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By Jeremy Knox | July 26, 2004

When I was about twelve years old, I started drawing. Got pretty decent at it too. But one day I switched to writing and no one, even now, really understands why I lost interest so quickly. The answer was simple: As good as I was with my little doodles, I couldn’t express myself that way. I couldn’t get “it” out. With writing, it was like draining the abscess and feeling that merciful relief. It’s something you can’t understand unless you know first hand. Paul Naschy knows.

There is nothing as horrible, for someone who desperately has something to say, as not being able to express it.

How terrible must it be then for old actors who aren’t getting jobs anymore? They’re the most dependant of all artists. They need a script, they need a director, they need a set; and most importantly, they need an audience. Otherwise, what are they? Old men playing make believe in front of a mirror by themselves. It’d be like me writing for 40 years, then going back to drawing. Then, for the rest of your life, “it” will be trapped inside of you. Believe me, it’s not a great feeling. Better to die. Naschy knows this too.

If this isn’t Paul Naschy’s greatest film, it’s certainly his most personal.

An old movie star named Pablo Thevenet can’t even get hired for bit parts anymore. No one remembers his great films. No one remembers how good he was. No one cares. He has no money, his friends have all abandoned him. He’s reached that point where people won’t hire him at all because he’s become so obscure in the fickle public’s mind that his name isn’t worth the couple of hundred euros to hire him.

Adding salt to wound, he sees starlets, reality show contestants, tabloid queens and the rest of the talentless dreck getting roles off the popularity of their shallow claim to fame. What did they do exactly? Bare their tits? Divorce someone rich? For a man who’s spent a lifetime forging his talent this can only feel like a slap in the face. Inside, Thevenet seethes a rage that grows for every role denied to him.

He’s finally reduced to the final humiliation, working as a living statue at a high class whorehouse called the Pandora. One can’t say that it pays badly though. Thevenet gets 10,000 euros a performance just to stand around for one day a week playing Gilles de Ray, Jack The Ripper and other assorted madmen. The owner of the club, however, seems a little… strange. A bit too eager for Thevenet to have access to weaponry that such a bitter and angry man probably shouldn’t have anywhere near him.

In the end, the constant offense to his pride and the sight of so many garbage performers succeeding drives him over the edge, He begins to kill the talentless tabloid scum while dressed as the madmen he portrays at the Pandora.

If I’m making it sound a bit like it’s going to be an unofficial remake of “Theatre of Blood”, I’ll stop right now to tell you that it’s not. The Vincent Price movie was farcical. This movie has, at its core, a deep sadness. Also, the murders in “Theatre” were done as a big gory joke. “Rojo Sangre” has no such humor. When Thevenet kills, it’s with rage and brutality. This movie is just too raw and personal for Naschy to be played as comedy, and one often gets the feeling that we’re being privy to the man’s daydreams.

Of course, Thevenet is not exactly Naschy himself no matter how similar their predicaments may be. The film clues us in to this fact right from the start, with Thevenet giving hysterical sex-aid tips to a friend. This fetish that Thevenet has, I will not mention here, but will say that I strongly doubt Naschi shares it. The other actor’s facial reactions to the horrible things he’s being told are priceless, and Naschy shows how good of an actor he is by making the absurd monologue sound perfectly sensible. With this introduction to Pablo Thevenet, we become aware that he’s a man corrupt from the start. A man who’s perfect to sign a certain sort of… contract. Therein lies the cleverness of the script. Naschy has created a voice for him to air his grievances, while never straying far from his horror roots. Yes, he has something important to say; but he never gets preachy about it, and he never forgets that he has to entertain the audience.

With all this talk of Paul, I shouldn’t forget to mention Christian
Molina’s direction. He’s created a beautifully shot film with great fades and amazing cinematography. It’s just a gorgeous movie from start to finish and his style perfectly complements the story.

This is the film of a lifetime for Naschy. This is “the” film that defines him best and most completely. These kinds of movies come around very rarely and it would be a sin for you not to catch it, Paul Naschy fan or not.

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