Vern Digs Into The ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY Box Set! HOLY MOUNTAIN! EL TOPO! Paris Hilton?!? And More!

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. I haven’t watched my Jodrowsky box yet. Part of it is just time. I haven’t had a chance. But part of it is also because I almost don’t want to watch them. I’ve waited so long for these to be on DVD that now that I have them, I almost don’t want to ruin it by watching them and finally having an opinion about these films, so often discussed, so rarely seen. Leave it to Vern to more than man up for the task. This is a fantastic Vern piece, and a reminder of why he’s one of my favorite writers about film anywhere:

‘If all mankind shitted from a two-meter high toilet, we could have all the electricity we wanted.’
–Alejandro Jodorowsky, HOLY MOUNTAIN commentary

My friends, we will have peace in the Middle East. We will find cures for cancer and AIDS. The honey bees will return to their hives. Michael Bay will apologize and surrender himself to movie jail without incident. I know these things are possible because the impossible has happened: director Alejandro Jodorowsky and producer/Beatles manager Alan Klein have ended their 30 year feud. Everybody’s friends again, so Anchor Bay releases their THE FILMS OF ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY box set Tuesday.

This is literally the Holy Grail of DVDs. When Jodorowsky ditched plans to direct THE STORY OF O thirty years ago, Klein paid him back by shelving his other movies. So EL TOPO and HOLY MOUNTAIN have been legendary cult movies, but have not received the wide home viewing they deserve. You could never get these from corporate sources like Blockbuster or Netflix, because the copies in circulation were bootlegs. Jodorowsky supplied the materials to the pirates himself just to get the movies seen. (I wonder what section Blockbuster will put EL TOPO in?)

Fando and LisIf you tried hard enough you could get your hands on a dark, blurry VHS copy with the pubic hair blurred out and burned on Japanese subtitles. But the idea of a legit, remastered DVD version, with extras no less… too much to ask for. These would always remain secret movies, legendary movies, like that movie that kills everybody in Moriarty’s first MASTERS OF HORROR episode. Until the day I read the announcement from Anchor Bay I honestly believed it would take the death of either Jodorowsky or Klein for them to come out. If one of them was found mysteriously crucified in a circle of weird shells and dead rabbits then they might hammer out the rights, but otherwise it could never, ever happen. But now it has.

And by the way when I say it is literally the Holy Grail of DVDs, I don’t mean that it is a goblet that you could drink out of, I just mean that it gives you eternal youth by watching it and that knights used to fight over it and hide it and shit.


The three films are FANDO Y LIS (his black and white, sort of Fellini-like first feature, which has already been on a nice DVD), the legendary psychedelic western EL TOPO, and my favorite, HOLY MOUNTAIN, the weirdest fucking movie you’ll ever see. People criticize me sometimes for dropping the fuck-bomb too much in my reviews, but this is one case where even your grandma would agree that ‘weirdest movie’ wouldn’t cut it. ‘This is a weird fucking movie, dear,’ she would probaly say if you showed her the part where Jodorowsky plays an alchemist who has a guy who looks like Jesus shit in a bowl so he can process it into gold.

The transfers are beautiful. It’s amazing to see these movies so clear and bright. HOLY MOUNTAIN is alot lighter than before, but clearer, more detailed. In the later scenes, when they get to the mountain, they may have cheated a little with the digital magic, because the colors of the plants are I’m guessing more vivid than they ever looked. But it looks great. The most striking thing about EL TOPO is the way the red of the blood pops out of the screen. Eltopians are gonna shit their pants when they see this, then they will turn their shit into gold and use the gold to buy more box sets to give to their friends, who will in turn shit their pants, etc. etc. This thing is gonna spread across the globe like airwaves. Rappers will start quoting HOLY MOUNTAIN; on CRIBS they’ll have THE FILMS OF ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY next to their SCARFACE dvd. Bono will buy a thousand copies and pass them out to world leaders, so they can begin their journeys of enlightenment. Video clerks will replace their copies of THE SECRET with HOLY MOUNTAIN. In Wal-Mart, you’ll pick it up from the impulse buy area, sitting right next to BLUE COLLAR COMEDY TOUR, so you can give it to your mom for Mother’s Day. Oprah’s gonna recommend it, then start handing out pelicans. See, there’s a part in HOLY MOUNTAIN where a random pelican walks into the shot – Jodorowsky explains that pelicans are a symbol of Christ because they are said to cut themselves with their beaks and feed blood to their young. Oprah’s gonna love that. ‘YOU get a pelican! YOU get a pelican!’ As your grandma would say, total fuckin pandemonium.

