Sam Peckinpah is known for his brutally violent, controversial films, with the insanely bloody western, "The Wild Bunch", and the sadistic fish out of water tale, "Straw Dogs", being the first to spring to most people's minds. However, the majority of Peckinpah's films have maintained a comparably low-profile, and 1974's Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is a sexually charged, bloodsoaked example of one of the director's finest.
When a wealthy Mexican land baron's daughter is impregnated by a notorious womaniser named Alfredo Garcia, a price is put upon Garcia's head; literally. As mercenaries from around Mexico and the southwestern United States rush to hunt down their bounty, a small time hustler named Benny (Oates) enters the fray, offering up his services for $10,000 dollars. Benny knows something the other bounty hunters don't; Alfredo Garcia is dead and buried in a remote Mexican village, and Benny's girlfriend, Elita (Vega), knows just where Benny can find him. However, as the other hunters get close, and Benny reveals his plan to Elita, things get bloody in a hurry. Soon, Benny sees his "easy money" slipping through his fingers, as he finds himself the target of his girlfriend's rage, his competing bounty hunters, and the family of the man he intends to dig up and sell to the highest bidder.
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is an absolutely exhilarating film. From it's cool as hell dialogue, to Warren Oates tequila-soaked performance, it ranks up there with the best films of it's genre. It has all of the visceral elements that make a Peckinpah film such a kick-ass delight, but also features a truly touching and twisted love story between the tortured Benny and the dreamy Elita, that explores the boundaries of a relationship that, up to this point, didn't have any. It's an abusive, intense, and destructive relationship, and, from the moment we are introduced to these characters, we can see that they've never had it any other way. These are people who've been burned so often, that they'll take whatever they can get, squeeze the life out of it, and move on. However, as it becomes apparent that these two people really do care about each other, it makes what's to come all the more tragic.
The DVD from MGM features a great widescreen transfer of the film that features little by way of artifacts or grain, but there is a definite hint of "flange" to the soundtrack. This is common in 70's films, and is most obvious during the louder moments in the film. The DVD also features a commentary track by Sam Peckinpah scholars Paul Seydor Garner Simmons and David Weddle, with moderator Nick Redman, as well as the film's original theatrical trailer.
This is a near perfect example of Peckinpah, and I, for one, am thrilled to finally have it on DVD. I've seen the movie a handfull of times over the years, but always heavily edited and formatted for television. This is the first time I've had the chance to see it as it was meant to be seen, but, believe me, it won't be the last.
Very highly recommended.