Django, Prepare a Coffin (Italian: Preparati la bara!), 1968.
Directed by Ferinando Baldi.
Starring Terence Hill, Horst Frank, George Eastman, Jose Torres and Pinuccio Ardia.
After the cold-blooded execution of his wife, a lone gun-slinger, Django (Hill), becomes a vigilant for a town at the mercy of his wife’s murderer.
With increasing publicity for the Spaghetti Western genre (specifically those with the name “Django” in the title) thanks to Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, there has never been a better time to seek out the 60s classics. It is worth noting that despite being advertised as a sequel to the Franco Nero-led Django, Django Prepare a Coffin seems more like a prequel with only a few corresponding features.
Django (recommended viewing before this film) has the essentials of many popular cult films – a cheap yet pleasing tone. Likewise, Ferdinando Baldi’s sequel/prequel is rife with dozens of embarrassing nuances though enjoyable nonetheless. Sound effects, acting and editing are noticeably shoddy, yet are balanced out with entertaining action, a captivating lead and some great set-pieces.
Franco Nero was a brilliant Django though; put his and Hill’s films side by side and you can barely tell the difference between the two actors. Seeing the film as a prequel aids the notion of chronology from one film to the next – Hill great as a slightly younger Nero. The character shares a few similarities with the infamous Joe / The Man with No Name figure in the Dollars trilogy (an icon created by Clint Eastwood). He is mostly silent, chews on a cigarillo and knows how to handle a gun. Much like the Leone’s leading man, Hill is incredibly watchable; a believable hero who gets as many victories as he does defeats.
The villains he faces may not remain in your memory like Lee Van Cleef or Henry Fonda (from Leone’s other Spaghetti Western, Once Upon a Time in the West) but he does have a comic side-kick in the form of Pinuccio Ardia and his parade of pet birds (much like Eastwood did with Eli Wallach). It’s mostly how Django goes about killing the baddies that stays in your mind; without giving too much away, a blazing fire in which an actor is licked by flames from all sides (with obvious disregard to health and safety) is astonishing to watch and a terrific scene in a grand set-piece.
Without being as special as Django (that, with its success, spawned numerous Spaghetti Westerns that included the name ‘Django’ in them for mere commercial purposes), Django Prepare a Coffin has its moments. Gun fights and horse-back chases are where the obvious strengths lie – competently executed despite the B-movie class.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Piers McCarthy – Follow me on Twitter.