Though the phrase "like nothing you have ever seen" has lost some of its impact in recent years--what, honestly, have the Internet and reality TV allowed us to not
see?--it remains entirely applicable to Santa Sangre
, director Alejandro Jodorowsky's astonishing 1990 feature about the furthest limits of love, obsession, and familial devotion. Like Jodorowsky's seminal films El Topo
(1970) and The Holy Mountain
(1973), which helped to launch the "midnight movies" scene of the 1970s, Santa Sangre
is a visually arresting film, filled with hallucinatory and often shocking imagery (the death of a circus elephant is among the jaw-dropping highlights) and shot through with a wide-ranging list of influences, including the films of Luis Buñuel, Alfred Hitchcock, Tod Browning's Freaks
, and James Whale's The Invisible Man
. At its core, though, it exceeds the phantasmagoria of its visual components to deliver an engrossing, moving, and at times oddly humorous story of a young man, Fenix (Jodorowsky's son Axel), institutionalized after the traumatic death of his father (Guy Stockwell) and horrific mutilation of his mother (Blanca Guerra), only to be removed from his environment and forced to participate in a musical act where he quite literally serves as his mother's arms. Complicating matters is the return of Alma, a young mime (Faviola Elenka Tapia) whom he loved as a boy, and who has endured an equally torturous childhood. The Oedipal conflict between Fenix, his mother, and Alma adds a layer of psycho-sexual tension that is played for high drama rather than exploitation; that position--the bizarre as everyday, and the accepted as alien, informs every aspect of Santa Sangre
, making it a cult movie lover's dream, and a worthwhile companion to Jodorowksy's truly unique c.v.
Unavailable in any legal format since the early '90s, the DVD of Santa Sangre makes up for lost time by offering some five 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. --Paul Gaita
JODOROWSKY S MODERN MASTERPIECE
ON DVD FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER IN AMERICA
In the 1970s, his legendary films EL TOPO and THE HOLY MOUNTAIN redefined movies as both art and entertainment while changing the face of cinema forever. And in 1989, visionary writer/director Alejandro Jodorowsky returned with his modern masterpiece: It is the story of a young circus performer, the crime of passion that shatters his soul, and the macabre journey back to the world of his armless mother, deaf-mute lover, and murder. It is an odyssey of ecstasy and anguish, belief and blasphemy, beauty and madness. It is unlike any movie you have ever seen before...or ever will. Axel Jodorowsky, Blanca Guerra and Guy Stockwell star in this epic of surreal genius, now fully restored and featuring more than five hours of exclusive Extras that reveal the mind behind one of the most provocative and unforgettable motion picture experiences of our time.