Santa Sangre (1989)
Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky
Writer: Alejandro Jordowsky, Robert Leoni
Starring: Axel Jodorowsky, Blanca Guerra, Guy Stockwell
How I Watched It: Netflix Streaming
Review By: Griff
When I was in High School I had a French teacher who was a huge movie buff. I used to talk to him about movies and he mentioned to me that his favorite film was a strange and pretty obscure western called El Topo directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky. Back then there wasn’t a IMDB I could use to look up the movie and since it was a pretty obscure, I was left wondering what it was all about. Several months later I was searching around a video store I hadn’t tried out yet and there it was! I took the movie home and sat down to watch it and I have to admit that to this day I have never seen anything quite like it. Trying to describe El Topo is almost impossible. It is a movie that you simply have to see for yourself.
Cut back to the present day and I am shuffling through Netflix looking for something to watch and I see another Jodorowsky film call Santa Sangre. I knew right away I was going to be in for an interesting watch.
Santa Sangre has been described as Jodorowsky’s most accessible and linear film. That may be true but you are still in for a wild ride. Picture a combination of David Lynch and Hitchcock and you will get a bit of an idea of what you are in for.
The movie is broken up into two parts. In the beginning we meet Fenix a young man in a mental institution. Then we cut to a flashback sequence that shows us how Fenix ended up where he is.
Fenix grew up in a traveling circus. His father was a knife thrower, and his mother a trapeze artist. Fenix’s father is having an affair with one of the other members of the circus a woman completely covered in tattoos. Fenix’s mother catches her husband sleeping with the tattooed woman and in a fit of rage, she pours acid on their genitals. In retaliation, Fenix’s father cuts off his wife’s arms and then slits his own throat. Unfortunately Fenix witnesses the whole ordeal.
In the present day, Fenix escapes from the mental institution and has re-united with his mother. The two of them come up with a new act in a burlesques show where Fenix acts as her arms. More than that though, Fenix’s mother has control over Fenix and forces him to do her bidding. Using his arms she takes revenge on those who wronged her.
This is a strange film to be sure. While the plot is somewhat straight forward, it is filled with a series of bizarre scenes. Jodorowsky has a penchant for strange religious imagery and the use of people with physical deformities in his films and there is plenty of it on display here. You are definitely in for a bit of wild ride. Is it worth it? I think so. The movie is beautifully shot and will remind you of some of Dario Argento’s work. (In fact it was even produced by his younger brother Claudio.)
It may not be on the same level as strangeness as El Topo but this is a nice introduction into the world of Jodorowsky and if you are looking for a horror movie that is off the beaten path, I recommend checking this one out.
Santa Sangre gets 2 guys from me.