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Blood, Guts, Bullets & Octane


Blood, Guts, Bullets & Octane

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"I was now going to make a film with no formal training, just to prove that any idiot, myself included, could make a movie if they were stupid enough to try." So says Cal State grad Joe Carnahan in the press notes for his first feature, Blood, Guts, Bullets & Octane. Filmed for $7,300, it's indeed the kind of shoestring production that shows just how much a fledgling filmmaker is capable of these days. Written, directed, and edited by Carnahan, who also stars, the movie concerns two struggling and debt-ridden used-car salesmen (Carnahan and Dan Leis) who are told that if they look after a 1963 Pontiac LeMans convertible, they stand to make $250,000, no strings attached. But what's in the trunk? Drugs? A body? When the McGuffin is finally unveiled, it's predictably ridiculous, though in the gonzo context, the surprise sort of sticks, albeit tenuously. For a bunch of self-proclaimed amateurs, the acting is pretty good, and the ersatz Mamet tough-guy talk effective, if a bit grating. Of course, at face value, Blood, Guts, Bullets & Octane is just another generic page out of the Richard Rodriguez book, but taking all external factors into account—time, budget, talent, marathon shooting schedule—it's pretty remarkable. Whether or not it's much of an achievement is another matter entirely, though to be truthful, Blood, Guts, Bullets & Octane, grit and all, still beats most big-budget action movies.