Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Revisiting "Santa Sangre"

I remember that in the period of about a couple of weeks – during what must have been 1991 or ’92 – I happened to purchase “The Reflecting Skin” and Alejandro Jodorowsky’s “Santa Sangre” and ended up watching them both twice over as soon as I got them. They are both high on my favourite Crazy Shit Cinema list and I remain in love with them both. I am also pleased to have seen “Santa Sangre” at the cinema three times in the past (but missed it on some recent London screenings). It is a hysterical piece, a freewheeling carnival of madness, gore, unintentional comedy, cruelty and colour. Having just bought the blu-ray release by Mr Bongo, and not having seen it for a good five years or so, I find that it has lost none of its crazy-kicking hold on me. Lyrical, silly, hyper-real, negligibly acted, beautifully scored if somewhat incongruously by Simon Boswell, featuring everything from child magicians, armless schoolgirl martyrs, slasher tropes and tributes to James Whales’ “The Invisible Man”, “Santa Sangre” is in its own state of phantasmagorical delirium, dragging its killer out of his trauma and misogyny by way of a street carnival and enough phallic symbolism to poke Freud from the dead. I know that Jodorowsky’s “El Topo” and “The Holy Mountain” are highly revered, but for me “Santa Sangre” is my favourite of his work, although it seems to be the one in his canon that gets the least mentioned, if at all. I suspect the fact that it is based upon what is ostensibly a straightforward serial killer plot, – a child traumatised and orphaned by primal scenes and domestic violence grows up into a mentally unstable murderer barely able to connect to reality – for me, helps to guide Jodorowsky’s surrealism and lunatic explosions and explorations of violence, misogyny and circus horn sections. Even in the Crazy Shit Cinema canon, “Santa Sangre” is quite unique and special, should you play along.