I’ve made no secret of my adoration of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s mad giallo/surrealist masterpiece, Santa Sangre. A quick Google search of the film’s title and “Twitch” will give you an idea of my feelings for the film. However, it isn’t an easy one to explain. I tried telling my wife about the film and how it has profoundly affected me since the first time I saw it when I was 17. The very day I got the Blu-ray, she agreed to watch with me and by the end she was an absolute mess. It isn’t an easy one to sit through, but there really is no way to prepare someone for it. You can say it has the elements of giallo, that it is inspired by real-life serial killers, classic Universal horror, and Hitchcock’s Psycho, but you’ll land well short of the mark in terms of preparation or description.
I knew this was the movie I wanted to use for my “clip of the day” as soon as Evan asked me to do it, but I wanted to choose a scene that gives a first timer some kind of idea of what to expect. No brief clip does the film complete justice, but the more I thought about it, the more I saw my wife relating to a certain character at a specific point in the film.
Alma, the deaf-mute girl, is Fenix’s anchor. She is ultimately the one who frees him from his cage of madness, but even she has to go through hell to get to him. Initially dragged around by her slutty tattooed mother from one circus sideshow to the next, she is eventually turned into an unwilling whore to satisfy her mother’s Johns. Her escape from that life takes place in a somewhat brief but illuminating race through the streets of Mexico City. It is this race that I saw mirroring my own wife’s experience. Alma encounters all manner of grime and dirt, filthy disgusting freaks, transvestite whores, the streets filled with throngs of degenerate humanity, Jodorowsky’s favorite kind. As she finally bursts from from the crowd, she meets a normal looking man, she stops, presumably because he shows some interest in her, and he is the kindest looking character she come across in a while. Just as she seems ready to lean in for a comforting hug to assure her that the world is not filled with madness, the guy rips off his fucking ear and shoves it in her mouth!
What the fuck? Watching my wife watch this movie was like watching some freak shove his disembodied ear in her mouth about every 15 minutes when something truly bizarre happened. She’d be lulled into one of the brief moments where Santa Sangre seems about to break into a comfortable normal pace, and then jolted back to the reality that there is nothing normal about it. Jodorowsky says as much in pretty much every interview he gives, that which is considered normal, he hates. He thrives on the freaks, the scum, the degenerate people and their lifestyles, and we viewers are lucky for it, because otherwise we’d not have these bizarre visions haunting us for the rest of our lives.
After she escapes from the one-eared man, she immediately runs to cover herself and hide from the world, presumably to get some sleep and hope it was all a bad dream. Of course, it was a bad dream, but in the morning as she surveys the wreckage of the prior night’s festivities, she realizes it is one neither she, nor we, will ever wake from.
Josh Hurtado is a writer for Twitchfilm.net, Santa Sangre obsessive, and fan of bizarre films in general.