For those not familiar with Blue Underground, it is a company that specializes in releasing special editions of cult and exploitation movies on Blu-ray and DVD. It was founded by filmmaker William Lustig as a shell company which oversaw “making of” documentaries when he worked at Anchor Bay Entertainment (another company that oversees releases of cult movies), but it became an independent company in 2002. Since then, it has released dozens and dozens of cult movies to disc, and the company continues to do terrific work in restoring them to where they look and sound better than ever.
In May 2013, Blue Underground will be releasing special editions of some Spaghetti Westerns to Blu-ray and DVD. This was a sub-genre of Western movies which came about in the 1960s, and the term was used by American critics to point out that they were produced and directed by Italians. The best known Spaghetti Westerns were directed by Sergio Leone like “A Fistful of Dollars” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” which starred Clint Eastwood. The upcoming releases from Blue Underground may not be as well-known as Leone’s classics, but they do have their devoted fans.
“Spaghetti Westerns Unchained”
This is a 4 disc set of Spaghetti Westerns starring Franco Nero and Tomas Milian. Clearly Blue Underground couldn’t help but chose a title that reminded everyone of “Django Unchained,” but that’s okay since at least one of these movies helped to inspire Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar winning film.
Here are the titles included in the “Spaghetti Westerns Unchained” set:
Franco Nero (who would later make a cameo in “Django Unchained”) stars as Django, a lone drifter who drags a closed coffin around town with him. “Django” was directed by Sergio Corbucci, and it was considered one of the most violent movies ever made upon its release. The film ended up getting banned in several countries including the United Kingdom where it was rejected until 1993 (the movie came out in 1966). It was also said to have spawned over 50 unofficial sequels, several of them starring Nero, but no one forgot that this was the original. Blue Underground’s special edition includes an interview with Nero and assistant director Ruggero Deodato, the theatrical trailer, a poster and still gallery and biographies of the cast and crew.
“Django Kill… If You Live, Shoot!”
One of the many unofficial sequels to “Django,” this movie has nothing to do with it. Instead of Nero, we got Tomas Milian as The Stranger, a half-breed bandit who gets double crossed and left for dead. But of course, he rises up again and vows vengeance against those who betrayed him. It was said that the producers decided to release this movie outside of Italy as “Django Kill” in an effort to take advantage of the commercial success “Django” had. It is regarded as one of the most brutally violent Spaghetti Westerns ever made, and it is also noted for its psychedelic editing by Franco Arcalli. Blue Underground has put on this disc interviews with co-writer and director Giulio Questi and actors Tomas Milian and Ray Lovelock, the theatrical trailer, and a poster and still gallery.
Franco Nero stars as Keoma, a part Indian and part white Civil War soldier returns home to find that his town to find that it is now under the control of an ex-Confederate raider named Caldwell (Donald O’Brien). This has since turned Keoma’s hometown into a wasteland of violence, and he gets caught up in a battle between innocent people, sadistic bandits and his vengeful half-brothers. Despite him being weary of a life of violence, Keoma is forced to exact violent revenge against Caldwell and his men in order to restore peace.
“Keoma” is said to be one of the last Spaghetti Westerns ever made and also one of the finest. Among the extras on Blue Underground’s disc are an audio commentary with the movie’s director Enzo G. Castellari and journalist Waylon Wahl, and an interview with Nero.
This film also stars Nero as Burt Sullivan, a Texas Sheriff who ends up venturing into Mexico with his brother to find Mexican crime boss Cisco Delgado (José Suárez), the man who murdered their father in cold blood. “Texas, Adios” is considered a lesser known Spaghetti Westerns as well as one of many unofficial sequels to “Django.” Among the special extras that can be found on Blue Underground’s special edition is an interview with Nero.
The next film listed here is a separate release and not part of Blue Underground’s “Spaghetti Westerns Unchained” multipack.
The legendary Lee Van Cleef, whom some might remember from “Escape From New York,” stars in as Sheriff Clayton who ends up saving Philipp Wermeer (Alberto Dentice) from a group of bounty hunters. It turns out that Wermeer was framed for a murder he didn’t commit, and Clayton helps him confront the trio of brothers who have their reasons for wanting him dead. “Grand Duel” has been newly restored by Blue Underground from the original Italian negative for this special edition release, and it also includes an audio commentary from journalists C. Courtney Joyner and Henry Parke as well as trailers from various Spaghetti Westerns.
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