Santa Sangre ★★★★½

To Alejandro Jodorowsky, cinema is much like a circus, an often cruel concoction of all things bizarre and beautiful, the full breadth of human emotions aching to be explored, particularly the ones that people don’t expect to see in the movies. Comparisons to Fellini’s carnival style or Argento’s poorly dubbed splatter horror are fair, but this surrealistic gem goes well beyond any genre in specific. Not only is this one of the most original and operatic films I’ve ever seen, its Freudian study of the pathological links between psychosis and childhood trauma bury it in a humanistic pity, the vivid expressionism serving as only an outer-layer of its genius. Unlike Jodorowsky’s psychedelic 70s classic The Holy Mountain, Santa Sangre hooks us with a surprisingly linear narrative, never letting go as it slowly drags us into all-out hysterics. An elephant dies bloody, a kid gets tattooed, a group of Down syndrome men take a trip to a backstreet red-light district, women are badly mutilated, tables turn for the worse, and an abusive mother demands celibacy of her naturally lustful child. In time, this will probably become an all-time favourite of mine, but right now, I’m just trying to process it, as is the way with the world’s craziest filmmaker.