Old blog post from March 2009.
Let’s talk about the Unkle video that recycles the ‘Fully Flared’ opening you saw about 14 months ago. Just kidding, let’s not. I’m really not that big an Unkle fan.
There’s things in life deemed hugely influential that you’re somehow obligated to like. Some wild-eyed zealot will stagger up to you in a social situation and foist a work of apparent greatness upon you. In my case, this sense of obligation is liable to generate a lifelong aversion to the holy cow in question. I don’t think I’m alone in this feeling, though I am swiftly becoming a Twitter grump of some magnitude. I never was a Beatles fan either, and it wasn’t just me being contrary. I prefer The La’s to the Stone Roses too. I hope that irritates someone too. All this Beatles and Scouser talk, typically tenuously, leads me to Alejandro Jodorowsky.
If it hasn’t already happened, someone will foist ‘The Holy Mountain’ or ‘El Topo’ onto you. Jodorowsky is in no way obscure, falling into that cult film-by-numbers section of cinema. Surreal situations? Check. Nudity? Check. People of diminutive size? Check. Wilful lashings of incoherance? Two ticks by that one. ‘The Holy Mountain’s John and Yoko co-sign could easily be enough to have you thinking Alejandro’s handiwork is the confine of shroom ingesting, Pink Floyd and Judy Garland correlating idiots. But you’d be wrong.
Fortunately, both movies have more visual inventiveness and genre-hopping glee at work in a single reel…sorry, old man talk, DVD chapter, than pretty much anything that’s gone before or after. ‘El Topo’ is the most coherent of the early work, but ultimately switches from madcap peyote western into beautiful nonsense. According to The Guardian, Jodrowsky is an ’09 buzzword, as musicians tire of swagger-jacking Pynchon, instead opting to lift from his infinitely more accessible otherworldview.
I would recommend giving the former flicks a viewing, but 1989’s ‘Santa Sangre’ (‘Holy Blood’) is the most fully realised of all Alejandro’s work. Made nearly two decades down the line, with the assistance of Dario Argento’s younger brother Claudio as producer and co-screenwriter, it’s much more linear, but no less visually arresting,whether its dismembered tattooed women, swans emerging from graves or elephants coughing blood, it’s not an easily forgettable experience.
Part slasher, part love story, part Freudian psycho-drama and several parts I-have-no-fucking-category, it’s one of the truly great works of modern art. The man behind the camera is certainly a master stylist capable of taking the spectator miles out their comfort zones, but his narratives need a tether, which is where Argento Jr’s assistance paid dividends on this Italian/Mexican production.
Brought to London in 1990 by the defunct Palace Pictures, who distributed ‘Pixote’, ‘The Hit’ and ‘Hardware’ – other personal favourites, the lurid ad had me fiending from the outset. Since then, it’s had sporadic releases on VHS, before Anchor Bay released an excellent double disc DVD…then deleted it. Fortunately the whole package is replicated on the Kino Kontrovers edition. After skirmishing with bankroller and rock ‘n roll accountant Allen Klein, incensed at Alejandro reneging on a deal to direct mainstream porno ‘The Story Of O’, his early work was strictly bootleg until the ’07 re-releases. Now they look to be heading for deletion too. Act fast.
It’s easy to get bogged down in the big 3, but Jodorowsky also helmed 1968’s ‘Fando y Lis’ which caused riots for its sensual weirdness, 1980 kid’s film ‘Tusk’ which is just shitty and 1990’s unjustly buried near-mainstream ‘The Rainbow Thief’ but your life is still complete without them. Without ‘Santa Sangre’ you’re only 99.5% there. You lack the necessary carnival bloodshed experience to be fully maladjusted.
Recently, the big man’s been more prolific as a comic book writer, but we were promised an epic ‘El Topo’ sequel circa 1996. There was even teaser posters and part of a press pack in an attempt to get some funding for ‘The Sons Of El Topo’. So what if they spelt ‘The Holy Mountain’ and The Holly Mountain’? The film never made production.
Then in 2006, rumours circulated about a, “metaphysical spaghetti gangster film” called ‘King Shot’ starring Nick Nolte, Udo Kier, and Marilyn Manson, with David Lynch’s production company on board. Again, it sounded like wishful thinking, but reliable sources indicate it starts filming in a couple of months. I won’t hold my breath, because even if it makes it out the other side, the time lapse between festivals and fishing for distribution will see me even more haggard and ill-tempered by time-of-release, but in these mediocre times, even a glimmer of hope regarding a new Jodrowsky flick is a substantial reason to be cheerful.
Unconvinced? Check out the concept art…