Monday, June 20, 2016

Junesploitation 2016 Day 20: Westerns!

With the speed of a bullet... the crack of a whip... the flick of a knife... the charge of a bull!

69 comments:

  1. Bone Tomahawk (2015)

    Well, that was fun. Amazing western with a dream cast, a great twist and some really brutal violence. The slow pace may not be everyone´s cup of coffee but for me it was just right. Great dialogue and a wonderful Richard Jenkins performance.

    Right after watching this I read the sad news of the fatal accident of Star Trek`s Chekov Anton Yelchin. What a bummer.

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    1. I watched Bone Tomahawk as well. I completely agree the cast is amazing, its just good actors playing around with some amazing dialogue. To be honest I could have stayed in the town, as long as they kept taking about Piano music prices, corn chowder and reading in the bath. The sound mix is off the hook! Oh and the whole thing had this cool Cormac MacCarthy feel, it made me go and find my copy of Blood Meridian.

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    2. Bone Tomahawk is crazy awesome!

      Anton Yelchin's passing is so heart breaking. The guy was only 27. So talented.

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  2. Hateful Eight (2015)

    I wanted to contiune the Kurt Russell power mustache series (I really hope they make it into a trilogy).

    I am going to come out and say it, this might be my favourite Tarantino movie. I don't know it just clicks. The blu ray looked phenomenonal, so much texture.

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    1. Wow that's awesome! When asked what one's favorite Tarantino film is... any one of them is a right answer.

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    2. The Hateful 8 is hits a raw nerve for me, I loved the movie but I was in America at the time and I planned to see it on film and missed the roadshow by a week, i really really really wanted to see the 70mm roadshow version on film,
      I almost cried when I asked for a ticket and they told me the roadshow had ended!

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    3. It's gotten better each of the four times I've watched it. Top 3 Tarantino for sure.

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  3. Enzo G. Castellari's KEOMA (1976, 105 min.) on Blu-ray for the first time. Also available to stream on Amazon Prime.

    Let's keep the love for Italian genre cinema rolling along into Monday. 'Hollywood' Heath Holland and Patrick heartily recommended "Keoma" during 2013's first Junesploitation!, and it does not disappoint. What's more bad-ass than Franco Nero bringing his knife to a gun fight? Woody Strode tagging along with Franco and bringing his bow and arrow to said gunfight, that's what. Director Castellari (the original "Inglorious Bastards") is like a kid that just discovered slow-motion shootouts and deaths look cool on camera. The bad guys don't get shot at in "Keoma," they are literally blown away and sent flying over and over. The musical lyrics describing what you're watching made me shout 'Shut the fuck up!' at the TV a dozen times, but afterwards I laughed about the absurdity of it all. Between the dream/flashback set pieces seamlessly integrated into present-day narrative (is Gabriella Goacobbe's old lady really there or in Keoma's mind?) Castellari directs the hell out of "Keoma," as if he knew the spaghetti western days were numbered.

    What ultimately separates this from its many genre brethren is the motivations of the main characters are laid out and clear to us, then our expectations of where things are headed get twisted around. "Keoma" gets smaller and more intimate as it unfolds, and that's fine because we're invested in the outcome. Heck, a fist fight between blue-eyed 'half-breed' Keoma and his three brothers (including Orso Maria Guerrini's Butch, a dead ringer for Donald Sutherland) is just as intense as a gunfight because we know where their father stands. Other than the main bad guy (Donald O'Brien Caldwell) being a dog whose bite and bark were whimpy as shit, "Keoma" is as good as spaghetti westerns got back when they were still churning them out long past their expiration date.

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    1. "That's my father, and that's my brothers" - Actual songs lyrics played while we look at his father and brothers.

