Django the Bastard (1969)

Genres - Western  |   Sub-Genres - Spaghetti Western  |   Run Time - 107 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Donald Guarisco

Better known to English-speaking audiences as The Stranger's Gundown, Django Il Bastardo is an inspired mixture of the spaghetti western and the gothic horror film. The script takes a standard revenge plot and gives it new life by adding horror-oriented touches (showdowns in a church and a graveyard, effective use of crucifix imagery) and making the viewer question whether the avenger hero is living or a ghost. Sergio Garrone's direction gives the film a suitably surrealistic style, ladling on the gothic atmosphere while deploying all manner of unusual camera angles to capture the story's unusual events. He also gets strong performances from Anthony Steffen, who brings an interesting combination of charisma and ambiguity to the role of the mysterious hero, and Luciano Rossi, who offers a suitably wild-eyed and intense turn as the craziest of the hero's foes. Also of note is Rada Rassimov, who offers an intriguingly tough and manipulative variation on the usual female character in this kind of film. All in all, Django Il Bastardo is a fascinating genre cross-breed (some even suggest that it was an influence on High Plains Drifter) and well worth the time for any viewers interested in Eurocult fare.