Saturday
Apr212012

BULLETS, BROADS AND BELLYLAUGHS IN REMASTERED B-CLASSIC

Italo-western Comin' at Ya! was not forgotten by The Alamo Drafthouse, Austin's home of cult film oddities.

Cinema in the 3rd dimension has gotten all credible lately. Since Dreamwork’s honcho Jeffery Katzenberg got up in everyone’s face spruiking the fresh technology that would eliminate the cardboard glasses and that James Cameron joint with all the blue people hit big, suddenly ‘3D Cinema’ is attracting the likes of Scorsese, Spielberg, Wenders and Herzog.

Screw that! For most of us, 3D still remains a desperate, no-holds-barred tool of the B-movie producer; 3B, if you will. One purveyor of schlock who knew this was the late Ferdinando Baldi, the Italian-born director of two 3D works that lovers of spaghetti pulp-cinema adore – 1981’s arrows-in-your-face western Comin’ at Ya! and 1983’s Raiders... rip-off, Treasure of the Four Crowns (1983).

To counter the post-Oscar box-office doldrums of early 1982, Village Roadshow launched Comin’ at Ya! (“with 3-D viewers!”) with all their marketing might and Australian cinemagoers flocked to Baldi’s ultra-cheesy tale of Old West vengeance metered out through the barrel of a six-shooter. Described by HitFix.com as “... 3Dsploitation, pure and simple...” and “...the most aggressively 3D movie ever seen,” Comin at Ya! remains notable for kick-starting a brief 3D fad in the early 1980’s (Jaws 3-D; Amityville 3-D) and for one particularly unpleasant scene that affords viewers the thrill of seeing a baby’s full nappy in the glorious third dimension. Oh, and Pedro Almodovar’s some-time muse Victoria Abril plays love-interest Abilene.

The film’s star and producer, Tony Anthony, retained rights to Comin at Ya! and has dedicated the last several years to sourcing funds that have allowed him to oversee the restoration and 3D conversion of Baldi’s film. The passion project, done in collaboration with producer Tom Stern of Sternco 3D, came full circle when Comin’ at Ya! played to packed late-night audiences during the 2011 Fantastic Fest horror and fantasy film festival.

Though it was filmed for US$600,000 and paid for by maxed-out credit cards, Anthony has always been passionate about maintaining the integrity of the 3D process he and Baldi worked so hard to master. “At one point, I pulled the film off the market, because I was disgusted with the projection,” he told an Aint It Cool News correspondent after the Fantastic Fest screening. “So when 3D came back and was being seen in digital theatres...ah, well, now we were beginning to solve the problem...”  

Kindred spirit Evan Husney, director of upstart Texas-based cult-film distributor Drafthouse Films understands the allure of 3D’s origins better than anyone and acquired the Real 3D print of Comin’ at Ya!, which premiered at the company’s underground movie-going mecca, the Alamo, in downtown Austin on February 24. “Matching quintessential 80s-style 3D with cutting-edge contemporary technology is going to make for the ultimate 3D experience for movie-goers," Husney says, via a press statement.

No distribution arrangement is in place for screenings in Australia.

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