If Sam Peckinpah, David Lynch, and Ken Russell all got together and made a western, the result would be EL TOPO. This is a relentless, visually impressive, and sometimes shocking film that was a midnight movie hit in the U.S. in the 1970s.
The movie starts out with El Topo ("The Mole"), dressed in black, wandering the desert on horseback with his (naked) son whose mother has died. They ride into a village, the inhabitants of which have been massacred by bandits (this is a particularly bloody scene with dead bodies everywhere, disemboweled animals, and wide puddles of blood in the streets). El Topo eventually meets a woman who challenges him to seek and kill four master gunfighters living in the desert.
The first half of the movie is sort of like a cross between HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER and the KUNG FU television series, but with a lot of extreme symbolism, unusual characters, and striking images. The second half of the movie is more like a biblical epic (in a western setting). Because of the heavy symbolism and religious overtones, this movie certainly isn't for everyone. However, I found it to be interesting and fast paced. The 2 hour and 4 minute running time moved along very quickly.
If you were to watch this movie 20 times in a row, you would probably get something new out of it every time. There is far too much symbolism and religious allegory to catch or understand it all in one viewing. But whether you love it or hate it, it contains moments that you won't forget for a long time.
I purchased this as part of the Alejandro Jodorowski boxed set. I rate EL TOPO a strong 8 on a scale of 1 to 10.