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‘Santa Sangre’ (NR)

By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
May 11, 1990

Alejandro Jodorowsky, the Chilean-born director of the notorious cult classic "El Topo," doesn't rouse himself to make a movie very often.

Lucky us.

In the 23 years since "Fando and Lis," he has made only three films, and his latest, "Santa Sangre," is his first since 1972. Reportedly "Santa Sangre" took six years to write. But the luxury of time does not result in wonders.

The result is nonsense of a very extravagant, alienating, private sort. At best the movie can be embraced as colorful, lavishly eccentric non sequitur. In the basic narrative sense, "Santa Sangre" never comes close to making sense. Or at least not any sense that wouldn't require a monumental decoding. And who would want to go to the trouble?

In the place of a coherently ordered story, the picture strings together a series of banal Freudianisms involving a circus family that falls into ruin when the father, the Great Orgo (Guy Stockwell), is caught by his aerialist wife, Concha (Blanca Guerra), in flagrante delicto with the Tattooed Woman (Thelma Tixou), and as revenge for being doused with acid, slices off Concha's arms, then kills himself.

Enough of this horrific bloodletting is witnessed by the couple's young son, Fenix (Adan Jodorowsky, the director's son), who grows up to be a raving mass murderer (played by Axel Jodorowsky, the director's other son) who believes he is driven by his rampaging, armless mother to kill every woman who attracts him.

Never mind that -- shades of "Psycho" -- the mother turns out to be a puppet. Or that Fenix is rescued from madness by Alma (Sabrina Dennison), the white-faced, deaf and mute girl he fell in love with as a boy. A massive clearance sale of leftover psychedelia, "Santa Sangre" is enough to make a movie critic toss his notebook across a screening room. I didn't -- but I wanted to.

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