Latest News:
February 18, 2019: Website updated and revised.

Film Review: “Django, Kill… If You Live, Shoot!”



































The late, great George “Gabby” Hayes, King of the Old Hollywood western sidekicks, once gave his opinion of the genre.   “I hate ’em,” Hayes honestly answered. “Really can’t stand ’em. They always are the same. You have so few plots.”

Hayes obviously never saw Django Kill…If You Live, Shoot!, a bizarre blend of spaghetti western with grotesquerie from a giallo horror film. Thomas Milian, a Cuban-American actor who did OK in Italy playing psycho gunslingers, is the Stranger, half Mexican, half American, gunned down with the other Mexicans in a gang by their treacherous American compadres after a gold theft. Buried alive, Milian crawls out from a mass grave and is found by two Native American scavengers who don’t resemble actual Native Americans at all. After they revive Milian and fit him out with some golden bullets for his gun (“more deadly than lead”), he pursues his betrayers and comes to a town called The Unhappy Place. And here’s where it got really weird.

The Stranger learns the gang members were murdered before he arrived. This is one of the first very nasty scenes  where the gang is cruelly hunted down by a much bigger mob and either shot or hung with their bodies left hanging as a warning.  The rest of the film turns on various characters’ search for the stolen gold, the real villain of the film. The saloon keeper plots and fights with the general store owner while both men fear Sorrow, the openly gay, flamboyant big rancher with a pistolero army clad in black shirts with fancy white embroidery (too butch). Through it all the Stranger drifts, in the town, but not of it, a serene, Christ like figure except for his habit of pumping people full of golden bullets. The identification with Jesus gets literal when Sorrow’s bully boys kidnap the Stranger, strip him to a loincloth, and chain him to a cross.

Django has the standard spaghetti Western trimmings, guys who obviously aren’t American wearing cowboy hats with ridiculously dinky brims; location shots in Spain that don’t resemble the American Southwest at all; absurdly grandiose, highfalutin dialogue; not much in the way of continuity, only adding to the confusion; and most importantly, much time spent with characters engaged in long, silent portentous stares at one another. Add to that a steady stream of downright bizarre imagery and events, a small, prone child being ground down by a man in a chair; a madwoman trapped in a second floor room who cryptically signals from the window; a defiled cemetery with the crosses flung down and the graves dug open, all to find the gold, and it adds up to a trip, albeit an unpleasant one. The penultimate scene where a character’s greed ends in a literal shower of molten gold simply must be seen to be believed.

I recommend this film to fans of spaghetti Westerns, giallo horror movies, and anybody with a strong stomach who digs a crazy flick. If you’re not overly concerned about petty stuff like good taste and a plausible plot, you’re in for one wild, weird ride.

Comments are closed.