Django - Italo-Western Box
R2 - Germany - Koch Media
Review written by and copyright: Jari Kovalainen (28th January 2006).
The Film

The box set:

German “Koch Media” has released a quality box set, which includes three Italian westerns; two from actor Gianni Garko, and one from John Richardson. All films are probably remastered, Anamorphic, and have Italian and German audio, with optional English and German subtitles. This 4-disc set also includes a Soundtrack CD and a 24-page booklet, and all are packaged in a digi-pack (which opens wide open, like a cross). Believe me, the quality of the set is in the same level of the best of them, so it´s my pleasure to present the movies on it..


10,000 Dollars Blood Money AKA 10.000 dollari per un massacro (1967)

When Sergio Corbucci made the original “Django (1966)” with actor Franco Nero, he created a character and especially a name that would become almost immortal among the Italian Spaghetti westerns (well, at least until the whole genre died). There are something like 50 movies (probably more) that have a character that is called Django, in Italy, and Germans went even further by dubbing at least another 50 movies in such a way that the lead character is called Django, and that name was often also part of the main title. If we start to be picky, there are only two “official” Django-films; the original from 1966, and the sequel “Django Strikes Again AKA Django 2: Il Grande Ritorno (2002)”, both starring Franco Nero.

Well, fans of Spaghetti westerns probably don´t mind that several films have the character called Django, and one of them is “10,000 Dollars Blood Money AKA 10.000 dollari per un massacro (1967)” by director Romolo Guerrieri (who has worked with different genres, including police films like “Young, Violent, Dangerous AKA Liberi armati pericolosi (1976)”). “10,000 Dollars Blood Money” stars another very familiar name for the fans of Italian westerns, actor Gianni Garko (here billed as Gary Hudson). Garko has been in many movies, but is perhaps best know for playing another known western character “Sartana” is six movies. In this film Django is a successful bounty hunter, who has a special relationship with the known bandit named Manuel (Claudio Camaso). The opening scenes reveal that they know each other, when in a beautiful montage they pass each other by in the desert (visual style clearly borrowed from Sergio Leone). The slightly psychotic Manuel wants his revenge towards a man called Mendoza (Herman Reynoso), who is the reason why Manuel spent four years in jail. His revenge will be harsh, and he takes and kidnaps Dolores (Adriana Ambesi), who is the daughter of Mendoza. Mendoza wants her back, so he goes to meet Django, offering a bounty for Manuel´s head.

“10,000 Dollars Blood Money” is one of the better spaghetti westerns. Garko gives a solid performance, as does Camaso on the opposite side, and their chemistry works well together. The main key in the film is to build the tension between Django and Manuel basically throughout; first as almost having some mutual respect towards each other, then as brief partners, and then full on enemies. As the film progress, the price offer for Manuel´s head rises up to the 10 000$, so Django will finally accept the offer. Here the story takes a twist in another direction, since what should be a “duel to the death”-type of confrontation, between Django and Manuel, turns instead into a partnership, when they join forces to rob a stagecoach. There´s also a refreshing romantic aspect, when Django and saloon owner Mijanou (Loredana Nusciak) fall in love, even though Mijanou doesn´t want to admit it at first. Their chemistry also works nicely and is believable, and another important aspect of the film is how Django in some ways has to choose between love and the money, since he can´t have them both. From the supporting actors can be mentioned Fernando Sancho (who plays Manuel´s father), and Fidel Gonzáles, who plays Fidelio, Django´s right hand in difficult situations. Sancho is a Spanish actor that everyone with a little experience of Italian westerns probably knows right away, since he has been in so many westerns, and he always does a good job (often playing some Mexican bandit or general).

From the opening scene at the beach you kind of feel that this is going to be a good western ride, and “10,000 Dollars Blood Money” is just that. Garko and Camaso create interesting characters, and plenty is going on between those two when the film goes forward. Why do Django and Manuel turn into bitter enemies then? That´s the thing you'll have to find out for yourself..

Vengeance Is Mine AKA Per 100,000 dollari ti ammazzo (1967)

“The past is just like an old wound, and old wounds hurt again and again..” says Johnny Forest (Gianni Garko) - here again billed as Gary Hudson - and remembers his past. Johnny and his brother Clint (Claudio Camaso) were once close brothers, living in a big mansion with their father and mother. When Johnny admits that he´s not actually a real son of his father, Clint gets furious, running his brother out of the house. Their father goes after him, and in that moment the jealousy and bitterness takes over Clint, who shoots his own father. When stunned Johnny comes back onto the scene, he sees his dead father on the ground, and after that he´s also committed to jail for ten years for a crime he didn´t commit. After prison time, Johnny has worked as a bounty hunter, trying to live with his past. When he finds out that there´s a bounty for his brother Clint, he has a difficult choice: Will he have his revenge after all these years, or will he fulfill the last wish from her dying mother; bring Clint to jail, but alive.

