Hanging for Django

Production Year: 1969
Release Date: 10/29/2013
Studio: Raro Video
Collection Number: 1391

With the month of October in full swing and nearly 70 horror films already under my belt it seems almost blasphemous to switch gears and get into a spaghetti western, but I figured a break between vampire flicks might do me a bit of good.

In 1966 Sergio Corbucci's Django set a new standard for the Italian Western, it was violent, it's protagonist was dark and brooding, and it's scope was big.  The film was met with much success and eventually would spawn numerous knockoffs and in some cases re-titlings.  Actor Franco Nero would be followed by the title for decades, for instance his 1966 film Massacre Time (dir. Lucio Fulci) carried the title of Django - Sein Gesangbuch war der Colt When it was released in Germany.  The Django title wasn't just exclusive to the blue-eyed actor, 1969's Hanging For Django has absolutely nothing to do with the character Corbucci created and is lacking Nero's presence.  It's one of well over 50 westerns that at some point were re-titled for purely monetary reasons.

In Hanging For Django two bounty hunters (Johnny; Anthony Steffen and Everett; William Berger) team up in order to capture a group of outlaws who smuggle Mexicans into America for cheap slave laborers.  The group is led by one Mr. Fargo (Riccardo Garrone) who doesn't think twice about the slaughter of innocents when money is involved.

Johnny and Everett head into Mexico with a huge bounty in mind, but when things get personal personalities clash and issues arise.  Johnny is your typical Spaghetti anti-hero, gritty yet quiet, a fast shot with good intentions.  Everett, while not the primary star of the picture is a bit easier to get behind.  He's a bible carrying, seven-barrelled shotgun totin' bounty hunter.

Sergio Garrone (Three Crosses Not To Die) helmed this violent western and boy did he do a wonderful job.  There are some great shootouts throughout the film (especially towards the end,) everything you expect from a spaghetti western is represented here in some form.  The locations are sparse, the editing is tight, and the score is outstanding.

The film boasts a new transfer from the original negative, but things aren't perfect.  There's not as much detail present as one might expect from a high definition transfer.  The colors are natural for the most part but things are a bit soft from time to time.  I'd say this release is average as far as PQ is concerned.

There are two audio tracks available on the disc, an English 2.0 and an Italian 2.0.  The audio is decent with Vasili Kojucharov's score taking center stage.  The sound is pretty even throughout with the dialogue and sound effects clear and never drown-out.  Occasionally there is a slight hiss present, but it's not enough to distract one from the film.

There's one supplement on the disc.
Bounty Killer for a Massacre (SD; 14:33) This is a short documentary covering the director Sergio Garrone, his career, and Hanging for Django.  Manlio Gomarasca really knows his stuff, and while this is just under 15 minutes, he manages to cover a wide range of information regarding the director and his films.

As you can see from the screencap Bounty Killer for a Massacre is severely window-boxed.

The blu-ray includes a slipcover with alternative artwork along with a nice seven page booklet.  The spine has the typical RARO layout and the title is numbered RVDUSA 055.

Hanging for Django isn't the most memorable of Sergio Garrone's work.  It's certainly a case where style comes before substance.  Story wise it's typical western fare, it's edge comes from Garrone's sharp direction and Bianchini's tight editing.  With that said, fans of the genre will want to track this one down, while the PQ on the Raro disc might be average , it's the best release this title has received thus far.