Tag Archives: Giulio Questi


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For our complete discussion of Death Laid an Egg, read the Canonically Weird entry.

I was thrilled in 2017 when ‘s chicken-centric surrealist giallo Death Laid an Egg finally hatched on DVD (until that time, it had only been available on VHS or poor-quality overseas bootlegs). One thing I did find room to complain about, however, was the loss of the absurd English dubbing, which added an additional layer of dementia to the already insane proceedings.  Cult Epics new Special Edition rerelease of the film answers that reservation, and throws in a few more surprises not on the previous release—most importantly, an additional 20 minutes of footage, now restored to produce a Director’s Cut version seen here for the first time since Death debuted.

Death Laid an Egg key artA true surrealist shock for 1968 viewers, Death Laid an Egg was not a hit on release, and was barely seen outside Italy. By 1970, however, the success of ‘s Bird with the Crystal Plumage was creating an international market for the Italian giallo. At 104 minutes, the already challenging (some would say incoherent) Death Laid an Egg featured far too much arty oddness and socialist satire to please the punters, but it did boast an exploitable amount of blood, sex, and a pair of gorgeous female leads in Gina Lollabrigida and . About fifteen minutes were trimmed, and Death was dubbed into English and released as Plucked, the version that most of the world has seen since. (This is the “Cliffs Notes” version of the release history, since actually at least two separate cuts of the film were made and released: see the excellent Movie Censorship entry for a more complete discussion).

The newly restored scenes mostly involve a character named Luigi, an old colleague of the protagonist whose significance (like so much in the film) is never made wholly clear. In a typical Questi twist, Luigi is partly amnesiac due to having undergone electroshock therapy. Other restorations involve a near topless scene for Aulin, gritty scenes of real poultry processing, Anna making elliptically morbid comments while looking at chicken embryo slides, and another encounter with the dispossessed farm workers. In a film where so many details and subplots are merely playful wild goose chases, the newly restored footage is, in some sense, inconsequential (although some have argued that Luigi’s character is crucial). But in any case, fifteen or twenty additional minutes of Death Laid an Egg is a blessing to be relished.

This edition gives you the option to watch the 90-minute dubbed version (Plucked) or the 104-minute director’s cut.  (You can watch the director’s cut with the English dub on; it just changes to subtitles when new footage plays, which also lets you know what’s new). As I did in my original review, I still contend that whoever did the translation for the dubbed version improved on the dialogue versus the person who translated the subtitles. The dialogue simultaneously sounds more natural to English-speakers and more poetic. “I think that’s a peculiar way to put it, men and chickens mixed up like that,” is snappier than the subtitle’s rendition of the same line, “This is a bit dubious, I think. How can you humanize chickens like that?” The spoken line “Your bra and panties are almost as important as what’s under them” is much more to the point than the written version, “lingerie is the most important. It’s almost more important than the skin underneath.” It’s likely that the original cast (the four principals included two Frechmen and a Swede) were dubbed into Italian anyway, so there’s no question of linguistic authenticity: in this case, go with the superior English dub.

Giallo scholar Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson (of Mondo Digital) provide an informative commentary track. Wisely, neither try to interpret the film’s many mysteries and peculiarities, but limit themselves to supplying context and background on Questi, the cast and crew, and the Italian film industry of the time. Other special features include two trailers, a video review by Antonio Bruchini, Questi’s last recorded interview (he doesn’t discuss Death Laid an Egg), and one of the director’s final short films, 2002’s “Doctor Schizo and Mister Phrenic.” In the interview Questi seems quite proud of the short, but I found it sad to see a man who once shot big-budget films with movie stars on location reduced to starring in his own camcorder YouTube uploads, set entirely in his own apartment.

Death Laid an Egg postcard
Postcard art featuring “Luigi”

Early editions of this set come with a slipcase and a package of collectible postcards. The only advantage Cult Epics previous release has over this one is that it includes a DVD copy (older limited releases also contained the rare Bruno Maderna soundtrack CD). But this is the Egg we’ve been dying for.

309. DEATH LAID AN EGG (1968)

La morte ha fatto l’uovo, AKA Plucked

“I think that’s a peculiar way to put it, men and chickens mixed up like that.”–Death Laid an Egg (dubbed version)



FEATURING: , Gina Lollabrigida, Jean Sobieski 

PLOT: The movie opens with a prostitute killed in a hotel room. The action then moves to an experimental poultry farm, largely automated but overseen by Marco, his wife Anna, and their beautiful live-in secretary Gabri. The plot slowly reveals a love triangle, with multiple betrayals, with Marco’s growing disgust at the poultry business brought to a boil when he finds a scientist has bred a species of headless mutant chickens for sale to the public.

