Early in Hudson River Massacre, one of the British ruling class demeans the Canadian frontier men who rebel against a British capitalist. “It’s impossible to believe these half-breeds could endanger the English.” She’s a snooty one, that Ann (Giulia Rubini).
That bigotry sets off a land war between Canadian trappers and businessman Sullivan (Santiago Rivero). Canadians seek independence, Sullivan a hold on profits. It’s a universal story, hence why an Italian-like western shot in Spain with an eye on Canada doesn’t feel disingenuous. People rising against their oppressors works in all scenarios, any language, at any time.
The hero, Victor (George Martin) resists engaging in the looming war. Again, Hudson River Massacre projects worldwide truth: evil takes hold when good people do nothing or remain ambivalent to a cause.
Hudson River Massacre projects worldwide truth
Hudson River Massacre projects worldwide truth
If nothing else, Hudson River Massacre has that message going for it. Otherwise, the TV-like production values and rudimentary storytelling make for a 79-minute chore. While not inherently fair, the dubbing does no favors here either – wait for the sound effects to depict a fight in rapids with the sounds of someone splashing in a bathtub.
Men rule, woman swoon, the characters little more than cardboard archetypes. Victor’s turn comes early – his brother is executed in the opening act, turning him against Sullivan (who himself never changes or turns from raw villainy). Only Ann learns anything, setting aside her hate, if only to fall for the hero as required by something so stock.
In-between, fights break out. One reaches surprising scale, if clumsily edited as to shrink the enormity. Victor fires a few shots, steps in for the wounded, but visually engages only on the sidelines – Victor shoots, edit, man falls, repeat. Two women brawl in a sexually charged struggle, Hudson River Massacre’s real finale in a period where cinema slipped toward hardened exploitation.
Director Amando de Ossorio went on to direct horror cinema, including the gloriously gonzo The Sea Serpent and memorable Tomb of the Blind Dead. Hudson River Massacre lacks his identity or touch. Or, anyone’s identity for that matter.
This transfer does not speak well for the MVD Classics line. Misery is all this Blu-ray produces. Flashbacks to Universal’s gaudy Tremors Blu-ray result when watching this, easily in the format’s bottom tier, and teetering close to last place.
Hudson River Massacre contains so much noise reduction, water turns to oil, trees into blocks, and skin into plastic. The minimal grain left (and that’s inconsistently visible) turns to mush with any movement. Smearing is so severe as to make some shots unintelligible. Definition? None. Resolution? Not much there either, so low as to cause heavy aliasing on most edges.
The source print suffers significant damage, from small specks to large scratches. Splices visibly appear. It looks pulled from public domain, then run through generic filters, with sharpening set to high, leaving behind hard halos.
Minimal color slips out, mostly the red Mountie uniforms. The rest fades into a murky earth tone mass, struggling to separate greens from browns as both drift toward gray. During the major battle scene, contrast clips all visible detail. Another print was likely used to piece this together (at least in that scene), a rough spot in an already dismal presentation.
Listen to the English dub at your own risk. While the Spanish language is offered, that’s Dolby Digital only; the dub comes in uncompressed PCM. Seems backwards. Regardless, the gratingly harsh dub suffers severe degradation. This isn’t only a persistent, loud static running under the track, or even unintelligible lines. Rather, loud popping ready to blow a speaker.
The Spanish track fares better. At least, the static calms down and popping is gone. Fidelity still wanes though, harsh with muddled bass akin to the track falling apart when processing lows.
Both the case and intro screens on the disc give the “opinions are the speaker’s own” disclaimer, yet nothing is on the disc other than a trailer.
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Hudson River Massacre
Hudson River Massacre (aka Canadian Wilderness) features one well scaled battle scene and universal story, if little else.
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