Requiescant opens with a scene in Mexico in which a young boy witnesses the massacre of his family and pretty much everyone else he knows at the hands of a villainous man named George Ferguson (Mark Damon). He killed these people because he wanted their land and the boy is the only survivor. The boy is found alone and out in the wild by a travelling preacher named Juan (Pier Paolo Pasolini) and his sister. They decide to take him in and raise him as their own.
Years go by and the boy grows into a man, now nicknamed Requiescant (Lou Castel), and grows quite close to the preacher's niece, Princy (Barbara Frey). When she winds up running away with a travelling theater troupe, he decides he'll head out to find her and hopefully bring her back. Though he is naïve, he's handy with a pistol… and he's also a priest. Not surprisingly, given how westerns tend to play out, our hero winds up running into Ferguson and his men in San Antonio. They've forced Princy into working in a whorehouse that they operate. When he finds this out, the memories of his past come rushing back to him and he sets out for cold, bloody revenge…
There's a lot that stands out about this movie, also known as Kill And Pray, not the least of which is Requiescant's very look. Castel isn't the tough, weathered, handsome but serious macho man that the likes of Clint Eastwood, Franco Nero or Anthony Steffan played in movies like this but rather a young looking, almost boyish type. He doesn't look like a gunslinger and the fact that he wears a rope instead of a belt for his holster, combined with his dress and his preacher's hat, pretty much confirm that we're not supposed to look at him that way, at least not at first. And it works. Castel is really good here. He's an unlikely looking hero but he plays the part very well and it's interesting to see a different take on the typical Spaghetti Western anti-hero done the way that it's done in this picture.
As to the rest of the cast? Casting none other than Pier Paolo Pasolini as the ‘father figure' in the film is an interesting choice. The film displays some obvious left leaning politics, typical of the genre at this time and somewhat reflective of Italy's own political climate in the era in which a lot of these films were made, so putting a controversial filmmaker like Pasolini in the role of a more conservative figure like a Catholic priest makes sense in an absurdist sort of way. He's also pretty good in the part. Mark Damon makes a damn fine bad guy, he's despicable in the way that great bad guys should be but at the same time he's got his own snake-like charm going on. Great screen presence and the right ‘look' for the part don't hurt either. Barbara Frey isn't given as much to do as her male co-stars but she looks good and is perfectly fine in the part.
The movie is nicely shot with plenty of style. There are plenty of excellent camera angles used throughout the movie, the kind that help to build tension and atmosphere while simultaneously just plain looking cool. The style Leone established in his trend-setting films is carried over here, though not really ripped off per se. The influence is clear, however. Adding to all of this is an impressive score from Riz Ortolani. Probably best known for scoring the controversial Cannibal Holoaust he also did quite a few Spaghetti scores, this one obviously but also the great Day Of Anger. The movie is well paced, slick and tense. This is grand entertainment but so too is it bizarre enough at times to stand out. It hits the right balance of action and grit but also offers up plenty of artsy ideas and concepts. Great stuff.The Blu-ray:
Requiescant arrives on Blu-ray in a brand new restoration of the original 35mm camera negative and it obliterates the previous Wild East DVD release (which was done under the alternate title of Kill And Pray. Framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and presented in 1080p high definition, colors are bright, bold and vivid without looking artificially boosted while black levels are solid and deep. Flesh tones look lifelike and accurate and the image is very clean, showing only a natural amount of film grain and some minor white specks here and there. Compression artifacts don't creep into the image at all and there are no obvious instances of heavy noise reduction or edge enhancement to note. This is a very clean, colorful and wonderfully detailed.Audio:
Audio options are provided for the feature in both Italian and English LPCM Mono with optional subtitles in English only. Both tracks sound good. They're each very clean, clear, nicely balanced and have good depth, particularly when it comes to the score. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion to note. Things sound just fine here.Extras:
The main extra on the disc is an all-new interview with Lou Castel, recorded exclusively for this release that runs fourteen minutes. Castel speaks about the film's political leanings and his thoughts on them, his take on the character and tactics as an actor, and what it was like working with Lizzani as a director. He also touches on his work with Pasolini here as well. Additionally, Arrow have provided an archival interview with director Carlo Lizzani that clocks in at just short of twenty-eight minutes in length. This is also quite interesting as here the director talks about tactics used to get around Italian censors at the time the Spaghetti Western boom was going on, his thoughts on the effectiveness of what he was trying to communicate with this feature, the genius of Ortolani's compositions, the cast and crew that he worked with on the picture and more.
Outside of that, we get a theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection. The disc comes packaged in a clear Blu-ray case that features some nice reversible cover art. Tucked inside the case with the disc is an insert booklet containing an essay on the film from Pasquale Iannone accompanied by cast and crew information for the feature and credits for the Blu-ray release itself.Final Thoughts:
Requiescant may not be as well-known as some of the more popular Spaghetti Westerns but it's just as good as many of them. Lizzani's direction is top notch, the performances are effectively gritty and Ortolani's score is fantastic. On top of that, the story is both exciting and fairly unique in the annals of the genre. Arrow's Blu-ray looks and sounds good and contains some decent extras too. Highly recommended.