What do you get when you combine $7,300, good writing, and two inept used car salesmen? Blood, Guts, Bullets & Octane, a fast-paced and smart thriller that is a lot more fun than most of its pricier Hollywood counterparts. Quadruple threat Joe Carnahan's quirky film was shot in 13 days for less than $8,000, and it's all there on the screen.

The true star of Blood, Guts, Bullets & Octane is a red 1973 Pontiac LeMans convertible that has been the literal vehicle for a series of vicious murders. Enter Sid (Carnahan) and Bob (Dan Leis), two down-and-out used car salesmen who make the most clichd image of the profession seem tame. Faced with eviction, as well as seemingly unbeatable competition from the clownish Danny Woo's (Dan Harlan) dealership down the street, the downtrodden duo accepts a seemingly simple offer that contains hints of unknown peril: Let the LeMans sit on their lot untouched for two days, and at the end of the time period collect $250,000.

Rather than let sleeping cars lie, Sid convinces a reluctant Bob that they are being set up, and the two decide to take matters into their own hands. They are no better at extortion than they are at selling cars, and before you can say 'plot device,' they are being chased by the FBI and a very nasty killer. The secret of the LeMans, and the fates of our two anti-heroes, are revealed on a deserted stretch of desert highway, and it's all delivered in Carnahan's entertaining, take-no-prisoners style.

Blood, Guts, Bullets & Octane is particularly fun to watch for the rapid-fire dialogue and interaction between the pudgy, belligerent Sid and the more svelte, level-headed Bob; they are almost a noir Laurel and Hardy. There is an onscreen chemistry between the two characters that provides the film with much of its playfulness, and Carnahan's script is filled with memorable lines like 'The whole thing is a slice of fucking voodoo' and 'It's only your family that cares whether you live or die; everything else is a Christmas card.'

For all its pleasures, Blood, Guts, Bullets & Octane has its problems: Some scenes go on too long, some seem unnecessary, and the first half is better than the second half. All things considered, however, there is no denying that budgets are in the eyes of the beholder. Blood, Guts, Bullets & Octane is not a great film, but it is a great accomplishment.

--Rod Granger