Django, Prepare a Coffin Blu-ray Review
Directed by Ferdinando Baldi
Written by Ferdinando Baldi and Franco Rossetti
1968, Region B/2, 88 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
Blu-ray released on 10th June 2013
Terence Hill as Django
Horst Frank as David Barry
George Eastman as Lucas
José Torres as Garcia
Pinuccio Ardia as Orazio
Guido Lollobrigida as Jonathan Abbott
Like Enzo G. Castellari's 1978 war film Inglorious Bastards, this is almost completely unrelated to the recent Quentin Tarantino release to which it lends its name. And, like Inglorious Bastards, you can find Django, Prepare a Coffin in most supermarkets, hoping to fool unsuspecting shoppers into thinking that it does have something to do with Mr. Tarantino. Well, you should be better versed in cinematic history then, shouldn't you?
The excellent Django Unchained is a Django film in so much as its lead character is named Django and he too shoots a lot of people. There end the similarities. The Django of Prepare a Coffin is not Jamie Foxx (or indeed, black at all) and at no point is he chained. So, I suppose, technically he is Django unchained, if you want to get pedantic about it. Terence Hill plays the mysterious gunfighter, hired by a corrupt small town politician to execute innocent locals. Unbeknown to our villain, however, Django is not murdering the men on his most wanted list, but instead faking their deaths and building a gang for his own vengeful purposes. Those shady politicians really should be more careful with their hiring policies. At least try a background check – make sure you didn't maybe have a certain someone's family murdered before you go giving him a job.
Given the character's considerable influence on the B-movie Western scene, I'm ashamed to say that I was only barely familiar with the films of Django before Tarantino's Unchained. If, last year, you'd asked me if I'd seen that film about a mercenary named Django, I would have probably replied “Yeah, I've seen Attack of the Clones. Shut up, I'm trying to forget the fact that I saw Attack of the Clones.” That film did have a black Jango though (the D is non-existent). To confuse matters more, Prepare a Coffin is itself a loose remake of Franco Nero's Django, which has the honour of being the first of thirty-one (!) Django films. It's perhaps the most notable, thanks to some great imagery (Terence Hill sporting an enormous machine gun) and the best title of the bunch. Not that I'm about to wade through the other twenty-nine to find out whether they're any cop or not.
To modern audiences, Prepare a Coffin may seem slow and dated. Its reputation as being one of the most violent Westerns of all time does it few favours, as gorehounds are bound to tune in expecting something completely different. The story and pacing is slow too, and will have many giving up before Django even has a chance to break out his big gun.
Fans of Westerns and cult cinema will find much to enjoy in Django, Prepare a Coffin. It is, after all, a genuinely influential artefact that did a great deal to revitalise the genre and spawn a name that resounds even today. If this Django is chained, it's only the weight of expectation and Quentin Tarantino that drags it down.
Video and Audio:
The film gets a lovely new High Definition transfer, in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio. It sounds great too, whether it be in English or the original Italian.
Extras are surprisingly thin on the ground, given Arrow's usual standard of excellence. Beyond a few trailers and a collectors' booklet, there's only the (catchily titled) Django Explained which is of any note, being an interview with Spaghetti western historian and author Kevin Grant. The extras may seem a bit sparse, but maybe we've just been a bit spoiled lately.