Blood Guts Bullets & Octane

Director: Joe Carnahan
Screenwriters: Joe Carnahan

Institute History

  • 1998 Sundance Film Festival


The makers of Blood Guts Bullets & Octane encapsulate their kick-ass flick, “When your lemon lot hits the skids, you glom the gig no matter what the smell.” Or, as car broker Ray says toward the end, “It’s a hit-and-run world, Bob—savage, swallow-you-whole, spit-out-the-bones.” Whatever. This made-for-next-to-nothing opus ($7,300 got it in the can), with its blood and bullets and bargain price tag, may suggest influences from both Quentin Tarentino and Roberto Rodriguez. But this shot-entirely-in-Sacramento effort, although partly inspired by those two gents (according to writer/editor/director/ actor Joe Carnahan), is anything but derivative. Carnahan slices and dices his crime-and-mayhem yarn with a whole new set of knives (Benihana, eat your heart out!) and comes up with a bracing, exhilarating piece of filmmaking that doesn’t stop. The plot? Let’s just say it involves two down-on-their-luck used-car dealers who stand to gain a healthy influx of cash if they just let a 1963 Pontiac LeMans convertible sit in their lot for two days. Beyond that—why spoil the trip? There are guaranteed surprises all along the way.

Much praise, beyond the multicredited Carnahan, to all who worked on this film—with special kudos to cinematographer John Jiminez, a sharp casting eye, no-nonsense acting, and a raw, postmodern, gutbucket score. Enjoy!

Joe Carnahan, Director
Joe Carnahan, the twenty-eight-year-old first-time director of Blood Guts Bullets & Octane, graduated from Sacramento State University in 1994 and went to work as a senior promotions producer for a local television station. In addition to directing duties on Blood Guts Bullets & Octane, Carnahan served as writer, editor, and star while shooting the film on weekends over the course of eleven months.

— Robert Hawk

Screening Details

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