EL TOPO is in the original Spanish, but it also includes the English dub if you prefer that. HOLY MOUNTAIN is only in English, they shot it that way for Alan Klein.

If you’re not familiar with these movies, I’ll try to describe them a little more. Jodorowsky is Chilean, but he made these movies in Mexico, against the wishes of the unions, the government, and the crowds who threw rocks at him after the premiere of FANDO Y LIS. Jodorowsky was a mime who wrote stories for Marcel Marceau, he’s obsessed with tarot cards, he likes violence in movies, his dad was ‘violently agnostic’ so he rebelled by studying every religion he could find and trying to make the cinematic equivalent of ‘sacred texts’ by cramming his movies to the gills with symbolism, allegory and stories of enlightenment. When he made HOLY MOUNTAIN, he says on this DVD, he really believed he was going to enlighten the world with it.

So you’d think these movies would be heavy-handed and joyless, but actually they’re fun and full of humor. Jodorowsky comes out of something called ‘The Panic Movement.’ To me it seems sort of like surrealism, except instead of just random dream images he’s clearly getting at some ideas here. I think he’s at his best when he’s making his nightmarish portrait of modern living, like the scenes where fascist troops march through the streets wielding flayed lambs on crucifixes, executing students, while a bus full of tourists drives by taking pictures and laughing.

EL TOPO is the most accessible, because it starts out like a spaghetti western. But a more violent than usual one, with lots of weird touches. There’s a scene where he finds a pen of about a hundred rabbits and they all die from his presence. And another one where Alfonse Arau (director of LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE) plays a shoe fetishist bandit sucking on lady’s pumps (and he’s the least perverted of his group). At first the movie’s about this scary outlaw shooting bandits, falling in love, and traveling the desert in a spiral to find and kill The Four Masters. But by the end it’s a completely different movie, and the outlaw protagonist has become a saintly street clown married to a pretty dwarf lady he met in an underground cave. But don’t worry, you’ll like it. Hey, you liked TOMBSTONE, right? Or CITY SLICKERS? Yeah, you should check out EL TOPO.

HOLY MOUNTAIN is the craziest and most epic. It’s a low budget movie by most standards but you wouldn’t know it by all the crowd scenes, elaborate sets, the scene where the thief wakes up buried in hundreds of life sized dummies of himself, etc. There’s a scene where frogs and chameleons (wearing costumes) re-enact the conquest of Mexico on a model city. And then there’s that pelican. And a baby hippo. And a monkey who’s a major character. Jodorowsky even taught him to do a zen mediation pose.


I would be happy with just the movies, but they piled on the extras. All three have commentaries. EL TOPO has an on-camera interview with Jodorowsky. HOLY MOUNTAIN has a feature where he explains his love of tarot cards and goes through the meaning of each card. (No, he doesn’t believe they predict the future, he says only a ‘charlatan’ would tell you that.) There’s even a few deleted scenes. Nothing too exciting, but you do get to see Jodorowsky fall off the Holy Mountain. (Shoulda been a blooper reel.) The deleted scenes are most valuable for their commentary. It turns out the movie was supposed to end with a scene where a woman gives birth for real. But the woman he hired backed out. I’m sure somebody will do it some day, maybe in a Will Ferrell comedy or something.

El TopoYou also get a bonus disc of LA CRAVATE, his 1957 first try at filmatism. It’s a 35 minute silent short (but in color) based on something called ‘The Transposed Heads.’ To be honest I was not too into this one, but it gives you a look at Jodorowsky’s mime background you always read about. According to the back cover ‘LA CRAVATE was considered lost for fifty years until its discovery in a German attic in 2006.’ It doesn’t say what it was doing in this attic, but I’m guessing the reels were inside an ostrich egg with Kabbalah symbols painted all over it, or maybe a weird phallic cactus.

Also you get two CDs, the original EL TOPO soundtrack album and the never released one for HOLY MOUNTAIN. This is some crazy shit, you probaly won’t want to drive around blasting it from your car stereo, but if you do I will think you’re cool.

If you already have the old FANDO Y LIS disc – and I know all you ‘fanboys’ are into black and white Chilean surrealist films, so don’t pretend you don’t have it – this seems to be the same thing. It has that English-language commentary track and the CONSTELLATION JODOROWSKY documentary. I haven’t had time to check if they edited out the comments about ‘that gangster Alan Klein.’ Anyway, that one’s been out of print for a while, and even if you already have it like I do it’s well worth fifty bucks just for the other two, not to mention the soundtracks.

