Sunday 14 June 2015

Sydney Film Festival (39) - Barrie Pattison dissects the restored Italian western Django Kill


Hard to see why this nasty, messy Italian sixties western was enthusiastically restored - first generation quality colour, lots of scenes of excess put back in.

The class elements (Delli Colli’s camerawork, a young Tomas Milian in the lead) are not deployed effectively. The film’s ultra violence is mainly a matter of splashing bright red gore over unconvincingly staged action. We saw better exercises in perversity than this film’s religious minded, bourgeois citizens as bad guys, while the audience is rooting for a swarthy hero, in the cycle’s Sartana and Spirito Santo films. Django Kill (Django is nowhere to be found) kicks off with the Indians looting the mass grave from which Milian emerges dust covered. They tend his injuries and melt down some stolen gold to make bullets - making it $30 a shot.

Thomas hits the vengeance trail, now having risen from the grave where he was put by the European bandits that slaughtered the Mexican bandits who joined them in offing the blue bellies for their Wells Fargo gold. The outlaws carry their loot into the isolated town (“Even God wouldn’t stay here”) where the citizens massacre them for it. When Milian arrives, his fellow bandits are hanging in the background, providing the occasional striking image, while in Milo Quesada’s saloon, his narrow-hipped, black-wearing wife Tolo lip-synchs the English songs, wearing a silly wig. Quesada’s pretty son Lovelock slashes the clothes dad brought his step mum from Denver.

The locals find that the bullets Milian used to off bandit chief Lulli among the hanging dried chilies are gold and tear the body apart to get them, despite fat land owner Camardiel, head of the black Muchacho riders, wanting to question the injured man. That thwarted, he kidnaps young Lovelock to get his father to hand over the loot. Tomas is sent in and, in some incomprehensible plot twist at the roast pig banquet, shoots one of the Muchachos after drinking a bottle of whiskey, to obtain Ray’s safe return. However the kid is subject to a very prudishly staged pack rape.  Quesada’s day keeps on getting worse with bigoted fellow citizen Francisco Sanz demanding half the gold, Camardiel’s riders coming to attack the town and Marilu putting moves on Thomas to take her out of town. Our hero however is getting it on with Sanz’s imprisoned wife, who retains her
flowing white nightie through their action.

After they scalp his buddy, Thomas’ Indian side kick unchains our hero from the cross, where they menaced him with bats and lizards, and he wreaks some more havoc and rides into the sunset, without even getting a re-cap of the title song.

The film is poorly covered, awkwardly framed too close to the subjects.  The gun shots are out of synch and there’s an odd sentence from the English dialogue in there to fill a gap in the Italian track. Milian deserved better and we’ve seen Marilu Tolo and indeed 
Sancho Garcia from 800 Bullets (Alex de la Iglesia,2002)  make far more impression. There are so many more flamboyant, more inventive - better - films of this kind - Tino Cervi’s Oggi a me... domani a te! / Today It’s Me Tomorrow You (1968), Franco Giraldi’s MacGregor films, Sergio Sollima’s Faccia a faccia/ Face to Face (1967), half a dozen of the Sergio Corbuccis and the rest.

These used to be a guilty pleasure when operations like the Sydney Film Festival would never have dreamed of screening them. It’s disappointing to find them finally acknowledged with such a dodgy example.
Django Kill, directed by Giulio Questi, Italy, Italy, 1967

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