvre) by the academic Austin Fisher, and an archival introduction to the film by filmmaker Alex Cox (Repo Man, Sid and Nancy).

Bringing up the rear we get two trailers for the film, and a handful of stills galleries comprised of promotional material.

Keoma is epic, surreal, and beautiful…and one of the greatest of the spaghetti westerns. This one comes highly recommended boils n’ ghouls, and with the hours of special features included on this release there’s no better way to go!




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