One al dente, one mush. Just in time to soak up some of that residual promo gravy from
DJANGO KILLS SILENTLY
Reading that synopsis, it's not hard to figure out what 1964 international box office sensation starring Clint Eastwood and directed by Sergio Leone influenced Django Kills Silently's script. Written by "Leonide Preston" (Renato Polselli, of Psych-Out for Murder), with Lina Caterini and Paul Farjon, and directed by "Max Hunter" (Massimo Pupillo, of The Bloody Pit of Horror and Five Graves for a Medium fame), Django Kills Silently certainly makes no bones about incorporating most of the spaghetti Western conventions already firmly established just four or five years into the genre's worldwide preeminence. Bearing no official relationship to the iconic Sergio Corbucci classic, Django (just like the 25-30 other Django titles that were released), Django Kills Silently takes the two basic frameworks of the mysterious gunman playing two villains-in-an-uneasy-alliance off each other, and the mysterious stranger seeking vengeance after a friend is killed, to competently deliver up some western all'italiana fun. I don't know who designed the opening credits, but they look like Western Pop Art: perfectly composed comic book frames of hands waiting to draw pistols, as the post-production camera telecines back and forth with Eastman on his horse (at 6'9", stiff-as-a-board Eastman moves like Herman Munster, but who cares?). Director Pupillo shows a lot of style when he zooms that camera in and out as Eastman shoots his canteen ever-higher into the sky, and he knows how to choreograph a clean, exciting fistfight (good lighting effects, too, during that first one). Best of all, that "pistol porn" montage of close-ups of guns that precedes the big gundown is terrific, until all hell breaks loose with one of the noisiest shootouts I've seen in awhile. And of course, the post-dub is just what I want: in-and-out of synch, over-emphatic, with that wonderfully nostalgic hollow sound (I can't be the only one who loves listening for all those exaggerated footsteps and horse clip-clops, and the jangles of spurs and guns in these spaghetti Westerns?). No great shakes in the scheme of things, Django Kills Silently delivers its goods competently...with a few dashes of style and verve to make you pay attention.
DJANGO'S CUT PRICE CORPSES
Django ("Jeff Cameron"/ Goffredo Scarciofolo) is south of the border looking for four men: the Cortez Brothers. They're wanted for murdering Yankee red hair Bonnie's (Dominique Badou) parents...who just happen to own a gold mine. Bonnie is kidnaped, and Django has his own personal reasons for wanting her back. Luckily, he's got some help. Bull moose Pickwick (John Desmont), searching for his beloved grandpappy's saddle, knows the Cortez Brothers have it. Silver City Bank agent Fulton (Gengher Gatti) is looking for the boys, too: they robbed the bank and the owners want the gold back. And saloon owner/sexy widow Donna Dolores (Angela Portaluri) has reason to help out Django, too...in the bedroom, and out on the range, where her lover, Pedro Ramirez ("Mark Devis"/Gianfranco Clerici) is hiding out, having killed a lecherous army officer.
The last line of Django's Cut Price Corpses is, "The worst is over, the best is just beginning." Aaaaaaaaa-men. A confusing, boring mishmash, the best thing going for Django's Cut Price Corpses is that sensational title...and that's about it (when I saw the wanted poster that Django hands to Fulton was xeroxed, I knew I was doomed). By 1971, the spaghetti Western as straight actioner was already passe and headed straight for extinction, and with tepid outings like Django's Cut Price Corpses, it's not hard to see why. Devoid of any real suspense (the storyline by scripter/director Luigi Batzella/Paolo Solvay, is often incomprehensible), and criminally short on action, Django's Cut Price Corpses doesn't rip-off spaghetti Western conventions as much as limply make a dazed pass at them and then giving up. Directed with a dispirited ennui by notorious hack Batzella, Django's Cut Price Corpses's flat framing, uninspiring vistas, and silly fights and shoot-outs scream "amateur hour" as Cameron goggles his eyes in a bizarre transposition of Eastwood, Desmont stumbles and roars like a very poor man's Bud Spencer, and Gatti tries his best to be cultured and deadly like Van Cleef in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly...but winds up more like The Effete, The Non-Threatening, and The Boring. According to a few of my reference books, between 600 and 700 spaghetti Westerns were produced during the heyday of the genre. I haven't even seen a tenth of that number...but Django's Cut Price Corpses ranks pretty low on that list.
Paul Mavis is an internationally published film and television historian, a member of the Online Film Critics Society, and the author of The Espionage Filmography.