“Comin’ At Ya!” (1981): Arrow Film Revisits the Spaghetti Western That Launched the 3D Craze in the 1980s

Revisiting Comin’ At Ya! for the  MVD  Blu-Ray 3D release of the 1981 classic, I am surprised how good the movie actually was in its own self-contained world. The 1981 film from director Ferdinando Baldi is responsible for a resurgence of 3D films in the early 1980s including Jaws 3-D, Amityville 3-D and Friday the 13th Part III to name just a few. Memory suggests  that Comin’ At Ya! was pure gimmick, a cheesy spaghetti western full of 3D effects thrown into the audience’s face. Well, yeah, that is pretty much what it is, no doubt. But, it is also a fairly well made film with a solid if simple story and terrific cinematography. The film, today, still depends on its 3D gimmicks to make the event enjoyable but there is some interesting things to be said about what is going on behind the camera as well. The acting, led by Tony Anthony as H.H. Hart, is not entirely much to note but it isn’t too far removed from most of the spaghetti westerns of the late Seventies featuring the likes of Franco Nero, Fabio Testi and Terrence Hill. Direction, acting, cinematography aside, what you remember with Comin’ At Ya! is the 3D.

COMIN' AT YA!, Tony Anthony, 1981.  ©Filmways Pictures
COMIN’ AT YA!, Tony Anthony, 1981. ©Filmways Pictures

The script for Comin’ At Ya! follows H.H. Hart (Tony Anthony) on a road to revenge to save his bride (Victoria) kidnapped from his arms literally standing at the alter. Left for dead, Hart recovers and launches a search across the hot desert for the two brother responsible for a variety of dastardly deeds across the land. The script is fairly simple, the cast is small while the number of stunt men (and women) is extraordinarily high as they ride, fall, shoot and die with every turn. The story ramps up the conflict when Hart overtakes one of the two brothers leaving the other to take Hart’s actions far more seriously than before.

COMIN' AT YA!, 1981.  ©Filmways Pictures
COMIN’ AT YA!, 1981. ©Filmways Pictures

While the acting in Comin’ At Ya! is far from Oscar-worthy, it is incredibly appropriate for this delightfully campy cheese-fest. Tony Anthony hams it up, providing something between a serious smirk and a tongue-in-cheek shit-eating grin. The performances are very much like the later Terrence Hill westerns, over the top, harrumph-filled bravado and defiant damsels in distress. If you are familiar with those films, Man of the East, My Name is Nobody or the Trinity films, then you know what you are in for. It is all soap opera mixed with spaghetti western nonsense, preposterous plot holes and deliciously silly 3D effects – maybe a dash of comedy to soften the edges. It’s all here, just one Bud Spencer away from absolute perfection.

COMIN' AT YA!, Victoria Abril (right), 1981.  ©Filmways Pictures
COMIN’ AT YA!, Victoria Abril (right), 1981. ©Filmways Pictures

By 1981, director Ferdinando Baldi was an old hat at a good old fashioned spaghetti western helming films such as Texas, Adios (1965 w/ Franco Nero), Forgotten Pistolero (1969 w/ Luciana Paluzzi from The Green Slime) and Blindman (1971 w/ Ringo Starr). The latter film is also an early collaboration with the star of Comin’ At Ya! Tony Anthony. The film is executed with confidence and style embracing the stereotypes, familiar scenarios and western locations. The film looks great, impressive, actually – a fact often forgotten due to the heavy dependency on the 3D gimmick. Highlights include an extended scene where the roughnecks hideout packed to the gills with female captive ready for human trade. Another is the finale where H.H. Hart faces the remaining numbers in classic High Noon stand off, the extended fight sequence is thrilling and exciting.

COMIN' AT YA!, Fernando Arribas, 1981.  ©Filmways Pictures
COMIN’ AT YA!, Fernando Arribas, 1981. ©Filmways Pictures

But it is the 3D that is special for Comin’ At Ya! The film landing in 1981 and it was a sizable hit. Before you knew it, Hollywood churned out 3D films looking to cash in on the revived craze. Anyone remember Parasite, Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn or Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone? Ha! But in Comin’ At Ya!, Baldi and Anthony rely on the western tropes of guns, ropes, knives and arrows to convince its audience to duck and cover in their seats. And do the ever succeed. To a point it becomes a flaw in its pacing, the film slows down to allow H.H. Hart to examine an abandoned tool shed for supplies with everything from bottles to snakes flying in your face or dropping into your lap. For the most part, the 3D is very much intent on living up to the films title of Comin’ At Ya! It is only occasionally where the film succeeds in capturing the distance or variations in distance that we see in modern 3D films. But, for what it is, the result is fun.

COMIN' AT YA!, Victoria Abril, 1981.  ©Filmways Pictures
COMIN’ AT YA!, Victoria Abril, 1981. ©Filmways Pictures

The 3D Blu-Ray of Comin’ At Ya! from MVD is worth a revisit for those who love 3D films and for fans of spaghetti westerns looking for something a little different. The film is a genuine experience of its time. It has an innocence to it that is amusing. It is far from a perfect film, not all the effects work, not all of the 3D is special or inventive. But it works hard at making it a wall to wall 3D thrill ride. At the same time the film is well shot and features a surprisingly confident turn at the spaghetti western sub-genre. Hurray for Arrow Films for releasing this classic back into the hands of film fans to be rediscovered and admired for what it is.

Coming At Ya! 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)


Doc Rotten
Editor-In-Chief / Founder / Podcast Producer at Horror News Radio
Doc Rotten is the founder of Gruesome Magazine. He is also a film critic for Gruesome Magazine and the podcast host & producer for Horror News Radio, Monster Movie Podcast, Decades of Horror: 1970s, The American Horror Story Fan Podcast and Hannibal Fan Podcast. He is also co-host of the Dracula podcast on TV TALK and is a contributing reviewer for HorrorNews.Net and Widescreen Warrior.

Doc a lifelong fan of horror films, sci-fi flicks and monster movies first discovering Universal Monsters and Planet of the Apes as a young child in the 1970's searching out every issue of Famous Monster of Filmland (and, later, Fangoria). Favorite films include Jaws, The Car, The Birds, The Tingler, Vampire Circus and The Exorcist. Still a huge fan of horror films from the 70s, Doc continues consuming horror films to this day for the site, for the podcasts and for the fun of it all.