The Spaghetti Western craze of the 1960's produced hundreds of films, the vast majority of which I haven't seen. However, even among those in the know, Giulio Questi's Django Kill (...If You Live Shoot!, ...Se Sei Vivo Spara!) is among the craziest, most violent, and balls out insane of the bunch. This film shares nothing with Sergio Corbucci's Django, apart from a distributor applied moniker, and manages to out crazy that film at every turn. If you've never seen Django, Kill, you owe yourself the pleasure, and Blue Underground's Blu-ray (out July 3rd), is the best way to do it!
The Stranger (Tomas Milian) is killed after having been double crossed for stolen gold, but he won't be gone for long. Where there's gold, there will be bandits, and the resurrected Stranger is out for vengeance. He must fight off a crooked desert town and their local priest as well as the affiliated gang of gay caballeros and their leader, Sorrow, but he'll not be deterred. He'll save the gold and the girl in this nutso western that throws everything in but the kitchen sink.
Number one: Tomas Milian is a badass. His Stranger never bats an eyelash at the bonkers violence unfolding around him, but then again, he just rose from the dead after having been riddled with bullets, what does he have to be scared of? He is joined on his crusade by two mysterious Native American (or Redskin as they're referred to in the film) guides who forge him a sack full of golden bullets with which to avenge his partners for whom death was final. These mysterious guides act as both conscience and Greek chorus throughout the film, and look NOTHING like actual Native Americans, but such is life, and the film is fantastic because of it.
The real joy of Django Kill comes in the near constant flow of WTF moments throughout it's 117 minute runtime. Some of the moments come courtesy of ridiculous characters, for example, Sorrow's band of gay (literally) caballeros, all dressed to the nines in their Charro suits, sans shirts; and Sorrow himself, a morbidly obese hedonist who treats his men like a harem. Then there are the scenes of violence that are truly out of this world. At one point, a man, riddled with golden bullets from The Stranger's gun, is eviscerated alive as greedy townsfolk dig into his still writhing body hoping for a spent shell or two. Oh, let's not forget the exploding horse, the brutal scalping, or the golden crown, a la, Game of Thrones.
The list of reasons to love Django Kill is endless, and it's time for you to check it out. This isn't some metaphysical trip in the vein of Alejandro Jodorowsky's El Topo, it is far more literal than that. It is a story that is told through violence, torture, and pain, and Milian's Stranger is its martyr. In a film filled with over the top performances, Milian holds the thing together with his "man with no name" stoicism. This is one you've gotta see for yourself!
Blue Underground's Blu-ray edition of Django Kill is a notable upgrade from their DVD version of the film, though I wouldn't quite call it definitive. The image quality of the film wavers between astonishingly great and mildly improved. To top it off, this isn't the most technically proficient film ever shot, there are numerous individual shots in which the focus is soft, or there simply is no point of focus at all. These moments are not held against the disc, that stuff goes back to 1967 and no restoration lab in the world can do much about it. The good far outweighs the bad, bit it isn't perfect, just know that going in. The contrast and colors are vastly improved and the image, for the most part, looks really great, but it is a bit inconsistent.
Django Kill was released in different territories at different lengths, and the American version was significantly shorter than the Italian original. As such, the English dub track has several lengthy dropouts where there was no dialogue, so when listening to the English dub you can tell what was cut out of the film for American audiences, most notably for me was the exclusion of the scalping scene, which is pretty brutal in a Blood Feast kinda way. The Italian track is preferable for Django Kill for a couple of reasons, first of all, it is complete, and second of all, the actors on the set appear to have spoken Italian, which means that the lips mostly match. Both sound fine.
Ported over from the DVD release is retrospective featurette Django Tell, with interviews from Giulio Questi, Tomas Milian, and Ray Lovelock. This is a brisk 20 minute walk through the film's creation, production, and legacy from the three veterans and lends a lot to the experience. Questi and Milian, in particular, are very open to discussing the film and I learned a lot about where Django Kill came from and eventually ended up fitting in with the genre. Good stuff.
Django Kill on Blu-ray is a treat. The image isn't perfect, but it blows away the DVD versions, and I was not disappointed, in spite of a few minor issues. If you've never seen it, this is the way to go!
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