Still from Death Laid an Egg (1968)


  • The title was almost certainly inspired by a line from Surrealist icon ‘s “Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias“: “Death laid eggs in the wound/at five in the afternoon.” Late in the movie Marco will mutter to himself “At 5 o’clock… the machine… the egg… the work…” and several shots focus on a clock approaching the 5 PM mark.
  • The second of an unofficial trilogy of surrealist movies director Giulio Questi made in “disreputable” genres. For more on Questi’s odd career, see the last paragraph of the Django Kill… If You Live, Shoot! review.
  • Death Laid an Egg was restored in 2016 by Nucleus Films from a newly discovered negative that contained a couple minutes of footage not seen in previous releases. The film was available on VHS in a dubbed version, but outside of suspect bargain versions from overseas, it was unavailable on DVD or Blu-ray until 2017.
  • Bruno Maderna, who wrote the atonal score, was an accomplished classical composer and conductor who died of cancer at the relatively young age of 53, a mere five years after Death Laid an Egg was completed.

INDELIBLE IMAGE: The exotic Lollabrigida and the nubile Aulin are a tempting pair of birds, but they’re upstaged by the actual poultry in this one. The oddest sight of all is hens stuffed into file folders for alphabetization (?) in a chicken functionary’s office.

THREE WEIRD THINGS: Playboy chickens; filed chickens; all-breast chickens

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: A juicy slice of breaded with a coating of and seasoned with a sprinkling of , Death Laid an Egg was the world’s first (and so far, only) deep-fried, chicken-centric Surrealist giallo.

Original Italian trailer for Death Laid an Egg

COMMENTS: Personal anecdote: the first time I watched Death Laid Continue reading 309. DEATH LAID AN EGG (1968)


Se sei Vivo Spara; AKA Oro Hondo

“That [If You Live, Shoot!] should be part of the small group of films that become a part of film history, embedded in the viewer’s imagination, obviously pleases me greatly… But I have to quickly add that it is a cult phenomenon for a few young likable nutcases. Every generation has a few of those.”–Giulio Questi



FEATURING: Tomas Milian, Roberto Camardiel, Francisco Sanz, Piero Lulli, Ray Lovelock

PLOT: Two wandering Indians find a half-dead Stranger climbing out of a makeshift desert grave. They also find a bag of gold on his body, which they melt down and fashion into bullets for him. They then take him to the nearest town, which the Indians call “the Unhappy Place,” where the Stranger goes after the man who betrayed him, stole his share of the gold, and left him for dead.

Django Kill (If You Live, Shoot!) (1967) still


  • Franco Arcalli served as editor and collaborated on the screenplay. Arcalli later became a big name in the Italian film industry, going on to collaborate with (on Zabriske Point), Bernardo Bertolucci (on The Conformist and Last Tango in Paris) while also collaborating on screenplays for Last Tango and Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America, among others. As his fame grew, he continued to work on Questi’s movies, as well.
  • Questi drew on his experiences as a paramilitary resistance fighter during WWII for the action sequences.
  • Italian audiences complained to censors about gruesome scenes where a man’s torso is torn apart to get at the golden bullets inside and another where a man is scalped. These scenes were immediately re-edited—in different countries, between twenty and thirty minutes of violence were cut out. Since they weren’t included in prints sent to the U.S., these scenes were never dubbed into English; therefore, when watching the restored version on Blu-ray, these scenes suddenly appear subtitled when the rest of movie is dubbed.
  • Originally titled If You Live, Shoot!, distributors later added Django Kill to the title (against Questi’s wishes) in a shameless attempt to cash in on the popularity of ‘s Django series. Thomas Millian does not play Django, and If You Live, Shoot! has nothing to do with the series.
  • Repo Man director is one of this film’s champions; he provided a 1997 introduction for a BBC series called “Forbidden Films,” where he he called it “the creepiest film I’d ever seen.”

INDELIBLE IMAGE: Based on sheer grisly shock value, it’s the scene where the villagers rip into Oaks’s still-breathing body trying to dig out the golden bullets inside it. Due to skillful editing, you don’t actually see as much blood and torn flesh as you imagine you do, but that’s part of what makes the scene so masterful—you and the filmmakers collaborate on building it in your mind’s eye.

THREE WEIRD THINGS: Golden bullets; gay cowpokes of the Old West; alcoholic oracle parrot

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: With its ambiguously dead antihero who shoots golden bullets fights Mr. Sorrow and his gang of gay fascist cowboys, Django Kill‘s subversive, surreal subtext befuddled 1967 viewers expecting warmed-up Spaghetti Western leftovers. It still has the power to perturb the unsuspecting today. Go into it looking for weirdness, and you’ll be amply rewarded.