The commentaries are pretty spectacular. It might be disappointing if Jodorowsky came across as a pretty normal guy, but fortunately we don’t have to worry about that. On EL TOPO he comes across as kind of a maniac, especially when talking about the animals in the movie. Apparently all those rabbits died from the heat in the desert, and he’s never eaten rabbit since. He also feels bad about shooting those two birds, but at the time he considered it an animal sacrifice for his sacred movie. He also claims to have strapped the director of photography to himself with a belt and moved him around as his way of setting up the camera. This story can’t help but remind you of the ‘doubleman’ character in the movie, the gunman with no legs strapped to the guy with no arms. ‘Two cripples make one John Wayne’ is how Jodorowsky describes them.

He also explains how the badass outlaw El Topo in the beginning was inspired by ‘rabbis, Zorro and Elvis Presley.’ He talks about the father-son themes of the movie, and his belief that every son wants to psychologically kill and castrate his father. In order to head this off with his own sons he says he painted a circle in his backyard and sumo wrestled them, but let them win sometimes. He also says ‘Godard has one testicle, I have three,’ and he explains what that means, but I’m not going to.

The feature I had to check out first, though, was the HOLY MOUNTAIN commentary. At first he rapidly goes through shot-by-shot, briefly explaining what each symbol means. (This is especially helpful in those wacked out opening credits.) Eventually he starts letting things go, though. When a real bird flies out of a hole in a dead guy’s chest and he doesn’t say anything, it’s kind of a surprise. But hey, if you ever wondered what he was thinking when he had an old half-man half-woman’s boobs turn into tiger heads and squirt milk onto a guy, now is your chance.

The guy talks like a guru, but not a pretentious one. He jokes about his idealism at that age, how he really thought ‘cinema is more powerful than LSD’ and that his movie would change mankind. I’m not into all that mysticism myself, but I love the way this guy talks about it. And I think he is genuinely wise. In one part he says people expect him to be against technology, because he’s obsessed with all this ancient alchemical shit. But he says, ‘Spiders make spider’s webs, and nobody finds it surprising. Man makes machines because that is part of their brain programming. Machines are sacred.’ He goes on to explain how technology can also be dangerous, ‘but when hasn’t human development been dangerous? Everything is dangerous.’

After that he starts describing man’s ‘three essential missions.’ While he’s explaining that ‘we must become the Universe’s conscience’ he notices someone on screen, and without skipping a beat he says, ‘This is one of the producers. He left with $300,000 and we never saw him again.’

The details of the making of the movie are fascinating. Supposedly he was protested, threatened by the government, had a gun pulled on him during filming, eventually had to flee to New York. The whole method of making the movie was dangerous, but he was serious about it. It turns out only one of the characters going on this journey was played by an actor. The millionaire is a real millionaire, the architect is a real architect, etc. He was really trying to bring them on a journey of enlightenment, and they really climbed that mountain. (No word on climbing the tower – that part sure looks real to me.)

The Holy MountainOne of the best parts is when the movie ends, the screen goes black and the commentary continues for a few minutes as Jodorowsky explains the circumstances of ending the feud with Alan Klein. He basically admits that it was created by his own stubbornness, because ‘we create our own enemies.’ It’s actually a really touching and inspiring story of making peace.

I learned alot of trivia. The American tourist who photographs his wife being raped by soldiers was played by the agent for Sly and the Family Stone. That should probaly be a question on one of those Coca-Cola slides they show before movies at the multiplex. Another good one is that George Harrison was originally going to star as the thief, but he didn’t want to do the scene where he’s in the bath and the Alchemist cleans out his butthole with a wash cloth. Jodorowsky refused to take the shot out and lost the chance to have a Beatle star in his movie!

I think that story sums Jodorowsky up pretty good. The guy is serious. On one hand, it’s so stupid to throw that away for that shot. I mean, I sure don’t like to look at him washing the dude’s butt. I would’ve been fine without it, and if the movie starred a Beatle I probaly wouldn’t have had to wait this long for the DVD. On the other hand, that’s real integrity right there. If there’s any question that the guy is a phoney, that he just wants money or attention or something, you can forget about that the moment he chooses the butt-washing shot over having his movie star one of the Beatles. He really believed in what he was doing and he wasn’t going to compromise. On the EL TOPO commentary he talks a little about his approach. He mentions test screening and producing movies for specific markets, basing movies around ‘the vulgar tastes of imbeciles’ instead of artistic expression. He doesn’t want to make a movie for a specific audience, he wants to create the audience with the movie. And he did. There is no other movie like HOLY MOUNTAIN and there probaly never will be. And maybe if there was it would throw the whole universe out of wack.