Director Giovanni Fago (here as Sidney Lean) has a few spaghetti westerns under his belt and from the later period mainly TV-work, and while he´s not one of the most experienced directors among the Italian westerns, his work in “Vengeance Is Mine AKA Per 100,000 dollari ti ammazzo” is fresh and solid throughout the film. If Johnny and Clint are brothers in the film, you could say that this film is a cousin with the first film in the box set, “10,000 Dollars Blood Money AKA 10.000 dollari per un massacro”. Both films are made in the same year, have similar original titles, and both have the actors Gianni Garko and Claudio Camaso working side by side; sometimes as partners, but deep down as enemies. The film deals with some difficult issues, like two brothers hating each other, but at the same time a strange bond is between them. Johnny tries to follow his conscience, which tells him to do the right thing and bring Clint to jail alive (like his mother has asked him to), but the burning feeling of revenge will make his decisions more difficult. Some connections can be found with the old “Kain and Abel”-story, and the familiar theme of revenge is still strong in the film.

“Vengeance Is Mine” is an enjoyable film, which is spiced with more serious and even touching issues of brotherhood and also love, when Anne (Claudie Lange) is introduced. This woman has a strong effect on Johnny, even after all those years. The film also has some good old fashion western shoot-outs and character Jurago (Piero Lulli) adds some confusion to the story, when he also wants to have revenge towards Clint, so Johnny actually has to team-up with his brother again at some point along the way. Actor Fernando Sancho is in this film also, briefly, when he´s part of the great opening scene. In German the film is called “Django - Der Bastard”, and in the German track Johnny is sometimes called “Django”. Otherwise this has nothing to do with Django-character.

Execution (1968)

The last film in the set comes from the director/co-writer Domenico Paolella, who has done several Peplums (Sword & sandal movies) and a few nunsploitation –movies (among the other genres). Lead actor of “Execution”, John Richardson, has a double role in the film, when he plays both brothers John and Bill Coler. Bill is a part of a theatrical group, who travel from town to town to give shows for the town people (these shows include things like gun handling and shooting, in humorous ways). Bounty hunter Clint (Mimmo Palmara) is after Bill, and when he recognizes him during one show, he goes and captures Bill in front of all the people. Well, too bad for both Bill and Clint that the evil Mexican bandit Juarez (Néstor Garay) and his gang also arrive on the scene with guns blazing, taking both of the men into their custody (not in a very friendly way, but rather by dragging them with ropes behind their horses). In their hideout the already battered Bill is tortured even more, and soon it´ll be discovered that both Clint and Juarez are actually looking for the John Coler, the brother of Bill, since he has been stealing and hiding some gold. Even being the wrong man doesn´t save Bill, who now has to find his brother for Juarez..

“Execution” is probably the weakest film from the set, but this doesn´t mean that it´s in any way “bad”. The quite simple story has been done in a somewhat confusing way, and it probably takes some time from the viewer to understand where the film is trying to go for the first 20 minutes or so. The characters are too thin, and even though the actor John Richardson (known actor from e.g. such Euro films like “Black Sunday AKA La Maschera Del Demonio (1960)”, “Torso AKA I Corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale (1973)”, and “The Church AKA La Chiesa (1986)”) gives a good performance, succeeding in playing both characters differently, he doesn´t get that much support from the other players. Once the main story is revealed and the goal of the film is set, the film gets better, delivering a few well made action sequences and interesting acting from Richardson, who´s switching between the good Bill, and more reckless John. The film is not dull at any point, and the visual style works nicely for the film.

“Execution” might not be at the same level of the fist two films in the set (or maybe I got used to seeing Garko and Camaso), but to my knowledge this is the debut DVD-release of the film, and that alone is a worthy of a little fanfare towards “Koch Media”. German title is “Django - Die Bibel ist kein Kartenspiel”, which is my opinion the only connection to the Django-character.

