Django, Kill! (If You Live Shoot!) 

After helping steal a trunkful of Wells Fargo gold, half-breed Django (Tomas Milian, Traffic) and his fellow minorities are not only denied their share by Oaks (Piero Lulli, My Name Is Nobody) and his evil white bandits, but gunned down and dumped in a mass grave they were forced to dig. Being the hero of this spaghetti-Western franchise — at least in name only, as Milan's character is never called Django, but "stranger" — Django lives, barely, and lives to kill.

Nursed back to health by two kindly Indian men who gift him gold bullets to exact his revenge — it burrows deeper than mere lead, see — Django travels to the nearby crap-hole town, the aptly dubbed Unhappy Place, only to find Team Oaks there already, causing more massacres for the fun of it.

But who's not at Unhappy Place? For such a miserable spot on the map, it's immediately rife with ruffians left and right. Certainly the most unusual — for this or any other film of the era — is the band of gay cowboys with matching outfits.

Django, Kill! offers all the requisite shootings and hangings (complete with protruding tongue!) demanded of the genre, but also a grisly scalping, one more-or-less crucifixion and the act of someone digging his fingers into another guy's very wet and fresh bullet holes to retrieve the offending chunks of metal. Directed with little subtlety — just as we like it — by Giulio Questi (Death Laid an Egg), the movie is sold as one of the more shocking and violent spaghetti Westerns. Scalping close-ups aside, it doesn't seem overly raw, especially against today's free-flowing standards; I'm guessing these scenes count as part of the 17 minutes or so that Blue Underground's cut restores from the theatrical version.

I've watched Milian in several DVDs this summer — from the tasteless '80s comedy Cop in Drag to the '70s crime effort Young, Violent, Dangerous — but among them, this is his best showcase for his he-man talents. He commands viewers' attention and earns their unflinching respect, yet has to share the screen with so many other characters that the time of his leading role is limited.

Still, this is not the ideal Django movie for the curious to start with — perhaps because it's not a true Django entry at all — but certainly recommended to more regular spaghetti consumers. (Personally, I find the label's recent A Bullet for the General the better buy.) No matter your experience with Italian oaters, you will tire of hearing Ivan Vandor's theme; although a fine tune, it's overplayed to the point of ubiquity.

As usual, Blue Underground sweetens a terrific-looking Blu-ray disc with extras, but only a couple. For me, the icing is the original theatrical trailer, which eschews actual footage in favor of a Pop Art cartoon treatment of silhouettes — all the better to ride the public's fever for Sergio Leone's Dollars trilogy. That disease remains contagious even today.  —Rod Lott

Hey! Read This:
A Bullet for the General Blu-ray review  
A Fistful of Dollars / For a Few Dollars More Blu-ray review  

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