Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 15th, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: Mexico / Italy, 1989
Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky
Writers: Alejandro Jodorowsky, Roberto Leoni, Claudio Argento, Roberto Leoni
Cast: Axel Jodorowsky, Blanca Guerra, Guy Stockwell, Thelma Tixou, Sabrina Dennison, Adan Jodorowsky, Faviola Elenka Tapia, Teo Jodorowsky
BluRay released: January 25th, 2011
Approximate running time: 122 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Sound: DTS-HD Stereo English, Dolby Digital Mono Spanish, Dolby Digital Stereo Italian
BluRay Release: Severin Films
Region Coding: Region 0
Retail Price: $34.98
Synopsis: A young boy is left traumatized. When he sees his father cut off his mother’s arms. Years later and now an adult. The young man escapes from an asylum where he has been staying since that traumatic event. After he escapes. He reunites with his crippled mother, who selfishly uses his arms as her own. Hell bent on revenge. His mother uses his arms to help her exact her revenge. Against those who had done her wrong so many years ago.
Santa Sangre (Holy Blood) was directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky (El Topo, Holy Mountain) is a Chilean born, filmmaker, playwright, author and composer. He is most known for his surreal cinematic nightmares and for co-founding the ‘Panic Movement’ with filmmakers Fernando Arrabal (Viva La Muete, I Will Walk like a Crazy Horse) and Roland Topor. Even though his body of work as a filmmaker is limited to only six films (two of which he has disowned). His influence on other filmmakers and cinema in general is undeniable. Most notably filmmaker David Lynch, who would go onto to direct Dune. A project that was once set to be directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky.
Even though there are times when the narrative looses focus. And the film tends to rely more on its symbolic and at times grotesque imagery. The overall flow of the narrative is straight forward enough. That these briefs tangents never take away from the underlining message of the film. Also the film does a wonderful job laying the foundation for its protagonist. Thus solidifying how he became the person he eventually becomes by the film’s climax.
Besides the film’s troubled protagonist Fenix. There is a wide array of colorful characters which populate this most unusual tale about revenge. There is a tattooed woman, a midget, a mute mime, the mentally retarded, a street pimp, a very large prostitute and various other Circus folk.
Performance wise the entire cast all excel in their respective roles. With the most memorable performance coming from Blanca Guerra in the role of Fenix’s mother Concha. She gives a utterly terrifying and convincing performance.
Visually the film is a surreal nightmare that is rooted in the Grand Guignol. With some of the most horrific moments being the scene where Fenix’s mother’s arms are cut off by his father. Another standout moments visually is a scene in which the tattooed woman is savagely stabbed to death.
Not since Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Has a film so profoundly explored the Oedipus complex like Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Santa Sangre. At the heart of Santa Sangre is a disturbing tale about a young man, whose very existence has become intertwined with his overbearing mother who he adores.
Santa Sangre comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. This is a strong transfer that fares favorable to all previous releases of this film. Colors look very good, flesh tones look healthy, black levels are consistently strong and details look crisp throughout. There are no problems with compression or DNR.
This release comes with three audio options, a DTS-HD Stereo mix in English, a Dolby Digital Mono mix in Spanish and a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in Italian. Dialog is clear, everything sounds balanced and robust when it needs too. With the film’s score benefiting most from this audio mix. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles that are easy to follow and error free.
Extras for this release include a theatrical trailer for the film (2 minutes – 4:3 full frame), a Japanese theatrical release trailer (2 minutes 54 seconds – 4:3 Full frame), deleted scenes with audio commentary with director Alejandro Jodorowsky (7 minutes 35 seconds – letterboxed widescreen), a short film titled ‘Echeck’ that was directed by Adan Jodorowsky, who also provides a audio commentary track (3 minutes 56 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a short film titled ‘Blink Jodorowsky’ that was directed by composer Simon Boswell (2 minutes 2 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a music video titled ‘Close Your Eyes’ (5 minutes 47 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), composer Simon Boswell’s interview with Alejandro Jodorowsky (7 minutes 57 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a 2003 interview with Alejandro Jodorowsky (31 minutes 19 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a segment titled ‘On-Stage a Q & A with Alejandro Jodorowsky’ (24 minutes 37 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a featurette about Mexican serial killer Goyo Cardenas (17 minutes 40 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a interview with Alejandro Jodorowsky from the UK T.V. program ‘For One Week Only’ (32 minutes 32 seconds – 4:3 full frame), a feature length documentary about Santa Sangre titled ‘Forget Everything That You Have Seen: The World of Santa Sangre’ (96 minutes 38 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and a feature length audio commentary with Alejandro Jodorowsky and journalist Alan Jones. Also included with this release are for other titles also available from Severin Films.
There is a wealth of extra content that has been included with this release. That not only gives a comprehensive look into the various aspects of this production. They also give a well rounded view of one of cinema’s most unique auteurs. Without a doubt the most impressive extra is the feature length documentary ‘Forget Everything That You Have Seen: The World of Santa Sangre’. Other stand out extras include the audio commentary track and the featurette about Goyo Cardenas. Overall Santa Sangre gets a exceptional release from Severin Films, highly recommended.
Note: Severin Films also released this film on DVD.