Death is Sweet From the Soldier of God (1972)

Seminò la morte... lo chiamavano Castigo di Dio / Django... Adios!


Part of the challenge of reviewing films in such a wide genre of film as the spaghetti western is that, with roughly 500 or so films in the genre, the law of averages says that you're going to have to sit through quite a few stinkers to get to the golden nuggets. As any fan of the genre knows, there are a lot of films in the genre that qualify as "average", in that although not always the best produced, they are somewhat entertaining and enjoyable, even if they don't demand repeated watchings. For me personally, a good majority of the films I've seen so far fall into that category. But then there's the bottom of the barrel, such as the Demofilo Fidani films and others, where the problem isn't just a low budget, it's low effort, low talent, you name it. Those are the films where afterwards, you're lamenting that that's 90 minutes of your life wasted that you're never going to get back. Roberto Mauri's 1972 film, Death is Sweet From the Soldier of God, although not the absolute bottom of the barrel, is one of those ones I'd call barely watchable, to be kind..

It stars Brad Harris as Django (in the English dubbed print of the film). He's a sheriff who is accused of robbing the town's money, and in jail that night, he meets the Mexican Santo (José Torres), who helps him escape (and in the process, gets Django framed for murder of the sheriff, too). Django then joins Santo's bandits, who are working for a guy name Scott (Vassili Karis). As we eventually find out, Scott was responsible for the death of Django's brother and his brother's wife and kid, so Django wants (and eventually gets) his revenge. This all takes place over the course of a rather muddled plot involving the stolen money and a few double crossings.

Brad Harris

Brad Harris: not one of the better Djangos out there.

Now, it's been said that sometimes in these reviews I'm a bit harsher on some of these films than some fans would like, and I can respect that sentiment. It's made me look at some of these films from a different angle, and to judge them moreso as how they fit relative to the genre itself. But there's no getting around the fact that this is a poorly made movie, all around. Part of what makes the worst ones so bad is they are so horribly derivative, using (and often overdoing) every cliche of the genre, while adding nothing new. This film is guilty of that. Nothing original to be seen, anywhere.Torres is kind of like a poor man's Tomas Milian, doing the "Mexican-bandito-with-a-soft-spot" thing with none of the talent or charm Milian would bring to the role (although he does share Milian's tendency to overact at times). There's even scenes that look like they could have been ripped right out of of Run Man Run. Although, to its credit, there's a rather funny seen where Torres is faking a rather violent bowel movement (complete with farting noises) so he can escape.

Poor man's milian

José Torres - he ain't no Tomas Milian, that's for sure.

The acting is pretty lousy, all around. Harris is rather stiff, and Karis' acting is pretty horrible, as well. Not much in terms of style, as far as the filming goes - there are countless scenes that end with the quick zoom on the character's face, then a fade to blur. I'm not sure where this was filmed; it doesn't look like Almeria. The dialogue is pretty horrendous at times, such as when Scott says, "Ramon, you filthy coyote! I'm gonna kill you. I'm mad and I'm going to cut you down." A rather telling line from Torres as he's held at gunpoint made me laugh, because it was so true. He actually says, "Oh Lord, please forgive me, this pathetic acting!" He also says "Madre de la Dios!" about fifty times over the course of the film.

There was even a serious continuity flaw. Django gets shot off of his horse by a bad guy, and we think he's dead, and in the next scene, he's back at his neice's house, with no explanation. The only redeeming quality to the film is the score by Vasili Kojucharov, which touches upon some pleasant themes from time to time. And the title of the film makes no sense, as nowhere in the film is Django even remotely portrayed as a soldier of God or anything close.

Another observation- Thomas Weisser's book, Spaghetti Weterns: The Good, The Bad, The Violent, has often been rightly criticized for having many entries in which he gets the details of a film so wrong that you wonder if he even saw the film. This is one of those films, as Weisser says this film is somewhat like Django the Bastard and They Call Him Holy Ghost (it's not, at all), and refers to some plot that must have happened in an alternate universe, becuse it doesn't resemble the one we see in the movie.

I saw an old VHS rip of this. I don't know if it's available on DVD anywhere, but it doesn't really matter; you're not missing anything.

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