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  4. Four of the Apocalypse (1975)

    Still trying to sort out how I feel about this one. I want to say it felt a bit too mean-spirited at times but then I'm not sure what else I should expect from a Western directed by Fulci. There's a good performance in the lead role by Fabio Testi as gambler Stubby Preston, but the rest of the characters feel a bit thin, the movie really drags a lot in the middle, and the music is horrendous. There are some decent bits in there, but not enough to really add up to a good movie.

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  5. Blueberry aka Renegade (2004)

    Blueberry is a weird Western heavy into Native American mysticism. It desperately wants to be deep and spiritual, but feels more like an unfocused hodge-podge of influences and is directed like a two-hour music video. Or as one eloquent IMDb commenter put it, "utter crap French pretentious wank".

    I've never read the comics this is based on, maybe I'd "get it" if I had.

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    1. Bonus: The Twilight Zone Season 2 Episode 12: Dust (1961)

      A small meditation on vengeance and forgiveness in the inimitable style of Rod Serling, set in the Old West.

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    2. Michael GiammarinoJune 20, 2016 at 11:11 AM

      Blueberry... I wonder if that's why one of the slaves in Django Unchained was named Blueberry. I wouldn't put it past Quentin... especially with the Native American angle.

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    3. Ehh, I enjoyed Blueberry. True it was overlong and very rambling but I really dug the bizarro ending with Madsen and Cassell fighting in the spirit realm. I guess I'm a sucker for pretentious wank.

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    4. Just to be clear, I don't agree with the quote I mentioned, just quoted it for some humor. The movie had some good stuff in it and the mind-bending ending was enjoyable, but as a whole I just couldn't get into it.

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  6. It's western day! How I've been looking forward to this!

    Keoma (1976)

    Franco Nero (badass extraordinaire) stars as a half-breed ex-Union soldier who is haunted by ghosts of his past. This Enzo Castellari film is a gift to humanity. I loved it! The action and shootout sequences are spectacular with terrific stunt work. Like many spaghetti Westerns, it is has highly stylized direction and I ate up every minute of it. The music, which is packed with songs, really adds to the mood and even gives it an eerie quality. I loved every second of this film.

    Dio benedica speghetti westerns!

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    1. That sounds awesome will definitely try and seek that one out

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    2. That sounds awesome will definitely try and seek that one out

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    3. The blu ray is $5 on amazon AND it's a double feature.

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    4. Perfect, I loves me a double feature thanks

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  7. Take a Hard Ride (1975)

    I was drawn to this one simply because of the cast Jim Brown, Fred Williamson, Jim Kelly and Lee Van Cleef.

    The story is simple, Brown is travelling to Sonora to deliver a payroll of $86,000. As a result he finds himself pursued by bands of outlaws and a bounty hunter played by Lee Van Cleef. Brown makes an uneasy alliance with Williamson as they fend off the the various groups.

    The movie really seems to be lacking a good director to put the formula all together. Brown is very wooden, Williamson is pretty smooth as the cardshark but Kelly barely features. There's no character development for Van Cleef to work with to really give his character purpose.

    It's a shame because this movie feels that in the right hands it could be a hell of a lot better. As it is the it's just fine but had the potential for much more.

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    1. I haven't seen this movie. It has always seemed interesting.

      SIDE NOTE: I saw Fred Williamson at a Weekend of Horrors con once. He was charging a ridiculous amount of money for autographs & no one was at his table when I was in that room.

      From his expression he may as well have been wearing a BEWARE OF FRED sign around his neck.

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  8. Meek's Cutoff (2010) Dir. Kelly Reichardt

    Had this on my watchlist for quite awhile now. I'm going to use one of those stupid phrases that always gets used and I hate that I'm even going to use it because obviously every film ever made falls into the "not for everyone" category...but as I was watching this I kept thinking "this is definitely not for everyone" but you know who it was for...ME!!