Video

10,000 Dollars Blood Money AKA 10.000 dollari per un massacro (1967)

The film is presented in Anamorphic 2.35:1, and looks very good. I have actually very little to complain about; colours and black levels are solid and the transfer is clean (there are only minor film artifacts in some scenes). I didn´t see any mentionable amounts of edge enhancement (perhaps a little bit), and the disc is dual-layer, keeping the bitrate at a good level. Obviously “very good” here doesn´t mean the same as e.g. in the new release of “Titanic”, but I doubt that the film can look any significantly better in DVD-format than the one here from “Koch Media”. The disc runs 93:29 min (PAL) and is coded “R2”. There are 16 chapters.

Vengeance Is Mine AKA Per 100,000 dollari ti ammazzo (1967)

The Anamorphic 2.35:1 –transfer is again at a high level. Colours, black levels and skin tones are all natural and strong, and high bitrate keeps the compression artifacts away (disc is dual-layer). Transfer is also clean and sharp, but there are a few scenes that have some minor vertical lines going trough the image, but you hardly notice them. There are also some scenes that are out of focus etc, but that´s not the fault of the transfer. There might be some mild edge enhancement, but nothing that should be worried about. The disc runs 91:34 min (PAL) and is coded “R2”. There are 16 chapters.

Execution (1968)

Unlike the other two films in the set, “Execution” is presented in Anamorphic 1.85:1. Since so many spaghetti westerns are shot in Scope, you might wonder if this is the OAR. The answer is that I can´t be 100% sure, but the film didn´t look cropped or badly composed. The transfer itself follows the heels of the other too, so it´s again very good, boosting strong black levels, quite natural colors, and the print is clean from the dirt and film artifacts once again. Disc is also “dual layer”, which helps in keeping the bitrate high. Another great effort by “Koch Media”. The disc runs 88:31 min (PAL) and is coded “R2”. There are 16 chapters.

Audio

10,000 Dollars Blood Money AKA 10.000 dollari per un massacro (1967)

Two audio tracks are included: Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, and German Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono. The interesting fact is that the back cover and menu both list only German subtitles, but there are also English ones included, which makes me clap my hands like a little kid in a candy store. The Italian track is good, with no loud hiss or distortion. If you turn the volume up you can hear that the track is not perfectly clean, but it does the job very well. German track is technically better for e.g. the dialogue being cleaner, but I´m sure that Italian track is the better option to see this film (it´s after all an Italian film).

Vengeance Is Mine AKA Per 100,000 dollari ti ammazzo (1967)

Like with the first film, two audio tracks are again included: Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, and German Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono. The back cover and menu both list only German subtitles, but there are also English ones included. The Italian-track is a good one, with clear dialogue and the background noise doesn´t bother much. The German-track is some ways better with clearer dialogue, but overall both are solid Mono-tracks. I actually have an English language copy of the film, and it would´ve been nice also to include English tracks in the box set. It has to be said though, that at least in “Vengeance Is Mine”, the English track is not really “better” than the Italian one, and both seem to be dubbed (as is usually the case).

Execution (1968)

Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, and German Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono are the usual audio choices, and although the back cover and menu both list only German subtitles, English ones are also included. This time the Italian track is a bit better, since the German-track has more background noise in some scenes. Dialogue is louder in the German track, but not necessarily better. No big complaints on the audio front, and Italian Mono-track does its job rather well.

Extras

10,000 Dollars Blood Money AKA 10.000 dollari per un massacro (1967)

Disc starts with “Mondo Garko 1” -featurette, which is the first part of the lengthy interview with the actor Gianni Garko (“Part 1” runs 24:09 minutes). More good news, since even when the featurette is in Italian, optional English or German subtitles are included. Garko is a good and relaxed person to interview (he speaks for the audience, not for the interviewer), and he talks about his alias (“Gary” from Gary Cooper, and “Hudson” from Rock Hudson) and tells both uplifting and sad stories about his co-star Claudio Camaso, who ended up committing suicide after he accidentally killed his friend. I guess sometimes real life is more sad than in the films. Garko also talks about the character which he made famous, Sartana, and also a fellow actor Klaus Kinski, and this time in a very positive way (we all know Kinski´s reputation). They also show some clips from the films.

2 theatrical trailers are next, both Anamorphic: German (3:14 min) and Italian (3:19 min). Italian trailer is in very good shape. Photo gallery includes 9 photos; posters and lobby cards. Lastly, there are DVD credits.

