Before you buy your ticket for Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained this Christmas season, it wouldn’t hurt to immerse yourself in the world of Django first. Knowing Tarantino’s knack for taking everything old and making it new again, it could work in your favor more than you’d think. But with 31 films in the Django universe where to start? The obvious would be the original Franco Nero-starring Django of course. But with so many other titles at your disposal, it helps that two Django! Double Feature sets have just arrived on DVD.
The Django! Double Feature DVD sets include the good (A Man Called Django), the bad (Django and Sartana’s Showdown in the West, Django Kill Silently), and the ugly (Django’s Cut Price Corpses). Featuring four different actors playing the titular character in each film, there’s no continuity so you can pick and choose which one you want to watch. The order I just listed them in would be preferred unless you want to save the best for last – then reverse.
The first set includes Django Kills Silently and Django’s Cut Price Corpses. They both feature everything one would expect from a good, old-fashioned Spaghetti Western, however the quality between the two is severe. Silently goes through the motions, but at least it feels like it belongs in the Django series. Corpses feels like something that was cobbled together and the studio slapped the Django name and title on in post-production. Silently finds Django (George Eastman) trying to help newly widowed Linda (Liana Orfei) keep her gold safe from El Santo (Mimmo Maggio) and Corpses has Django (Jeff Cameron) out to rescue his fiancé after she is taken hostage by the Cortes Brothers after robbing a bank hiding out in a cave.
When it comes to the next double feature you may want to watch Django and Sartana before A Man Called Django. But if you really want to get at least a taste of what a Django movie feels like then treat yourself to the prior first. A Man Called Django finds Django (Anthony Steffen) seeking revenge after his wife is killed by a gang of bandits. He finds assistance in Carranza (Stelio Candelli) and together they hunt down the three men responsible for her death. Django and Sartana’s Showdown in the West has Django (Franco Borelli) pairing up with roving gunslinger Sartana (Jack Betts) against Burt Kelly (Gordon Mitchell) after his gang abducts young Jessica (Simonetta Vitelli) holding her hostage on their way to cross the Mexican border.
Aside from a strangely psychedelic title sequence, A Man Called Django is the only film out of all four that even has a real sense of fun. It’s even slightly referential for its time as one character tells Django, “That trick is worth a fistful of dollars!” A sense of humor can go a long way in soothing what still winds up being just lots and lots of gun fighting. Nevertheless, at least you get what you pay for here. And the discs are very cheap on Amazon at only $5.99 each, especially since each disc has two films. They all come in varying aspect ratios and are surprisingly clean prints. Thankfully the audio is recorded at a pretty high volume so you don’t have to crank your equipment up, but the gun fighting does sound tinny enough you may want to consider keeping it lower than usual. The only features for each film are a poster gallery and the films’ trailers.
If you’re looking for something to acquaint yourself with the world of Django you could do far worse than any of these four films. But with Unchained approaching, and the bargain bin pricing, you may as well bask in the glory of close-ups, gun fights, bar brawls, and blaring trumpets that make the world of Spaghetti Westerns what they are, along with the Django universe. Both sets arrive on DVD December 4.