Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Django Kill, if You Live, Shoot!

Django Kill, if You Live, Shoot! (1967) (AKA Django Kill and Oro Hondo)
Dir. Giulio Questi
Starring: Tomas Milian

Tomas Milan stars as a bandit that is betrayed and left for dead following an ambush of a gold transport. Armed with some gold bullets he sets off for revenge but ends up involved in a power struggle between several gangs over the stolen gold.

This film came out a year after the original Django. The original title, “Se sei vivo spara”, translates simply to “If You Live Shoot”, which implies to me that this was something that was quickly renamed in order to capitalize on the success of Django. Other than the title, there is nothing in common with the original film, but it is one of the better Django films produced in the wake of the first one, and that’s really for one huge reason: This movie is weird. It starts off feeling like most typical spaghetti westerns, but as it goes on it starts to do some really interesting things with shot composition and the editing. It’s interesting that at the beginning of the film it seems like it is going to set a simple story of the Stranger going out for revenge on the gang that betrayed him, but they resolve that thread very quickly and the story takes a more interesting turn, dealing with several forces that are struggling for control of the town that the story takes place in. It introduces a pair of factions wanting control, one lead by Templer, the owner of the local saloon, and the other lead by Sorrow, who leads a homosexual gang in matching black uniforms. One of the funniest things about the movie is how the townspeople come across as worse than the bandits. The scenes of them attacking the bandits present them as a wild mob, and it is one of the most frightening things I’ve seen in quite a while.

The movie is shot and edited with a surreal pop style, giving it a different feel from other spaghetti westerns from that era. The film is very violent, with an early scene of the American bandits being hunted down and killed in the streets by the townspeople being well shot and edited, and the final action scene at the end was a lot of neat edits in it.  There is also a scene where the lead of the bandits, after being saved from the townspeople is being operated on by the town doctor. Once the first gold bullet is removed from him, the townspeople begin clawing at his wounds in a fairly disturbing scene. Add into that the brutal scalping scene and the implied raping on Templer’s son by Sorrow’s men, and you have a pretty violent film, which caused for several countries to ban the film.
The only real complaint that I might have about the movie is that the second half hour seems kind of meandering, with the Stranger just kind of hanging around the town before he realized that the town is full of jerks and then leaving to team up with Sorrow and his men. Other than that section the film moves at a fairly quick pace. I was never bored while watching it, and most of that is due to a lot of the weird ideas that the film keeps throwing out there. There’s things in the movie that on paper should not work (like the homosexual gang, the crazy wife that’s kept in the attic, etc.) but the movie still finds a way to make all these really crazy concepts work in the right way.

This movie is great. It’s easy to look at it quickly on write it off as a schlocky B-movie, but there is too much weird stuff going on in the film to just ignore. The movie is really fun, and it’s got some great action and some amazing cinematography. I’d honestly be more willing to try to get someone to watch it rather than the original Django. Even without the Django association, it’s still a great film that should be seen.

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