Review: Django, Prepare a Coffin / Cert: 15 / Director: Ferdinando Baldi / Screenplay: Franco Rossetti / Starring: Terence Hill, Horst Frank, George Eastman, Jose Torres / Release Date: Out Now
With Tarantino’s Django Unchained just out on DVD/Blu Ray, time to cash in... sorry, capitalise on any residual new publicity by slipping out another of the 1960s Spaghetti Westerns which first immortalised the character of Django. Following the release last year of the original 1966 Django, here comes the ‘official’ 1968 sequel Django, Prepare a Coffin. With Franco Nero (the original Django) whipped off to Hollywood to film the musical Camelot, lookalike Terence Hill takes over the role in a film which rewrites Django’s history but fortunately lets him keep the handy machine gun he’d been dragging behind him in a coffin throughout the first film for a cameo appearance in the final reel.
The problem with the whole Django phenomenon is that the entire series of films were entirely random and almost all of them were unofficial so it’s impossible for the contemporary viewer to try to weave any meaningful chronology out of the stories or establish any significant backstory to the character. Here, despite a physical resemblance, Hill – an enormously popular star in Italian cinema in the 1960s and 1970s to the extent that at one point he was the fourth most popular movie star in the world – is a much less charismatic and mysterious Django. Hill is slightly less expressive than your average Gerry Anderson puppet; he’s not hugely phased when his wife is killed during a bandit attack and he spends the rest of the film, set several years later, apparently working as an itinerant hangman but, in reality, slowly rounding up his own gang so he can exact a gun-totin’ revenge on the crazed cowboy who killed his wife and a corrupt politician who will stop at nothing to get his hands on the land of the men he’s framed and set up for execution.
Django, Prepare a Coffin is pretty routine Western stuff enlivened only by its Italian sensibility and our foreknowledge of Django from the previous, darker film. Hill’s Django is lighter and more accessible than Nero’s yet he’s just as adept at wreaking his unique form of justice on those who’ve wronged him; aficionados will enjoy the bright-red bloodshed and the gun battle carnage which brings the movie to a close but, enticingly crisp Blu-ray transfer notwithstanding, there’s really little here to differentiate Django from any number of other vengeful spaghetti-flavoured 1960s Wild West desperadoes. Fun for fans but likely to leave the casual viewer colder than a cadaver in a coffin.
Extras: Django Explained feature / Trailer / Collector's Booklet