It's Holy Blood ... The Church of Santa Sangre
Adiós mujer, adiós para siempre, adiós ....
(from La Barca de Oro) is heard when Guy Stockwell as the Father, Circus
Orgo, El Gringo is stumbling out to his death in a puddle of blood surrounded
by thirsty dogs and indifferent onlookers in a square
somewhere in the more rough parts of México City.
This melody perfectly suits as a frame to the unforgettably macabre
and poetic requiem that is Alejandro Jodorowsky's Masterpiece
Santa Sangre, a very special film if not unique with Chilean Jodorowsky's
latin iconoclasm within the magic film of México and with
a whiff of European Euro horror, as Claudio Argento (the younger brother
to Dario) was the Italian producer of the film.
When this film was released in 1989 i had been a collector
of cult movies on VHS since a couple of years and i read many of the
magazines, as i.a. Fangoria, and there was a buzz around Santa Sangre
and it became an immediate sensation and a cult phenomena.
VHS and NTSC - a small Detour
On the small pic above the US VHS video edition of Santa
Sangre can be seen and i think i bought it in 1990 and in a fine uncut
Buying VHS from the US was a very expensive hobby back then, and as
they were of the NTSC color system and european VHS players
at that time did not yet play NTSC properly, you had to buy a very costly
multi-player and maybe even a multi-system TV too.
But pretty soon the video players managed also NTSC.
I remember the first US VHS i bought, and it was Russ Meyer's Cult Classic
"Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill! which i ordered from The Man
himself (he still handled his merchandise by himself then, and he looked
to that the picture quality of his videos were top notch, some-
thing that sadly deterioated later when he got ill and others took over
the RM film bussiness).
This was 1986 or 1987 and as i did not have a multi-system player and
TV by then i didn't know how to watch it ? The solution was to
visit a Sex shop in Stockholm who imported US porn and had the monitors
and players to show it. I had to beg the disbelieving staff
to play my video to me (pay them too) and then had to watch it sitting
in a disgusting booth. Yuck, yeah i really wanted to see this Meyer
Masterpiece that bad, and i was blown away by Tura Satana. OK back to
Santa Sangre now ....
The Lovely Talented Mexican Actress
I do love the Magic of Méxican film and i do
love the talented Méxican actress Blanca
Guerra (born 1953) and she's beyond Great as The
Mother, beautiful and charismatic and radiating a powerful aura. I remember
watching this film with a Honduran girl, not used to watching
strange psychotronic films like this, and she shouted in disbelief ....
Hey, that's Blanca Guerra !
Lovely Blanca was/is an actress well known in Latin America from films
and Novelas, and at this time in the early 1990's probably most for
her tele novelas. Well, Blanca probably hadn't made a film as strange
as this before (?) and she really chewed up the celluloid in this role.
According to Alejandro Jodorowsky she grabbed the balls of his son Axel
Cristobal Jodorowsky during their many close scenes, and i
wonder how he avoided getting a Boner with a woman like Blanca pressed
against his crotch for big parts of the film. Yeah, you have to
see the film to understand, as Axel is a trained Mimic and he manages
her arm movements in the film, a very, very unusual performance.
Allen Jones did not ask Alejandro Jodorowsky about this in their audio
commentary, but i have a hunch that Alejandro would've liked
that question and maybe have given a colorful reply, true or false.
There is a scene (about 82 minutes in) when Fenix (Axel Jodorowsky)
kisses Concha (Blanca Guerra) on her neck, and you can hear if
you listen carefully that he "aroused" whispers .... Blanca
Blanca Guerra as
Concha is hypnotic to watch
Otherwise the film isn't carried by acting, that's not
the thing with Santa Sangre, and there are mostly unknown actors, the
Alejandro Jodorowsky, i.a. Axel and Theo, and an assortment of quirky
figures and amateurs in the film. It works perfectly and makes
this film an unforgettable viewing, a Magic Chaotic atmosphere, beautifully
shot and with cool music as Mambo and Simon Boswell.