British DVD release trailer for Django Kill

COMMENTS: Halfway down the dusty road that leads from A Fistful Continue reading 248. DJANGO KILL! (IF YOU LIVE, SHOOT!) (1967)


Django Kill has been promoted onto the List of the 366 Weirdest Movies ever made. Please read the official Certified Weird entry and make any comments there. Comments are closed on this post.

Se Sei Vivo Spara

DIRECTED BY: Giulio Questi

FEATURING: Tomas Milian

PLOT: A bandit is betrayed and left for dead by his comrades, then rides into a strange and corrupt town looking for vengeance and the stolen gold.

Still from Django Kill... If You Live, Shoot! (1967)

WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST: An ambiguously dead antihero who shoots golden bullets fights Mr. Sorrow and his gang of gay fascist cowboys. How could we not at least consider it for a spot as one of the weirdest movies of all time?

COMMENTS: Django Kill (which has nothing to do with Django—American distributors tacked on the name of Franco Nero’s popular cowboy in hopes of selling more tickets) is one of the first movies to recognize the hallucinogenic properties of the overripe oater. Flirting with surrealism while laying on the stage blood in ludicrous quantities, Giulio Questi’s bizarre 1967 western must have set off light bulbs inside Alejandro Jodorowsky‘s skull. The plot, involving a protagonist who is rescued from death by Indian spirit guides, also appears to have at least subliminally inspired Jim Jarmusch’s 1995 Dead Man. Although most of the shocking content—a man being scalped, an (offscreen) homosexual gang rape, and quick-flash subliminal editing techniques designed to induce seizure in epileptics—seems dated or tame today, in 1967 Django Kill was a real sizzler. Italian authorities banned the movie until certain (now-restored) scenes, such as a gang of townspeople’s flesh-ripping treasure hunt for golden bullets suspected to be lodged inside a fresh corpse, were excised. Even though Kill‘s violence no longer carries the same visceral impact it did in the late 60s, it’s still a lot of bloody fun; at times, it’s like watching running loose on a Sergio Leone set. One of the surprising things about Django Kill is that, despite all of the bizarre touches Questi adds, it’s accessible enough to work as a satisfying exploitation western, albeit with a supernatural tinge to it. With his hazel eyes gleaming above his scrub-brush cheeks, Cuban-born Thomas Milian makes for an attractive, ethnically ambiguous antihero (he’s supposed to be a half-breed) who needs to do little more than act cool and aloof to make his presence felt onscreen. The admittedly meandering plot hits all the genre highlights: shootouts, stolen gold, cruel villains, hangings, saloon fistfights, God-forsaken desert landscapes, betrayal, revenge, and closeups of grizzled macho faces aplenty. The strangeness comes in small doses, giving the weirdophiles in the audience secret thrills without alienating the drive-in/grindhouse patrons. Other than the gold bullets, the first fifteen minutes are played almost totally straight. When a gang of desperadoes roll into a nameless town, things start to take on a strange tinge: naked children stand calmly watching their progress through the dusty main street, while other kids are being used as footstools. Figures are briefly glimpsed in windows and there seems to be something unspeakably depraved happening behind every door. As we progress through the movie these quirks multiply, from the villain improbably named “Mr. Sorrow” and his gang of black-clad “muchachos” to a mock-crucifixion scene featuring vampire bats to an alcoholic parrot. The subtext appears to be that Milian, known only as the Stranger, is dead and is wandering through a bandito’s vision of Hell; or, perhaps the Stranger is a Christ figure, redeeming the debauched town through his suffering. The answer is probably both, and neither, of the above; Questi keeps the existential implications of the tale as wide open as the dome over a Montana prairie. To modern eyes Django Kill isn’t the weirdest of the acid Westerns, but it was a pioneer among crazed cowboy pics, and its mixture of unabashed exploitation, arty surrealism and psychedelic editing makes it a cult item par excellence.

Giulio Questi had a short but extremely curious feature film between 1967 and 1972 before being exiled to TV movies. Starting with Django Kill, he made three films in three different b-movie genres—a Spaghetti Western, a giallo (Death Laid an Egg), and a horror film (Arcana)—each co-written with his editor, Franco Arcalli, and each informed by the aesthetics of surrealism. This is the most widely seen of the trio, but it’s far from the weirdest. Blue Underground put out a Django Kill Blu-ray in 2012, while Questi’s other films remain yet unreleased in Region 1.


“…determinedly weird… [a] savage and surreal smorgasbord for cult-film aficionados.”–Bud Wilkins, Slant Magazine (Blu-ray)

(This movie was nominated for review by The Awful Dr. Orloff, who called it “the most insanely violent spaghetti western of them all.” Suggest a weird movie of your own here.)