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

    Apache Territory

    Western with Rory Calhoun. A drifter finds himself in charge of a desperate stand against Apache warriors who are determined to either expel incomers from their domain or kill them.

    On Film4: 31 May 11:00AM

  • Film4

    I Wish

    Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda's critically acclaimed, charming drama explores the lives of two young brothers whose parents have separated.

    On Film4: 31 May 1:00AM

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House 2016

    Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House, London¿s groundbreaking open-air film festival, returns between 4-17 August, with a prestigious programme of classic and contemporary films, and a total of thr

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Film4-backed film deals at Cannes 2016

    In addition to Andrea Arnold's American Honey taking home the Jury Prize, Film4 are thrilled to report that a number of deals were announced for Film4-backed films in Cannes... THE KILLING OF

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

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

or Register

Share