‘He’s got a cross with your name on it.’
Django the Bastard aka The Stranger’s Gundown is a 1969 Italian spaghetti Western feature film about a mysterious stranger who takes revenge on former Confederate officers who during the Civil War were responsible for the massacre of their unit.
Directed by Sergio Garrone (The Hand That Feeds the Dead; Kill Django… Kill First) from a story and screenplay co-written with Antonio De Teffè, the movie stars the latter [as Anthony Steffen] (The Crimes of the Black Cat; The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave) alongside Paolo Gozlino, Luciano Rossi and Teodoro Corrà.
When Franco Nero and Sergio Corbucci brought Django to the screen in 1966, they weren’t to know the extent to which the character would take on a life of his own – perhaps even life after death, if we take Sergio Garrone’s unlicensed follow-up at face value.
The original Django had something of the Grim Reaper about him; wrapped in a heavy black cloak, he travelled with his own coffin and had an unhealthy affinity for cemeteries. It was not too much of a stretch for Garrone and his co-writer and star, the lugubrious Anthony Steffen, to endow the character with seemingly supernatural traits.
Inexpressive even by Steffen’s standards, this iteration of Django is a former soldier on the trail of three officers who left him and his comrades for dead. Instead of a coffin, he totes crosses engraved with the names of his prey. He moves stiffly, like death warmed up (or just about). Through camera trickery and judicious editing, he seems to materialise and disappear at will, terrifying the gunmen employed by Paolo Gozlino, his final target.
Garrone evidently studied the horror stylebook, if only to master the basics, as when Django is revealed in the darkness by a sudden burst of light, appears as a reflection in a water trough, or slides into shot in close-up; the impression gained is of a spectral presence lurking just beyond the frame. He seems invulnerable until wounded by Gozlino’s brother, a psychotic man-child played by Italian trash-film talisman Luciano Rossi. The injury doesn’t hamper Django for long, however, and the ending restores his mystique.
Kevin Grant, MOVIES & MANIA
“A lot of the time it feels like you’re watching a horror film. There was also a pleasing amount of stylised camera angles. Lots of overhead shots and dutch angles that you don’t always see in these types of films. Much like the original Django, Garrone also uses a lot of crucifix imagery which fits perfectly with the old testament/”eye for an eye” atmosphere of the film.” Collected Cinema
“Adding to the spectral quality of De Teffe’s Django are certain gothic touches: the use of crosses to foretell a characters death, the method of disposal Django uses for certain characters, the vengeance from beyond the grave theme that runs throughout the film – this all adds up to give the movie a creepy and at times, quite unsettling atmosphere…” Rock! Shock! Pop!
“Nowhere does Django the Bastard set itself apart from other spaghetti western films than when it comes to this film’s use of Gothic horror elements. The plot revolves around a mysterious stranger named Django, who ability to disappear into the shadows lends to the theory that he’s actually a ghost.” 10K Bullets
Django the Bastard is released on Blu-ray by Synapse Films on August 13, 2019.
Cast and characters:
- Anthony Steffen … Django
- Paolo Gozlino … Major Rod Murdok
- Luciano Rossi … Hugh / Jack Murdok (as Lu Kamante)
- Teodoro Corrà … Williams
- Jean Louis … Howard Ross
- Carlo Gaddi … Brett
- Victoriano Gazzarra … Sam Hawkens
- Thomas Rudy … Rowland (as Tomas Rudi)
- Lucia Bomez … Whore
- Emy Rossi Scotti … Howard’s Wife
- Rada Rassimov … Alethea / Alida Murdok
- 107 minutes
- Audio: mono
- Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1 Techniscope
Not to be confused with $100,000 for a Killing, directed by Giovanni Fago (as Sidney Lean), which was released as Django der Bastard in West Germany.