If Peckinpah was as battered and freaked out and coked to death as Oates's imitation implies it's a wonder the movie ever got made. And yet it's not a tired film. It's delirious, head-banging, totally in your face. I guess that's the coke.
The critics hated it when it first came out. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the way Oates talks to the severed head. Yes, it's preposterous, but, but, but...
...I nearly said, "so is Hamlet" but choked myself off. OK, let's not be silly. Still, there are parallels. They're both revenge dramas that transcend their genre. And both feature conversations with a death's head. A tighter fit might be Middleton's Revenger's Tragedy or Webster's Duchess of Malfi.
This was the only one of Peckinpah's movies the suits didn't mangle. I guess they kept their hands off because it's so thoroughly broke (in commercial terms) it couldn't be fixed. Thematically It's very like the Wild Bunch: a man's got to do what a man's got to do even though he's a sewer rat. It's the cheaper version. But also the deeper version. There's less blood and more psychosis. When Peckinpah was asked if he'd was ever going to make a film that preserved his vision entire, he replied, "Well, I made Alfredo Garcia."