Se Sie Vivo Spara
Our latest spaghetti western is not 'Run Man Run', like I promised, but 1967's 'Django Kill', starring genre regular Tomas Milian, and directed by Giulio Questi. This particular film has a bit of a cult following because it's so damn weird, which I'll get into in a minute. And I should note, like at least 20 or 30 other films released in the genre, it has nothing to do with Sergio Corbucci's Django. The film was originally called "Oro Hondo", and it was also called 'Se Sie Vivo Spara (If You Live, Shoot!), but was changed to "Django Kill" for international release to cash in on the Django craze. Milian's 'Stranger' doesn't even have a name, as far as we know.
Quick synopsis: Milian plays a half-breed who, with some Mexican laborers, help some outlaws rob some gold from the Wells Fargo. Milian and the Mexicans are double-crossed, shot and left for dead. Some native Americans find the Stranger, and nurse him back to health, and also give him a bag of gold bullets. He goes and tracks down the bandits, which by the time he gets to the town that they're staying at, have mostly been hanged and killed by a mob in the town. The mayor and the alderman split up the bandits' gold. Chaos then ensues, as a group of gay cowboys (yup!) kidnap the mayor's son, to get the gold. They rape him (thankfully it's implied, not shown), he kills himself and a big shootout in town goes down., with the gold eventually melting all over the alderman's head, and nobody living happily ever after. There's also this weird subplot with the Stranger gettin' it on with the alderman's wife, who is locked in the attic and passed off as crazy.
Ok, now that that's out of the way... this one, as one reviewer put it, is noteworthy of being the genre's lone 'psychedelic, gothic, political, S&M western,' an appropriate description. The film has a strange surrealistic feel to it, with quick disorienting montages happening now and then, reminiscent of experimental Warhol-esque films of the day, and becomes more prevalent as the movie progresses. The Stranger has all sorts of strange flashbacks, and seems to obsessively wash his hands from time to time. Parts of the film have that scary, David Lynch nightmarish quality to it, or one of those acid-trip-gone-wrong vibes. And the gay cowboy gang is downright freaky, considering the genre. It's also pretty violent. There's an infamous scene where, upon realizing one of the bandits has gold bullets inside him from being shot, the townspeople literally rip him apart to get the gold out of him. There's also a gory scalping and tons of the fakest looking blood I've ever seen in a movie.
Now, this film has a bit of a cult following, and is significant for the genre because of aforementioned oddness. I know some of you will disagree with me on this one, but aside from the decidedly non-spaghetti western weirdness, I think this movie was pretty bad, otherwise. The set looked like something from a western tourist-trap theme park. I had to watch it Italian because the English overdub was so horribly acted. There's a scene in the saloon where a girl sings a 1950's-ish sounding jazz ballad (in the late 1800's). The scene where the Stranger is 'tortured' consists of him tied up to a plank while scenes of vampire bats(?) and iguanas(??) are cut to quickly, where it's obvious they're taken from some wildlife film stock footage, and are nowhere near Milian. I'm not sure because it was late when I watched it, but I think I actually saw a hand holding the iguana. And the film tends to drag on a bit longer than it really needs to.
What was good? Well, this was a Blue Underground release, so it looked great and sounded pretty good. There was a few good extras with some interviews. And Tomas Milian's performance was pretty subdued, compared to the over-the-top overacting that tends to be his stock and trade. So would I recommend it? I'd have to say, if only for the sheer strangeness and sometime-art-film feel of it, yes, with reservations, because aside from the weirdness, it's pretty C-grade stuff.