See the Westerns that inspired Tarantino's Django Unchained across seven nights of six-gunning Spaghetti action on MGM HD.
To celebrate the release of Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained on 18 January, LWLies has teamed with MGM HD to offer you seven nights of rare Django-inspired Spaghetti Westerns on Sky Channel 313. Strap on your six-guns every night from 9pm, 14-19 January, or catch all eight back-to-back on Sunday 20 Jan. Meet the magnificent eight...
Spaghetti icon Gianfranco Parolini struck gold with the his first Sabata movie, in which The Good, The Bad And The Ugly star Lee Van Cleef foils a Texan bank robbery which he later discovers was a ruse set up by the town's political establishment in order to get their mitts on a larger cash haul. It spawned two sequels and Van Cleef even handed the title role to Yul Brynner for the central chapter. And it must be noted that the direct translation of the original Italian title is extremely cool: Hey Buddy... That's Sabata, You're Finished!
Hand-picked by Quentin Tarantino in 1996 to play in the First Quentin Tarantino Film Festival in Austin, Texas, Adios Sabata is the second instalment of the celebrated Sabata trilogy helmed by Gianfranco Parolini. Yul Brynner is Sabata, the rifle-wielding loner co-opted by a band of Mexican rebels to steal a wagon-load of gold from the invading Austrian army. It's the Rolls-Royce of Django knock-offs.
Inked and shot by Django's cinematographer Enzo Barboni, this jocular comedy Western sees Terence Hill as Sir Thomas Moore, an English fop hastily supplanted into the Wild West and looking to man-up in the memory of his late, skirt-chasing pops. A corrupt local politico wants to make a land-grab on Moore's family cabin, so it's up to him and his trio of salty compadres to save his livelihood. Peppered with amusing cross-cultural details – Moore does callisthenics and rides a fold-up bike – the film also boasts a comedy bar-room brawl that could go toe-to-toe with the famous one in Peckinpah's Junior Bonner.
Brooding like a mix of Western stalwarts Clint Eastwood and Henry Fonda, steely-eyed actor Thomas Hunter is the star of Carlo Lizzani's superb The Hills Run Red. Here he plays a Yankee soldier who's captured by Union troops, and when finally freed, he becomes embroiled in a violent local land war. It's a straight-shootin' set-up, lifted no end by Henry Silva's cackling, black-clad foil, Mendez, who really is one evil son-of-a-gun.
The dazzlingly titled My Name Is Mallory...M Means Death is the blood-flecked revenge saga involving rage-fuelled gunslinger Mallory, played by Western tough-guy Robert Woods. It might not be held in particularly high regard by genre fans, but the directorial debut of Mario Moroni offers an interesting peek at the shape of the '60s Spaghetti production line.
Thankfully retitled from its original toe-tag, Taciturn Bill, and starring George Eastman as a roving hardman who swings for the wrong varmint in a small town divebar, Django Kills Softly is one of the many, many films brought under the massive Django brand-umbrella to help muscle-up its commercial prospects.
Sartana is the name of a Spaghetti Western character first played by Gianni Garko in the 1968 film, If You Meet Sartana Pray for Your Death. He was billed as a kind the James Bond of the Wild West, a nickname which was spawned from his predilection for using all manner of toys and gadgets to enhance his gunplay. In this unofficial sequel, Sartana is played by American character actor Jack Betts and he teams up with Django to save a damsel in distress from a group of vile outlaws.
Also known by the (far more awesome) title of Django's Cut Price Corpses, this is a frazzled but fun opus from the directorial mind of Luigi Bazella, the guy who went on to make such grindcore provocateurs as Horrifying Experiments Of SS Last Days (1977) and Nude For Satan (1974). Once again, Django (Jeff Cameron) has had his fiance abducted and so must take down a clan of Mexican bandidos who've just been involved in a gold heist.
Did you see them all? Let us know your favourite Western from MGM HD's Django-inspired season by tweeting @LWLies.