Comin' At Ya! (1981)

Rating: **
Review Date: 6/13/16
Cast: Tony Anthony, Victoria Abril, Gene Quintano

"We ain't gonna fight 'em. We're gonna kill 'em."

When it comes to 3D movies, the first one that pops into my head is "Comin' At Ya!", a gratuitously gimmicky film that launched a brief 3D revival in the early 1980s. It's a simple tale of revenge, as a gunslinger named Hart (Tony Anthony) goes after the men who kidnapped his wife (Victoria Abril) and left him for dead. However, the story is just a crude excuse to stage a collection of classic 3D tricks, like bullets, spears, arrows, torches, bats, rats, and snakes being hurled at the audience just to make them jerk around in their seats.

The film is so shamelessly exploitive, graphically violent, and laughably inept that you can't help but admire its shear audacity. There's preciously little dialog, and the majority of the film is driven by slow motion action shots and some admittedly beautiful scenery. Tony Anthony is a rough and rugged hero, while the bad guys are your standard assortment of mean and nasty cowboys, Indians, and Mexicans led by a ruthless ex-Confederate soldier played by Gene Quintano. Victoria Abril is lovely throughout, and bears a striking resemblance to Susanna Hoffs. It's a very rough and physical film, and she sees a fair amount of abuse, which can be difficult to watch at times.

I vividly remember seeing the film in the theater when it came out, and some of the imagery is just as clear in my mind now as it was back then. However, watching it on DVD thirty years later, some parts of it seem completely alien to me. In particular, I have no recollection of the film switching to black and white so often, nor do I recall the strange compositions of isolated and enhanced color elements. There are several trippy moments where a scene would be in color, but one character is in black and white, which I found extremely disturbing. I can't imagine the film being shot or shown like this originally, and my best guess is that maybe these were the best elements that were available to the team that did the DVD restoration. That still doesn't add up, though. Maybe it was just some wacky art direction and an experimental visual effect technique that was popular at the time, and I just happened to remember it differently. It's hard to know for sure, as time has the tendency to take unusual experiences and twist them around in your head. As awful as it is, "Comin' At Ya!" is a fascinating piece of cult exploitation cinema that B-movie aficionados will certainly get a kick out of.