The Spaghetti Western Collection

Discussion in 'Reader Reviews' started by Andrew, Mar 25, 2003.

  1. Andrew

    Andrew Guest

    This is very, very long. So I'm putting in each film in a different post. Sorry if it's destracting or something, but I think it'll be easier than putting them all in one post.

    DJANGO

    The first film (chronologically) in the Spaghetti Western Collection is the classic DJANGO. Django (Franco Nero) is a drifter, a man wandering through the desert dragging a coffin behind him everywhere he goes. He comes across a group of men whipping a woman and quickly gets rid of them. He takes the woman, Maria (Loredana Nusciak), to the near-by town and drops her off at the bar. He sits down, has a few drinks, and talks to the bartender. It turns out a man named Major Jackson (Eduardo Fajardo) who runs the town seems to have missed the end of the civil war and loves watching Mexicans run for their lives only to be gunned down in his own sights. He’s helped by a seemingly endless supply of men with red hoods, constantly at his side ready for disposal. Django, being the nice guy that he is (or is he?) decides to help the Mexicans fight back against Major Jackson and his army of shrouded followers. Will they win their independence, or is this just a lost cause? How much can one man really help? And what is in that damn coffin?? Watch the movie and you’ll soon find out.

    To be honest, DJANGO is the first western I’ve ever truly watched from start to finish. I’d always heard great things about this film (and the genre), so when I finally got this set and popped the disc into my player you can imagine my anticipation. Well...I wasn’t let down a bit. This is one awesome movie filled to the brim with all of the ingredients needed to make a great film. The acting is pretty good; Nero is great as the character he is most known for but Nusciak is a bit annoying. The rest are all pretty average, nothing special but nothing particularly bad either. The music to this movie rocks. The title song is the ULTIMATE in cheese but I guarantee you’ll be humming it for the rest of the day. The rest of the score is great as well and adds to the whole feel of the movie. Direction by Sergio Corbucci is great, there are plenty of long shots with a lot happening. The best part of this movie, however, is the action. There’s never more than 10 minutes without an awesome gunfight or altercation, and some of the battle scenes are just bad ass. In one scene (I won’t spoil it), we can all see where Tarantino got his inspiration for one of the more memorable scenes in RESERVOIR DOGS. There’s a surprising amount of blood in this movie, nothing overly gory or anything, but there is a fair amount of the good ol’ red stuff. I was surprised seeing this in a movie from ’66, but hey, I’m not one to complain.

    DJANGO is presented in 1.66 Anamorphic Widescreen, and the transfer here is for the most part very good. There are a number of scenes with apparent print damage, but this doesn’t seem to be Blue Underground’s fault at all. The colors are great, and the grain is often kept at bay, although in several scenes it's pretty noticable. It should be noted that this was “restored from the original negative”, so this is probably as good as it gets. The audio is presented in English and Italian mono and English subtitles are optional. The sound is fine throughout, and the English dub track isn’t bad at all. I think it even adds to the fun of this movie.

    The extras are a little thin but still get the job done. There’s a 13 minute featurette with Franco Nero and Ruggero Deodato (who was apparently First Assistant Director). A lot of cool information is discussed, from Nero not being their first choice to the ugly extras to the film’s countless clones. A cool little vignette. The theatrical trailer is also here, again it’s very cheesy but still well-done. There’s a posters and still gallery which is decent and talent bios which are alright (but they never really excite me). There are some cool liner notes by Christopher Frayling the Leone aficionado, which are worth reading as well.

    Overall, DJANGO is a cool flick, and the disc (restored and remastered) is only available in this box set. And hey, if you’re gonna have one, you’ve gotten have ‘em all. Highly recommended.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 4, 2004
  2. Andrew

    Andrew Guest

    DJANGO KILL...IF YOU LIVE, SHOOT!

    The next movie in this collection is Guilio Questi’s DJANGO KILL (IF YOU LIVE, SHOOT!), which has no relation to Corbucci’s DJANGO at all. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth checking out, so keep reading.

