Arguments and doubts exist over how much El Mariachi cost to make, Rodriguez says $7000 and who are we to argue? The American cinema prints may have had thousands of dollars spent on them but this is still a testament to ultra-low budget film-making. Carlos Gallardo is the Mariachi, a travelling guitar player who is mistaken for a rampaging killer who stores his guns in a guitar case. Cue the shenanigans as he falls for the local beauty, becomes a killer in self-defence and eventually faces the local criminal mastermind at the centre of the chaos.
There’s a raw urgency to everything in El Mariachi, fuelled by the budgetary constraints no doubt. It’s rough and ready viewing and served as the start of a faltering trilogy for Rodriguez with the excellent Desperado followed by the ultimately disappointing Once Upon a Time in Mexico. The process of making El Mariachi was described by Rodriguez as ‘practice’ and if it’s viewed as such then it can only be looked at as a success.
Note: El Mariachi is listed in the Neon book 1000 Essential Movies on Video under Really Cheap Movies.