Specifically, Ten Thousand More Ways to Die, Mill Creek Entertainment’s follow-up to 2010’s Ten Thousand Ways to Die (naturally), counts Django, Kill! (If You Live Shoot!) among its dozen films. True, the quality of the print pales in comparison to Blue Underground’s recent Blu-ray reissue, but newcomers to the character — and there will be many when Quentin Tarantino unleashes Django Unchained this Christmas at a theater near you — may not want to spend that much to try him out. In that case, this budget set makes perfect sense.
Actually, I’d extend that to newcomers to spaghetti Westerns in general, which boast a tangier sauce than American’s oaty cowboy fare. They’re not for everyone’s taste, so Ten Thousand More Ways to Die offers a trial at minimal investment. It’s also for collectors like me who like to mine obscurities and are willing to sacrifice pristine prints for the pleasure of doing so in bulk.
Among the 12 movies spread across three double-sided discs, highlights include:
• The Shadow of Zorro, an Italian/Spanish co-production of Mexico’s supreme sword-wielding superhero. From 1962, it’s possibly the only Zorro adaptation to boast the line, “Excuse the delay, your excellency. I was held up by a cow.”
• 1970’s Fistful of Lead, actually a Sergio Leone-piggyback retitling of the run-on I Am Sartana, Trade Your Guns for a Coffin, with George Hilton playing Sartana, a bounty hunter character who, like Django, fronts a whole slew of movies unrelated to one another. This solid entry concerns a gold robbery and co-stars the drop-dead-gorgeous Erica Blanc and, as her polar opposite, a hobo named Hoagie.
• White Comanche, a 1968 vehicle for William Shatner and William Shatner. Yes, the Shat dares take on two roles as brothers: one a cowboy, the other an Indian. Ever wanted to see Shatner with a noose around his neck? This is your film!
• 7 Hours of Gunfire, an unintentionally funny lark that nonetheless makes for colorful viewing, given its use as historical characters Buffalo Bill Cody, Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane as the protagonists, not to mention lines like “I think we’ll name it … the Pony Express!” and the un-PC “I’m glad to see you again, you ol’ Indian killer!”
• Mickey Hargitay, the one-time Mr. Jayne Mansfield, stars as the titular blind hero in 1966’s 3 Bullets for Ringo. He’s no Crimson Executioner here, but he ain’t bad.
• And don’t forget the aforementioned and semi-surreal Django, Kill!, which does not star George Eastman, as the back cover proclaims, but Tomas Milian. You will not be able to purge the theme song from your mind. Listen below … if you dare. —Rod Lott