Another thing about HOLY MOUNTAIN: the movie is indestructible. What I mean by that is that nobody can ever fuck with this movie, it’s impossible. Michael Bay and his wicked co-conspirators in movie evil may have gone down my list of favorite movies and tried to buy them all out and shit all over them, using metaphorical shit rather than literal shit that can be turned into gold. And they’ve succeeded in taking a couple chunks of meat off the legacy of THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE. Touche.

But when they get to HOLY MOUNTAIN on that list they’re fucked. I FUCKING DARE YOU ASSHOLES TO REMAKE HOLY MOUNTAIN. You can’t do it. You could never dream of doing it. People without souls don’t have dreams, but still. You could never aspire to it. If you even tried to buy the rights you’d probaly be turned into a pillar of salt. If you tried to write a treatment, you’d start bleeding from your eyes. A wound would open in your chest and a bird would fly out, diamonds would spill like blood. I want to see what a team of Bruckheimer rewriters would do with that story. Who would play the armless dwarf in the soldier helmet kicking the dummy in the alley? I guess Josh Hartnett would be pretty good as the mohawked police captain who ritualistically cuts off his recruits’ balls with scissors and collects them in jars.


I’ll be honest, most of you probaly shouldn’t watch these movies. I don’t want to call you ‘sissies’ or ‘cowards,’ I don’t want to say you’re not man enough to watch these movies, but… let’s face it, you are sissy cowards who aren’t man enough to watch these movies, unless I use reverse psychology. No, just jerkin your chain bud, I actually admire your fortitude and masculinity. But this is not everybody’s idea of entertainment. My dream of HOLY MOUNTAIN becoming a major pop culture phenomenon like NAPOLEON DYNAMITE may be a little far-fetched. A little.

I’m not gonna pretend Spider-man is in there. The only mention of super heroes is a propaganda anti-Peruvian comic book in HOLY MOUNTAIN, and on the commentary track when he says ‘James Bond is a pervert. Superman is a pervert.’ But Jodorowsky actually is a comic book writer, if that gives him any nerd-cred for you. He did alot of those stories in the ‘Heavy Metal’ magazine that pioneered the boobs and sorcery genre some of you get off on. (Don’t lie.) He also spent years trying to do DUNE as a movie, and he was the one who brought together H.R. Giger, Moebius (not Moby, Moebius) and Dan O’Bannon to do a sci-fi movie before they were snatched up for ALIEN. He also had Salvador Dali and robot Salvador Dali set to act in his movie, but they must’ve turned down Ridley Scott’s offer.

But if any of you never saw these movies, but think they sound interesting… if you are adventurous, and want to see movies unlike what anybody else is doing… if you are interested in a guy trying to use the medium to its maximum potential, then in Pelican’s name, check this shit out. I will acept your thanks in e-mail or talkbacks. To me these movies are completely unique, they got a 200 proof cinematic kick to them, and they say alot about life and the world and mankind, in a really darkly humorous way. You can’t ask for too much more from a movie. If you’re like me, feeling overloaded by the dumbass, materialistic, lowest-common denominator commercialized crap dominating pop culture these days, these movies are refreshing because they’re pretty much as far in the exact opposite direction as you could possibly get. Putting this box set out today is like throwing a hand grenade into idiocracy’s living room. The only question is whether or not it will go off, and how much of the furniture will burn.

that is a metaphor, not literal, the DVD will not explode


Originally posted at Ain’t-It-Cool-News: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/32495

View the archived Ain’t-It-Cool-News Talkback

  • May 1, 2007, 5:32 a.m. CST

    Jodorowsky = The Man

    by Mullah Omar

    Give that guy US$50 million and let him make a mind-blowing epic for the ages. Even if it ended up a disaster, it would have to be a compelling disaster.

  • May 1, 2007, 6:39 a.m. CST


    by jwnulife

    Why no Santa Sangre?

  • May 1, 2007, 6:55 a.m. CST


    by Kloipy

    Thanks for the loving write up of these amazing films. I was first exposed to El Topo when I was 13. And it really changed the way i looked at cinema. With HM he really out did himself and I can see why he would think that this movie could change the world. I’m so happy to see this finally come out so more people can get a chance to experience these films.

  • May 1, 2007, 7:12 a.m. CST

    I second the motion

    by Gangar

    Just saw Fando y Lis and it really hung with me and I’m eager to see Holy Mountain and El Topo, but I still want to see Santa Sangre on DVD. This film may not be thought of us rapturously as these others but I thought it was terrific. Like El Topo, it was a very unique take on a genre film. I know some obscure Region 2 version exists but this film deserves the full treatment as much as any. This and a nice widescreen ‘Lost Highway’ are becoming my DVD Holy Grails.