    Thomas Milian (referred to only as The Stranger) is a Mexican-American bandit in a group that jumps a wagon crossing the desert. However, seemingly due to some racial tension, the leader of the Americans, Oaks (Piero Lulli), and his men turn on the Mexicans, shooting them and leaving them for dead. Milian is the sole survivor, and is rescued by two Native Americans combing the desert. They find gold with his body, and fashion a number of solid-gold bullets that “go deeper”. The Americans have gone to a nearby town to ask for more horses to trek the desert and offer the bartender a sum of gold if he can help. However, the bartender spills the news to another man, and in consequence the rest of the town finds out, throwing the town into a state of civil unrest. The townspeople kill all of the bandits one by one in various gruesome fashions, and we get to see it all in close detail. However, Oaks is left alive, and when Milian reaches the town he shoots the bastard full of gold (you know, like filling him with lead, except these bullets are gold…get it?...nevermind). Mr. Zorro (Roberto Camardiel), who seems to have some authority the town, comes along and instructs a man to remove the bullets. When the townspeople discover these bullets are made of gold, they tear Oaks apart and he dies. Milian stays in the town over night and the next day meets a kid named Evan (George Lovelock from LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE) who wants to get out of the town, but unfortunately it’s just not in the cards. The next day he meets Zorro and his “muchachos”, a group of black-clothed riders who capture Evan for ransom and take him and Milian back to their camp. The rest of the film is filled with twists and turns as the black riders and Zorro attempt to get the gold from the rest of the townspeople through both ransom (for Evan) and battle.

    Sorry for that being so long, but a lot goes on in this movie. Anyway, this is another great flick here. Thomas Milian does an awesome job as the stranger constantly coping with the memories of almost dying. The rest of the cast is pretty good as well, especially Camardiel who is awesome as Mr. Zorro. The music is great and so is most of the direction, in particular the shootout between Milian and Oaks. Overall though this movie is just intense. There’s a heaping of violence including one gruesome scalping, and the whole feel of the movie is just non-stop action. You keep thinking it’s over, but the movie keeps going (for almost 2 hours). One thing worth mentioning is the strong homosexual undertones. While Evan is under capture you can tell there’s something more than gold that the muchachos are after, if you know what I mean. (Before you call me a homophobic asshole or something, this is confirmed in the featurette.) Lastly this is the first movie I can say that had really awesome editing. I usually couldn’t give two shits but in this it works really well, especially in the scenes in which Milian recalls his near-death experience. Overall this movie rocks, and while it’s very different from DJANGO it’s still very comparable in quality.

    Yet again, we get a fine looking disc. This one’s in Anamorphic 2.35 widescreen, and the movie looks amazing from start to finish. There’s minimal print damage again but it’s far less than in DJANGO and the overall look is much nicer. Grain is very low and colors are great. The audio is again presented in both Italian and English mono with optional subtitles. No problems to speak of.

    The DVD is pretty much the same extras-wise as the DJANGO disc. The featurette runs a bit longer at 22 minutes and Tomas Milian, Guilio Questi, and Ray Lovelock (who I thought was British, due to his name and in LSCL he didn’t seem to be dubbed, but oh well, he’s Italian) all share some cool information. They discuss their careers and the film in general at some length, and it’s a good watch. The trailer for this one is pretty stupid, just silhouettes and the title. No voice over or anything about the actual movie. The stills and talent bios are decent but nothing great, and there are again great liner notes (this time by William Connolly).

    DJANGO KILL was another awesome movie in the Spaghetti Western Collection, full of action and violence galore. Recommended for any fan of…anything.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 4, 2004
  3. Andrew

    Andrew Guest

    RUN MAN RUN

    “Yo amigo!”
    “I ain’t yer amigo you dirty Mexican, now get out of here!”
    ”I think we are in Texas…”

    Milian returns in Sergio Sollima’s RUN MAN RUN, a western-comedy if there ever was one.

    Tomas Milian is Cuchillo, a down-and-out thief who gets thrown in jail shortly after reuniting with his girlfriend Dolores (Chelo Alonso). He’s persuaded by a revolutionary in his cell to help him escape to Texas for $100. Naturally, he obliges and the two set out on horseback. They meet up with a group of bandits and a former sheriff (Donal O’Brian), all of whom are eager to find a stash of money set aside for the people of Mexico to start a revolution. The revolutionary refuses to help them and is killed in the ensuing battle, but before he dies he gives Cuchillo a newspaper that will help him to eventually find the gold. So Cuchillo sets off for Burton City and along the way meets up with a hot Salvation Army chick (“a soldier for the Lord!”) named Penny (Linda Veras), who enlists him as her assistant. He gets caught stealing water by some French bastards but escapes, only to get caught again by the sheriff who gets the paper and gallops off. It turns out Dolores has been following him this whole time, and when she finally catches up to him he’s with the Penny on the ground. Needless to say, [insert cat fight here]. Dolores leaves and Cuchillo helps out Penny with a rally, but he ends up rousing up the people to take some food and then gets tied up again by some Mexican guards. Eventually he gets to come down and meets up with Santillana (John Ireland) who gives him some good advice and freedom from his captors; however he wants Cuchillo to find the gold for him as well. I have to stop there, because this movie is just insane. There’s SO much going on and so many little characters intercrossing that it’d be impossible to explain it all, that’d ruin the fun of the movie.

