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Paolo Bianchini
Craig Hill, Christina Businari, José Manuel Martín
Writing Credits:
Carlos Sarabia

Former Confederate soldier Clayton attempts to avenge the murder of his sister.

Rated NR.


Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Italian LPCM Monaural
English LPCM Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 87 min.
Price: $99.95
Release Date: 12/19/23
Available as Part of “Savage Guns” Four-Film Collection

• Audio Commentary with Critics Adrian J. Smith and David Smith
• “Dead or Alive” Featurette
• “The Man Who Hated Violence” Featurette
• “Cut and Shoot” Featurette
• “Nico Unchained” Featurette
• Trailer
• Image Gallery


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I Want Him Dead [Blu-Ray] (1968)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 26, 2023)

No one can excuse those who titled 1968’s I Want Him Dead of subtlety. With a moniker like that, one anticipates what the Spaghetti Western delivers: a violent tale of revenge.

Set near the end of the US Civil War, former Confederate soldier Clayton (Craig Hill) comes to a town along with his sister Mercedes Mercedes (Cristina Businari). When he leaves her in a saloon for a brief period, he returns to find her raped and murdered.

Unsurprisingly, this upsets Clayton. He sets off on a mission to take down those involved with the brutal event, an errand that ultimately threatens peace talks between the North and South.

While the movie’s basic plot implies a direct mission of vengeance, that last sentence hints at a broader scope. Whereas I expected the movie to simply put Clayton in basic Find and Kill Mode, the involvement of the ways this impacts the progress of the Civil War creates intrigue.

And that aspect of the story also seemed timely in 1968. Dead essentially indicates that the Military-Industrial Complex wanted to prolong the Civil War and intended to use any means necessary to do so.

Shot smack-dab in the middle of the Vietnam War, this theme theoretically reflects its era. However, Dead doesn’t explore the topic especially well and doesn’t appear to create a real analogy with then-current events.

Although I like the concept of the Civil War complications as part of the film’s plot, Dead really doesn’t explore those domains well. These areas feel like window-dressing without much true purpose in the larger picture.

Indeed, Dead can feel like two separate movies that got awkwardly edited together. While much of the film follows Clayton’s basic attempt at revenge, the conspiracies pop up at times as well.

Sure, the two sides connect eventually, but the end result still lacks real cohesion. As much as I respect the filmmakers’ attempts to add depth to the tale, the final product fails to deliver much meaning.

Nonetheless, Dead offers enough of a violent vengeance story to keep us with it. Hill’s Clayton fails to bring us a novel take on the stolid Western hero, but he still acts as a strong enough archetype to engage us.

Clayton’s mission remains fairly focused despite occasional diversions, such as the nearly inevitable involvement of a potential love interest. Tacked on as those scenes can feel, they don’t bog down the movie too much, and they add a bit of emotional investment as well.

To some degree, Dead disappoints because it fails to live up to its ambitions. Still, it turns into a reasonably engaging Western so it does enough to succeed for genre fans.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

I Want Him Dead appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The film came with a shockingly strong image.

Overall sharpness worked fine. Some soft shots emerged – mainly due to the original photography – but the film usually looked detailed and concise.

I witnessed no issues with jaggies or shimmering, and I saw no edge haloes. Grain felt light and natural, and no source flaws appeared, though gate debris crept in at times.

Unsurprisingly, the film’s palette leaned toward a sandy tone, with a smattering of more vibrant hues. These worked fine and reproduced the source well.

Blacks felt deep and rich, while shadows appeared smooth and clear. Outside of the occasional soft shot and some debris, this became a terrific presentation.

Whether one chooses the included Italian or English soundtracks, one will inevitably find looped dialogue. As often occurred with these Spaghetti Westerns, the actors spoke their native languages, so expect the lines to only sporadically match mouth movements.

Both LPCM monaural mixes offered similar quality. While the dubbed speech betrayed its studio roots, the lines nonetheless remained perfectly intelligible and lacked edginess, even if they never felt natural.

The same went for effects, as those elements all became generated in a recording studio. These components showed acceptable accuracy and failed to present prominent distortion.

Music followed suit, as the score offered adequate range but never came across as particularly dynamic. Given the audio’s age and origins, the soundtracks worked fine.

As we shift to extras, we open with an audio commentary from film critics Adrian J. Smith and David Smith. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story and characters, cast and crew, genre domains, production notes and their thoughts about the film.

That means we end up with a largely interesting chat. I’d like more specifics about the movie’s actual shoot/creation, but we still find enough useful material to keep us with the conversation.

Four featurettes follow, and Dead or Alive runs 12 minutes, 42 seconds. It brings an introduction to the film from journalist/critic Fabio Melelli.

This reel covers some background for Dead as well as cast/crew, his thoughts about the film and some production notes. I don’t get why the disc regards this as an “introduction” since it tells us so much about the movie, but it seems informative nonetheless.

The Man Who Hated Violence goes for 30 minutes, 17 seconds. It delivers a 2023 interview with director Paolo Bianchini.

Here the filmmaker discusses aspects of his overall career as well as specifics about Dead. Bianchini offers a nice array of memories.

Next comes the 17-minute, 32-second Cut and Shoot. Also shot in 2023, it delivers an interview with editor Eugenio Alabiso.

The program examines his work in films and details connected to Dead. Expect another engaging piece.

Nico Unchained presents a 21-minute reel. It brings an archival chat with composer Nico Fidenco.

Unsurprisingly, this one follows the template set by the prior two featurettes, so it provides general career thoughts plus Dead-related material. It also becomes a good chat.

In addition to the film’s English trailer, we finish with an Image Gallery. It shows 26 advertising elements, most interesting because they indicate that like 8000 other late 1960s Westerns, the German release attached the Django name despite the fact Dead had nothing to do with that film.

A bit more ambitious than most Spaghetti Westerns, I Want Him Dead does not quite live up to its potential. Still, it becomes a reasonably evocative revenge tale. The Blu-ray brings solid visuals as well as decent audio and a mix of bonus features. Dead ends up as a fairly engaging Western.

Note that I Want Him Dead comes only as part of a four-film collection called “Savage Guns”. This set also includes fellow Westerns El Puro, Wrath of the Wind and Four of the Apocalypse.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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