Comin’ at Ya!

tn_cominatyaSometimes something you never thought would happen happens, and you can hardly believe it. For example when they finally freed Mandela, or a couple days ago when Obama announced he was normalizing relations with Cuba, or in this case when they re-released the legendary 1981 3D movie COMIN’ AT YA! in modern digitally projected 3D.

This is a very limited release I’m afraid, I doubt it’ll come to too many of your cities, if any, and I know most of you are like me and don’t have a 3D TV if it ever comes to that. But if you like seeing things poke out of a screen then definitely check and see if it’s possible to catch this one. It’s a treasure.

The title COMIN’ AT YA! is not a lie. Especially the exclamation point. The stereoscopic mission statement of this movie is in extreme opposition to the modern conventional wisdom that it’s bad for 3D to have gimmicks and things reaching out at you. The philosophy here is to stick knives in both eyes of the modern limp 3D and then pull them out and then jab them in and repeat and repeat and repeat. To date I think my favorite 3D experiences have been FRIDAY THE 13TH 3D and the three Robert Zemeckis mocap movies. Even compared to those, this is by far the 3Dest movie I’ve ever seen.

mp_cominatyaIt’s a spaghetti western, so you’ll find many, many guns pointing at you and firing at you. You’ll have knives stabbing toward you. You’ll have hands reaching to grab your face. A whip, a lasso. Creatures that come at ya include a couple different snakes, some rabbits, turkeys, a crow, a vulture, a swarm of fake bats, a mob of wet rats, a scorpion. No spiders, thankfully. There’s alot of camera-on-the-ground-looking-up as things are poured on it: gold coins, water, various grains and legumes. There’s alot of smoke, some dust clouds, some splashing water, some fire. Like FRIDAY THE 13TH 3D there’s a yoyo gag. For me the most cringe-inducing gimmick is a woman cleaning her baby and shoving baby ass right at the audience. (If this was American the baby would definitely pee.)

I heard somebody gasp during the rat scene. One of the villains is tied up and has real rats crawling all over him and supposedly biting him. One crawls up a stick pointing toward his face, and by extension into ours. When he’s rescued the rats all come at us again as his savior pulls them off him one by one and swings them back in our faces.

I believe I’ve seen this referred to as a “spoof” before, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s not that at all, it’s a straight spaghetti western. I think it’s knowingly over-the-top in its stereoscopic gimmickry, but there’s not jokes or winks. I guess it probly seemed goofier because for decades it’s only been available on flat home video, where every obvious 3D gimmick is even funnier.

The story is pretty classical: This guy Hart (Tony Anthony)’s wife Abilene (Victoria Abril, 101 REYKJAVIK) was kidnapped by rapey bandit brothers, he tracks them, rescues her, gets his revenge on the motherfuckers. The guys who did it are true sleazeballs. The fatter, hairier one he finds in bed slobbering on a beautiful, very young and unwilling girl (the mother of the aforementioned three dimensional baby). Hart’s wife is still alive, forced into sex slavery. When he gets to her she’s being groped by two men in the middle of a giant feast/sex slave auction. One of the heartless 1% bidders (a woman, even) quibbles about Abilene’s cash value and is skeptical about her alleged virginity.

If you’re gonna put in the elbow grease to use real 3D cameras, especially back when you had to do it on film, obviously you’re not lazy, you’re gonna do an elaborate production. So this is an especially detailed western, lots of big artful sets, lots of extras and props, and nice visual storytelling, long stretches with zero dialogue. When there’s a scene in a dungeon full of sex slaves, it is a dungeon full of sex slaves. Like, a pretty sizable dungeon, with multiple levels, and nowhere to stand because there are women laying everywhere. Surely this is not just a violation of human rights, but also of the fire code. It’s shown to be a genuine workplace danger, because when bats fly in and they get scared at least one of them falls to her death. (In 3D.)

Anthony makes for a kinda funny western anti-hero. He looks more like Dustin Hoffman than Eastwood or Bronson, but he has the right attitude to pull off the cold-blooded avenger badass character. He was in alot of movies from this director, Ferdinando Baldi, but he wasn’t just an actor. He produced and provided the story on this, which he also did for Baldi’s other 3D extravaganza TREASURE OF THE FOUR CROWNS (1983). Gene Quintano, who played Pike (the fat one? I’m not sure), also produced and co-starred in both movies.

Too often in the modern age I go to see a 3D movie and at the beginning it looks cool and then before long I forget it’s 3D, and if I remember sometimes I have a hard time being sure whether it’s still three dimensional or not. I assure you that does not ever happen in COMIN’ AT YA!. Even aside from the gags it’s just so full of depth and dimension. Many shots are composed with things in the foreground: grass, rocks, a column. I don’t know if it’s the way it was shot or the way it was restored, but somehow the world of the movie seems hyper-dimensional. In the scene where Hart first talks to his bagpipe-playing, wagon-driving sidekick I couldn’t stop staring at the guy’s cartoonishly pointy nose poking out at us. Amazing.

