“Brimstone” a Story as Hot as an Inferno


Being able to deliver a good western isn’t easy, especially when most of the plots have already been brought to the screen. But, writer/director Martin Koolhoven takes a shot at turning the old west into a thriller that boggles the mind with its twists, turns and surprises and it works big time. His Brimstone stacks up against the best including Quinton Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant. Read more

“The Magnificent Seven” a Rip Snorter Western



Hitch up your “hoss” to the nearest tie post, take your saddle into the nearest movie house and treat yourself to a hum dinger of a good time with The Magnificent Seven. It’s not the old 1960 rerun, but a spanking new show with memories of the original. Branded with Antoine Fuqua direction this wild west ditty has some mighty woop ass scenes that can rival the likes of Tombstone and Silverado. Read more

Diablo, a Psychological Thriller Set in the West



Taking a bite out of the West, Diablo tells a tale of kidnapping and killers. The theme may be familiar, but this psychological thriller works some nice magic for those who like a compelling film with some questionable motives. The direction, acting and cinematography are good considering the low budget. Respectable enough to entertain those who like a good western for a change. It’s not The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, but this Eastwood gets to follow his dad’s footsteps. Read more

Bone Tomahawk, Hatchets of Horror

bone tomahawk BOXART


Now here’s a gem for those who like a thriller filled with good acting and a wild storyline. Now on Blu-ray/DVD it’s called Bone Tomahawk a dark western horror flick that will make your day if you like the genre. It may be a little long, but it sure has a big payoff with action throughout and a twisted ending. It’s not your usual horse opera and that’s a good thing. This review comes with a warning: There’s a very ghastly scene in the finale that looks so real it may make you squirm and turn your tummy.  Read more

The Homesman, a Captivating Drama in the Old West

HOMESMAN poster 1


So you’re not into the western genre? How about calling this movie a very compelling drama that takes place in the 1800’s west. Still not excited about seeing the film? Top it off with a stellar cast, an original story line and actors that give Oscar worthy performances. Titled The Homesman, it’s Tommy Lee Jones’ first attempt at directing and he makes the film an excellent story of early Americana.

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A Million Laughs in ‘Million Ways to Die”



Taking his comedy show to the Arizona desert, Seth MacFarlane presents A Million Ways to Die in the West.  It’s a rollicking comedy that has more pratfalls than his previous film, even though Ted has a charm that cannot be duplicated.  That said however, MacFarlane pleases with his deadpan humor that never seems to get old.  He’s a master at creating a joke way before the punch line and it really works here. Read more

“Sweetwater” Rip Roaring Revenge

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Here’s a hot western now on Blu-ray/DVD that you may have missed at the movie theaters.  It’s called Sweetwater and stars Ed Harris, January Jones and Harry Potter’s Jason Isaacs in roles that intrigue and intensify a powerful screenplay by Director Logan Miller.  Action filled this compelling movie starts with a bang and ends with twist.  You don’t have to be a western lover to get a charge out of this drama that takes revenge to new heights. Read more

Longmire, A Creative Modern Day Western on DVD



Probably one of the most intriguing modern day westerns to hit cable Longmire: The Complete First Season puts on a very good show with its feisty sheriff and deputies who take crime seriously in the North Country.  The show features a different situation each episode and the main cast with Robert Taylor keeps rolling for a complete season on DVD.  It’s the best way to get the whole show without ads and the rewind button helps you to take a second look at what you think you saw the first time. Read more

Django Unchained, a Very Creative Western (Film Review)


Taking a page out of history, Quentin Tarantino adds his version of the unsettling times in his newest film Django Unchained.  Much like his Inglourious Basterds this outrageous adventure generates tongue-in-cheek satire and raises eyebrows in it’s nearly 3 hours of ‘creative’ damnation. Taking the film with a grain of salt, the audience should get as much movie madness out of Django as they were exposed with Basterds.

The story finds bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) traveling in his tooth topped horse and buggy on a lonely deserted road two years prior to the American Civil War.  Traveling toward him on the same road a slave trader with several chained slaves are about to cross his path.  The two meet up, start a cautious conversation and Schultz offers to buy one of the slaves.  The slavers resist and a gun fight pursues with Schultz taking the slave Django (Jamie Foxx) from the group.  After Schultz turns Django into a budding bounty hunter, the two start out on a blood curdling rampage across the south. Read more




When you think of Butch Cassidy we immediately add ‘and the Sundance Kid’, but if you saw the original movie you know that the two died in a break to freedom in Bolivia.  But, what if Butch lived and escaped his untimely death?  This is the premise of the film Blackthorn starring Sam Shepard.  The movie is interesting, but a little too far fetched for me to handle.  If you are interested however in the unlikely possibility, or just want to see a well acted Bolivian western, then give this one a try.


