The Spaghetti Western genre really kicked off in 1965 and by 1967 was in full swing, with over 60 titles being released during the year (compared to less than 40 Westerns produced in America in the same period). Luciano Martino had made a career for himself as a writer - penning a variety of horror and peplum titles, until in the middle of the 1960s he decided to move into production and along with his brother Sergio shot a pair of Spaghetti Western titles starring Gianni Garko.
Johnny Forest (Gianni Garko, dubbed Django for the German release) is an expert Bounty Killer. Years earlier it emerged that his was born illegitimately and his half-brother Clint ran him out of the house, before framing him for the murder of his father, leading to Johnny being imprisioned for 10 years. A mutual friend now informs Johnny that his mother has recently died and her dying wish was that he would contact Clint who is now an outlaw with a large bounty on his head. Meanwhile we find Clint and a gang attacking a stagecoach carrying gold, before betraying them to escape with the gold. Johnny persues Clint across the country until catching him and trying to take him to the nearest marshall to hand him over, but with the civil war raging, he cannot find anywhere to take him in and has to keep travelling - however, the gang that Clint betrayed and his own friends who he cheated all want to catch him, and his gold...
Although the Martino brothers would later be associated with some of the trashier elements of cult cinema (cf Mountain of the Cannibal God (1978)), their duo of Spaghetti Westerns rank as some of the best films in this very varied genre, thanks to strong scripts and direction and the introduction of Gianni Garko as a new genre star.
As can be seen from the synopsis, Per 100,000 Dollari ti Ammazzo has a very detailed plot and the focus is much more on the characters of the two half-brothers than on action. John clearly has a troubled past, we see in some rather surreally presented flashbacks, details of his once happy childhood, mixed with the destruction of his life by his half-brother on discovering that John was born a bastard. Some details remain vague, probably intentionally - a mysterious woman in John's past who seemed to vanish, and a woman with a young son (not his) that he looks after - giving him a much darker deeper persona, much more effective than the rather generic "man with no name and no history" characters in similar films. Generally unpredictable, the film builds to a nice and very effective climax with a beautiful ending. Fortunately, although there is some light comic relief, it is kept to a minimum and is not so grating, actually coming as a relief compared to the rather intense nature of the storyline as a whole.
The film benefits from some very impressive direction and camerawork, thanks to the very little known director Giovanni Fago who had some experience as a second unit director on some of the genre's early entries. There are some beautiful visual shots, and the flashback scenes especially make good use of slow motion and patches of focus to give the scenes a surrealist look. The production values are strong throughout, and of special note are the costumes which have an incredibly dirty look. As with 10.000 Dollari per un Massacro, composer Nora Orlandi provides a fitting soundtrack.
Gianni Garko is appearing here in his first Spaghetti Western, varying between the dashingly clean cut image in the flashback scenes and the grizzled bounty killer he has become. He puts up a great performance throughout and at one point demonstrates some very impressive physical strength in a scene that was clearly not faked. He is joined by Claudio Camaso (brother of Gian Maria Volontè, star of the iconic Sergio Leone Dollars films) who puts in an equally strong performance as Clint and is rather remniscent of Spaghetti Western star Tomas Milian. Several familiar genre faces including Fernando Sancho and Piero Lulli pop up in small roles.
Although not on the epic scale of many of the most recognised Spaghetti Westerns, Per 100,000 Dollari ti Ammazzo certainly ranks as one of the genre's best thanks to some superb acting by Gianni Garko and Claudio Camaso and a very well written script, backed up by solid production values and an effective soundtrack. Highly recommended to genre fans, an essential film for anyone wanting to explore beyond the better known genre titles.
|Anyone famous in it?||Gianni Garko - a lesser known but frequent star of Euro-Cult cinema, best known to genre fans as Sartana|
|Directed by anyone interesting?||Giovanni Fago - a very little known Italian director who shot a few obscure genre titles and was the assistant director on Lucio Fulci's Massacre Time (1966) and a few peplum titles.|
|Any gore or violence?||Quite a lot of blood and plently of Western violence.|
|Any sex or nudity?||None|
|Who is it for?||All Spaghetti Western fans should enjoy this.
|Visuals||Original Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1. Anamorphically Enhanced. Colour.
The picture quality is very good with only a minimal layer of grain and minor print damage.
|Audio||Original German and Italian mono tracks, both sound fine.
German is missing a few scenes which play in Italian.
|Subtitles|| German (translates the Italian)
German for the missing scenes in the German soundtrack.
English (translates the Italian).
|Extras||This disc includes:
|Region||Region 2 (UK, Europe) - PAL|
|Availability||DVD Title: Django - der Bastard
This disc is only available as part of the Django Italo-Western collection.
|Other regions?||Also available on a Spanish disc. This is the only disc with English options and interviews.|
|Cuts?||Believed to be fully uncut. Print used is Italian language.