Whether you love or hate him, it seems Quentin Tarantino is once again back in the public eye with this weeks release of Django Unchained, his love letter to the cult Spaghetti Westerns of the 60s and 70s. Thankfully if you’re not in the mood for bloated kitsch filmmaking, those fine folks at Arrow Video have released one from the vaults.
If sources are to be believed, this is the first time Django Prepare A Coffin (Preparati la bara!) has been available in the UK, so Arrow should be commended for releasing such a niche title. While far from containing the brilliance Sergio Corbucci’s original Django, there are still plenty of enjoyable moments that allow it to be enjoyable, Friday night fare.
A semi-sequel of sorts; Django Prepare A Coffin sees the mysterious gunfighter (this time played by Terence Hill) being employed by a town crook to hang innocent locals and force them off their land. Although Hill is no Franco Nero in his performance (even if he does have a striking resemblance to the original actor) he does the best with what he has.
The rest of the cast is passable, with most channel melodramatic b-movie performances that one would find within such a low budget westerns. Even director Ferdinando Bladi can’t inject the same about of energy that Corbucci put into the original. But the film does have a smattering of good points going for it once the comparisons are dropped.
For instance the opening titles rival some of the best which cult cinema has been blessed with; containing all of the late 60s style with a rousing theme (sung by Nicola Di Bari) on par with the some of the better cult themes. While never as emotionally powerful as Luis Bacalov’s ageless original, it does contain enough stirring strings to get one invested in this version of Django.
The always-reliable George Eastman (aka Luigi Montefiori) puts in a great b-movie turn as hired henchman, Lucas. The friction between Lucas and Django is one of the films many saving graces, with the showdown between the two men (set around a blazing saloon bar) is when the film truly comes alive.
It’s also worth mentioning Jose Torres’s sharp shooing Mexican, Garcia. As a sidekick to Hill’s Django, Garcia provides some much-needed personality to an otherwise, one-dimensional character. Comparisons to the original are unavoidable, mainly because the Nero version is just too damn good. Even though Django Prepare A Coffin is a little flat at times, there is still enough to satisfy Spaghetti Western fans.
Extras wise fans are treated to a lonely trailer (which gives most of the feature away), with the final release having the added collectors booklet from Spaghetti Western expert Howard Hughes. All in all this is a worthwhile release at a budget price. Fun but never fantastic, those who are curious to see where some of Django Unchained elements originate from, would be wise to give this a spin.
Django Prepare A Coffin is available now on the Arrowdrome label.