  • May 1, 2007, 7:16 a.m. CST

    Metabarons… Technopriests… etc.



    Met Jodo, what an amazing man. His version of DUNE is still the best movie never made.

  • May 1, 2007, 7:53 a.m. CST


    by HeWhoCannotBeNamed

    Fucking Tightness! Read it. Too bad Charest left after 30 pages of the new Metabarons GN. It’s been a long wait, but I am still eager for the next installment. Good stuff.

  • May 1, 2007, 8 a.m. CST

    These movies are indeed great

    by CorpseRide

    El Topo is easier to get into, I guess – just start at the premise it’s a spagetti western, and then don’t worry too hard as it deviates from that.

    Holy Mountain is the jewel in the crown though. The most whacked-out religious allegory ever commited to celluloid.

    I may upgrade my 1.4MB BitTorrent copies.

  • May 1, 2007, 8:15 a.m. CST

    Another Golden review, Vern

    by Laserbrain


  • May 1, 2007, 8:24 a.m. CST

    I was at a Jodo Interview last month in London

    by John-Locke

    He’s one crazy, charismatic dude. It wasn’t really an interview because that would suggest that the interviewer was in control, oh no, Jodo was going off on tangents all over the place, he’s really fucking funny and has the energy of a teenager at his ripe old age of 78. He says he’s going to live to be 160 years old. Interesting tidbits, David Carradine and Udo Kier were going to be in Dune, the only “name” actor he’s interested in working with is Nick Nolte, his next film will hopefully be available free on the internet as he’s not interested in making any money for himself, King Shot, Sons of El Topo, an adaptation of his Comic book Bouncer or some “Psychomagic” related film will be his next project and should start filming early next year. He thought 300 was US propaganda, he said David Copperfield has an identical twin brother which is how he achieved most of his tricks, he said David Lynch is probably the only true artist currently working in Cinema, he watches a hell of a lot of Movies and TV shows and at the time the last thing he had watched was the first few episodes of Season 6 of The Shield.

  • May 1, 2007, 8:40 a.m. CST

    Holy Mountain is a gem.

    by Stuntcock Mike

    Armless midgets kicking and screaming inspires a full chub.

  • May 1, 2007, 8:45 a.m. CST

    I really want to see this!

    by Spandau Belly

    I’ve read about these movies and always wanted to see them.

    This isn’t THE DVD THAT COMPLETES MY COLLECTION the way Criterion’s “La Double Vie de Veronique” or the double disc “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” were, but I’ll go check these out.

  • May 1, 2007, 8:45 a.m. CST

    If Michael Bay ever

    by Stuntcock Mike

    remade Holy Mountain, the fucking theaters would burn to the ground outta pure guilt. Yup, Ben Affleck as the Thief. 500 million easy.

  • May 1, 2007, 8:56 a.m. CST

    This is a must own! Jodorowsky is off the Fuckin’ hook!

    by LaneMyersClassic

    You have got tto see these films!

  • May 1, 2007, 9:03 a.m. CST

    Just read John-Locke’s post about J watching The Shield

    by LaneMyersClassic

    He is now officially the coolest motherfucker on the planet.

  • May 1, 2007, 9:04 a.m. CST

    Will he ever direct a film again???

    by godoffireinhell

    I know as well as anyone that there have been numerous rumors of future projects over that past 10 years and more but none of them ever materialized. His last film THE RAINBOW THIEF (1990) was a disappointment but I’d still love to see him return to filmmaking and to do so on his own terms. Well, maybe the release of this box set will drum up some financing but honestly… If you were a producer or money man… would you give a madman like Jodorowsky your cash? I mean unless you are a fan yourself it makes no sense whatsoever.

  • May 1, 2007, 9:21 a.m. CST

    Sante Sangre

    by Dominic-Vobiscum

    Only Jodorowsky movie I’ve seen. The cover box called to me for years. It was always on the shelf in the foreign section of every Blockbuster I worked at, but I just never watched it. Then one night in college some friends and I wanted something “weird” and we rented it. I still remember people stopping by as we watched it and asking what it was we were watching only to get sucked in themselves. After the fourth or fifth person we stopped telling them the plot and each person would just name the most disturbing thing they’d witnessed. By the end of the movie there were about 20 people watching it with us. They couldn’t look away! My personal favorite scene is when the skeezy orderly takes the main character and all his down-syndrome afflicted chums out on the town and buys them lots of coke and a whore.

  • May 1, 2007, 9:28 a.m. CST

    Thank you Vern!!!

    by trombone

    I love to read your stuff. And I’m personally pleased that AICN can ALSO expand my horizons. Don’t know anything about this guy, but I definitely want to check these films out. Rock on!

