Synopsis: A young gunfighter plans to track down and eliminate the bandits who killed his family, and forms a tenuous alliance with an aging ex-outlaw to achieve this end.

Review: A young boy witnesses the rape and slaughter of his whole family, but is saved by a stranger, who’s face he never sees. The boy lives with the haunting memory of the faces and characteristics of the posse who killed his family, and he spends the next 15 years looking out for the evil men who made him an orphan. Now a young man, Bill (John Phillip Law) has perfected his quick draw, and by chance he runs into a stranger named Ryan (Lee Van Cleef), who is newly released from a 15-year stint in prison. Ryan has come to town to get some payback from the very same men who murdered Bill’s family. It seems that Ryan was framed by for the murders, and now he’s out to settle the score. When Bill senses that he and Ryan are more or less after the same thing, they hesitantly team up to wage war against the powerful bandits-turned-politicians and businessmen who’ve taken control over the area.

A solid spaghetti western with a very likable dynamic between the two central characters, Death Rides a Horse is satisfying in just about every way. Van Cleef and Law made a cool father/son-type pairing, and their performances (especially by Van Ceef) are rock solid. Director Giulio Petroni’s style isn’t as outlandish as Sergio Corbucci or Sergio Leone, but it’s very serviceable. Composer Ennio Morricone’s score is more subtle than garish here, and fans of the genre will find a lot to enjoy.

Kino Lorber’s new blu ray of Death Rides a Horse looks better than any previous home video release, including a nice MGM Region 2 DVD from over a decade ago. Featuring an audio commentary by filmmaker Alex Cox and the original theatrical trailer, the disc is a real treat.

About the Author

david j. moore

david j. moore is the author of World Gone Wild: A Survivor’s Guide to Post-Apocalyptic Movies and the upcoming book The Good, the Tough and the Deadly: Action Movies and Stars, coming April, 2016 from Schiffer Publishing.