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: Blanca Guerra, Adan Jodorowsky, Guy Stockwell, Axel Jodorowsky, Thelma Tixou, Sabrina Dennison
  • Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky
  • Writer: Alejandro Jodorowsky, Claudio Argento, Roberto Leoni
  • 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 Suffragette

    Suffragette

    Meryl Streep, Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham-Carter star in Sarah Gavron's drama about the foot soldiers of the early feminist movement

  • Film4 Notorious

    Notorious

    The story of the life and death of Chris Wallace, known to his fans as the legendary rap artist Notorious B.I.G.

  • Film4

    Saoirse Ronan on Arrietty

    The actress talks about lending her voice to the Studio Ghibli adventure

  • Film4 Hope Springs

    Hope Springs on Film4

    Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones star as a married couple who turn to Steve Carell's therapist for help with spicing things up in David Frankel's authentic comedy-drama on Film4

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Dark Horse: Welsh Premiere Announced

    [caption id="attachment_4385" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story of Dream Alliance[/caption] Sundance Award winner Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story Of Dream A

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Bobcat Goldthwait on God Bless America

    "To me, the best part about being famous is taking down phonies..." As God Bless America receives its UK TV premiere on Film4, writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait (World¿s Greatest Dad, Willow Creek) lo

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

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

or Register

Share