chapter  4
12 Pages

Cultural value and viscerality in Sukiyaki Western Django: Towards a phenomenology of bad film

WithJane Stadler

Takashi Miike’s spaghetti western samurai film Sukiyaki Western Django (2007) has an

improbable plot lacking psychological complexity, and it revels in artifice and aesthetic

excess, derivativeness and heavy-handed affect. In short, it bears the hallmarks of bad taste

identified by Jeffrey Sconce in his influential article on cultural detritus and paracinema:

‘“Trashing” the Academy: Taste, Excess and an Emerging Politics of Cinematic Style’

(1995, reprinted 2008). Sconce compiles ‘an inventory of characteristically paracinematic

stylistic devices’ including technical errors, awful dialogue, wooden or histrionic acting,

and low budget sets (2008, 114). In detailing the ‘aesthetic and moral badness’ of

paracinema’s close relative, cult film, Ernest Mathijs and Xavier Mendik list ‘extremes of

quality’ including ineptness, innovation, transgression, hyperbolic exaggeration and

mixing of genre conventions, intertextuality, narrative and stylistic loose ends, nostalgia

and gore (2008, 2-3). Sukiyaki Western Django (hereafter Sukiyaki) qualifies in every

respect barring technical ineptness, for despite Quentin Tarantino’s dubious performance

as the sharp shooter Piringo and amusing continuity errors involving the hero’s

disappearing-reappearing facial hair, the film features accomplished production design

and stylistic innovation.