Rojo Sangre (2004)

Washed up actor Pablo Thevenet really isn't having a good time of it. His wife's left him, his daughter has been murdered, and no-one wants to hire him any more. When the snotty production assistants escorting you out of your disastrous auditions weren't even born when you were last working in film, you know you've got a real problem.

It's about to get worse for poor old Pablo, too. His agent, clearly sick of sending him off to auditions for parts he'll refuse to play, wants to drop him; the only thing he can manage to find for Thevenet to do is horribly demeaning, but it is at least dazzlingly well-paid: a luxurious and oddly debauched gentleman's club is looking for a doorman-cum-entertainer; a man to stand outside in an elaborate costume for hours on end, basically. Obviously this is way beneath someone who used to be one of the biggest stars around, but what choice does he have?

Taking the job turns out to be the first step on the way to damnation, though, so it's a pity he didn't hang onto his dignity a tiny bit longer. Before long, Thevenet finds himself really getting into the historical characters he's playing - one night he's Jack the Ripper, hacking up young actresses; the next he's Ivan the Terrible, or one of a number of other well-known maniacs; and it turns out Thevenet is a bit of a method actor...

The fact that Pablo Thevenet is played by Paul Naschy, a man with a similar career trajectory, makes you wonder how much of it is autobiographical - an onscreen playing out of frustration and anger that Naschy (and, oh hell, count me in on this too) feels towards the increasingly corrupt film industry. If all anyone's interested in is who's sleeping with whom, how are proper actors ever supposed to work again? And if there's one sure-fire way to hit the headlines, going on a killing spree is probably it. There's a lot of bitterness in this film, but it's an understandable bitterness, plus it's tempered by some slick and shiny cinematography and dozens of weird screenwipes. Unfortunately, the eventual supernatural element muddies the waters, and the ending is fairly incomprehensible.

Still, as a rant against the current cult of celebrity and trend for tasteless, brainless torture movies, Rojo Sangre is bizarrely comforting. At least someone out there is doing something interesting within the horror genre.

IMDB link

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