Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hanging For Django (Blu-ray Review) - Raro Video

Directed By: Sergio Garrone
Written By: Sergio Garrone
Starring: Anthony Steffen, William Berger, Nicoletta Machiavelli
Color/97 Minutes/Not Rated
Region A

The Film
Johnny Brandon (Anthony Steffen) and Everett "Preacherman" Murdock are a pair of bounty hunters that have come to town to find a group of criminals an cash in on their capture or killing. While in the town they catch wind of Mr. Fargo, a local landowner who is running an illegal ring of smuggling people across the border from Mexico for cheap labor. Fargo has a nasty habit of murdering the whole bunch and dumping them in a ravine anytime someone gets suspicious. There is a massive $40,000 reward offered to the pair to capture Fargo but Brandon and Preacherman are on completely opposite pages and each has their own agenda with Preacherman only caring about himself and his wallet. 

HANGING FOR DJANGO also known as Una lunga fila di croci  (A Long Row Of Crosses) doesn't feature any hangings and is one of literally dozens of films to use the name Django in the title despite having nothing at all to do with Sergio Corbucci's classic film. What it does have is a strong cast including Steffen and Berger in the lead roles who are classic spaghetti western actors and Sergio Garrone (the 3rd Sergio) at the helm. Garrone had success in many different genres of Italian cinema making films to match the popularity of whatever genre was hot at the time. He may be best known for his time in the western genre and this film, while a bit sloppy on the story telling features a lot of action, some fun gun play and a weapon that is a cross between a Gatling Gun, shotgun and rifle.

Ripe with the classic characteristics of the genre, HANGING FOR DJANGO is violent, a bit silly, and handled capably by the cast and crew. Far from great and by no means a classic it is pretty damn decent and certainly entertaining.  

The Audio & Video
I read a review on another site prior watching this disc that absolutely tears the presentation of this disc apart. I have to say, I have no idea what they were watching. Raro Video brings HANGING FOR DJAGO to Blu-ray with a 2.35:1 scope widescreen presentation that does happen to be a 1080i transfer. That said, it isn't bad looking. Colors are decent, and facial details in the many close-up shots you'll see in spaghetti westerns actually feature pretty strong detail. Textures show some decent detail as well. I wouldn't say the image pops or is particularly strong overall but it isn't a disaster or even bad. I'd call it a decent transfer that has room for improvement.

There are a pair of audio tracks, one English and one Italian. Since these Italian productions didn't record live sound and featured casts assembled from all over the world, both tracks are dubbed and neither could really be considered the native language. I chose the English track which sounds okay, but a bit thin. The mix between dialogue and soundtrack is fine and overall it is very listenable. English subtitles are available for the Italian language track.

The Extras
The disc features a 15 minute mini-documentary on the film and its cast and crew. The packaging also includes a full illustrated booklet that features bios of the director, stars and an essay on the film.

The Bottom Line
HANGING FOR DJANGO is an entertaining spaghetti western that won't become a classic anytime soon and this disc probably won't win any awards but it will satisfy fans of the genre with a really decent overall product that I'm proud and extremely happy to have in my collection.


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