Monday, July 2, 2012

Blu-ray Review: DJANGO KILL... IF YOU LIVE, SHOOT! (1967)


Label: Blue Underground 
Region Code: ALL
Rating: Unrated 
Duration: 117 Mins
Audio: English, Italian DTS-HD Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, English for Italian Version
Video: 16:9 Widescreen (2.40:1) 
Director: Giulio Questi (Death Laid an Egg)
Cast: Tomas Milian (Traffic, Run Man Run), Ray Lovelock (Let Sleeping Corpses Lie)

Synopsis: Tomas Milian (Run Man Run) stars as a half-breed bandit double-crossed and left for dead who rises from the grave to seek his revenge. But when his quest leads to a bizarre town called 'The Unhappy Place,' he is plunged into an odyssey of gruesome torture, graphic violence and relentless sexual depravity. This is the landmark movie that fans and critics still consider to be the strangest - and most controversial - 'Spaghetti Western' ever made. This is DJANGO KILL!

The Film: The Stranger (Thomas Milan) is a half-breed Mexican bandit double-crossed by  Oaks (Pierro Lulli)  following a lucrative Wells Fargo gold heist. He and the other Mexican bandits are executed and left for dead. Sometime later The Stranger is resurrected by two native American medicine men whom set him on a path of vengeance armed with newly crafted golden bullets, just one of many weird and awesome events evidenced in this bizarre and brutal spaghetti western.

His quest for vengeance  leads him to a small and unsettling town known as The Unhappy Place.  Here he must face off against not just Oaks' gang of bandits but a greed-obsessed saloon proprietor, a weird priest and a very strange gang of gay (read: homosexual) caballeros lead by a man called Sorrow (Robert Camardiel). A very young Ray Lovelock (Live Like a man, Die Like a Cop) also makes a memorable appearance as the son of the saloon owner who bares a possibly sexually repressed resentment towards his mother and her sexy lingerie, it's pretty bizarre and only gets weirder when he winds up a victim of Sorrow's gang and their particular proclivities leading to a tragedy.

The film is also mighty violent - even by spaghetti western standards - the first of The Stranger's victims Oaks lays dying on a Saloon table riddled with bullets. As his wounds are tended to it is discovered the bullets are made of gold. Well, any concern for his well-being is thrown out the window right there and then and he is literally torn apart as hands are plunged into his wounds to get at the remaining bullets as he writhes in exquisite pain. A later scalping scene is especially bloody and cringe-worthy, not to mention the death of children and someone roasted to death on a spit over a fire. 

There's no shortage of What-the-Fuck moments on display here from the gritty violence on thru to the perversion, torture and pain- it's a thing of strange beauty including a fantastic fiery finale with someone taking a blast of  molten-gold to to the face.

Milan is a total understated bad-ass as The Stranger whom admirably carries on the tradition of The Man With No Name having been resurrected from the grave. I love this film, there's a lot of re-watch value here, a high recommend.  

Blu-ray: The transfer here is par for the course with what I've see from Blue Underground of late, we get some nice film grain with very nice fine detail, it's a crisp image with no evidence of overly aggressive digital noise reduction. While the transfer created from the original Italian negative is quite good the source material does seem uneven at times going from wonderfully crisp to a soft from time to time but this is no fault to the transfer. The film is presented in it's original aspect ratio of 2.40:1 and it's a stunning watch. 

Audio options include both English and Italian DTS-HD mono with optional English SDH, Italian, French and separate English subtitles for the Italian version. To my ears the English audio bests the Italian but there are dropouts on the English dub stemming from the fact that certain scenes included here were cut from the shorter American version of the film. It should be noted that the Blu-ray is REGION-FREE too.

Special features include a twenty minute featurette ported from the 2004 DVD edition with interviews  from director Giulio Questi and stars Tomas Milan and Ray Lovelock. There's also a theatrical trailer and a poster and stills gallery, the features are not extensive by any means but the interviews are quite interesting and the trailer's pretty bad-ass.

Special Features:
- Django, Tell! - Interviews with Co-Writer/Director Guilio Questi, Stars Tomas Milian and Ray Lovelock (20:37) 16:9
- Theatrical Trailer (2:26) 16:9 1080p
- Poster and Still Gallery

Verdict: Giulio Questi's Django Kill... If You Live, Shoot! is most definitely not on par with the Sergio Leone iconic spaghetti westerns but is definitely a blast of perverse and gritty western action laying somewhere between Alejandro Jodorowski's mind-bending El Topo and Sergio Corbucci's brutal  Django. A gritty and slightly surreal spaghetti western revenger that offers up more than a handful of things you won't be expecting even by today's standards it's pretty shocking stuff, a spaghetti western that will definitely appeal to the exploitation enthusiasts and another home-run for Blue Underground.  4 outta 5