(1974)3.5Donald GuariscoSam Peckinpah produced many outrageous and challenging films during his career, but Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia stands apart from the pack as the most unusual and demanding entry in his filmography. As a result, casual action fans expecting something like The Getaway will be confounded, but anyone seriously interested in this director's work will be rewarded with a very daring and personal film. The script, which some consider to be an allegory for Peckinpah's experiences in Hollywood, blends gritty sadism and pitch-black dark comedy in equal doses as it depicts Bennie's increasingly surreal journey to fulfill the mission mentioned in the title. The story line rambles a bit at first, but retains interest thanks to intense work from a gifted cast. Gig Young and Robert Webber are amusing and terrifying all at once as a pair of icy (and possibly gay) hit men and Isela Vega gives the film a much-needed shot of human warmth as Elita. However, top honors must be given to Warren Oates for his extraordinary work as Bennie. Oates is all raw nerves and painful sincerity as he charts his character's transition from down-and-out thug to avenging angel with a furious, no-holds-barred intensity. Behind the camera, Peckinpah captures the desperation of his story with unflinching power and works in the occasional bit of gallows humor (as in Bennie's conversations with Garcia's severed head). The action is suprisingly sparse, but Peckinpah delivers a few memorable set pieces, including a hotel room shootout and a tense scene where Bennie visits Garcia's grave with unexpected results. In the end, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is too eccentric and demanding for the casual viewer, but remains worth the time for cult movie enthusiasts and is a necessity for students of Peckinpah's filmmaking.