As Quentin Tarantino’s current opus reactivates public interest in Sergio Corbucci’s 1966 original, a whole slew of genre b-flicks also beg rediscovery through association. Of the twenty to thirty Cinecitta features to bear the Django brand name – a moot point, since certain films were only tagged with the title for certain markets after completion – the Corbucci film apart, only Giulio Testi’s Django Kill has made much of a dent in popular culture.
Ferdinando Baldi’s “Django, Prepare A Coffin” doesn’t quite rank as an essential instalment in the franchise (Tarantino’s film, incidentally, does, but that’s another story). Baldi’s feature, starring Terence Hill in the titular role, is an authentic model of Cinecitta’s assembly-line doctrine. With the emphasis on the fastest possible turnaround, Italian B-features were aimed at an audience who’d jabber through the quiet bits and cheer along to the violence; Baldi’s film fits this mold, with the tell-tale trademark of perfunctory delivery from the lesser actors, and the unnatural saturation levels of late 60s film stock.
Previously unavailable to the UK home viewing market, Baldi’s tale of vengeance and double cross carries a leftish subtext that’s fairly typical of the Spaghetti genre, and doesn’t scrimp on the gratuitous gunplay. While more familiar as the knockabout lead man in the Trinity series of comedy westerns, Terence Hill scrubs up surprisingly well as Django here; his steely blues and granite jaw being more than suggestive of Franco Nero’s rugged charm in the original.
Playing off an amorally ambitious politician against a hidden agenda of his own, Terence Hill’s take on the wandering gunslinger makes for an enjoyable helping of cheap’n’cheerful horse opera; the film is generously punctuated with moments of gleefully enthusiastic violence – including some impressive pyrotechnics when Django smokes out one of his past wrongdoers – and wraps up with a final reckoning that ties in admirably with the mythos of Sergio Corbucci’s original. One mean hombre you’d be very unwise to double cross, and unlike The Wild Bunch, no great believer in the necessity of tripods. Eat lead, bastardos.