The B-Movie Isle (05/11/17)
The B-Movie Isle a small written (sometimes) weekly companion piece to the B-Movie Podcast.
Every B Movie is an Isle onto itself. The B-Movie Isle recommends a few films either being released or already released in theaters, VOD, streaming or on Blu-Ray/DVD. These are not going to be blockbusters but those movies you’ll probably find in the door buster clearance bin. Films that people told you weren’t worth your time or you may have not heard about. You and I know they’re just un-enlightened to the beauty of a killer B-Movie!!!
THE TOP SHELF TITLE AKA FEATURED TITLE OF THE WEEK
The Movie: In the absence of Sergio Corbucci and Franco Nero (or QT and Jamie Fox) this is the closest to that anyone got a true blue sequel (that’s actually prequel) to the original Spaghetti Western Classic. Part Revenge, Part men on a mission film the central conceit for Django, Prepare a Coffin is pretty clever. Taking place before the original Django, we find younger Django (Terrence Hill in place of Franco Nero) betrayed by a senator over a gold shipment. This betrayal costs Django his wife. Thus begins his amassing of a team of men, wrongly convicted of murders they did not commit. The how’s and why’s of this, I’ll let the film explain. Once the team is in place Django’s revenge is begun to be exacted.
The film is a straight ahead down and dirty revenge western. Director Fernando Baldi is skilled but Corbucci’s stylish direction is missed. As is Franco Nero as Django, Terrence Hill oddly looks like Nero in a Xerox way. Hill does what he can but he does not have the gravitas that Nero. Hill plays Django silently but without the authority that Nero brings to the role, the anger that he also brought it feels like a pale imitation.
The film works quiet well even with Hill being an ill-fit for the role. Though it should be stated that Hill may be the best of the literal 50 plus Django-Imitators (I personally have seen much-much-much worse with my viewing of at least 8 Django other “Django” movies). The story and action keep the film moving quickly at 92 minutes there isn’t much time or space for breathing let alone contemplation of its status as a sequel/prequel. Baldi as a director understands that he may not have Nero but when Hill is shooting a six shooter or mowing down hombres with a machine gun… you can’t go wrong.
The Transfer: The transfer that Arrow procured for this release looks wonderful. Like most Italian films of this era there is a verboseness to the color and contrast. They’ve managed to translate that quite well to this release. Black levels and grain structure perfect. The picture is so clear you’ll be able to tell when the focus puller had a “bad day” (and there are a few in this film). Compliments to Arrow Video in getting such a great transfer.
The Extra Features: Special Features include:
- Django Explained – A new interview with Spaghetti Western expert and author Kevin Grant
- Original Trailer
The interview with Grant about Django and his many incarnations is a fascinating peak into Italian Genre cinema that should peak anyone’s interest that’s begun their dive into the fascinating world of that particular country’s genre output.
The Bottom Shelf: Django, Prepare a Coffin is the sequel/prequel worthy of your time. Terrence Hill fills in the rather largely iconic shoes of Franco Nero the best he can. If you’re a Django fan, prepare for a pretty lean and mean spaghetti western. Recommended.
The Movie: Sibling rivalry, crazed lunatic evil children, haunted paintings, blackmail, models, gas lamping, red capes, fashion… Emilio Miragalia is at it again with another Gas Lamping flavored Giallo film; The Red Queen Kills Seven Times. Beginning with an almost Dario Argento dream like quality, we learn that a family is cursed by a haunted painting. The efficiency at which Miragalia setups up the premise is almost too fast. There are logical questions (hints of Argento) that come up in the opening moments that you just must flow with. Though these logic questions are answered late in the film, the way directed it feels like bad filmmaking rather than purposeful omissions.
Miragalia’s film is as sleazy as they come. It’s not sleaze on the level of Hitch-Hike but it’s in that same realm for most of the film. The director seems to revel in the pain that everyone want to put Kitty (Barbara Bouchet) through. If not being chased by the Red Queen, who may or may not be the ghost of her dead sister, she’s being blackmailed by her dead sister’s boyfriend or tormented by the police or being judged by everyone at work. If it were done with a flair for the dramatic the film would almost be insufferable.
The film and its director definitely are skilled at what they do, and in parts the film is highly effective. The film is overstuffed with ideas, too many plot machinations at once for a 95 minute film to hold. If they had taken one less the film would have worked to better effect. At this point it’s a fascinating overstuffed mess.
The Transfer: It’s a solid transfer. No real issues. Like many of the Giallo Films that Arrow has released this film looks beautiful, keeping that specific look at that Italian genre films of the 1970’s had. It’s that rich colors and deep contrast levels.
The Extra Features: Special Features include:
- New audio commentary by Alan Jones and Kim Newman
- Exclusive interview with actress Sybil Danning
- New interview with critic Stephen Thrower
- Archival introduction by production/costume designer Lorenzo Baraldi
- Dead à Porter– archival interview with Lorenzo Baraldi
- Rounding Up the Usual Suspects– archival interview with actor Marino Masé
- If I Met Emilio Miraglia Today– archival featurette with Erika Blanc, Lorenzo Baraldi and Marino Masé
- My Favourite… Films– archival interview with actress Barbara Bouchet
- Alternative opening
- Original Italian and English theatrical trailers
The best feature is the new interview with critic Stephen Thorwer that give you more context for Miragalia’s work and the film itself. Sampling the commentary found a very compelling Kim Newman discussing the giallo film and this films place in the pantheon. The rest of the special features all help shed light on the production of the film.
The Bottom Shelf: A worthy purchase for any Giallo Geek or fans of sleazy aesthetics, they will love Miragalia’s work here. Recommended (but only for those familiar with Giallo).