    I "enjoyed" the film quite a bit. Not sure exactly how to word it...but I thought it did a really good job of showing you how very little happened in these people's lives on a day to day basis. I mean yes...things were happening that were actually quite large in the grand scale but I felt that it did a great job of showing how these people went about with their daily tasks while traversing an unknown territory in a way that most of today's society would call...I don't know...boring tediousness? I like that these people don't talk to each other constantly...they speak of issues that need to be spoken of and for the most part just spend the rest of the time in silence and not just constant small talk. To me that seems like a realistic portrayal of how people would behave...they didn't have as much to talk about so why would they? (I'm sure some talked more for this very reason and to entertain one another...but just like today I'm sure not everyone felt the need to do this.)

    The film parses out information in what seems to be a specific way that works to create questions for the viewer. Not everyone in this group feels the same way about everyone else. At the half-way point when another character joins the group I thought it added the perfect amount of tension into the film to keep you wondering about how everything would unfold for these characters.

    Bottom line...as I said before "this is not a film for everyone" but I myself really enjoyed the way that the filmmakers portrayed this time period. It wasn't how you normally see these settings portrayed in film and I always want films to branch out and show me new ways in which to enjoy these genres.

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    1. I watched this one too TJ and also enjoyed it. I literally didn't recognize Bruce Greenwood until I looked up the details after watching. Reminded me a lot of The Witch in that it goes as far as possible to transport you to a different world. 3 out of 5 Griers.

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    2. The Witch is a perfect comparison and I thought Bruce Greenwood was awesome! He should definitely play more parts that require the Grizzly Adams look!

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  9. Duck, You Sucker (1971) (first time viewing)

    Another winner for #Junesploitation! James Coburn is an Irishman (who is also an explosives expert) hiding out in Mexico. Circumstances arise that team him up with a Mexican bandit, played by Rod Steiger (Hmmm....wasn't aware he was Mexican). Together they inadvertently become heroes of the Mexican Revolution. This one is kind of long, clocking in at over 2 hours, but it is well worth your time.

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  10. Sukiyaki Western Django (2007)

    You know how sometimes you'll see a movie that references other, better movies and it just makes you wish you were watching those movies instead? That's Sukiyaki Western Django in a nutshell for me. It's basically Takashi Miike doing Sergio Leone meets Akira Kurosawa meets Sergio Corbucci (nameless gunslinger gets involved in a war between clans) and I wish I liked it more than I did because on paper that sounds pretty goddamn awesome.

    While there is some very cool imagery, it feels like a somewhat hollow style exercise. It's certainly not a bad movie, there's actually a lot of good stuff here, but as a whole it left me kind of cold. Maybe I was expecting it to go a little crazier (because Miike) but it never really let go in the way I was hoping it would (which I realize is me reviewing the movie I want it to be, not the movie it is, but I'm a wang like that). At some point I should give it another chance now that I know what's in store.

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    1. "You know how sometimes you'll see a movie that references other, better movies and it just makes you wish you were watching those movies instead?"

      That was me watching X-Men Apocalypse every time there was a flashback to First Class. 'Can we just switch to that movie now?'

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  11. Straight To Hell (1986, Dir. Alex Cox)

    I unabashedly love this little lark of a movie. The director of Repo Man and Sid & Nancy decided to follow up those films by shooting a spaghetti western with rock stars that was apparently put together after a proposed concert tour fell apart and everyone's schedule was free. The poster billed it as "A story of blood, money, guns, coffee, and sexual tension," and it stars one of the coolest humans to ever walk the earth, The Clash's Joe Strummer. It's incredibly fun, very funny and quotable, despite the fact that Roger Ebert hated it, and called it "an indulgent mess." The MPAA didn't get it either and gave it an R rating for "strong language," even though there's not a single swear word in the movie. But, the performance you should look out for is Sy Richardson as Norwood. He was, essentially, Jules in Pulp Fiction eight years before Samuel L. Jackson stole his entire character! Has no one else noticed this?

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    1. I barely remember this movie from my video store days, (checked it out mostly for the musicians involved) but Sy Richardson is definitely the most memorable thing about it.

