The 3D format, which in the last decade has become a rather commonplace option for moviegoers (particularly when it comes to films of the comic book and science-fiction variety) was initially popularized in the mid-1950s as a ploy by Hollywood filmmakers to combat the rising popularity of television and its potential threat on box-office takings.
While the initial 3D fad died off rather quickly, it made a brief return in the early-1980s, as a ploy to combat another threat to cinema attendance in the emerging home video market. The 3D craze from this period was especially popular with the third film in horror movie franchises, with Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982), Jaws 3 (1983) and Amityville 3 (1983) all being released in the process, along with a number of other genre films like Parasite (1982) and Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn (1983).
First released in July 1981, Comin at Ya! Is widely considered to be the film that sparked off the 80’s 3D revival. A Spanish-American co-production directed by Ferdinando Baldi, it was both an unlikely and unexpected success, with a number of cinemas having to pull the film during its initial run because they kept running out of 3D glasses to hand out to ticket buyers. Essentially a pastiche of the Italian spaghetti westerns which had been popular in the 1960s (in particular, the ones which Sergio Leone made with American stars like Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Henry Fonda and Charles Bronson), the plot of Comin at Ya! tells the simple tale of gunslinger H.H. Hart (Tony Anthony) who teams up with a preacher to rescue his wife from a prostitution ring, and seek vengeance on the two wicked brothers who kidnapped her on their wedding day.
But as enjoyable as it is within its basic context, plot isn’t what this film is about. Rather it serves as a primer for all the 3D gimmicks which the filmmakers could dream up and pull off at the time, and in that regard Comin at Ya! serves as the ultimate demo reel for old-school 3D effects, as everything from rubber bats, snakes, boobs, spears, hot pokers, gold coins, gun barrels and even a bare baby’s bum come at the camera in a startlingly effective manner, thanks to the mostly superb remastering job done on this 4K Blu-ray release from MVD Visual, which includes both the 3D and 2D prints (in a 2.55:1 aspect ratio) as well as a 5.1 surround sound mix and a couple of newly put together promo trailers.
Some purists won’t be happy that the film’s colour and visual style has been tampered with slightly by the crew responsible for the remastering (3D Noir), who decided to convert some flashback moments to black & white, and the end credit sequence is not the original. But despite this, and indeed even when viewed flat, Comin at Ya! is a strange and surreal, and occasionally beautifully photographed film, which in some respects can be looked upon as the movie which both signaled the final end of the spaghetti western* and the birth of modern 3D cinema.
* Comin at Ya! contained a strong heritage to the classic era of the spaghetti western. Director Ferdinando Baldi helmed titles such as Texas, Adios (1966) and Django, Prepare a Coffin (1968), while star Tony Anthony (who also produced Comin’ at Ya! and wrote the original story) played a character known only as ‘The Stranger’ in the Italian westerns A Stranger in Town (aka For a Dollar in the Teeth, 1967), The Stranger Returns (1967) and The Silent Stranger (aka The Horseman and the Samurai, 1968).