• Django, Prepare A Coffin

    Released By: Arrow Video
    Released On: April 25, 2017.
    Director: Ferdinando Baldi
    Cast: Terence Hill, Horst Frank, George Eastman, José Torres
    Year: 1968
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    The Movie:

    In 1966, Sergio Corbucci's Western film Django turned Franco Nero into an instant legend as the coffin-dragging title character, still blowing minds over 40 years later, and spawned a billion unofficial sequels ranging from decent to horrific. And while my own personal favourite remains 1969's Django The Bastard, 1967's Django, Prepare A Coffin is one of the more intriguing sequels; utilizing parts of the writing staff, production team, and cinematographer Enzo Barboni from Corbucci's original film, and reputed to have been conceived as a return to the character for Nero. By taking the title character and linking to the story of the 1966 film, Prepare a Coffin invites itself to comparison with its predecessor; some very large boots to fill.

    With Franco Nero unavailable due to other commitments, Django, Prepare A Coffin features Nero lookalike Terence Hill in the lead role, a solid casting choice who would later become a legend in the genre as Trinity. The film starts out with recently elected politician David Barry (Horst Frank) narrowly avoiding a duel with an irate constituent thanks to Django's intervention. To show his gratitude, Barry offers to Django the opportunity to move up the political ladder with him, promising unimaginable wealth. Django's got other plans, however, telling Barry that he's got a shipment of gold to get to Atlanta, a trip that he'll be making with his wife.

    Like the shady politician that he is, however, Barry helps orchestrate the robbery of Django's stagecoach, an ambush that results in Django's wife being killed and Django left for dead. After burying his wife, Django changes his identity and becomes a hangman, but uses his new profession to fake the executions of men wrongfully convicted of stagecoach robberies; robberies orchestrated by the nefarious Lucas (George Eastman). When Django learns that Lucas is in fact backed by Barry, he assembles the "hanged men" he has saved and trains them as an army, with plans to bring down Lucas and Barry during a massive stagecoach heist. But with so much gold hanging in the balance, loyalty to the man who saved them gets called into question, placing Django in the clutches of his enemies.

    As far as comparisons to its namesake go, Django, Prepare A Coffin could do a lot worse with not having Corbucci at the helm and a different actor in the lead role. Terence Hill does a fantastic job here, in both physical similarities to Nero as well as the mannerisms; it's easy to forget that you're not watching Franco Nero. And while most of the other actors in the film carry out their roles in an unremarkable manner, both Horst Frank and George Eastman display immense talent in creating evil characters, with a slight edge given to Eastman's gang leader Lucas. The score is decent with its twangy guitars, and even though the opening song will never match Rocky Roberts' crooning masterpiece, Nicola Di Bari makes a good effort with, "You'd Better Smile".

    There are, however, a number of flaws with the film as well. Director Ferdinando Baldi is no Sergio Corbucci, and aside from a lack of the latter's trademark violence that made the first Django film such a classic, Baldi also lacks Corbucci's sense of pacing. As a result, Prepare a Coffin goes through long stretches where nothing interesting happens, slowing to a painful crawl 2/3 into the film. Thankfully, it goes out with a bang, but the final payoff is less impressive, considering the journey. The writers can take partial credit for this as well, as the stretching required to connect certain plot points exceeds the normal requirements for suspension of belief. All in all, this followup isn't a bad film by any means, but it certainly looks flimsy when held up against what Corbucci and Nero brought to the screen.


    Django, Prepare A Coffin comes to Arrow Blu-ray (with included DVD) with a 1.66:1 AVC-encoded transfer that is acceptable, but that's about it. Most likely due to the source material, the picture quality is inconsistent with many scenes appear flat and unimpressive, though grain is apparent and detail comes through nicely in others. Colour leans towards yellow and brownish and shouldn't be expected to dazzle the viewer, especially considering the source's recent 2K transfer. However, print damage and debris is almost non-existent.

    The soundtrack fares just about as well as the picture, with options being English or Italian (with optional English subtitles) LPCM 1.0, neither of them sounding particularly good outside of the opening song. While this is more than likely a result of the heavy looping featured in so many spaghetti westerns, it makes the aural experience mediocre at best, with variations in volume throughout the film. It's not a dealbreaker for fans of the film, but the slightly muffled atmosphere that it creates is a bit of a disappointment.

    Django Explained (8:33) is a short video featuring author Kevin Grant (Any Gun Can Play) discussing the popularity of the Django character internationally, the numerous unofficial sequels to the original Corbucci film, and how Django, Prepare a Coffin is different from the rest of those films.

    A Trailer for the film is also included, as well as a booklet essay by Author Howard Hughes.

    The Final Word:

    Django, Prepare A Coffin is a film that will definitely appeal to many fans of the western genre, but the somewhat disappointing picture and audio quality may be underwhelming to some.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 6 Comments
    1. SuperDevilDoctor's Avatar
      SuperDevilDoctor -
      I enjoyed this flick well enough... Had no idea that guitar riffs from the score were sampled by Gnarls Barkley for that big radio hit a few years back.

      I'm still quite amazed how Django never hits any of the horses the bad guys are riding whenever he's spraying all those machine gun bullets.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Hahaha, good point.
    1. Killer Meteor's Avatar
      Killer Meteor -
      Why is Arrow not consitent with the Ritrovata transfers - most are still too yellow, but they fixed Deep Red.
    1. C.D. Workman's Avatar
      C.D. Workman -
      Good review. I may pick this up at some point just because it's a Django film and I don't have it, but I'll wait until I see it used for $10 on Amazon or something. Between your description of the visuals and those screen caps, it doesn't look so hot. I'm coming to believe that Arrow should have two price structures. The higher structure for real special editions and 4k restorations; a lower structure for films that don't look so hot, like this and DARK WATER.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Dark Water was another one with a mediocre transfer. I'm a little more lenient with DJANGO because it's older, a lot of these filmessages elements have been to hell and back, and personal preference is that these should have a bit of a beat-up look to them. But premium prices, no way, especially when the disc is pretty much barebones outside of including a DVD
    1. C.D. Workman's Avatar
      C.D. Workman -