Jodorowsky has 4 of his sons taking part in the film
and when i watched this film the first times i thought that Axel in
the main role as
Fenix was a bit weak as an actor. But i changed my mind when re-watching
it again lately as this "weak" portrayal suits him perfectly
in his role as a submissive tool to the dominating Mother. Axel Cristobal
Jodorowsky may not even be an actor, but his Mimic talents,
his beautiful movements of his hands renders the film a poetic dimension
that probably not many other actors could've managed.
But for sure, the deaf-mute american girl Sabrina Dennison
is good as Alma, Thelma Tixou is eye-catching as the tattooed woman,
and also the players in the small roles, as the Dwarf, the old clowns,
as the young Alma and as Theo Jodorowsky as the pimp are fine.
Welcome to the rough part of México City and
the family drama in Circus Gringo. The star, the huge knife throwing
Gringo Orgo (Guy
Stockwell) is married to the trapeze artist Concha (Blanca Guerra) and
with their 8 year old son Fenix as a magician (played by Axel
Cristobal Jodorowsky as a grown-up). There are also a dwarf, some clowns
and the tattooed lady (Thelma Tixou) with her deaf-mute
daughter Alma (played by Elenka Tapia as young, and by Sabrina Dennison
as a grown-up).
The Mother, Concha is a devoted (eeh, maniacal) worshipper
of the "The Church of The Holy Blood" with it's Saint being
victim, a young female martyr that had her both arms cut off. A poor
mans church built in a poor mans neighbourhood and built with
scraps. The following scene with Blanca Guerra's Concha in front of
the Church trying to save it from being demolished by machines
is unforgettable, what crazy power she exudes and kudos to Blance for
Then after this, an even more unique scene follows, The Elephant Burial,
and then the traumatic scene that caused Fenix hospitalization
in an asylum. All these amazing scenes are an intro to the grown Feniz
being released and how he again meets the Tattooed woman
and .... His Mother.
This film should be a part of every Cult Film Lover's
collection, and when writing this text in December 2020 you can buy
a Blu-ray of
it and really enjoy the hypnotic visuals and the power of the film.
The Italian producer Claudio Argento wanted to sell the film to the
US market, and it was shot in english which do result in some
broken english spoken, but that doesn't diminish Santa Sangre from it's
surreal magic quality.
The US Severin 2 disc DVD presents the film in a 1.85:1
widescreen ratio, with an english original audio 2.0 (or with dubbed
or italian without english subtitles). Extras: an audio commentary with
journalist Allen Jones and director Alejandro Jodorowsky in
english, Deleted scenes with commentary by Jodorowsky, a Theatrical
trailer, a Japanese trailer and some Severin trailers.
On Disc 2 the extras:
Forget Everything You have Ever Seen: The World
of Santa Sangre (a fantastic 96 minutes 2011 documentary by
interviews and discussions with the director Alejandro Jodorowsky and
the cast: with his sons Adan and Christobal/Alex, with
Argentinian actress and dancer Thelma Tixou, Mexican actress Blanca
Guerra, Sabrina Dennison (grown Alma), Elenka Tapia (young
Alma) and with the scriptwriterRoberto Leoni and the soundtrack composer
An unusual documentary as everyone involved seems to be happy having
been involved with making a cinematic masterpiece.
For One Week Only - Alejandro Jodorowsky: British
TV program with cult film lover Jonathan Ross from 1990 (32 minutes),
Cárdenas Spree Killer: a mexican expert tells about the Serial
Killer that inspired the film (17 minutes, 2001), On Stage questions
answers with Alejandro Jodorowsky from London 2002 (24 minutes, Blue
Underground 2003), Interview with Jodorowsky (7 minutes
2010), Blink Jodorowsky (Short, Simon Boswell), Close Your Eyes (Music
Video, Simon Boswell), E Check (a Short film by Adan
Jodorowsky with commentary from Alejandro Jodorowsky