CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD

Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 18
  • Drama, Horror
  • 1989
  • 123 mins

Santa Sangre

Santa Sangre

Synopsis

The circus turns into a nightmare in this surreal cult classic from Mexican director Alejandro Jodorowsky

About

Imagine a nightmarish blend of La Strada, Freaks and From Dusk Till Dawn and you'll still be a long way from the disturbing vision of Santa Sangre. The story of a serial killer traumatised by childhood visions, this tale is dominated by the circus, an arena in which all the grand passions - lust, murder, and bouts of bodily dismemberment - apparently hold sway.

As a child, Fenix (Axel Jodorowsky, the director's son) watches in horror as his circus parents argue when his knife-thrower father (Stockwell) is caught having an affair with the big top's voluptuous tattooed lady (Tixou). After being doused in acid, the enraged patriarch cuts off his interfering wife's arms. The events are enough to send Fenix insane but, after escaping from the local asylum, he tracks down his wounded mother (Guerra), offering her his own arms in a dark game that leads to copious amounts of bloodshed.

A garish Oedipal fantasy from one of world cinema's most offbeat filmmakers, Santa Sangre marked Jodorowsky's return to cinema after a long absence following his striking work on hallucinatory western El Topo (1970) and equally trippy quest movie The Holy Mountain (1973). Scripted by Jodorowsky and Claudio Argento (brother of Dario), Santa Sangre is perhaps best described - as one contemporary reviewer claimed - as "a Buñuel remake of Hitchcock's Psycho".

Straddling a strange hinterland between the art film and the horror movie, this is cinema at its most visually ravishing and intellectually diffuse - a work that once seen, is never forgotten. It's near-nonsensical yet immensely powerful filmmaking since while the horror is immediate, the sheer extravagance of its visionary ecstasies reward - no, demand - repeated viewings in order for it to make any sense at all.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Thelma Tixou, Sabrina Dennison, Adan Jodorowsky, Guy Stockwell, Blanca Guerra, Axel Jodorowsky
  • Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky
  • Writer: Roberto Leoni, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Claudio Argento
  • Producer: Claudio Argento
  • Photographer: Daniele Nannuzzi

In a nutshell

One of Jodorowsky's finest films, this art horror movie resonates with all the disturbing power of a clammy nightmare filtered through the hallucinatory lens of 1960s psychedelia.

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 The Overnighters

    The Overnighters

    Documentary filmmaker Jesse Moss follows Jay Reinke, a North Dakota pastor who braves the anger of his community by accommodating homeless, unemployed men in his church

  • Film4 The Babadook

    The Babadook

    Widowed mum Amelia (Essie Davis) finds caring for her wayward child Samuel (Noah Wiseman) a tall order. But shes more or less coping until a scary picture book about the mysterious Babadook starts to haunt this single parent family

  • Film4 Beasts of the Southern Wild

    Beasts Of The Southern Wild on Film4

    Quvenzhané Wallis stars in an Oscar-nominated role as the six year-old Hushpuppy in Benh Zeitlin's magical realist drama on Film4

  • Film4 Killer Joe

    Killer Joe on Film4

    Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch and Juno Temple star in William Friedkin's noir thriller on Film4

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Joe Cunningham's 11 recommendations for LFF 14

    Unfortunately I haven¿t been jet setting around the world this year to the various exciting international film festivals, but that¿s what makes the London Film Festival¿s compilation approach to progr

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Michael Leader's 11 recommendations for LFF 2014

    One of the best things about the London Film Festival¿s smorgasbord approach to programming is that, amongst the world premieres and gala screenings, there¿s an eclectic collection of exciting films o

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share