Directed in 1968 by Ferdinando Baldi, who co-wrote with Franco Rossetti, Django Prepare A Coffin sees Terrance Hill take on the role originally made famous by his lookalike, Franco Nero. While many of the countless knock offs of Sergio Corbucci's original film had absolutely nothing to do with picture that launched the character, this one is a rare exception in that it works quite well as an actual sequel. At the very least, it follows some of the same tropes.
When the movie begins, Django is clearly a changed man. As we catch up with him we learn that he's settled down, gotten married and taken a job working for a local politician named David Barry (Horst Frank). This is all well and good until Barry betrays his employee in order to get his greedy hands on a shipment of gold. While Django is dealing with this, his wife is coincidently murdered at the same time. To make matters worse, as Django heads back home to deal with the cards that life has dealt him, he's snuck up on by a gang led by a man named Lucas (George Eastman). They beat him within an inch of his life.
Time passes and Django takes a new job, this time working as the officially sanctioned town executioner. The reasoning behind this rather drastic career move? To see that justice is served. See, these days Barry and Lucas are framing innocent man and having them hanged so that they can swoop in and make a move on their land. It's nothing more than a money grab. What neither villain knows is that Django isn't actually killing these men as he's ordered to, but instead he's hiding them away until the time is right. He's got plenty of reasons to want revenge, and now these men do too, but Django will learn the hard way that in matters of life and death, it's best to trust no one as the film builds towards a violent conclusion that pays an obvious homage to the finale of the original film.
Nero was originally touted to star in this one until he bailed to go to Hollywood and star in Camelot. Hill, best known for more comedic westerns like the Trinity films and My Name Is Nobody, looks plenty like Nero and has a similar acting style here. As such, he's a perfectly suitable replacement and it's fitting in a way that he'd be hired to play a Nero clone in a movie that is essentially, in a lot of ways at least, a Django clone. The story here doesn't try too hard at all to differentiate itself from Corbucci's Spaghetti Western masterpiece. Once again we see a good man wronged resulting in some gritty violence, dead associates and a finale involving a coffin, a Gatling Gun and a cemetery. The plot moves at a good pace and offers up enough suspense and violence to keep genre fans entertained and the dusty, dirty locations where most of the pictures plays out add a gritty authenticity to the picture.
Hill cruises through the film with enough tough guy charm to win the audience over, but it's George Eastman, better known for his horror/sleaze pictures made with Joe D'Amato like Anthropophagous and Erotic Nights Of The Living Dead than for western work (though this was not the only Spaghetti Western he showed up in), steals every scene that he's in. Eastman's character is very much a larger than life type of bad guy. He's completely villainous in every way and he never tries to hide it. As such, the role plays to Eastman's strengths as an actor, letting him use his size and intimidating screen presence to good effect.
The story itself might be a bit too ‘by the numbers' for its own good, but this one gets things right more often than not. The cinematography and the score are both quite good and the film is nothing if not satisfying entertainment by the time it's all over and done with.The Blu-ray:
Django Prepare A Coffin arrives on Blu-ray in 1.66.1 widescreen in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer taken from a ‘2k scan of a 35mm interpositive' on a 50GB Blu-ray disc. For the most part, the video quality looks pretty good here. Contrast runs a bit hot sometimes but skin coloring looks good and color reproduction is decent given that the movie makes use of a pretty bland color scheme. Black levels stop short of reference quality but generally look fine while there's good texture, depth and detail present throughout but things are a bit softer than you might want and it looks like some light to moderate noise reduction has been applied which means skin looks a little waxy. The transfer is also pretty film-like, with a natural looking grain structure. There are no issues with any noise reduction or edge enhancement nor are there any problems with compression artifacts.Sound:
There are English and Italian language LPCM Mono tracks supplied here, and both of them sound pretty decent. Dialogue is easy enough to follow and the score sounds good. Range is understandably limited here but any hiss or distortion that works its way into the mix is minimal and never particularly intrusive. Optional subtitles are provided in English only that translate the Italian track, while English SDH are offered for the English track.Extras:
The main extra on the disc is an interview with author Kevin Grant entitled Django Explained. In this eight minute piece, Grant explains the origins of the Django character, how and why he appeared in dozens of films, how some of the various ‘sequels' compare to Corbucci's original film and where Django Prepare A Coffin fits in with all of this.
Aside from that we get a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection. As to the packaging, the clear Blu-ray case that the disc is housed in also contains a DVD version of the movie with the same extras found on the Blu-ray disc. We also get some nice reversible cover art as well as an insert booklet containing cast and crew credits, release credits and an essay on the picture entitled The Dead Are in Their Graves by Howard Hughes.Final Thoughts:
Django Prepare A Coffin isn't the greatest Spaghetti Western ever made but it is definitely an entertaining follow up to Corbucci's classic with some fun performances and memorable set pieces. Arrow's Blu-ray offers the film up with a decent, but less than perfect, presentation and some minor but interesting extra features. Recommended for Spaghetti Western fans.