  • May 1, 2007, 9:40 a.m. CST

    Santa Sangre

    by ducki3x

    I too have only seen Santa Sangre, although I have seen it many, many times. This was a real high-school favorite of mine, and I practically wore out my VHS tape…that and Tetsuo: The Iron Man were practically default viewing.

  • May 1, 2007, 9:41 a.m. CST

    You are a good man, Vern.

    by victor laszlo

    Caught EL TOPO being screened at my old college and haven’t been able to get it out of my head. I’ve been saving myself for HOLY MOUNTAIN, and yeah, his DUNE sounds like the greatest film never made. Don’t forget Pink Floyd was lined up to do the score {in the days just after Dark Side, no less}. Also, check out THE INKAL, Jodorowsky’s graphic novel team-up with Moebius that came out of their DUNE collaboration — a film version would look something like the Fifth Element, only 10x bigger and on a Salvia binge.

  • May 1, 2007, 9:48 a.m. CST

    Jodorowsky is fully legit

    by gusradio

    finnaly i can feel comfortable ebaying my imports.

  • May 1, 2007, 10:21 a.m. CST

    Not very good.

    by SylarTheCylon

    I saw El Topo a couple of years back. Didn’t like it very much. It’s not the kind of thing you’d watch with the family on Christmas. But it’s interesting, in a strange way. I say interesting because I didn’t understand what the fuck the movie was about, and I’m not afraid to admit I’m still clueless about it. I have enough of that clueless feeling just living real life, and that’s enough for me.

  • May 1, 2007, 10:22 a.m. CST

    Great review as always, my man.

    by Gilkuliehe

    But what the fuck is that shit about Paris Hilton on the headline? Did I miss something? I just read the whole review and I still don’t get it. Somebody care to explain?

  • May 1, 2007, 10:29 a.m. CST

    Sons of El Topo

    by Vern

    I was disappointed that he never once mentions SONS OF EL TOPO/ABELCAIN on any of the extras. That made me think maybe he’s given up on that. On the other hand, maybe he just doesn’t want to show his cards. The only thing he says about future projects is that he’d like to direct again if he lives long enough and that he will project it onto the sides of buildings because theater owners are gangsters.

  • May 1, 2007, 10:30 a.m. CST

    Jodorowsky’s “nerd cred” = infinite levels of power

    by Harry Weinstein

    No description can do him justice. Just check out his movies and comic books. And if you ever have the chance to see him speaking live, your ass better be there, because it’s worth it and then some.

  • May 1, 2007, 10:36 a.m. CST


    by Harry Weinstein

    This film has also been known as KILL SHOT due to the squabbles with Klein and ownership of the name EL TOPO. Nick Nolte and Marilyn Manson (I am dead fucking serious) were attached at one point to star and put up some of the production money, but I think there were some snags along the way. Smart money says he back-burnered it until after this box set drops, at which time it might be easier to raise the money to finally make it. Based on some storyboards that surfaced online, it would be a film both enormous and strange. Sort of like my penis.

  • May 1, 2007, 11:16 a.m. CST

    Harry Weinstein

    by John-Locke

    Sons of El Topo & King Shot are totally different projects. You can find some storyboards and links to others here http://www.twitchfilm.net/archives/006746.html

  • May 1, 2007, 11:49 a.m. CST

    Get goin’ on DUNE, Jodo…

    by JustinSane

    …’cause I really wanna see that, even without the great Dali (though maybe you can still use his mechanical double).

  • May 1, 2007, 11:51 a.m. CST

    I need to watch El Topo again.

    by Gwai Lo

    I watched a really crappy version of it. It was hard to watch in the state it was in, and it’s already a demanding viewing. I really liked parts of it though, I enjoy it more thinking back on it than I did when I was actually watching it.

  • May 1, 2007, 12:06 p.m. CST

    I’ve been waiting for a decent print of El Topo forever

    by modlight

    This is such good news.

  • May 1, 2007, 12:07 p.m. CST

    btw… sweet El Topo Shirt Here

    by modlight


  • May 1, 2007, 12:14 p.m. CST

    I saw Holy Mountain in college

    by Circean6

    For an art design class back in 1990. It was as Vern mentioned a Japanese laser disc with guys ding-dongs whited out yet showing the women’s pubic hair was ok. Anyhoo I agree with Vern this is without a doubt the most screwy movie I have ever seen in my life but it never gets haughty, especially in the end, which is kind of a profound joke, but a good one!

