Santa Sangre (1989)

NC-17   |    |  Drama, Horror, Thriller


Santa Sangre (1989) Poster

A former circus artist escapes from a mental hospital to rejoin his armless mother - the leader of a strange religious cult - and is forced to enact brutal murders in her name as he becomes "her arms".


7.6/10
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  • Santa Sangre (1989)
  • Santa Sangre (1989)
  • Blanca Guerra in Santa Sangre (1989)
  • Santa Sangre (1989)
  • Santa Sangre (1989)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


1 October 2003 | ajmilne
9
| Unforgettable, but not for everyone
There's so much you can say about this work. Vivid characters, colours, and situations that practically leap off the screen into the theatre next to you. A wonderfully quirky, repeatedly startling story. Graceful low-key cinematography that turns slums and sideshows into an eerily beautiful netherworld, countless images that look like you could freeze them and hang them as inspirational totems for cults we have to hope don't exist. Jodorowsky paints with a heavy, vibrant brush, but it's the perfect tone for this primal-yet-humanizing tale.

But I should post a warning. As far as I'm concerned, my first viewing of this film was one of the more worthwhile two hours or so I've ever spent in a theatre, and I think based on my experience that this sadly neglected wonder deserves every bit of word-of-mouth promotion it can get. But I'm betting it's not to everyone's taste.

So this is my advice: if you found Storaro's green and red/jungle foliage and human remains canvasses in Apocalypse Now unsettlingly beautiful the first time you saw them, and wondered momentarily whether still prints were available for hanging before realizing what you were actually suggesting to yourself, here's a film for you. If you found Delicatessan's celebration of the paradoxical beauty hiding in human ugliness and stupidity a bit too sanitized for your taste, Santa Sangre's rather murkier depths await. You will love this work.

If, on the other hand, you have no taste for painters who work best in human blood as opposed to oils, and/or don't appreciate a bloody carnality mixed in with your religious metaphor, you will quite probably hate it with a passion that exceeds my affection. And I don't really blame you or judge you for walking out early. It takes all kinds.

Either way, fondly or with revulsion, you will remember it vividly, ten years later. I can say this confidently, as that's how long it was from the first time I saw this film to the day I wrote this review. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Critic Reviews



Did You Know?

Trivia

All the films advertised at the cinema where the Downs syndrome youngsters are dropped off were directed by the film's executive producer, René Cardona Jr..


Quotes

Doctor: Fenix. Please...
Doctor: Eat like a human being.
Fenix: Grr!
Doctor: You can't just stay here all the time, not seeing anyone.
Doctor: Now come on, stand up.


Goofs

When the elephant is dying, all the close-ups of its trunk bleeding show the trunk to be clean. All the long shots of the elephant show it's trunk covered in blood.


Crazy Credits

[over the final freeze-frame] I stretch out my hands to thee: my soul thirsts for thee like a parched land ... Teach me the way I should go, for to thee I lift up my soul. - Psalms 143.6, 8


Alternate Versions

The US has two versions available on video: the R-rated version, which runs about 120 minutes, and the NC-17 version, which is about 123 minutes (the one released uncut in Britain and other European countries). The differences between the two are hardly noticeable except for two scenes - the first scene being the dismemberment of the mother. In the NC-17 version, there are extra cuts of blood and gore spraying on the walls, and then we also see a few extra shots of blood spurting out of the father's neck shortly after he commits suicide (we see this from behind; a startlingly un-explicit shot to be considered NC-17 material). The other scene is even more noticeable. The death of the prostitute is much more explicit in the NC-17 version: we see many shots of her being graphically stabbed in the back and chest with loads of blood literally dumping out of her wounds. Then, we briefly see the knife stab through the back of her neck and poke out the front - all in one explicit shot. Practically the entire scene is missing in the R-rated version.


Soundtracks

Alejandra
Composed by
Enrique Mora

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Drama | Horror | Thriller

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