This set brings together the five films in the Sartana series. The mysterious gunslinger was a character that became famous in the period following Eastwood’s Man with No Name films as Italian producers flooded the international market with a huge number of similarly-themed westerns. Sartana, seemingly styled like Eastwood by way of Dracula, like Django and a few others, became so popular that unofficial entries abounded.
The films here represent the official big-screen adventures for the character beginning with the marvellously titled If You Meet Sartana... Pray for Your Death. In all but one he is played by Gianni Garko (George Hilton fills in as lead in one of the best, Sartana’s Here… Trade Your Pistol for a Coffin) and the plots are always a mix of double-crosses and backstabbing with Sartana at the centre and frequently gold as the prize. There’s no benefit to sticking to an order with the films as there's no story carrying over, with many of the same actors popping up in each film as someone entirely different. They range from convoluted and occasionally plodding to, in Hilton’s turn and the final film Light the Fuse… Sartana is Coming, still convoluted but nevertheless entertaining, well-directed and atmospheric films that combine action, humour and invention throughout.
A collector’s set is going to be of most interest to those who already know the films so let’s cover the important things for those putting down their money for this set. First off, and considering these films were not high-budget epics, the 2K scans done for this release are remarkably good. The first film suffers from some print damage here and there, but nothing too distracting. As for the remainder, the fine cinematography, set design, costuming and myriad actions scenes are agreeably sharp, colourful and clear.
Three films come with informative audio commentaries, and every disc comes with interviews (most newly filmed) with the participants from writer and director Gianfranco Parolini on the first film to an archival (but still recent) interview with Garko on the last disc. It’s clear from those taking part that there’s plenty of enthusiasm for the films, the period they were shot in and the central character. Jonathan Bygraves’ visual essay Light the Fuse… Sartana is Coming covers the reoccurring stable of actors throughout. There’s also a collector’s booklet with writing on the film by Roberto Curti and a timeline of the Spaghetti Western by Howard Hughes.
The films themselves are solid western entertainment, and for those who decide to pick this set up, the extras are strong. Fans of the Sartana series are unlikely to be disappointed by the presentation here. An easy recommendation from us.
REVIEW: THE COMPLETE SARTANA / DIRECTOR: VARIOUS / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: GIANNI GARKO, GEORGE HILTON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW