Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Django the Bastard Review

Django the Bastard (1969) (AKA The Strangers Gundown)
Dir. Sergio Garrone
Starring: Anthony Steffen

A mysterious stranger arrives in town wanting revenge on a group of men. He begins by placing a cross with a man’s name and that day’s day written on it, and slowly begins working his way through his list. But is this a man or an avenging angel?

Watching this movie, the first thing that struck me is how it felt more like a gothic horror film than a western. The movie’s Django comes across like a supernatural spirit of vengeance, appearing in a scene then disappearing like a ghost, and causing most of the characters to question whether or not this is a man or some sort of supernatural being hunting the people down. Even the flashback that reveals what the movie’s bad guys did is vague on if the Django character is dead, which adds to the question: is he avenging his own death? This makes the film seem like a forerunner to the Clint Eastwood film High Plains Drifter, which touched on similar themes. Most of the scenes that work in the film have more of a horror slant to them, from a very effect scene set in a cemetery and to the shots of Rada Rassimov’s character walking up a dark stair way lit by an oil lamp, which immediately bring to mind similar famous shots from Murnau’s Nosferatu.

Performances are good in the movie. Anthony Steffen is a decent "Django", and Luciano Rossi is the standout of the villians, due to his character having menacing crazy eyes. Rada Rassimov is alright as pretty much the lone female in the movie, but she’s pretty much stuck to doing not much but flirting and trying to betray Django. Everyone else in the film is alright, but not very memorable.

Overall I liked the movie a lot. It was fun, and the horror elements made it more interesting than I thought it would be. The similar plot to High Plains Drifter makes me think that it had to be an influence on that, so fans of that film should at least give this film a chance.

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