VCI Home Video // 1974 // 98 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 7th, 2006
He gambled it all for the most beautiful women in the west!
Rene Cardona Jr., Mexican exploitation director extraordinaire (Cyclone, The Treasure of the Amazon), takes a stab at the spaghetti western with this tale of three gunmen on a quest to take down a corrupt, reclusive sheriff.
Our main character is El Pistolero (Jorge Rivero), a suave gunslinger who likes to divide his time between blowing away marks and getting busy with his stable of prostitutes. Apparently, women can't resist the good looks and the pistol-toting swagger. His travels bring him into contact with two escaped prisoners, on a quest to exact vengeance on a dirtbag sheriff, who resides inside a fortified monastery, protected by rudimentary machine guns and a legion of his best troops.
The three men begin a rocky relationship at first, when one of the ex-cons tries to horn in on El Pistolero's ladies. The two duke it out, the fight ends in a stalemate, and friendship forged in fisticuffs is born. The hitman joins up on the quest, and the trio head to the monastery to take care of business.
But it appears that the gunslinger has other plans, when he sells out one of the prisoners to the sheriff. Have his loyalties turned? Has he come all this way to simply fork over his comrades for a handful of pesos? Or does this bad mo-fo have something else in mind -- a scheme that will culminate in a violent shootout that will leave no squib undetonated.
Cardona is an hombre I dig. His stuff often sports a few over-the-top scenes that make the films stand out. In Cyclone it was the cannibalism; in Treasure of the Amazon you had that righteous land crab attack. For this film, and especially with a bitchin' title like Guns and Guts, I was hoping for another crowd-pleaser. Alas, it was not to be. This flick is bo-ring.
I count exactly thee highlights in the film, and I'll share them with you now:
* HIGHLIGHT 1
El Pistolero squares off with some hapless sucker in a village square, preparing for an old-fashioned showdown. Our protagonist opens fire first, and his victim embarks on one of the longest death scenes I've ever seen. The dude gets it in the throat, and as the blood spurts out (quite niftily), he sloooowwwwwwwwwwwly falls to the ground, clutching his neck, and eventually succumbing to his wound, lying still. It takes for-frickin'-ever and if it weren't for the lingering shots of spurting hemoglobin as well as the general overblown style of it all, it would be nothing more than a cheap way of padding the runtime. It's probably that, anyway, but I though it was pretty funny.
* HIGHLIGHT 2
The climactic shootout. The big massacre at the end was needed because a) in a film like this a concluding fusillade is mandated by international law and b) the previous 85 minutes were so damn tedious, not including at least a semblance of action payoff would be tantamount to audience abuse. It's loud, bloody, chock full of slow-motion, and gratuitous, yet still remains ho-hum. Oh well, points for the "loud" and "bloody."
* HIGHLIGHT 3
An extended strip-poker sequence with hookers. Nothing further.
That's it for me, kiddos. Beyond those molecules of entertainment, the rest of the film did nada for me. You're basically looking at 75 minutes of riding, talking, the occasional, superfluous fistfight, and more riding and talking, buttressed by the aforementioned highlights. The story isn't involving and the only interesting character is El Pistolero. The gunfights have lots of exploding blood and ear-piercing pistol-fire, and while the finale gives it a go, the lethargic feeling from the rest of the film lingers, and the uninspiring onscreen kinetic imagery can't quite get my blood pumping.
VCI has done a good job with the disc. The picture quality is surprisingly strong, featuring sharp detailing and solid color tones. Plus, it comes in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo is shrill, but a lot better than a 1.0 mono mix. Extras are light, with only trailers and actor bios.
I was hoping for Guns and Guts to be one of those cool little gems, a spaghetti western surprise. When the smoke clears, though, it's half-baked.
The accused is told to hit the trail -- and don't look back.
Review content copyright © 2006 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: VCI Home Video
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 1974
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Actor Bios