    RUN MAN RUN is one helluva movie. I know I just said that twice but damn, this one is most definitely the best of the four films. The one aspect this movie has that the other three fail to have is great comedy. Cuchillo’s shenanigans never get old, and his dirty little persona is one that I’m sure anyone will love. He meets up with countless people and each altercation ends up in some hilarious act. The film is full of excellent dialogue and moves along at an excellent pace. At a tad bit over two hours the film never gets boring, and the introduction of countless characters is a huge part of that. Whereas in some films many characters can result in an underdeveloped storyline full of unnecessary sub-plots and conflicts, the supporting roles in RUN MAN RUN only add to the fun, and there is rarely a scene that drags. The real man in this show is of course Cuchillo, portrayed perfectly by Tomas Milian. His comic timing, facial expressions, and genuine acting ability all come together to create this crazy character. Sollima’s direction is top notch, with locations ranging from the desert to the snow he fills the screen with magnificent visuals. While very restrained in its violence, the movie does pack a punch in certain scenes, and the last battle has a bit of blood. All in all though, this is not a movie to gross you out or create a bleak outlook on the world, but rather one that you can just have some fun with. The score also rocks. It’s credited to Bruno Nicolai but it turns out (according to the featurette) that the score was actually composed by Ennio Morricone. Either way, it’s great, and Milian even sings the theme song (Cuchillo constantly hums it throughout the film). Great stuff, this is definitely the best and most fun of the Spaghetti Western Collection.

    The DVD from Blue Underground is presented in 2.35 Anamorphic Widescreen and looks fantastic. There’s very minimal grain, and all of the colors look great. The landscapes are showcased beautifully, and there’s nary a problem to be found. Some light grain, but that’s it. Amazing for a 35 year old film. The Audio is great as well, but again, it’s only in Italian and English mono with optional English subs. One could only wish for some separation with the rousing theme song and gun fights, but alas it was not to be. Minor complaint though, as the mono tracks certainly get the job done.

    This one has is a bit more packed than the other releases in this set, and thankfully so. There is a featurette with Sergio Sollima and Tomas Milian which showcases some cool information on both the various actors used in the film and the actual production. The coolest extra though is "Western Italian Style," a 38 minute feature on the boom of the Italian westerns and has interviews with directors Enzo G. Castellari, Sergio Corbucci, and Sergio Sollima. It’s done in an old-fashioned way, with a narrator talking, and the director turning to say “Well hi there!” in a dubbed voice. I’m not going to complain though, as it’s a whole lot of fun. It’s fluff, but it’s good fluff. Rounding out the extras is an Italian Main Titles Sequence (which isn’t really any different except for the language, although the film has a cool title sequence), an okay Trailer, decent Stills, and some more Talent Bios. This one has the best extras; not by much, but the 38 minute feature is cool.

    RUN MAN RUN is easily the best disc presented in this box set. The film is excellent, full of humor and action, and the disc is packed with some cool supplements and near-perfect A/V. I can’t recommend it enough.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 4, 2004
  4. Andrew

    Andrew Guest

    MANNAJA: A MAN CALLED BLADE

    The last film in Blue Underground’s Spaghetti Western Collection is MANNAJA: A MAN CALLED BLADE, directed by Sergio Martino (of 2019, TORSO, and MOUNTAIN OF THE CANNIBAL GOD fame). How does this one compare to the other excellent entries? Read on to find out my thoughts.

