Movie Review-Santa Sangre

Plot-A young man named Fenix, is confined in a mental hospital. Through his eyes, we watch in flashback, that he was traumatized as a child, when the family were part of the circus. He witnessed his father cut off his mother’s arms. His mom was a religious fanatic and part of a church referred to as Santa Sangre. After the flashback, he escapes and rejoins his surviving and armless mother. He becomes her arms, and finds his deaf mute love Alma. Thank you Severin films..

Review-This is a masterpiece. 22 years later, and it still holds up just as great as the first time, I witnessed this in a theater in 1990. Santa Sangre, is one of the very few of Jodorowsky’s accessible films. Alejandro Jodorowsky has managed to come up with a film that defies any genre, even as it defies description. Santa Sangre is, on its surface, something of a suspense and horror film, but under the surface, it is a black comedy, doomed love story, drama, and psychological thriller. Breath taking imagery, vivid characters, colors, and situations that practically grab you by the throat and keep your attention. Santa Sangre is one of the greatest films to me. This is the real deal. You watch Fenix’s descent from normal boy to insane man. As a kid in the circus, his parents seem like the perfect couple on the surface. His father is a cheater. He has numerous run ins with the tattooed lady. One which turns grisly for him later, when he is again caught by his wife. During one of Fenix’s magic tricks, his mom freaks out during the act, and has to leave the stage. She takes her son and locks him up in a trailer. Thru this, he witnesses his dad cut off his mom’s arms and then commit suicide. Also he witnesses as the tattooed woman takes her mute deaf daughter with her, someone who Fenix has a deep relationship with. It would appear friendship, but when they meet later, it would seem like love. The last half hour of this film are so heartbreaking and wonderfully acted, it made the film that much more of a masterpiece. You go thru this film, and never really know where it will take you. Would Fenix turn out like his dad, or would be his mom’s puppet? We are never sure if the visions he has in this film are hallucinations or are they real. This film makes mental illness look fashionable. If there ever was a film to beg the government to legalize drugs, this is that film. You feel like you are on a acid trip thru this whole film. Never quite knowing where you are going, and also not knowing where you been.

This is where i am supposed to tell you the negatives about this film. This film from the death scenes, and how beautifully vivid and stunning with both the camera angles and colors they were shot, to the characters who went way above the script and what was required of them. This film has no flaws or negatives. It has some of the most brutal and beautifully executed death scenes. This film made the slums seem like a wonderland. It also created a picture, that in life we are all victims and that sometimes we cannot choose our own fate, but we can choose how we exist in it, or can we? When we witness Fenix go thru this downward spiral of human emotion and his almost operatic prelude to pure madness, we feel sorry for him. At times, when Fenix just looks at the screen, you just feel his emotion without a single word being muttered. When Alma, puts on the mime make up later in the film, it was like seeing Heath Ledger in the Joker makeup. Not so much for what the character does, but for the impact she would have on the film.

Another gripe, I would loved to again see this on a big screen with a audience. This is not really a sit at home by yourself film. This is a get a crowd together experience, and see the reactions during the film. This would be a awesome date film, if you wanted to impress a art house girl or guy. And you can tell, also that there is a Argento producing this film. It uses a lot of the tricks that made Susperia a great film. Claudio who is Dario’s brother did a great job throwing in his influence. You can tell is a chip off the old block. To me, the Severin blu ray transfer of this was leaps and bounds above the recent transfers of El Topo and The Holy Mountain. Which are, Alejandro’s other two highly recommended films. On blu ray,this was unreal. I just wish I had a crowd of people I could have invited over to watch this with me at 3am on a work night.

The special features on this are such a geek wet dream. 5 hours of extras, including a feature-length documentary, Forget Everything You Have Seen, which traces the film’s gestation from conception to release. Jodorowsky, whose worldview matches his cinematic viewpoint in regard to both originality and eccentricity, is front and center on a fascinating commentary track, as well as a quartet of interview features, including a 2003 interview at a screening where the director lets loose on all manner of subjects, from Quentin Tarantino to sex and violence. The film’s composer, Simon Boswell, leads one of the interviews, and a music video for his song “Close Your Eyes” is also included in the features; rounding out the wealth of extras are short films by Boswell and Adan Jodorowsky (who plays the young Fenix), deleted scenes with commentary, theatrical trailers, and an episode of Jonathan Ross’s fine UK TV series, For One Week Only, devoted to Jodorowsky

10 out of 10

  • I love that as well. I thought the last half hour was amazing. Roxy is not alone, I have seen others dog on this film. It is an acquired taste.

  • Rebekah Herzberg

    She watched the whole thing. Guess it wasn’t her cup of tea. I loved that it’s based on an actual serial killer and I found the scenes where he’s his mother’s hands to be genuinely creepy!

  • Thank you Rebekah, Roxy should love this film. I think if you just showed her the last 30 minutes she would be open to watch it all.

  • Rebekah Herzberg

    Nice review! I was going to review this on VHS. It’s one of my favorite films of all time. I tried to get Roxy into it but she didn’t like it 🙁