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  12. Gallow Walkers (2012)

    Wesley Snipes stars as Blade I mean Aman a mysterious western gunfighter out for revenge against the people who killed his lady love, I know this because it was told to me many times thru weak voice over and mostly boring flashbacks.
    This wasn't the worst film I've seen this Junesploitation it was possibly the dullest. Fun trivia fact Wesley was out on bail to finish this movie so it makes sense that his mind was elsewhere while the cameras were rolling, kind of a shame Patton Oswalt wasn't in this one as I'm sure there has got to be some interesting on set stories. On the plus side this one is shot well enough and is refreshingly practical (save for when Wesley rips peoples spines out which looks ridiculous) Maybe I'll give Wes another shot on free space day.

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  13. THE LONG RIDERS (1980)

    If I didn't start Westerns day with a Walter Hill flick, I'd have to kick my own ass.

    I love this one. Some beautifully shot slo-mo violence that John Woo would've proud to film & David Carradine doing his very best David Carradine.

    Also Pamela Reed brings her own personal brand of charisma, which is considerable.

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    1. Thank you for the reminder on this one. I need to catch up with it!

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    2. Always glad to do you a solid, sir.

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    3. Thanks me to - I will definitely have to check it out

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    4. I had forgotten about this movie. I've never seen it, but had a copy of Ry Cooder's soundtrack. I remember really liking it, although it's been years since I've listened to it.

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  14. The Grand Duel (1972, aka The Big Showdown)

    There's no confidence like Lee Van Cleef confidence. That man is always one step ahead.

    There's a little crazy acting and weird comedy, but the core story is an interesting murder mystery and political struggle. It's pretty great! The action scenes are top notch, and nobody does intense final shootouts like the Italians. Westerns day rocks!

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  15. The Last Outlaw (1993) Geoff Murphy

    Holy shit. I could've caught up with some of the classics of one of my most under seen genres, but I haven't watched a Mickey Rourke movie this month, so let's go! I cannot believe I've never seen this. The characterizations are a little thin but they're brought to life by... Wait for it...John C Mcginley, Keith David, Dermot Mulroney, Ted Levine and Steve Buscemi. Damn son! Junesploitation gold!

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    1. There's a LOT to like about that flick (also a fair bit to shake your head at) and you nailed the first place to start: that CAST. I've always enjoyed it.

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  16. LEGEND OF THE PHANTOM RIDER (2000)
    A woman is attacked, so she teams up with a sixgun-wielding supernatural seeker of vengeance to clear the attackers out of town. Way too grim and self-serious to be any fun. I keep hoping someone will invent a new “cowboy superhero” in the vein of the Lone Ranger or Paladin, but this just isn’t it.

    FRONTIER GAL (1945)
    I was expecting an old-fashioned B-western shoot-em-up, and instead I got this family friendly musical. It’s all very adorable and whimsical, and there’s a pretty cool chase at end the end, so it was good -- just not what I was looking for.

    SARTANA THE GRAVEDIGGER (1969)
    Sartana is described as the “best-dressed bounty hunter in the West.” In this movie, he’s framed for a bank robbery, and must clear his name by murdering everyone. He can outshoot and outfight anyone, and he even does a Matrix-style flip off his horse to dodge bullets! The movie is a lot of fun, is what I’m saying.

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  17. UNFORGIVEN (1992):

    A great commentary on Eastwood's career. I ask sincerely: Is there a better "deconstructivist" Western?

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  18. Sukiyaki Western Django (2007)

    Owned this on Blu for years, just watched it for the first time. Takashi Miike directing a batshit insane and nauseatingly stylistic spaghetti western? Stupid fun throughout. Glad I own this, as I'm fairly confident I will rewatch it at least annually.

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  19. You should of killed me while you still could!