    Maurizio Merli plays a man called Blade, a wandering warrior picking up cash wherever he can. We learn that he prefers to use an axe rather than a gun, and proceeds to chop off a man’s (Donal O’Brian from RUN MAN RUN) arm for a reward. He walks into a bar full of people and meets Voller (John Steiner from TENEBRE and SHOCK), a conniving card player. Blade offers to play with his prisoner as money in the pot. Blade soon discovers that the town is run by a man named McGowan (Philippe Leroy) who has Voller to get things done. McGowan’s daughter is kidnapped, and now it’s up to Blade to get her back. He comes across a caravan full of busty women (apparently “entertainers”) who help him hide from Voller while finding out the true mystery behind what happened to McGowan’s daughter. Blade’s past also comes into play as a childhood experience fuels his desire to rid the town of evil and set things right once again.

    While the summary may seem short, this movie has much less going on than its predecessors. Made 9 years after RUN MAN RUN and at the tip end of the Spaghetti Western boom, MANNAJA seems to be lacking. Whereas the other three films in this set had fantastic storylines (although the first two were rather simplistic, they were still excellently done), this one falls a bit short. The quest to find McGowan’s daughter and the truth about the town isn’t particularly compelling, and I can’t say I was very interested in seeing the outcome. It should be noted though that there is some carnage in several shots, but nothing really overtly violent. The score rocks as well, although the theme song kinda grates on my nerves. The direction, however, is very very good. Martino uses a lot of cool shots and inter-cuts one scene to perfection. Sadly, the story of A MAN CALLED BLADE is the real detractor here, and had there been better material I think Martino and Co. could’ve put together a much better film. But as it stands, MANNAJA is strictly okay, and definitely the low point of this box set.

    Another odd thing about this film is the video quality, presented in 2.35 Anamorphic Widescreen. While it certainly isn’t bad, it’s substantially worse than RUN MAN RUN and DJANGO KILL, both made almost 10 years earlier. There’s some grain and print damage, but it’s not too distracting. The colors (especially in the girls dresses) are quite good and overall it’s a top notch transfer, I was just surprised to see it wasn’t in as good shape as some of the others. No big deal. The audio is the same as all the other discs, Italian and English mono with optional English subs, and while it isn’t great it gets the job done. No real hissing or popping.

    Supplements include a short featurette with Martino in which he discusses the process of making a film and how popular westerns were in Italy (he claims there were up to 150 being released per year!). Some good information in there as well, but nothing groundbreaking. The trailer, stills, and talent bios are all mediocre but worth having I suppose for collector’s purposes.

    I was a bit disappointed in MANNAJA: A MAN CALLED BLADE. While it’s still a decent film, it pales in comparison to the other three in this box set. A weak script really hurt this one, sadly. The disc is simply average, nothing special here. However, for fans I’m sure it’s a definite buy.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 4, 2004
  5. Andrew

    Andrew Guest

    In Review (out of *****):

    DJANGO:
    The Film - ****
    Video - ***
    Audio - ***1/2
    Extras - ***

    DJANGO KILL:
    The Film - ****
    Video - ****
    Audio - ***1/2
    Extras - ***1/2

    RUN MAN RUN
    The Film - ****1/2
    Video - ****1/2
    Audio - ***1/2
    Extras - ****

    MANNAJA: A MAN CALLED BLADE
    The Film - ***
    Video - ***1/2
    Audio - ***1/2
    Extras - ***

    THE SPAGHETTI WESTERN COLLECTION - ****1/2

    My final verdict on this set is that it is fucking awesome. I was incredibly surprised at how great some of these films were, and I’ve had a lot of fun going over the discs these past two days. If anyone is hesitant on getting this set based on a lack of experience in Spaghetti Westerns, rest assured you aren’t going out too far on a limb. The genre is one I look forward to exploring even further (COMPANEROS and FOUR OF THE APOCALYSPE are most definitely my next purchases), and I can’t recommend this set enough. Most sites list this as $60, which is a steal at just $15 per disc. Major credit should be given to Blue Underground for putting this set out. To any fan of European cinema, westerns, or someone who just wants something different (like me):

    Have no fear, The Spaghetti Westerns are here!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 4, 2004
  6. mcchrist

    mcchrist A new breed of pervert!

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    Sweet set up on the reviews dude. I've been wanting this set, but this clinches it. As soon as I can find an affordable copy, it is mine!!!
     
  7. thrashard76

    thrashard76 Guest

    A professionally well done piece Andy. :banana: :banana: :banana: I think you must have spent quite a lot of time exacting what you were going to say and how you outlined each movie (along with the final star points at the end) were written extremely well. :D This boxset will be top of my list next time I go shopping online. Thanks for posting this review Andy, a job well done. :glasses:
     
  8. dvdasia62

    dvdasia62 Guest

    Terrific reviews and yes, an OUTSTANDING release from BU. This set single-handidly got me on an SW kick that is still going strong and shows no signs of letting up! Here are my rankings from the set in order of preference:

    RUN MAN RUN
    MANNAJA
    DJANGO
    DJANGO KILL

    Am I the only one who got a "hint" of Elvis as the catchy main title theme song played for Django???
     
