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Blood Guts Bullets & Octane
WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
Joe Carnahan's Blood Guts Bullets & Octane is an interesting film to watch only if you've been keeping an eye on Carnahan's promising career (have you seen Narc?) and only if you consider the film's origins. In all other cases, this film is a rather irritating, enormously self-conscious exercise in Tarantino worship.
Writer/director/star Carnahan assembled Blood Guts Bullets & Octane in a manner similar to that of Robert Rodriguez's El Mariachi. He shot it for about $7500 in Sacramento, California, insisting that he could craft a high-octane action flick to compete with the big fellas. Cradling both his enormous balls and the film in a wheelbarrow, he sauntered into Sundance and ended up with a distributor and a future. You gotta admire this guy—and I do, particularly now, seeing where he's going.
Blood Guts Bullets & Octane opens with a braying prologue that introduces two ultra-slimy used-car salesman named Sid (Carnahan) and Bob (Dan Leis), screaming deals at the camera and screaming at customers and screaming some more. These are angry gentlemen, and the anger carries through the entire film, reaching for edgy, comic effect but achieving something more akin to an acid burp. Business is in the toilet, and suddenly an opportunity rears its head: Babysit a vintage burgundy Pontiac Le Mans for a couple days and get paid a quarter of a million dollars. What follows is an hour of Tarantino-inspired madness that involves the FBI, murder, and something in the trunk.
Unfortunately, if you look at Blood Guts Bullets & Octane strictly as a film—which is what you should do, after all—it's somewhat ludicrous and headache-inducing. The film is all forced style and trendy cursing. But I give him an A for effort.
HOW'S IT LOOK?
Lion's Gate presents Blood Guts Bullets & Octane in a disappointing nonanamorphic-widescreen transfer of the film's original 1.85:1 theatrical presentation. Much of my disappointment is due to the original elements. Apparently, Lion's Gate spent $100,000 on transferring the original video elements to 35mm. I wish they'd similarly invested in the DVD transfer.
The real crime here is that the film was already released as a nonanamorphic DVD. Why bother with a repressing if you don't upgrade the transfer? I haven't seen the original DVD, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if this is the same exact image. For nonanamorphic, I guess it's not terrible. Colors seem accurate, and detail is acceptable. But the print is dirty and predictably grainy.
HOW'S IT SOUND?
The disc includes a Dolby Surround track that, I'm sure, accurately translates the original soundtrack. The David Mamet-style dialog is at least clear while it's irritating you. Gunshots are a bit brittle, and the low-end presence is nothing to write home about.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE?
I found an easter egg that included full-frame trailers for Blood Guts Bullets & Octane, The Big Kahuna, and the recent Confidence.
WHAT'S LEFT TO SAY?
View this film as a calling-card that Carnahan used toward the eventual Narc, and you can appreciate the effort that went into it. Otherwise, Blood Guts Bullets & Octane is a trying time at the movies. And this release is doubly disappointing, considering that it adds nothing of value to the previous release.