Welcome to my column dedicated to the appreciation of physical media supplements called: Feature Presentations. The goal of this column is not to say whether a film is good or bad and worth picking up or not—I would like to highlight the discs that go the extra mile and provide film fans with enough tasty tidbits to satisfy even the hungriest of cinephiles. With all that out of the way, today’s article will focus on Vinegar Syndrome‘s double-feature release of the Mexican Westerns Hot Snake and Guns and Guts.
Growing up, I recall my household having Westerns on television many times. Multiple genre films have found their way into my cerebellum; Lone Wolf McQuade and Once Upon a Time in the West stand out the most. Being a snot-nosed child of the ’80s, films of this ilk didn’t appeal to a simple kid like myself. Nuance, characters, and mood weren’t as fascinating as a time-traveling DeLorean or a 100-foot marshmallow man. Western films bored me and left me with a distaste I harbored for many years.
As I’ve gotten older, I have tried to shake these childhood feelings and open myself further to films and genres I have otherwise left behind. I’m not saying I’ve never ventured into the wild west; I just haven’t gone as deep as other film genres.
Vinegar Syndrome must have known I was looking to expand my horizon, as they released a Mexican Western double feature of Hot Snake and Guns and Guts on Blu-ray.
One of the benefits of being a yearly subscriber to Vinegar Syndrome is having discs sent your way that you might otherwise skip. So, when Vinegar Syndrome announced this double-feature, one-disc set, a release I would pass over any other day found its way into my mailbox. And I’m glad it did.
Hot Snake tells the dark tale of a bounty hunter, called upon to take down a ruthless outlaw. While on the hunt, a mysterious third party joins the fray for a plot that isn’t as simple as it appears.
When reading about both films, Hot Snake appealed to me the most and did not disappoint. Playing and looking like a Spaghetti Western, Hot Snake wastes no time in getting to the blood-soaked action while mixing elements of the occult into the mix, spicing things up. The less said, the better it is for your viewing experience.
The second cinematic excursion features the revenge flick, Guns and Guts. Not as dark as Hot Snake, this film follows two men seeking revenge who join forces with a hired gun to take down the man who wronged them. The film follows their journey as they bond, womanize, and violently reach their objective. The film doesn’t play as darkly as Hot Snake, featuring multiple scenes of broad comedy, but the film works as a palette cleanser for those seeking a lighter yet still-violent western.
I applaud Vinegar Syndrome for this release as it showcases two different-yet-similar forays into Mexican westerns for those unfamiliar, like myself, or those seeking who crave all the Westerns they can handle.
The release comes with a sturdy slipcover featuring newly-commissioned artwork for both films on the front and back. The case contains a reversible art wrap showcasing each film and are the same designs on the slipcover.
The disc has only one feature: the fifteen-minute interview, “Guns, Guts and Family: An Interview with René Cardona III.” Cardona is the son of René Cardona Jr., director of Guns and Guts. Cardona makes for a jolly listen as he discusses his father’s work, his recollections from the set, the influences of Sam Peckinpah and behind-the-scenes factoids about Guns and Guts. While the film’s production came about when Cardona III was young, he still offers plenty of information and asides to make this a worthwhile listen.
And there you have it! There isn’t much supplemental material regarding the Hot Snake/Guns and Guts double-feature to discuss, but that’s okay! Hot Snake and Guns and Guts are two excellent Mexican Western films that everyone should check out. Having René Cardona III’s interview on the disc is an added bonus and only solidifies that this disc should be on every film fan’s shelf! Here’s hoping Vinegar Syndrome ventures back to Mexico for a second helping of Western films!