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Joe Bob goes to the drive-in

By JOE BOB BRIGGS   |   Oct. 31, 2001 at 5:13 PM   |   Comments

GRAPEVINE, Texas, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- Every Halloween people want me to give out my top Freaky Movie Party choices. They know all the standards -- "Night of the Living Dead," "Hellraiser," "Bloodsucking Freaks" -- and so what they're really asking is, "Joe Bob, what's a really OBSCURE freak-out flick that we can all watch together?"

I have to vote for "Santa Sangre," which has all the elements you need for a successful Halloween party:

The three B's (Blood, Breasts and Beasts).

Anybody can die at any moment.

If girls are coming to the party, you can say it's a foreign art film and get away with it.

Virtually no dialog, so it won't matter how many pop-top cans are exploding while you watch it.

"Santa Sangre" was made by the legendary Mexican director Alejandro Jodorowsky, most famous in the cult-film world for "El Topo." It's set in the world of the small-town traveling circus, which is a good sign right away.

Wherever there's a circus in the horror world, you're gonna have freaks, midgets and horrible mutilations. The principle was well established as early as the 1920s, when Tod Browning made a series of Lon Chaney flicks in which the body was mangled and deformed in a variety of ways, culminating in the 1932 all-time classic "Freaks." And Jodorowsky obviously knows his Tod Browning.

I don't want to give away too much plot here, because this is one of those movies that goes in so many unexpected directions it keeps you off balance for the full two hours, but I WILL say that it involves a child magician who witnesses his father, the circus master, being killed with acid-to-the-private-parts by his mother, the trapeze artist, when she catches her corpulent hubby in flagrante aardvarkus with a chubby tattooed lady, THEN watches Dad hack both of Mom's arms off with throwing knives.

But that doesn't even BEGIN to describe where this movie goes. There's the famous elephant burial scene, the temple-of-blood demolition scene, the nekkid-bride zombie scene, the fat-hooker tango scene, the insane-asylum-field-trip-to-the-red-light-district scene, and, of course, the lady-rassler-impaled-on-a-sword-by-the-armless-performance-artist scene. There's a sympathetic midget, a chorus of clowns and shots so beautiful the whole movie is like watching a painting. I mean, it's a fast-MOVING painting, but there's not a single movement out of place. The film uses a lot of dancing and music, with mariachis moving in and out of the frame like marchers in a funeral parade. You'll still be thinking about this movie three days later.

Eighteen breasts. Seven dead bodies. One dead elephant. One pool of holy blood. One religious riot. One incredibly painful chest tattoo with carving knife. One chubby striptease, with groping. Maniac fish-ripping. Rope-of-fire child abuse. Erotic knife-throwing. Multiple limb amputation. Temple bulldozing. Drunken mariachis. Dead-elephant casket-ransacking. Hair-suspension trapeze act. Acid to the crotch. Throat-slitting. Maniac somersaulting. Whiskey bottle to the noggin. Clowns. Midgets. Conga dancers. Multiple deadly knife-flinging. Burial in white body paint. Sword to the spine. Mass holy-relic chicken attack. Party-doll bonfire. Gratuitous Day of the Dead. Gratuitous boa constrictor attack. Arms roll. Rassling Fu. Invisible Man Fu.

Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Thelma Tixou, as the drunken prostitute tattooed lady, for saying "She's a deaf mute and you can do whatever you want with her"; Blanca Guerra, as the Mother From Hell, for saying "With your hands and my body, we'll have an act that will be sensational"; Sabrina Dennison as the deaf-mute girl; Axel Jodorowsky as the traumatized, abused child circus performer who learns to take control of his body parts; and Alejandro Jodorowsky, for doing things the drive-in way.

Four stars. Joe Bob says check it out.

"Santa Sangre" Web site: hotweird.com/jodorowsky/sangre.html.

--

To reach Joe Bob, go to joebob-briggs.com or e-mail him at JoeBob@upi.com. Snail-mail: P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, Texas, 75221.

Topics: Lon Chaney
© 2001 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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