  • May 1, 2007, 2:16 p.m. CST

    can’t wait

    by Kloipy

    buying this asap

  • May 1, 2007, 2:43 p.m. CST


    by Nagual

    That is the single greatest thing I have ever read on this site. EVER. Thank you. I am overjoyed to finally own this set and now this link is getting fuckin’ forwarded, BEYATCH!

  • May 1, 2007, 2:57 p.m. CST

    I’m totally bumping the Holy Mountain soundtrack …

    by wash

    …in my ride. And thanks for the Paris/Jodo pic, I’m going to comment spam my friends MySpace with that shit.

  • May 1, 2007, 3:02 p.m. CST

    Harry We Need a New Corner Annimation



    In honor of this joyous occasion we need a animation to honor El Topo. I am thinking you should be dressed in black fighting the Colonel. Come on we have all seen Ghostbusters but this is El Topo man.

  • May 1, 2007, 3:03 p.m. CST

    Jodo like The Shield?

    by wash

    haha, take that, Herc.

  • May 1, 2007, 3:19 p.m. CST

    Praise the lord

    by enemakid

    El Topo and The Holy Mountain on DVD at long last! I saw a crappy bootleg print where some of the stuff in the desert is completely chopped up, especially the part where the second woman suddenly shows up and starts tagging along with El Topo. Have they managed to restore that sequence to something more coherent?

  • May 1, 2007, 3:38 p.m. CST

    I liked Cremaster 3 and The Cell better…

    by pockybot

    Tho Cremaster 3 could be seen as a kind of remake of Holy Mountain.

    The only thing I got out of Holy Mountain was a kind of post Dali-esque take on the whole “Illuminati run the world” thing, also seen in Cremaster 3. I didnt find it enlightening, but very interesting.

    But if you liked Cremaster Cycle/Matthew Barney or the Cell, you gotta see Holy Mountain.

  • May 1, 2007, 4:06 p.m. CST

    Santa Sangre DVD

    by DukeDeMondo

    It’s been on region 2 for quite some time, thanks to Anchor Bay, i believe. it’s got a handful of extras on there too. I have been waitin many’s a year to see El Topo and Holy Mountain. Oh, the anticipation in the willy-john right now…


  • May 1, 2007, 4:11 p.m. CST

    ^^yes, thanks for mentioning the biters

    by wash

    Sheesh, I liked The Cell better than Ernest Saves Christmas, that’s about it maybe.

  • May 1, 2007, 4:12 p.m. CST

    that last comment was for pockybot

    by wash


  • May 1, 2007, 4:45 p.m. CST


    by Nozoli Apples

    I don’t see these movies on Netflix, I hope they make it onto there at some point in time because I’d like to see them and not have to spend all those breaking benjamins.

  • May 1, 2007, 4:52 p.m. CST

    Big El Topo fan

    by sHapesHiftinLizard

    taped it off tv about 7 yrs ago, it had an intro with a film historian telling AJ’s story and how the only time he ever saw ETopo in a video shop it carried a heavy deposit(over $100 im sure). I caught it in the cinema 2 weeks ago here in Glasgow, fantastic seein it with an audience, only one walk out, theyre showing Holy Mountain this month an im gonna be there, Ive only seen HM once and it was not disapointing after being blown away by El Topo, lookin forward to seein it again. Great review Vern, more folk need to see these movies. Jordorowsky did an interview on ‘Eurotrash’ here on Uk tv, he said something along the lines of Walt Disney fucked Mickey Mouse to produce Steven Speilberg;)

  • May 1, 2007, 5:02 p.m. CST

    They’re on Netflix…they just don’t know when…

    by IAmJack’sUserID

    they’ll be available for some reason. Even though I’ve never heard of this guy, I saw the boxsets today at work and I was tempted to buy out of sheer curiousity.

  • May 1, 2007, 5:24 p.m. CST


    by HypeEndsHere

    i saw the trailer for Holy Mountain which ends its run tonight at the Waverly (ahem, IFC) theatre. the TRAILER is mind blowing.

  • May 1, 2007, 5:42 p.m. CST

    santa sangre is awesome

    by reckni

    love that movie, even though it invaded my dreams for weeks in a horrific way . . . but Hell, I’d really enjoy seeing it again.

