Dec 15, 2014

Theatrical Review: Comin' At Ya! (1981) in 3D

Comin' At Ya is 3D for the sake of 3D. With guns, snakes, fists, even a bare baby bottom hurtling at you. It was the first film in a short-lived 3D revival in the early eighties, and successful enough that its makers explored the format again with Treasure of the Four Crowns in 1983.

When I was offered the opportunity to check out a screening of the new 4K restoration, which had been converted to Real 3D Technology, I was curious, because I realized I'd never seen a 3D film in a theater. It was an interesting introduction to the format, to say the least.

The title has nothing to do with the plot of the movie, and only refers to all the things flying at you with steady regularity. It's a spaghetti western, complete with sweaty, hideous villains, a strong, soft-spoken hero and an operatic female singing "ooh-oohs" over a dramatic Ennio Morricone-inspired score. The unusually-named Tony Anthony stars as H.H. Hart, a bank robber on the search for his wife and partner in crime Abilene (Pedro Almodóvar regular Victoria Abril in an early role), after her abduction by greasy bandits, who plan to sell her into white slavery.

Hart's attempts to rescue Abilene and dozens of other kidnapped women make up the bulk of the film. which probably would run about 30 minutes without the long drawn out scenes, frequent use of slow motion and, of course, all those things lunging at the screen.

It often was silly, and I did hear a lot of laughs in the theater. However, I was startled by the brutal nature of the film. I have a hard time laughing about attempted rape, women being abused and sold into prostitution, and a man being eaten alive by rats. Watching Abril spend most of her screen time being beaten, dragged behind a horse and attacked by bats was not fun either.

Anthony is good as the hero though, and it's a surprisingly decent western, despite being full of clichés and weirdly-paced dialogue, and a lot more devoted to being a straight genre flick than I expected. It made all of the random 3D moments all the more bizarre. I mean, sometimes they'd come in a barrage: coins, beans, a yo-yo, just all sorts of things popping out at you.

Other times, there'd be an extended shot, as with a death scene where an Indian is impaled with a pitchfork and the wooden handle keeps plunging towards the audience. That moment inspired my seatmate to whisper to me that she hoped there wouldn't be any full frontal male nudity.

That said, I did laugh a lot at this movie, and so did the audience. It's being marketed as a wild experience for stoners, and I think if I'd seen it with that kind of crowd, watching it would have been a lot different. As it was, I was with a mellow group on a Sunday night, and no one seemed baked, fried or even a little drunk.

In fact, while it was a long hour-and-a-half as I saw it, I'd be up for watching it again with a wild crowd. At least now I know what I'm in for.

Many thanks to Sara Huey Publicity & Promotions, LLC for providing tickets to the film.

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