Monday, February 12, 2007
Rojo Sangre (2004)
Spanish horror legend Paul Naschy stars in Rojo Sangre (Blood Red), a film about an aging and down-and-out actor who decides to take bloody revenge on the fickle and shallow entertainment industry.
Pablo Thevenet (Paul Naschy) used to be a great and famous actor, but as he grew older, the film industry forgot him. He now struggles to get bit parts and doesn’t even have enough money for a decent meal. He is forced to audition for humiliating parts, only to be ridiculed by directors and casting agents who don’t recognize his name. His agent dumps him, but not before telling him to visit a Mr. Reficul (Miguel Del Arco), who runs a high-class brothel. Mr. Reficul needs an actor to act as a human statue in the guise of famous historical villains such as Jack the Ripper, Rasputin, Ivan the Terrible, etc.
Pablo needs the money (quite a handsome sum for one night’s work a week), so he signs a contract with Mr. Reficul to work there, while still searching for more meaningful gigs. When a hip, young director offers him a “meaty” role (he wants Pablo to run across a scene naked) Pablo finally snaps, killing both the director and his starlet. From there he embarks on a killing spree against those in the entertainment industry that have forsaken artistry and quality for sensationalism and good-looking but talentless actors. Pablo is in much deeper than he knows, though, for he didn’t read the fine print in Mr. Reficul’s contract…
Rojo Sangre is a fine Spanish horror film that echoes the sentiments of many screen legends who cannot secure work after a certain age. It is a pity, as their talent is undiminished but roles are scarce for older actors. The younger, sexier, more hip but unfortunately less talented generation are what people want instead of solid acting. Pablo even says to a young wannabe actress, “Just remember more silicone helps mask a lack of talent.”
Naschy does a wonderful job playing the gruff and prideful Pablo. The hurt, humiliation and stewing anger he portrays made me feel quite sorry for the character. When Pablo starts killing, I was rooting right along side him. Imagine a serial killer picking off the likes of Britney Spears, Paris Hilton or any other Tinsletown tabloid target…makes you kinda happy, doesn’t it? The rest of the cast does a great job as well, especially Miguel Del Arco as the shady and sinister Mr. Reficul. The performances alone were enough to draw me into this movie and keep me glued to the screen, but fortunately the story also kept me intrigued.
The story reveals each twist and turn one by one, leading the viewer deeper and deeper into the story and each of the characters. The director, Christian Molina, does a wonderful job as setting up an unsettling atmosphere and building suspense throughout the story. The film itself is beautifully shot. The colorful interiors contrast with the dull, grey city streets, giving the film a sense of containing two different worlds. The lighting is wonderful and the colors evoke a sense of earlier Dario Argento films. Red is used very effectively throughout the film. The script is very well written by Paul Naschy himself, under his real name, Jacinto Molina. It seems that he has an ax to grind with the film industry! There is some clever and hilarious dialogue throughout, such as the opening scene showing Pablo talking to a fellow older actor about a strange stress reliever he uses.
The gore is adequate, but not over the top. This is more a film about focusing on the character of Pablo than anything else, though, so gore isn’t a big focus here. There is one scene in particular were we see the aftermath of one of Pablo’s attacks that is pretty grisly! In addition, we get stabbings, throat slashings, a torture scene in which a girl is strung up and beaten on film, shootings and the handy use of some Japanese blades.
Rojo Sangre is a stylish film, different from the typical hack and slash horror films and it entertained me through and through. While it wasn’t scary, it was still suspenseful and it was very interesting to see where the story went. I was impressed with Rojo Sangre’s gorgeous style, the performances of the actors and the original story. After viewing this film, I am looking forward to checking out more films from Naschy’s repertoire and more horror films from Spain.
Order it on Amazon!