A former circus artist escapes from a mental hospital to rejoin his now-armless mother - the leader of a strange religious cult - and is forced to enact brutal murders in her name as he becomes “her arms”.
“I can’t easily think of another filmmaker as uncompromisingly personal as Alejandro Jodorowsky. He and his cinema evoke either a magnetism for their idiosyncrasies, or a complete dismissal for their shock-value as distasteful nonsense. There is no in-between. His concoction of mysticism and erratic, physically aggressive cinema is part of a deeply personal and spiritual journey through art, one which he adapted into his own therapeutic practice known as ‘Psychomagic.’”
“Santa Sangre bears similarities to the works of Buñuel, Alfred Hitchcock, and, perhaps incidentally, Tod Browning’s Freaks, but Jodorowsky’s kaleidoscopic aesthetic is distinctly his own. For as random and free-associative as his images strike one as being at any given moment, the consistency with which Santa Sangre doles out madness suggests a most assured and carefully plotted creative process. Jodorowsky’s belief in the humor of all things never translates to exploitation; rather, his shock-treatment approach skewers the accepted normality of the world, revealing the perverse in the quotidian and everyday truths that lie dormant in the strange and bizarre. Santa Sangre dares you to laugh yet never betrays its poker face, a high-wire act that the director refined from his earlier, messier works.”
Rob Humanick and Rocco T. Thompson2
“The quality that Jodorowsky has above all is passionate sincerity. Apart from his wildly creative style, apart from his images, apart from his story inventions, he has strong moral feelings. He has an instinctive sympathy for Fenix, who was born into a world of fanaticism and cruelty, and has tried, with the help of a deaf girl and a dwarf, to get back the soul that was warped by his father and trapped by his mother. Maybe one difference between great horror films and all the others is that the great ones do not celebrate evil, but challenge it.”
- 1. Soham Gadre, “Jodorowsky: A Journey from Violence to Love”, MUBI Notebook, 29 December 2020.
- 2. Rob Humanick and Rocco T. Thompson, “Review: Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Santa Sangre Gets 4K Edition from Severin,” SLANT, 16 May 2021.
- 3. Roger Ebert, “Review: Santa Sangre”, Rogerebert.com, 31 August 2003.