    For a few dollars more 1965

    I always thought Clint Eastwood was the coolest of the cool but Lee Van Cleef is like Ice, Strangely to me he was only 40 in this film, only 5 years older than Clint though he seems much older, Sergio Leone always ahead of the times here as a woman gets raped and a horse gets shot in this movie which was not really done in 65, the score by Ennio Morricone is superb turned up loud, and the stand off between Cleef and Eastwood is Pure hat shooting cinema
    But forget about the cool guys, anything with Klaus Kinski in it is ok by me

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  20. Revenge of the Virgins (1959) Dir. Peter Perry Jr. Written by Ed Wood.

    Some guy and his wife form a group of gunslingers to search for some gold. Little do they know, the gold is on the land of a tribe of naked female Native Americans (and one white girl who was "sent to them by the sun god") who are just as deadly with bow and arrows as they are with nipples. Not much more than that to say, pretty boring, but I would be interested to know if this was the first "Nudie Western".

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  21. Fist Full of Dollars (1964)

    I woke up during the night with a wicked headache - so as my way I watched something while the panadol was kicking in. I decided to contiue the Western theme. I didn't take everything in, but it was the perfect movie to just go with, was there a cooler director than Sergio Leone?

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  22. Blood Moon (2014) which is a surprisingly GOOD little film..granted there are some awkward line readings, a good portion of the cast are UK as are the director and writer and the funding... but every penny of the 750K it cost is on the screen. VERY strong female characters, some pretty decent special effects, and the script isn't half bad, it's not half good..but i would buy it in the dollar bin no problem. The only let down i had was with some character resolution in the third act, and doing away with the creature was anticlimactic to say the least. I test drove three or four streaming 'westerns' to get to one where i could get past the 1st reel without wanting to shoot myself.

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  23. High Plains Drifter (1973)
    Gonna paint a town, gonna paint it red.
    A drifter steps into town, causes havoc, gets recruited to protect the town from pending havoc.
    Hard to root for anyone in this one. Clint's unnamed character is a piece of trash and the townsfolk hold some dark secrets and are powerless. However, the story and its reveal is interesting. Worth a watch if you can get behind "it was a different time back then."

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  24. THE WILD BUNCH (1969)

    Peckinpah's masterpiece. He was a man with the soul of the great Western champions like Hawks/Ford/Mann...with the twisted heart of an exploitation director.

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    1. I watched this for the first time this year, your right it is a masterpiece, and even more right about the gorgeous twisted heart of an exploition director. It oozed style, class and a touch of insanity.

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    2. That should be on one of the movie's posters.
      "It oozes style, class, and a touch of insanity!"

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    3. I watched this as well. I hadn't seen it since JBs film study class so I was long over due for a rewatch. Such a classic.

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  25. Shanghai Joe (1973)
    A Chinese immigrant (who happens to be a secret ninja) comes to America and fights just about every Western villain possible. Rustlers, thieves, cannibals, cheats, slavers, and even another ninja all face the might of Shanghai Joe. He repays good for good, and evil with justice.

    This movie is both a great spaghetti western and a great kung-fu film. The main characters are all likable, and the villains are all easily hate-able. Its pretty racist and poorly dubbed, but damn if I didn't love the rest of it. Its full of great scenes that all come together to make a really fun movie.

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  26. Shanghai Joe (1973)
    A Chinese immigrant (who happens to be a secret ninja) comes to America and fights just about every Western villain possible. Rustlers, thieves, cannibals, cheats, slavers, and even another ninja all face the might of Shanghai Joe. He repays good for good, and evil with justice.

    This movie is both a great spaghetti western and a great kung-fu film. The main characters are all likable, and the villains are all easily hate-able. Its pretty racist and poorly dubbed, but damn if I didn't love the rest of it. Its full of great scenes that all come together to make a really fun movie.

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  27. The Long Riders (1980, dir. Walter Hill) - first viewing

    Because Walter Hill.

