I'm going to tell you why I watch so many Spaghetti Westerns.
It’s cause I freaking love them.
I love the gritty all-round feel, the anti-heroes, and the action scenes that begin and end within seconds. The Spaghetti Western is not just a genre, but a TAKE on a genre that rose from an aesthetic that was informed by what had come before then filtered through the populace cynical consciousness. Its a definitive BRAND on a subject that is in itself incredibly narrow, but can still sbe explored in many different ways.
Or it can just be more of the same.
He was surrounded by at least thirty men. This was it. He had a few more digs into the soft earth and then those canons were going to send him to hell.
“You’re digging your own grave” the mayor sneered.
Django didn’t say a word. He just reached down into the hole, cracked the coffin open, and pulled out the final thing those bastards would ever see.
A BLOODY MANCHINE GUN!
That scene is from the ending of DJANGO, PREPARE YOUR COFFIN. It could have easily been from DJANGO AND THE SHARKS, DJANGO, KILL or even DJANGO, INSERT SOMETHING VIOLENT HERE. They all end pretty much the same.
HOW THE HECK DO YOU TELL THEM APART?!
Over the last six month I must have watched at least fifty Spaghetti Westerns, but if you asked me for titles I’d probably just stare at you blankly and go “Some of them had Django in the title…others had KILL…some others had REVENGE…”. It’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy a lot of them, and some of them did stink like putrid horse poo, but it’s undeniable that a Spaghetti is made up of some very specific elements that can only be switched around so much. It really doesn’t help that all of them have a million different vague titles, the poster art all looks the same, share a lot of the same actors. Oh, and due to the success of films like DJANGO some crafty producers decided to put the name Django in all ALL OF THEIR WESTERNS TITLES even though no character that even resembled the original Django appeared in the film.
IF YOU CAN’T TELL THEM APART WHY DO YOU WATCH SO MANY?
You’d think that a feeling of ‘same-ness’ would tire me out eventually, but that hasn’t proven to be the case yet. It’s kind of like that TV SHOW you used watch every evening when you came home from school. Sometimes it’s good, but usually it’s just all-right, but it fits like a comfy poncho every single time. This is not to say that there aren’t CLASSICS out there, but with the sheer volume, it’s easier to find ‘solid’ films then an out of nowhere genre revelations.
If you ARE looking for classics* (which you should cause they’re FANTASTIC) you should start with the great TOP 20 lists at SPAGHETTI WESTERN DATABASE and then move on to books like ANY GUN CAN PLAY or 10,000 WAYS TO DIE (Written by Director Alex Cox!). You sit through a bunch of disposable oaters, but then when you find the REALLY good ones like THE GREAT SILENCE or the Gothic Horror Western AND GOD SAID TO CAIN it all makes all those really crappy ones worthwhile.
I wrote in the previous article that you should give chances to films like FAUST and broaden your horizons. I still stand on that point, but at the same time there’s always place for something that you just LOVE. Not everything has to STICK OUT AND BE SUPER ORIGINAL. Sometimes all you want is a grimace, a six shooter, and a dirty rotten bastard to blow away.
* A few of the bigger films have gotten solid widescreen releases in North America from such companies as Anchor Bay and Blue Underground, but a lot of the slightly less work floats around on shoddy 99 WESTERN FILMS FOR 10$ box-sets. On the other hand, countries like Germany and Italy treat the films like holy grails and give them immaculate widescreen releases.