May 6, 2019  (Web Review)


Kino Lorber, 93 min., PG, DVD: $19.99, Blu-ray: $29.99

Reviewer rating: 2.0/4

Promoted as “the first electric Western,” Zachariah (1971) is part hipster Western send-up and part allegorical journey towards finding the self, a kind of Herman Hesse tale set in the Old West, with biblical references, electric gee-tars, and notorious criminal gangs who plague the region between rock-and-roll sets in old-time saloons. John Rubinstein stars as Zachariah, a farm boy who buys a mail-order gun and kills a man in a gunfight, and Don Johnson is his best buddy Matthew, a blacksmith who joins him on the run. As Zachariah leaves for a vision quest with the help of a garrulous mountain man, Matthew dons black and becomes the most feared gun in the West. Patricia Quinn plays Belle Starr in Mae West mode, Country Joe and the Fish and The James Gang do double duty as both gunslingers and guitar slingers, and Elvin Jones is memorable as the icy fastest man in the West (and fastest drummer too). Director George Englund tries to let it all hang out with carnival-style sets and sloppy energy, but he takes the script (co-written by the members of Firesign Theatre) so seriously that it quickly collapses under tired clichés and arch exaggeration. Also featuring Dick Van Patten, Doug Kershaw, White Lightnin’, and The New York Rock Ensemble, this may be of interest to fans of late ‘60s rockers but it is very much a product of its era. Extras include audio commentary by film historians Howard S. Berger and Nathaniel Thompson, and an interview with Rubenstein. Optional. (S. Axmaker)