90 Christopher Brookmyre
92 La Mouche, Vertical
92 Air, Karine Polwart
HORROR DVD SANTA SANGRE (18) 124min
(Anchor Bay UK. DVD retail. $19.99) .0000
‘Most directors make films with their eyes; I make films with my testicles’ - Alejandro Jodorowsky.
If you want to know where Quentin Tarantino and Roberto Roderiguez pilfer all their best ideas from then you need look no further than Alejandro Jodorowsky’s slim, much sinned against back catalogue. Of the eight films this trained mime artist, experimental theatre veteran and tarot card reader has made, at least half have been mutilated, banned or withdrawn by moronic producers and studio bosses. Yet Jodorowsky is the uncrowned high priest of cult cinema; his few complete films are visionary, demonic, shamanic and totally potty. Steeped in the traditions of Mexican Gothic, they stand apart from just about anything else that has come out of cinema in the last 30 years. If Orson Welles was the revolutionary magician of post war cinema then Jodorowsky, in all his madness, is its ring master.
94 Call of Duty, Dog’s Life
96 Rob Brydon, Strike
95 Animal House, Happy Together
.0... Excellent .00. Recommended 0.. Good
97 Open, Turkish shaving
99 Stobo Castle
1 01 Wagamama, Gin
I? You 4514‘
A PERVEED FELLINI
RECONST RUCT ED AS A VIOLENT SAGE
By 1988 Jodorowsky had not made a film for eight years (not since his interesting but flawed mad elephant flick Tusk). The man was box office poison to producers, yet those who had seen his previous films, notably his seminal Western/Eastern El Topo, were haunted by their shocking brilliance. Jodorowsky was making a living writing graphic novels and lecturing part time, having been frustrated by years of working for Dino De Laurentis on a big screen adaptation of Dune that had never came to fruition (David Lynch finally made a much derided version in 1984). But Jodorowsky still had this overriding obsession with making a horror film about Mexican circus folk and a cult that worships an armless female saint. He turned to his old friend Dario Argento, and within a year they had created the masterpiece that is Santa Sangre.
The story involves Fenix (played by two of Jodorowsky’s sons Adan, and later Axel), the boy magician at a tawdry Tex Mex touring show called Circus Gringo. Fenix is the child of the beautiful, hot headed trapeze artist Concha (Blanca Guerra) and the charismatic circus owner and knife-thrower Orgo (Guy Stockwell).
The little magician’s best friend is Alma
(Faviola Elenka Tapia and later Sabrina Dennison). She is a deaf-mute mime, the daughter of the carnal Tattooed Woman (Thelma Tixou), who works as the target for Orgo’s knives. One night Concha sees Orgo caressing the Tattooed Lady and in a rage, she surprises them in bed and throws acid on Orgo’s genitals. Bellowing with pain, he severs her arms with mighty thrusts of two knives.
Concha’s mutilation results in the perverse enslavement of her son — a control made all the more macabre when we learn, late in the film, the secret of its actual nature.
Reissued here on a double DVD with some excellent extras, if ever there was a film ripe for re-evaluation, this is it. Working on a very limited budget Jodorowsky achieved something of a miracle and a masterpiece. Take the scene where the circus elephant’s funeral of the beast’s coffin is tipped into a shanty town ravine — to the delight of wretched locals, who rip open the casket and throw bloody elephant meat to the crowd. An image like this is one of the reasons we go to the movies: it is logical, illogical, absurd, pathetic, disturbing and sublimer unique. Truly unforgettable. (Paul Dale)
.Jm‘ :\ l M‘ .V‘Cﬂ'. THE LIST 89