The opening scene of this movie is pure magic. We see Garko, waking up at the seashore, talking to the man lying beside him. Then the camera pans little to the right and Garko ironically remarks that the man doesn’t care much for the sea, only for heaven. We realize that Garko is a bounty hunter and that the man beside him was all but sleeping. This tongue-in-cheeck scene, both grim and funny, sets the tone for one of the best unofficial Django sequels. With its homosexual overtones, outrageous Christian symbomism and exuberant use of mascara it’s also one of the weirdest.
Camasio takes revenge on the rich man whose evidence sent him to jail, by killing all his men and kidnapping his daughter. Garko is asked to chase the villain and bring the poor girl home, but he doesn’t like to work for a rich landowner and asks a price the man is unlikely to pay - the $ 10.000 from the title - for the anticipated massacre. When he is nearly killed he is nursed back to health by the local bar owner Nusciak, a proverbial tart with a heart, and falls in love with her. She asks him to give up his dangerous life, but instead he joines forces with Camasio in order to make as much money as possible (while keeping his hands clean). But being Django, he will be forced to act as an avenger once again, when Camasio assaults the stagecoach Nusciak is travelling with …
By elaborating Garko’s relationship with Nusciak, director Guerrrieri tries to add a psychological dimension to the Django character. His tragic love affair is mirrored by the relationship between Camasio and the girl he has kidnapped and subsequently deflowered. In a clear reference to popular (and unofficial) catholic mythology, she represents the virgin who becomes a harlot and eventually the most devoted follower of her master, who will mourn over his death. It’s a motto more often used in popular Italian art but apparently the Vatican wasn’t pleased with it, nor with some other religious symbolism used in the movie. At one point Garko falls from his horse and ends up on the ground, lying on his back, his arm spread wide. For people who are familiar with the baroque imagery of the catholic faith - and those who live within the Vatican usually are - this is a near sacrilegeous reference to Caravaggio’s famous painting of St. Paulus, falling from his horse on the way to Damascus. To add insult to injury, the scene results in a sort of wrestling contest between Garko and Camasio that is so clearly homosexually orientated that one must be blind to miss the point.
10.000 dollari per un massacro is an interesting, but also rather confusing spaghetti western. Some scenes are quite sentimental, others have a more comical, or even parodic edge. Django has a Mexican side-kick (called Fidelio, no less) and a horse that is as obedient as a dog. Moreover, with his silk shawl and heavy mascara I couldn’t help thinking of Peter Wyngarde as Jason King, a hero from the time when shawls, cravats and moustaches were thought of as ultra-cool. Today such elements, as well as the magnificent opening scene (considered by some as a homage to a similar scene in Bergman’s Seventh Seal) and the conclusion, a cleverly staged shoot out set in a ghost town, give the film a near surrealist look.
The film is beautifully shot and Nora Orlandi’s score is excellent, even though some experts might quibble that in some parts it’s very close to Morricone’s score for For a few dollars more. Both Garko and Camasio show a tendency to over-play their parts, but I had the idea they were asked to do so. Overall the interplay between the two men works well. Still Fernando Sancho easily steals the film as Camasio’s father.
I watched the Spanish Suevia disc, called Como lobos sedientos (Like thirsty wolves). It’s a very mediocre DVD. The film is part of the Koch Media Django box. Stick to that box. Stick to Koch !