Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Twilight BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA and THEATRE OF BLOOD on Blu-ray ""

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Twilight BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA and THEATRE OF BLOOD on Blu-ray

BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA (1974; Sam Peckinpah)
There have been many interesting movie titles used over the 100-plus years cinema has been around. BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA is easily one of the best and most memorable of them. I think I first heard it mentioned as a throw away joke from Chevy Chase in FLETCH. It would be some years after that until I finally saw the film. And it would take a few viewings of the movie before it really hit me how great it is. I had the same experience with Scorsese's MEAN STREETS. Watched it once and it was just okay as far as I was concerned. When I came back to it, it blew me away. Apparently it's been said of all his films, ALFREDO GARCIA was the one that came out the most as he had intended. It would make an interesting double bill with a previously released Twilight Time title - THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT. Both films are existential road movies in a way. THUNDERBOLT being far lighter in tone, but both feeling like movies that were a product of the wonderful 1970s. ALFREDO GARCIA is easily one of my favorite Peckinpah films. It's right up there with my other favorite, THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE. Both films have fantastic character actors as their leads. Jason Robards and Warren Oates are two of the greatest actors of the latter half of the twentieth century (for my money). Robards was given a tiny bit more opportunity to shine in more prominent roles, but neither man got enough parts at the center of a movie. Oates has one of those faces that is just remarkable. It is a timeless face. The face of a modern day man or an authentic cowboy from the 1800s. Faces like his don't exist too much in modern movies today. We've traded in character for youth and good looks and it has hurt movies as a whole in my opinion. They being said, Oates is really the only man for the job in this case. This movie, which can be tough to watch at moments, would be far less palatable without him. What Oates brings to movies with his presence is some kind of melange of charisma and other elements that make you just wanna watch him. It's been said that Oates is playing a version of Peckinpah himself here and that alone makes the movie very intriguing. Peckinpah is one of those directors that gives a sense of the life he lived via his movies. He's a man, like Sam Fuller for example whose films truly benefited from the life experience he had outside of filmmaking. And like Fuller, you can almost feel Peckinpah bursting through each frame he ever committed to celluloid. There's an underlying sense of authenticity and gravitas to the characters he portrayed as well as the grittiness of the worlds they inhabited. His films carry with them the air of machismo that Peckinpah himself was known for, but also carry the feeling that the lifestyles these characters propagate often don't lead to the promised land they may have been seeking.

Special Features:
This Twilight Time Special Edition has lots of nice supplements. It truly rivals or surpasses any Criterion release from this year. First off, it has not one, but three (!) commentary tracks. The first is with Nick Redman and Gordon T. Dawson (who was one of the writers on ALFREDO GARCIA as well as a producer). This is a very neat track in that Dawson is a man who knew Peckinpah pretty well and his working relationship with him started back on MAJOR DUNDEE and went all the way through ALFREDO GARCIA. As a result, he has remarkable first hand accounts and great stories about Peckinpah as a man and as a director. It's rare that you get this kind of thing as much these days and its quite insightful.
The second track is with Film Historians Paul Seydor (editor os such films as WHITE MEN CAN'T JUMP, COBB & others), Garner Simmons, David Weddle (writer/producer of the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA TV Series, FALLING SKIES & others) and Nick Redman. Both Weddle and Seydor have written books on Peckinpah and are clearly great authorities on the man. This track is a lively academic discussion that offers many scholarly and thematic observations and is quite a lovely listen.  The Third track has been added since the last release of this disc and it is an Audio Commentary with Assistant to the Director Katy Haber, and Film Historians Paul Seydor and Nick Redman.
Also, "Passion & Poetry: Sam's Favorite Film" a 55-minute retrospective documentary cover Peckinpah the man and ALFREDO GARCIA - includes interviews with Kris Kristofferson, Ernest Borgnine, L.Q. Jones, R.G. Armstrong, Isela Vega, Gordon Dawson, Katy Haber, Lupita Peckinpah and more.
Plus, there's also "A Writer's Journey: Garner Simmons with Sam Peckinpah in Mexico" (26 mins) - wherein Peckinpah biographer Garner Simmons talks about the inspiration for his pursuit of the director and his time with him while he was working on ALFREDO GARCIA. He talks about his take on Peckinpah the man and how he was a fellow who was often testing people to see what they were made of and the hurdles he had to get over to get his book done. It's a single-shot interview, but it's pretty fascinating.

BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA can be purchased on Blu-ray here:


THEATRE OF BLOOD (1973; Douglas Hickox)
As he does with Edgar Allen Poe, Vincent Price can slip into the world of spoken verse like Shakespeare with a remarkable deftness. Further, his style of acting can work really well when he plays 'hammy actor' type characters. Since Price himself was a bigger-than-life personality in a lot of ways, he's just perfect for this sort of thing. One of my very favorite Price roles is that of Mark Cardigan, the actor he plays in HIS KIND OF WOMAN. This film offers him a similar arena in which to chew scenery and go big in the best possible way as well. THEATRE OF BLOOD of goes much more maniacally dark and sadistic with that character than HIS KIND OF WOMAN. It was something of a cathartic experience would think for Price to play such a role where he kills many of his critics as he was often not given the critical respect for his acting that most would now agree he deserved. I think he's a fantastic actor myself.
The film is truly a who's who of classic British character actors. Apparently, Price himself was quite the Anglophile so it was something of a great pleasure for him to mix it up with the likes of these heavyweights (such as Diana Rigg, Robert Morley, Jack Hawkins, Harry Andrews, Ian Hendry and more) . The director, Douglas Hickox has only somewhat recently become known to me as a Quentin Tarantino favorite. QT apparently loves his film SITTING TARGET (with Oliver Reed and Ian McShane) and I believe is also a fan of Hickox's 'John Wayne as Dirty Harry in London' flick BRANNIGAN. It stands to reason he's probably a THEATRE OF BLOOD supporter as well. In addition to that, it is also a favorite of comedian Patton Oswalt as well (according to a list he posted some years back). That's a very solid pedigree I must say.

Special Features:
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Audio Commentary with Film Historians David Del Valle and Nick Redman
-Isolated Score Track 

-Original Theatrical Trailer

THEATRE OF BLOOD can be purchased on Blu-ray here:

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