  9. Atmims

    Atmims Guest

    A++ Review Andrew! You did a REALLY good job on this one. I'm impressed. :) I think I will definetly get this set now, It sounds excellent.
     
  10. moogong

    moogong Arte Suave

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    Awesome reviews dude...all of them. You really spent alot of time doing these reviews, I'm impressed!

    I will end up picking these up, its just a matter of time.
     
  11. Andrew

    Andrew Guest

    Awesome, glad to have been some help to you all.

    DVDasia - I really wanted to like MANNAJA but to me it just ended up being kind of "blah". What did you like about it? I guess it just wasn't for me. Any comments welcome though.
     
  12. hell ya!

    hell ya! ~Go ahead, make my day~

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    Damn! I am so glad that you enjoyed the set. Great reviews of all of the movies. I'm really happy that you enjoyed them. I loved this set myself and hope that they release another one. My ranking would be:

    Run Man Run(Milian just fucking rocks, he's really great with Nero in COMPANEROS)
    Django
    Mannaja
    Django Kill!

    Spaghetti Westerns Rule!!!!!!!:banana: :banana:
     
  13. dvdasia62

    dvdasia62 Guest


    Andrew - I think that I found "Mannaja" to be a little bit "different" then most SW's and that is probably one of the things that appealed to me most. I thought Merli made a good anti-hero and I liked his "proficiency" with both pistol and hatchet. I think Martino did a terrific job behind the camera, creating a great atmosphere, especially the opening chase scene through the fog and mist. I also thought the "eyeball torture" scene was incredibly unique and quite bizarre and last but not least, we get John Steiner as a truly sleazy villian. Even though it was all compacted into a 96 minute run time, I kind of wish it went on longer. A very "surreal" Western IMHO. :)
     
  14. Andrew

    Andrew Guest

    That's cool, I definitely agree on the direction and Steiner being awesome. I've always thought he was a bit of a creepy guy.
     
  15. dvdasia62

    dvdasia62 Guest

    Yep, I agree. If your ever looking for a bit of a "different" type of SW, please make sure to eventually check out Castellari's magnificent "Keoma" with Franco Nero as well as Corbucci's incredible snow-bound SW "The Great Silence". Outside of "For A Few Dollars More", "The Great Silence" is my favorite. And, if your a big Van Cleef fan, DO NOT pass up the Wild East DVD of Tonino Valerii's "Day Of Anger". Awesome!
     
  16. EPKJ

    EPKJ Guest

    This set was great. I thought that Run Man Run was the best of the lot. Tomas Milian is a good actor. The weakest link had to be Mannaja. The film is not bad, however, it just seemed a bit flat at the end. Django was a terrific film. The opening with the coffin is a classic scene. Django Kill has Tomas Milian again in what must be the weirdest western ever made. This, of course, means that it is worthy of collection. I hope that Blue Underground does another Spaghetti Western Collection.
     
  17. R. I. P.

    R. I. P. New Member

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    Where can I buy this online? I've been a SW fanatic since my cradle days and my all-time fave has to be "Once Upon A Time In The West" which features Ennio Morricone's most haunting soundtrack ever, IMHO. ;)

    Other SW's I've recently viewed and highly recommend are "Texas Adios" with Franco Nero, "Death Rides A Horse" with Lee Van Cleef, and "Buddy Goes West" with Bud Spencer and also features another classic Morricone soundtrack. :banana:

    R. I. P. :glasses:
     
  18. rhett

    rhett Administrator

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    Wow Andy, those were some great reviews man! I am not a huge fan of westerns, but spaghetti westerns are definitely ones I plan on spending some more time with this summer. From the sounds of it, this set is the perfect place to start!
     
  19. dvdasia62

    dvdasia62 Guest


    I got mine here:


    http://www.xploitedcinema.com/dvds/dvds.asp?title=446
     
  20. Andrew

    Andrew Guest

    I got it at DVDPlanet. And thanks for all the kind words, this thing took me quite a while (like...8 hours total), so I'm glad some people liked it.
     

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