Santa Sangre (1989)

Genres - Avant-garde / Experimental, Fantasy  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Thriller, Surrealist Film  |   Run Time - 123 min.  |   Countries - Italy , Mexico   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Jason Buchanan

A candy-colored, blood-soaked journey into the disturbed mind of a damaged soul, Alejandro Jodorowsky's dark and surreal comeback offers a potent tale of psychological despair with striking, haunting imagery that will linger in the mind long after the viewing. It had been quite a long time since El Topo (1970) and The Holy Mountain (1973) thrust '60s underground cinema into collective mainstream consciousness, and Jodorowsky proves without a doubt that he still has the power to shock and move audiences as few other filmmakers can. Time has certainly not diluted Jodorowsky's ability to craft the sort of bold and fearless film made virtually extinct with the ever increasing commercialization of the film industry, and his years spent penning fantasy comics has only served to strengthen his ability to portray the kind of complex characters that make his films so compelling. As deeply troubled Fenix (Axel Jodorowsky) is enslaved by his armless mother and forced into a murderous existence following his release from a sanitarium, Jodorowsky instills his protagonist with a desperate sense of fear and helplessness from which there seems little chance of escape. An alternately brutal, hallucinatory, and beautiful film, Santa Sangre is without question a polarizing effort by its very nature, though viewers willing to be seduced by Jodorowsky's alluring cinematic nightmare will find themselves surprised, enthralled, and richly rewarded with an uniquely unapologetic film that's not easily shaken off. Few filmmakers remain who possess such a bold and creative force, and one can only hope that following the troubles that beset The Rainbow Thief (1990), Jodorowsky will hold steadfast to his unique vision and not give in to the forces who would rather see that vision suppressed.