According to historical legend the notorious Sundance Kid and his fellow train robber Butch Cassidy escaped the law in the United States and went to Bolivia, SA to settle down.  While there they got the itch back to stage some robberies and after some time were corralled by the Bolivian Army that didn’t like that too much.  In a standoff both Butch and Sundance were killed.


But years later we find James Blackthorn (Sam Shepard) living in the wilderness of Bolivia in a small secluded village.  Some 20 years have gone by and he has been writing to a son in the United States he has never met.  Feeling it is time to leave the mountains of South America and return to the states, Blackthorn barters his valuable goods in a remote town in return for some cash. 


Sam Shepard as James Blackthorn


On his return along the treacherous road to his cabin to collect his belongings Eduardo Appocada (Edwardo Noriega) shoots him off his horse and the critter runs off with his saddlebags full of his money. Butch finally gets a drop on Eduardo and comes to the realization that he’ll have to depend on the man to get him back to his mountain home. When Butch finds out that Eduardo has a lot of money stashed away and will share it with him, he decides to help to guy in return for half.


The story as a stand alone road trip has some merit and gets film quite well by director Mateo Gil who wrote the film Vanilla Sky that as made into a movie starring Tom Cruz and Cameron Diaz.  But with Blackthorn he tries to make the improbable, probable and fails badly.  Although I get it that it is just a story, but the prospect of Butch Cassidy living in seclusion 20 years just doesn’t do it for me, especially when we are told he has a son he’s been writing to during that time.  Cassidy would never stay captive in any prison cell, let alone a hermit in a small cabin on a mountainside knowing he has a boy.


Sam Shepard does a good job as a lonesome cowboy who finds himself in a fix when he gets accosted, but nothing more to the plot than this.  I liked the drama involved, the cowboy ‘road trip’ and the characters.  If the film had just been about that, I would give it higher marks, but using Butch Cassidy as the draw here only makes the film shoddy at best.  The iconic lawless icon of the old west would turn in his grave if he saw the film.


Blackthorn has been rated R for violence and language by the MPAA.



FINAL ANALYSIS:  Corral your horse and wait for the DVD. (C ) 



BLACKTHRON, Wild Western on Blu-ray


Blackthorn has arrived on Blu-ray/DVD and I had the opportunity to get hold of a copy to see if the film was better a second time on my big screen HD TV.  In addition, the special features may give light on the making of the film I felt was only average at the movie theater.


The story behind Blackthorn combines a ‘what if’ premise with a road movie.  Each idea, as far as I’m concerned, could have been a movie in itself. However, there would have been little substance being separate for director/writer Mateo Gil to put on a good show.  This bothered me when I saw the film on the theater screen.  In addition, the far fetched notion that the icon lawless gang leader Butch Cassidy would have remained in Bolivia until he grew old without seeing the son to which he was writing, made it unlikely.


So, I watched it again keeping in mind that maybe I may have just been in an off mood that killed the film for me.  So I ramped up the sound on by 60” HD TV, shoved the Blu-ray disc into the player and turned down whatever light I could to give me an in theater feel.


The film centers on Butch Cassidy, a man in seclusion under the name of James Blackthorn.  High up in the Bolivian mountains to which he escaped from near death in a government military shoot out, Blackthorn pines for the day he can leave his retreat for a trip back to the United States where the son he has never seen lives.  Finally feeling like he can travel, he takes a trip to a far off town and sells all his worldly goods to a couple of unscrupulous gentlemen.


Heading back to his shack he gets bushwhacked by Eduardo Appocada (Edwardo Noriega)  and in turn drops the man with a shot.  When the man tells Blackthorn that he has a lot of money hidden and will split it with him if he helps him get to the hidden dough.  So starts a rigorous road trip with twists and turns that lead to swift justice.


Well, the second time around was much better since I had been already acquainted with the characters.  The acting as reported in my review is the best reason to see the film with my story available in ACED Magazine at the following link.



So I checked out the bonus material that includes some Deleted Scenes, “Making of Blackthorn”, Short films by Director Mateo Gil and HDNet: A Look at Blackthorn to see if it upped the value of a purchase of the Blu-ray.  Not a lot here that’s any different than other Blu-ray extra, EXCEPT the two short films by Director Mateo Gil that are superb.  Very intense in different ways, one deals with couples breaking up, the other a sales pitch from hell.


Blackthorn has been rated R for violence and language by the MPAA.



FINAL ANALYSIS: A better film on Blu-ray that brings the subject up close and personal. Film (B), Special Bonus Features (C ), Total Experience (C+)


  • Actors: Sam Shepard, Eduardo Noriega, Stephen Rea
  • Directors: Mateo Gil
  • Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Magnolia Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: December 20, 2011
  • Run Time: 102 minutes