Cast: Paul Naschy (Pablo Thevenet), Mehn-Wai (Tic-Tac), Miguel del Arco (Reficul), Bibiana Fernández (Dora Grizzel), Guillermo Montesinos (Ambrose Fuchs), Paco Algora (Martin), Saturnino García (Cuchillero), José Lifante (Camilo), Teresa Manresa (Berenice), Vicente Gil (Enrique Arjona), Hector Claramunt (Chema)
Director: Christian Molina
Screenplay: Jacinto Molina
Music: David Sanjose
Photography: Misca Lluch

Running time: 90 minutes

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Rojo Sangre is one of the most important works in Naschy's filmography, but it is also an important film, period. Naschy's script is from the soul and suffering of the man, from his heart and his creative mind, a statement of purpose and pain from a legend of cinema, a cry of rage amid resilience, a warning amid complacency.  No other artist in the history of the horror genre has dared not only such an attack at "the business," but a brutal examination of career choices made in a desire to keep working and fight against oblivion....

Paul Naschy fans have been impatiently awaiting a film starring the horror legend that would return him to the glorious form of yesteryear. The last truly memorable Naschy film was the 1988 HOWL OF THE DEVIL, which Naschy directed, wrote and starred in. ROJO SANGRE is what everyone has been waiting for--and much more. If Naschy has been unique in the genre due to his involvement as an actor, scriptwriter, director and producer, this film makes him more unique with content that is strikingly original and doesn't rely on the inspirations of a bygone fantastique, like the horror monsters that Naschy is most known for, which owed their inspiration to Universal.  And while some may think, before seeing the film, that there is a resemblance to the earlier HOWL OF THE DEVIL, the new film is far removed from that one in both its execution, plot and meaning. ROJO SANGRE is without doubt one of the most original films in fantastique.

Naschy stars as Pablo Thevenet, an out-of-work actor who must face humiliating casting sessions and the disregard and insults of young directors and the indifference of old compatriots. Nearly broke and desperate, Thevenet accepts an offer to be a doorman-entertainer for the strange Pandora Club run by the bizarre Reficul.  The job pays very well (10,000 euros a week) and mandates that Thevenet has to dress up as notorious figures of history like Rasputin, Gilles de Rais, Jack the Ripper and sit or stand as a human statute in front of the club. He is provided with a wardrobe at home, where he can rehearse. Reficul also presents him with a sword-cane (with a wolf's head!), an implement that will provide Thevenet with opportunities unrealized at the moment he accepts the gift.  While he works for the Pandora Club, Thevenet still makes the rounds for film possibilities. Pushed to a psychological point of no return and continually tormented by the mysterious murder of his daughter (which occurred before the film begins), Thevenet cracks and begins slaying those who have inflicted pain upon him; in effect, he becomes an unwitting agent of the darkside. Already a professional and "artistic" serial killer, he accepts a proposal to shoot snuff films. The descent into hell is rapid, the predestined trap powerful, the web of terror and madness consuming.

ROJO SANGE is a crafty film, utilizing Naschy's filmography to inform Pablo Thevenet's own work. Thus we have numerous references to Naschy's filmography, beginning with a credit sequence that presents a slide show of photos from Naschy's roles in fantastique. References to Naschy's earlier work are made repeatedly, and in one splendid sequence in an underground garage, Thevenet, attired as Gilles de Rais, executes the maker of THE DEVIL'S CROSS for taking the project away from him. It's good John Gilling is resting well and safe!  And, as Naschy fans are aware, you can't keep a good man down: Naschy, the eternal lover, has a love scene with Tic-Tac, an employee of Reficul, played with inscrutable sheen by Mehn-Wai.

Director Christian Molina (no relation to Jacinto Molina, aka Paul Naschy) helms with a contemporary flare that successfully places Naschy in the new millennium.  In a frequent stylistic flourish, the camera picks up on an object at the end of a scene to morph into the scene that follows. Molina makes rapid movements of the camera during a conversation about a snuff film to heighten the dizzying tension and horror and madness of the moment, and unleashes a tour-de-force of sharp editing and potent images for the shooting of the snuff film, perhaps his best moment as a director. The "Jack the Ripper" killing is executed with palpable sense of savagery by employing a Chinese silk screen projection of very real humans as almost puppets in grotesque play, and a deadly bullet is shot "point of view" as it emerges from a gun and pierces the fleshy, blood-pumping body.

Naschy's performance is nothing short of impressive. ROJO SANGRE gives him the opportunity to display his thespian skills as no other film, excepting EL HUERTO DEL FRANCES and EL CAMINANTE.  His final scene, accepting the most valued acting award, is shattering in the look he gives the audience (ie, the film community) as he thanks them with barely repressed cynicism and hatred.

Naschy's unflinching self-examination and criticism make ROJO SANGRE a courageous statement not only about the contemporary show business world, but, far more importantly, the inner dimensions and moral consequences of selling out one's values and integrity. The lesson is not just for those in show business, of course, but for all of us, and one which should be listened to before it is too late and we become the damned.

-- Mirek