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  • Gareth Crook

Santa Sangre (1989) - 5/10

The last Jodorowsky film I watched was The Holy Mountain. I’m going into this prepared to be baffled. This isn’t baffling really, but it is bananas. The Santa Sangre (Holy Blood) is a Mexican church, well more of a cult hangout really, worshipping an armless woman. The church is demolished, leaving Concha (Blanca Guerra) a bit upset. Her son Fenix is upset too. Not about the church, he doesn’t like his mum hooking up with Orgo (Guy Stockwell) who runs the circus they’re also part of and to make matters worse, the bloody elephant is dying. This I fear is going to be a tough watch. Fenix is ‘The Boy Magician’ in the garish circus, surrounded a cast of weird and weirder misfits. One being The Tattooed Woman (Thelma Tixou) who’s moving in on Orgo. This will be where the horror element comes in as revenge after revenge is sought and the blood begins to flow, traumatising young Fenix who witnesses his mothers arms being cut off, before he’s left all alone banging on a caravan window. We catch up with him years later in an institution, living the life of a primate. Both Fenix young and old are played by Jodorowsky’s children. I’m not sure if that’s an important detail, but there it is. Older Fenix (Axel Jodorowsky) is a bit Christ like. Well a catatonic Christ at least. On a night out to the cinema, he and the other patients are hijacked by a boombox touting pimp, who gets them all coked up and introduces them to the red light district. Like I said, bananas. None of this is remotely scary, but it is pretty horrific. There are plot holes you could drive a dead elephant through, but Fenix escapes the squalid institute and seeks to avenge his mother. As his friend Alma (Sabrina Dennison) makes her own escape from The Tattooed Woman and both are released into a hedonistic world of the grotesque. With Felix becoming a surrogate for his mothers arms and reenacting the horrors of the past. There’s some dream like hallucinated sequences that would have David Lynch scratching his head (predominately at how bad they are) and it does struggle to pull all its threads together, but just about manages in a slightly haphazard fashion. As Fenix slowly regains his marbles and the whole thing goes a bit Dallas. I can’t say it’s good or even enjoyable. It’s undeniably an arresting piece of work though and if you like extreme and challenging cinema with lots of symbolism, Jodorowsky has you covered… in blood if you like.



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