It’s actually such intense 3D that your eyes have to do alot of work, and I could feel it right away during the opening credits. Don’t be intimidated, though. You’ll adjust. I believe in you. You can do it. If you ever get the chance. I don’t know if this helps anybody, but that “tugg” thing where if you get together enough people you can host your own screening at participating theaters, that’s one potential way to get to see this.

As a fan of 3D this is a real treat. Despite the advancements in technology that make 3D much easier to shoot and to release (and even possible to have on home video), very few filmatists have any respect for it as a medium or even as a novelty, so this opportunity has been mostly wasted and audiences have been burned enough that its popularity, at least in the United States, has died off. One rare believer is the aforementioned Zemeckis, whose upcoming THE WALK (about the MAN ON WIRE story of tightrope walking between the World Trade Center towers) seems to be a live action version of his mo-cap approach to a 3D showcase. So I look forward to that one.

Anyway, I hope somehow COMIN’ AT YA! will be profitable, because we need remastered re-releases of vintage 3D movies. It was great to see DIAL M FOR MURDER and now this. Still on my wish list: JAWS 3-D. Also, how ’bout putting a 3D Popeye cartoon on one of these bastards? Let’s go all out, people. Let’s do this. YES WE CAN!





This entry was posted on Friday, December 19th, 2014 at 5:06 pm and is filed under Reviews, Western. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

20 Responses to “Comin’ at Ya!”

  1. First I’ve heard of it and I’ve already missed its New York engagement.


  2. Boy, it really is amazing that we live in a time where COMIN’ AT YA! can get re-released.

    By the way, from the sound of things it seems to be an R rated movie, are there any 3D tits?

  3. I remember the tv ads for this one when I was a kid, but never did see it. For some reason I thought it was a 3D horror film, so I’m surprised to learn it’s a spaghetti western. Around the time this came out, my uncle took me and my cousin to an old retro cinema to see a 3D double, IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE and THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. They gave us the old cardboard glasses with the green and red lenses. I enjoyed the experience more than the actual films deserved.

  4. I worship CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. If I were to ever see it in 3D, I’ll probably start drooling. Oh, Julie Adams…

    And boy, what I wouldn’t give to see FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 in 3D. It’s been my dream to see that popping eyeball the way it was meant to be seen.

    By the way, what’s the state of 3D these days? It has obviously lasted much longer this time around, certainly more than it did in the 50’s and 80’s, but will it stay? I enjoy it on occasion, but would never want it to become the standard. Also, I have zero interest in 3D at home and will probably never buy a 3D Blu-ray or anything.

    I watched THE HOBBIT: THANK FUCK IT’S OVER a week ago and, say what you will, the high frame rate does do wonders for the 3D experience. Again, I’d never want HFR to become the standard, but it actually makes me look forward to those AVATAR sequels.

  5. Did I ever tell you about my dreams of making a super offensive NC-17 3D IMAX sex comedy? Actually I got no idea what the plot should be, but the opening credits would have a super hairy ass, which then turns around and whips a huge schlong right in the audience’s face! In IMAX 3D!

  6. I´d buy that for a dollar.

  7. MuppetVision 3D at Disney is the best use of 3D ever. Granted, the print could use a digital scrub these days but the jokes never get old and the 3D gags are great.

    Philharmagic is sentimental and awesome too and has even better 4D in theatre effects but gotta love those Muppets and Fozzir throwing pies out of the screen and shit.

  8. Vern, I highly recommend checking out Blindman from the same director and star. Lots of action, nudity, and Ringo Starr as a Mexican bandit!

  9. Strangely enough, one of the best 3D experiences I’ve had was watching the 3D rerelease of Jurassic Park. Just something as simple as the jungle foliage looked cool in 3D. But it has been funny to hear directors talk about using 3D subtly, as if their films would become declasse if they actually had things jump out of the screen in a 3D movie.

  10. It’s a weird creative instinct. When color films first came out, were directors like “I don’t want it to be a gimmick, so we’re using color subtly, just in a few key shots.” No, they made that shit as bold and bright as they possibly could to take advantage of their new toolkit. But then again, so much of modern cinema seems to be about taking the things that are fun and exciting about filmmaking (eye-popping color, confident camerawork, propulsive editing, well choreographed stunts, memorable scores) and dulling them down (desaturated color, shakycam, choppy editing, fix-it-in-post CGI action, unmemorable soundtracks consisting of almost subliminal drones and throbs) in a misguided bid for respectability. After all, if something is too obviously awesome, it must be kind of stupid, right?

