In watching the 4K disc for Sam Raimi’s The Quick and the Dead I am reminded of when it came out and how excited I was. I have been a fan of Mr. Raimi’s films since I was a teenager and discovered the world of The Evil Dead with friends. His frenetic style and over the top sensibilities struck a chord and was like something I’d never really seen before. Quick and the Dead feels a bit like a coming of age party for Raimi. A declaration of – Here I am, Hollywood? Resigned to his indie horror projects after his Crime Wave didn’t hit, this was his chance to show what he had.
Boy did he.
Taking a simple tale of revenge, with Sharon Stone blowing into a rundown town just in time for a dueling contest, his style is what makes this film stand out. We get to see a Western that showcases quick cuts, zooms and pans and a camera that feels alive, and a story simple enough to be lasting but with enough heart that some scenes, like the death of one character in particular, cut you to the core. It’s my hope that he had fun making the film because all these years after it hit screens it’s still a heck of a show. I actually have a much deeper affinity for it now, seeing how it showcases how far he’d come as a filmmaker and that even with his usual suspects on hand he can still make a dynamic and thrilling film.
The film looks gorgeous in 4K and really sounds wonderful too, and both aspects are key to the success of the film. The colors are bright and rich with a yellowed tinge to capture the Wild West and the sound is loud and punchy. While the plot is thin, the acting is superb, and it’s great to see Stone get a chance to showcase her acting and not her looks and body. She had become known at the time for her risqué role in Basic Instinct, people keying in on the sex and nudity and little else, but it’s great to see her getting a role where she got to show her chops a little and got to embrace a more physical role that didn’t de-sexualize her but didn’t focus on that as if it were all she offered.
It’s too bad that Quick and the Dead isn’t spoken about more these days because it’s a wonderful little movie and for fans like me, who weren’t into Westerns back when it came out, it transcends that genre and becomes an exciting circus of bullets and grit.
4 out of 5