I was asked recently about 'underrated' spaghetti westerns and I struggled to come up with one. The reason is that the best of the genre are very well known and even the lesser known exceptional examples have penetrated into the broader knowledge base of western fans after thirty-five years of home video releases. After all - most aficionados of the horse operas are ravenous seekers that can't wait to watch the latest obscure discovery and with that being the norm, it becomes pretty difficult to locate a spaghetti western of real quality that isn't known to some degree - but it can be done. For instance....
10,000 DOLLARS FOR A MASSACRE (1967) turned up in a cheap four pack DVD set of spaghettis and its title prompted me to try it first. Bingo! This turns out to be a very well directed little western focused on a bounty killer (Gianni Garko) of dubious moral character (surprise!) and impressive skills (shock!). He has a helpful sidekick (Fidel Gonzáles) who earns a living as a portrait photographer when not wielding a rifle to aid his buddy. Adding greatly to the proceedings is Claudio Camaso as the main villain who is a familiar face from Bava's
Marghertti's spaghetti western VENGEANCE (1968). Camaso looks a lot like his
brother Gian Marie Volante who played the villain in Leone's FOR A FEW DOLLARS
MORE (1965) - so much so that I had to look him up to make sure he wasn't the
same actor. Also playing a bad guy is Fernando Sanchez who appeared in so many
movies there should a shrine built to his career! Trust me- if you've seen more
than about 20 Italian westerns you've seen
Fernando Sanchez. BAY
Oh- and did I mention that the main bounty hunter character is named Django? I am not kidding - this is one of the earliest of the unofficial sequels to the classic DJANGO (1966) and I was stunned to discover that it is not better known under an alternate title like DJANGO KILLS EVERYONE or DJANGO AND THE DUSTY TRAIL or even DJANGO ORDERS BRUNCH. ( I'd love to see a film called Django Orders Brunch.)
But this film does seem to qualify as an underrated entry in the genre. I was very impressed with it from beginning to end. It weaves its plot elements together very well; it has a couple of shocking turns; its villains are well drawn and somewhat sympathetic; the dark character of Django has a bit if an arc and the pace is good. If you have watched a lot of westerns you may have seen parts of this film in various forms over the years, but this movie is a step or two above average. I need to check out a few more of director Romolo Guerrieri's films - he's a stylish storyteller.