  11. I’m not always a fan of objects flying into the lens, especially CG ones. Whenever there’s a CG plane or spaceship in a movie, there’s always some shot where they have it rocketing straight at us, as if to say “You can’t do that in real life!”. It drives me kinda nuts and I’m not sure why. I guess I find it unrelatable, in a sense. When I look at a train in real life, it’s not from the point of view of the rails that it’s about to run over.

    But then again, I realize that finding unique and unconventional point-of-views is what makes cinema so great. I think maybe I get annoyed with it when it’s unjustified and overused to the point of zero impact.

    So I can completely understand why many filmmakers would shy away from 3D gimmickry. Restraint is, after all, one of the qualities I appreciate most in a filmmaker. Some of those visual “ka-pows” just seem kinda lame when you see it again years later on a normal screen, and I think that many of the more serious filmmakers are more interested in making films that stand the test of time (I bet Fincher regrets that shot of the camera flying through the handle of the coffee mug in PANIC ROOM today).

    That said, I sure am happy that there are people out there who couldn’t give a shit about being classy and embrace the true nature and purpose of 3D, i.e. making shit fly at us. I’m actually annoyed that Robert “fuck restraint” Rodriguez hasn’t embraced 3D to the insane degree that I thought he would. He’s actually of the perfect guy for that kinda thing. Maybe he should remake COMIN’ AT YA!

  12. PANIC ROOM takes my #1 spot of the most useless and random use for visual FX. More specific: The virtual camera move to the light bulb in the flashlight, suggesting that there will something super interesting happen with it, but then NOTHING happens!

  13. I was fortunate enough to see House of Wax (Vincent Price version) in 3D on a digital print at a film festival this year. I’d seen the film on DVD before but wasn’t terribly impressed by it (Witchfinder General and Theatre of Blood are Vinny P. classics, less so House of Wax, despite the presence of a young and scary looking Charles Bronson), seeing it in a theater, and in all likelihood seeing it in a better projection then audiences did in 53′ was such a treat.

    Rolls of fog came off the screen, melting statues stood in front of walls of flame, even the performances seemed better, framed more like actors on a stage instead of on a screen. Being in a packed house with an appreciative audience certainly helped, but seeing the film as it was always meant to be really was the X factor. Its still no masterpiece, but I now understand better why the general public made House of Wax the biggest hit of its year, it was just fun as hell.

  14. I saw a non-digital revival of HOUSE OF WAX in 3D back in 2000 (along with a 3D Bugs Bunny cartoon) and it’s still one of the three best 3D experiences I’ve ever had. For some reason, old school 3D seems to come further out of the screen than new school 3D, which tends to look more like a diorama than something that’s comin’ at ya.

  15. Fuuuuuuck please bring this out on 3d Blu-Ray, please please please.

  16. Yeah, I saw HOUSE OF WAX years ago, that’s a good one. I didn’t know they did a revival of that. I hope it comes around my way.

  17. Reading this review makes me wish I hadn’t missed it when the Alamo Drafthouse rolled it out in 2012. I hope they bring it back. My only two 3D experiences was CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON in anaglyph 3D(red/blue glasses) and the Imax 3D FLYING SWORDS OF DRAGON GATE. Both were kind of fun but a chore since I have to wear the 3D glasses over my prescription eyewear.

  18. I think CREATURE had a monochromatic version of it too when it was originally released, so I’d be surprised if they don’t remaster that (or maybe they already have). My problem with FLYING SWORDS was my eyes getting whiplash from trying to read the subtitles in the foreground and then watching the action on other planes. I had to just stop reading them after a while. It looked really cool, though.

  19. I can attest that the 3D bluray of CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON looks gorgeous.

  20. This is one of those movies I never heard of, but I stumbled upon this review a while back and filed a mental note to catch it when possible. The fates often put movies in my path shortly after reading a Vern review. Now I’m the proud owner of COMIN’ AT YA! on Blu-Ray! But we couldn’t get it to work on my friend’s Xbox, so we ended up watching it on Tubi. (I don’t know anyone with a 3D TV, so only caught it in 2D. Maybe one day I’ll be able to watch my handful of 3D movies.)

    Anyway, I dug this. The story isn’t exactly great, though I see echoes years later in things like Fury Road or Kill Bill (this seems like the kinda thing Tarantino would own a film canister of). There’s a moment about 30 minutes in when the protagonist could just end the movie by killing the bad guys, but instead he extends the plot and brings misfortune down upon everyone around him. The use of the 3D gimmick is excellent– no point in using 3D if you’re not flinging shit at the audience. I thought the use of black and white or spot color was sort of brilliant, especially this many years before Schindler or Sin City. Also, our lead actor kinda looks like Burt Young, if Paulie actually trained alongside Rocky.

    I also just read that TREASURE OF THE FOUR CROWNS is set to come out on 3D Blu-Ray this year, so I’ll be interested in tracking that down too.

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