Django Kill (1967)
By: David Michael Brown on November 20, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Stomp Visual (Australia). All Regions, NTSC. 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0 Mono, Italian DD 2.0 Mono. English Subtitles. 117 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Guilo Questi
Starring: Thomas Milan, Marilou Tolo, Roberto Carmardiel, Raymond Lovelock
Screenplay: Franco Arcalli, Benedetto Benedetti, Maria del Carmen Martínez Román and Guilo Questi
Country: Italy
AKA: Se sei vivo spara
Guilo Questi's If You Live, Shoot! is a strange beast, a spaghetti western that defies every expectation of the genre but faithfully retains all that we love about it. Renamed Django Kill for English speaking audiences to cash in on the success of Sergio Corbucci's 1966 classic Django; the film made in 1967, is way ahead of its time in many ways.

The hallucinatory imagery Questi uses to tell his story of revenge is completely out there, unlike anything ever seen in a Western with the possible exception of Alejandro Jodorowsky's Mexican western El Topo. His combination of new wave editing techniques, horror movie clichés and over the top violence leaves the viewer exhausted. The editing in some sequences is rapid fire to say the least, every 4 seconds the image changes often throwing in flash frames of seemingly inconsequential images recalling the editing style of the late great Russ Meyer. The violence is graphic and unpleasant; an Indian is gorily scalped and in one painful sequence an almost dead bandit body is ripped to pieces as the desperate doctor tries to remove every golden bullet from his body.

The film follows the tortured life of a stranger who is double crossed by his gang and left for dead in an early grave. Brought back from the brink of death by two Indians he heads to a small town called The Unhappy Place where the gang is holed up. By the time he arrives he discovers that the townsfolk are even more desperate and evil than his fellow gang members who have all been hanged. He is left to fend for himself in a town full of blood thirsty, gold crazed psychos. Thomas Milan is great as the stranger; the star of Fulci's Don't Torture a Duckling and Four Gunmen of the Apocalypse, along with the western Companeros and the debatable Caligula 2, exudes that star quality that so few have.

The use of horror imagery is not always successful; the site of his sand covered hand rising from the dead looks fabulous but the scenes where a stripped stranger, crucified on a cross, is tortured red by vampire bats is just silly. The stock footage of Fruit bats and the odd vampire bat that never appear even close to our hero doesn't work at all.

Written by the people who brought you Bertolucci's 1900 and Last Tango in Paris, this western has some Italian cinematic heavyweights in the driving seat and apart from a few "special moments" it shows. This is classy stuff and a sure fire hit for anyone who thinks that the western is a dead genre.
A beautiful transfer, the image is razor sharp, bright and colourful. The stumbled close-ups as the gunslingers eye each other up before each gunfight are crystal clear.
The soundtrack is ok. The mono track is effective without pushing any limits. Both the English and Italian soundtracks are available.
Extra Features
Django Tell! features interviews with Thomas Milan, Guilo Questi and Ray Lovelock. They talk about the films name (no one likes Django Kill!), the violence and making the film in Madrid, giving a dry but informative insight into the making of the film.

You also get the trailer and a very nice gallery of posters and stills.
The Verdict
Excellent stuff; one of the finest spaghetti westerns around, its eerily strange tone and outrageously violent moments keep it apart from the stately epics of Leone and give us something new and vibrant. You obviously can't compare it to masterworks like Once Upon a Time in the West and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly but its combination of exploitation thrills and cowboys makes for a marvellously fun watch, highly recommended.
Movie Score
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