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  28. The Good The Bad And The Weird (2008)
    Holy cow. I was not aware of the magnitude of fun that could be condensed into one movie. What makes this movie for me are (in no order) 1)The Western elements, 2) The Awesome Chase Scenes. 3) A Healthy Dose Of Well Shot And Performed Slapstick, 4) The Gorgeous Artistic Style, 5) Kang-ho Song's hilarious performance as "The Weird".

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    1. The Good The Bad and The Weird (2008)

      I agree with everything you said. I liked the train scene at the beginning more than the chase scenes near the end. It was really good how they mixed the slapstick right in with the action. Rather than pausing the action to have a bit of comedy, they both just flowed (mostly overlapping) with each other. My only criticism would be that it took a fair while to understand which character was who and what their intentions were (other than the weird). This might be due in part to watching with sub-titles, and maybe due to my inability to remember names well, especially Korean names which tend to be similar, at least by Western standards.

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  29. Django (1966)

    DJANGO! Something about Django just works for me. It may not be my favourite western but it had some awesome moments that surprised me and a moment that was far more brutal than I was expecting.... I will definitely check out the sequels! DJANGO!

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    1. Word of warning none of the sequels (bar Django Strikes Again - which is pretty lousy despite bringing back Franco Nero) are in any way related. Most of them were just redubbed or retitled to make them seem related.

      That said a few of them are good. Django the Bastard and Django the Last Killer are two that are above average. Django If You Live Shoot is just flat out weird and has a really horrific death at the end.

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    2. Thanks for the tips! I love a weird western although I may just have to make it a Franco Nero marathon...

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  30. Django (1966)

    A movie I used to like but not love, but have now come around to the greatness of it. It's one of the best westerns out there. The whole second half is so intense it's incredibly impressive. Also, Franco Nero is quickly becoming one of my favorite movie badasses.

    DJANGO! Is there anything better than that theme song?

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  31. High Plains Drifter (1973)

    While far from my favorite Clint Eastwood western, I've always really liked the implied supernatural aspect about it. It's a pretty good directorial effort from Eastwood considering it was only the second movie he directed.

    The Valley of Gwangi (1969)

    Cowboys vs. Ray Harryhausen stop-motion animation dinosaurs. A little slow at times but entertaining overall if you like Harryhausen's stuff.

    Ravenous (1999)

    Not especially well regarded when it came out and tanked at the box office, but I feel like it's been reevaluated since then. I largely enjoyed it originally because I'm a big Robert Carlyle fan, but even I've come to appreciate this take on the myth of the Wendigo more as I've revisited it. It's a shame that this was the end of Antonia Bird's movie career after only a handful of films (she'd go back to doing TV movies and episodes until she passed away a few years back).

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    1. I keep meaning to try Ravenous the DVD has been sitting there for years

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    2. I truly think Ravenous is a special movie. It doesn't fuck around.

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  32. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

    Great all around. I'm not a big John Wayne fan but he does a pretty good job, though it's Jimmy Stewart who's the real standout. I grew to love Dutton Peabody (the head of the newspaper), but the opposite happened with the sheriff. He started out annoying and just got worse and worse. Lee Marvin also does a great job (as does Vera Miles). And there was one person playing a teenager who was apparently 50 when they were filming and it really shows. That was very strange. The cinematography is excellent, the story is interesting, the whole movie is highly recommended.

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  33. Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swan (1982)

    Cool title...cool movie...jk, it sucks.

    Fred Ward is sent accidentally sent to the old west on his motorcycle. That's about it.

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  34. Massacre Time (1966, dir. Lucio Fulci)
    To the best of my knowledge, Fulci only directed two westerns: Four of the Apocalypse and this one. Four of the Apocalypse feels like what a Fulci western would feel like. This one is more generic -- competent, but missing his voice. Franco Nero is always cool and welcome and the climactic shootout is put together well, but I was hoping for more personality here. It's totally fine, but not a lot more.

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  35. A Fistful of Dollars

    Watched for the first time, really enjoyed it, haven't seen a film with young Eastwood, he was great, simple but fun story

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