Vengeance Is Mine AKA Per 100,000 dollari ti ammazzo (1967)

First there is the second part of the “Mondo Garko” -featurette, which runs 28:43 minutes this time. Like with the “Part 1”, this is also in Italian, with optional English or German subtitles. Here Garko speaks about his co-actors along the way, like William Berger, George Wang, and Piero Lulli, telling some anecdotes during the production of the films they made together and their careers generally. He also continues to talk about his Sartana-movies, and a few other people also speak about Garko in this featurette; Giuliano Carnimeo (director of Sartana-movies and others Italian westerns), and actor Guglielmo Spoletini (who sadly passed away last year). “Mondo Garko 1 & 2” is a quality interview session and also a small retrospective of a funny, intelligent, and youthful Garko, who clearly enjoyed making spaghetti westerns and also respected them (“I enjoyed being a cowboy”). Kudos to “Koch Media” for making this fine interview, and adding also English subtitles.

2 theatrical trailers are included, both Anamorphic: German (2:47 min) and Italian (3:07 min). Photo gallery includes 9 photos (posters and lobby cards) and German press book (which includes 16 photos/text). DVD credits rounds up the extras.

Execution (1968)

Extra-section is more light this time, and it includes Italian theatrical trailer (2:39 min, in Anamorphic), and photo gallery, that includes 5 photos (posters and lobby cards) and German press book (which includes 8 photos/text). DVD credits are also included.

Box set has also a 24-page booklet, all in German. It includes the history of “Django”-films and other liner notes by Wolfgang Luley (not many photos I´m afraid).

Bonus disc:

The last disc in the set is a soundtrack CD, which includes music from two films: 18 songs from “10,000 Dollars Blood Money AKA 10.000 dollari per un massacro”, and 13 songs from “Vengeance Is Mine AKA Per 100,000 dollari ti ammazzo”, both from composer (Nora Orlandi). Here´s the track list:

1) 10,000 Dollari Per Un Massacro/Ten Thousand Dollars For A Massacre (2:18 min)
2) Il Socio/The Partner (2:02 min)
3) Tradimento/Betrayal (1:18 min)
4) Criminali/Criminals (0:59 min)
5) Rapimento/Kidnapping (1:48 min)
6) La Figlia/The Daughter (1:07 min)
7) Il Padre/The Father (1:24 min)
8 ) La Promessa/The Promise (1:23 min)
9) DJango Per Diecimila Dollari/Django For Ten Thousand Dollars (1:38 min)
10) Denaro/Money (1:36 min)
11) La Missione/The Mission (0:51 min)
12) Pajarito (1:10 min)
13) Il Massacro/The Massacre (2:08 min)
14) Il Socio/The Partner (II) (1:19 min)
15) La Ragazza/The Girl (2:06 min)
16) Il Massacro/The Massacre (II) (1:55 min)
17) Liberazione/Liberation (4:21 min)
18 ) Oro Insanguinato (2:10 min)

*

19) All' Ultimo Sangue/The Last Blood (1:45 min)
20) Il Giorno Dell'Odio/The Last Day (1:59 min)
21) Il Cacciatore/Head Hunter (2:39 min)
22) L'Accusa/The Accusation (2:31 min)
23) Parricidio/Parricide (1:21 min)
24) La Taglia/The Reward (1:06 min)
25) Soldati/Soldiers (3:10 min)
26) Caccia Al Fratello/Brother Hunt (1:01 min)
27) Il Duello/The Duel (1:07 min)
28 ) La Tagli/The Reward (II) (1:21 min)
29) Parracidio/Parricide (II) (1:18 min)
30) Il Duello/The Duel (II) (1:41 min)
31) Infanzia/Childhood (1:22 min)

Overall

10,000 Dollars Blood Money AKA 10.000 dollari per un massacro (1967)

Great start for the box set, and actually the only film in this set, where the lead character is called “Django” in the original Italian track also. German title is “Django - 10.000 blutige Dollar”. There´s a Japanese DVD-release (Italian audio only, with Japanese subtitles) also. I compared quickly these two releases, and the German-release might be a bit better since it uses a dual-layer disc, but there are no huge differences.

Vengeance Is Mine AKA Per 100,000 dollari ti ammazzo (1967)

It really works well to include another film in the box set that has some connections to the earlier film, and knowing that actor Claudio Camaso left this world a bit too soon makes this box set a good and recommended way to see some of his work as an actor. He was indeed a good actor.

Execution (1968)

“Execution” rounds up a great package for the spaghetti western -fans, and this probably was the “western DVD-release” of the year in 2005 (along with the German Leone-releases by “Paramount”). If you´re into the wonderful world of Italian westerns, don´t hesitate to get this set, it´ll be worth it and English subtitles are indeed included. For the purists, it´s missing the English audio tracks, which would´ve been nice addition to make this set “definitive”, but that is a minor issue.

For more info, please visit the homepage of Koch Media.

The Film: Video: Audio: Extras: Overall:

 


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