Disc of Spaghetti
For most Americans, the Spaghetti Western began and ended with Sergio Leone, especially his films with Clint Eastwood. While those films are deservedly recognized as classics, they’re only a handful among hundreds of European oaters that came before and after.
One of the greatest successes in this sub-genre was Sergio Corbucci’s groundbreaking Django (1966), starring Franco Nero. Django touched a nerve, giving audiences an outré Western unlike even Leone’s. Instead of heat and dust, it played out in gray skies and mud. Instead of clear-cut villains, it had a dishonest hero caught between a gang of bandito revolutionaries, the corrupt Mexican army, and a Klan-like renegade militia. It featured a hero who didn’t ride a horse – instead, he came into town on foot, dragging a coffin behind him. This macabre touch builds throughout the film, ending with a severely beaten Django struggling into a showdown in a graveyard.
The film was such a success (except here, where it didn’t get much attention amid domestic drive-in fare) that Europeans went on a knock-off rampage, producing dozens of “sequels” that traded only on the Django name and image. Meanwhile, Franco Nero starred in Camelot. It wasn’t until 17 years later that Nero again took up the role for the only official sequel Django Strikes Again, this time directed by Ted Archer (a.k.a.: Nello Rossati).
Shot in Colombia, it was again a very different kind of Western, concerning Django being forced to give up his peaceful retirement in a monastery to use his trademark machine gun on an army of slavers. Donald Pleasance and Christopher Connelly lend support.
Anchor Bay has released the two films as a wonderful double feature, with excellent transfers, imaginative menus, an interview with Nero (who looks the same as he did 30 years ago), and even an odd little Django video game! The set also contains the most extensive liner notes I’ve yet to see for a DVD – a beautiful little 20-page program detailing the entire history of Django movies, including dozens of posters.