RELEASED A YEAR after Sergio Leone created the genre with A Fistful Of Dollars (1965), Django, directed by Leone's onetime assistant Sergio Corbucci, was the movie that saw the spaghetti western explode; a fact borne out by the countless unauthorised sequels it spawned across Europe and beyond (as far as Jamaica, where Perry Henzell's 1973 Rude Boy classic The Harder They Come paid heavy homage). Blue-eyed Franco Nero plays the eponymous mystery gunslinger, wandering in from the filthy wilderness, dragging a coffin behind him, toward a Hellish-looking bordertown.

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Django

RELEASED A YEAR after Sergio Leone created the genre with A Fistful Of Dollars (1965), Django, directed by Leone’s onetime assistant Sergio Corbucci, was the movie that saw the spaghetti western explode; a fact borne out by the countless unauthorised sequels it spawned across Europe and beyond (as far as Jamaica, where Perry Henzell’s 1973 Rude Boy classic The Harder They Come paid heavy homage). Blue-eyed Franco Nero plays the eponymous mystery gunslinger, wandering in from the filthy wilderness, dragging a coffin behind him, toward a Hellish-looking bordertown. There, private war is being fought between leering Mexican bandidos and Klannish, red-hooded gringos?a conflict Django solves, more or less, by butchering everyone. This cynical slaughterhouse replays elements of Leone’s movie?notably the drifter hero caught between rival factions, lifted wholesale from Kurosawa’s Yojimbo (1961)?but amplifies them to abstraction. Excess is key: the stylisation is berserk-baroque (Django’s coffin contains a huge machine gun, which he fires from the hip); the close-ups zoom closer; the dumb slapstick humour touches on pantomime; the perfectly preposterous music comes crashing in to underline every point. Even the dubbing is more breathtakingly bad than ever before.

But it was the stupendous ultraviolence that saw Django banned in several countries (and denied a UK certificate until 1993). In one scene, for instance, a preacher has his ear hacked off, then is made to eat it?a moment that makes Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs tribute seem demure. While Leone leaned increasingly toward opera, Corbucci hankered after the pulpiest, most disreputable comic-book imaginable ?and got there.