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Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (Special Edition)

Kino // R // March 9, 2021
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Oktay Ege Kozak | posted March 9, 2021 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

Reviled and downright ostracized upon its release, the film found quite a cult following during the decades afterward but is still not as appreciated as the milestone of violent cinema as it should be. It's equally tender, raw, extremely violent, and brutal, sometimes all during the same scene.

When a Mexican crime lord, known only as El Hefe, finds out his young daughter's been impregnated by a ladies man named Alfredo Garcia, he offers a million dollars for anyone who can bring his head to him. A hapless bartender named Bennie (A deliciously hammy Warren Oates) finds out from a prostitute named Elita (Isele Vega), with whom he's also in love, that Alfredo is already dead. Bennie decides to desecrate Alfredo's grave in order to bring his head to the band of professional killers, who offer him a measly $10.000.

The first half of the film is actually quite a tender love story between two losers trying to get out of the ditch they are in by depending on each other. The scene where Bennie finally asks Elita to marry him is done in such an overbearing fashion, that it passes some kind of melodramatic threshold and becomes tender and real again.

There is also a fable-like element to the story where Bennie pays dearly for his blind obsession with the money they will make by desecrating Alfredo's grave, despite Elita's many protests. Alas, a tragedy that should not be spoiled here propels Bennie into an insane rage and sends him off to kill literally the entire crime element in Mexico in one of the most violent second halves I think I've ever seen.

It's not that Peckinpah uses gallons of fake blood, and the body count is 1/50th of any contemporary action film, but the way the killings are presented in the raw, uniformly lit visual style of the film and with Peckinpah's signature intercuts between slow motion and rapid movement, the death scenes feel as disturbing and real as they ever could.

The Blu-ray:

Video:

Aside from Kino's new release, I also own the Twilight Time disc as well as the UK Arrow blu-ray. As far as the overall quality is concerned, this one stands somewhere between Twilight Time and Arrow. The Twilight Time release had some issues with color inconsistency and had plenty of scratches and blemishes on the print. Kino's new release captures the film's drab color palette beautifully but still has some visible scratches. If you have a Region B player, go for Arrow. If not, this is your best option.

Audio:

The DTS-HD mono track has an impressive range, especially when the bullets start flying. The wistful store comes alive through the lossless encoding, and the sfx/dialogue is clear.

Extras:

Commentary by Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons, David Weddle, Nick Redman: The film historians provide a great context to the film's themes and characters.

Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com

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