Anti-heroes like Django (1965) and Sartana (1968) owed a debt to Eastwood’s brooding, enigmatic stranger in town and, in a display of the genre now eating itself, a succession of quick, cash-in imitations using those names jostled for audiences attention alongside many official sequels, their tones often reflecting whatever was doing good box office at the time. This magpie, melting pot aesthetic wasn’t unprecedented; Leone himself, seeing how successful James Bond was with audiences, crafted the character of Van Cleef’s Colonel Mortimer in For a Few Dollars More wholly in the 007 mould; a cold, urbane hired assassin with an arsenal of weapons and gadgetry. Audiences took to the character instantly, which led to many imitations – including Sabata – and a shot in the arm for Van Cleef’s career. The character of Sabata appeared in three, ‘official’ movies; Sabata (1969), Adios Sabata (1970) and Return of Sabata (1971), which have been collected together and released to Blu-ray this week on the Eureka label.
Read my review of the Sabata films over at The Geek Show