  • May 1, 2007, 6:35 p.m. CST

    i just watched holy mountain on the big screen…

    by JacksonsPole

    last night at the red vic on haight street in san francisco, they had a screening of holy mountain. and, all i can say is…holy shit (there actually is a scene where the alchemist turns shit into gold). i have seen the bootlegs. but, to watch with an audience on the big screen. damn. awesome. the crowd was definitely into it. hysterical laughter at the most beautifully ridiculous movie in history. the composition of everything is spot on. actually, john lennon had a hand in producing this, due to his love of el topo. the cast and crew went to incredible lengths to create every living detail in this masterpiece. it’s one of a kind. but, it kinda makes me sad that it’s so readily available now. it almost makes it that much better when you have to physically seek it. it is the only true way to enlightenment…

  • May 1, 2007, 6:42 p.m. CST


    by JacksonsPole

    whoever said they like ‘the cell’ better than ‘holy mountain’, should immediately volunteer their testicles to axon. they aren’t using them, anyway…

  • May 1, 2007, 7:51 p.m. CST

    Buy this before they pull it for some reason…

    by tonagan

    It does seem too good to be true, doesn’t it?

  • May 1, 2007, 8:19 p.m. CST

    That pelican…

    by suddenlimpact

    …is an alchemical pun. A Pelican is a piece of old-fashioned glassware often used by chymists in distillation. One of the lovely touches in Holy Mountain is how every element of the shit-into-gold scene is taken from alchemical manuscripts, and in such vivid detail – even the hippo has a meaning!

  • May 1, 2007, 8:33 p.m. CST


    by BangoSkank

    I’ve been waiting to see El Topo for the better part of two decades…. now finally I can. Woo-fucking-hoo! It just became available on netflix, for those who were wondering above.

  • May 1, 2007, 8:47 p.m. CST

    I’m buying it!!! Thanks Vern!!

    by Bob Cryptonight

    I’ve been waiting for this…based soley on Vern’s original reviews on his website!!

  • May 1, 2007, 9:19 p.m. CST


    by Vern

    That’s great – so what does the hippo mean? He doesn’t say anything about it on the commentary. He does explain that Christ thing about the pelican but not the pun. But I like that, thanks for the info.

  • May 1, 2007, 9:36 p.m. CST

    I’m surprised by this talkback!!! In a good way!

    by Bob Cryptonight

    Nice work, Vern! You seem to have won the crowd over! I thought there would be more hostility toward these films. Maybe there is hope after all…

  • May 1, 2007, 9:41 p.m. CST



    That’s all I have to say.

  • May 1, 2007, 10:54 p.m. CST

    Just Got Done with El Topo


    Holly Crap that is a beautiful transfer.

  • May 2, 2007, 3:03 a.m. CST

    i read Jodo is a shaman

    by pipergates

    and that controles his dreams so well that sometimes he forgets if he is awake or not. so he grabs a chair and lifts his feet of the ground, and he he starts to float in the air, then he knows he is not awake.

    imdb claims he is making King Shot (2007)

    his work with Moebius is monumental.

  • May 2, 2007, 3:37 a.m. CST

    I’m still keeping my bootlegs for sentimental reasons

    by hktelemacher

    There’s just a certain charm in watching the crappiest possible prints. And KING SHOT (not KILL SHOT, that’s an Elmore Leonard property with the Mick and Timberlake coming out this year) is different than SONS OF EL TOPO/ABELCAIN and is supposed to be a gangster movie. And that probably won’t ever happen either, unless this boxset does in fact spark a cultural revolution and Jodorowsky gets the recognition he deserves. And if anybody who just got their Jodo juices flowing for the first time happens to have the acumen, grab any and all of Jodorowsky’s graphic novels you can find and see what this man’s imagination is capable of when there’s no such thing as a limited budget. You don’t have to be into comics (I’m not) to revel in how absolutely cool they are.

  • May 2, 2007, 9:30 a.m. CST

    HOLY MOUNTAIN is sycophantic crap

    by Parrish372

    I watched Holy Mountain and El Topo yesterday on the new dvds. Holy Mountain is cliched and boring — I had to fast forward through much of it, because it dragged. It’s exactly the kind of dreck that impresses unsophisticated fanboys — Fellini did it first and did it better. El Topo fares better, probably because it had some sort of plot and structure and it’s images are visually more arresting. But the symbolism in both is vacuous. Anybody who tries to impart any real meaning to them is doomed.

  • May 2, 2007, 11:30 a.m. CST

    Not at MY Wal-Mart

    by Stroker_Ace

    Maybe online, but they don’t have it at the Wal-Mart in my area (right outside Charlotte, NC). I’ve seen Holy Mountain, and even have a shitty version on VHS, but I knew this would be one I’d have to get online. I just can’t see Wallyworld carrying this, and they don’t at the one near me.

  • May 2, 2007, 12:08 p.m. CST

    Make it a Blockbuster night!

    by Spandau Belly

    Just a response to Vern puzzling over what Blockbuster would do with this film.

    Where I live in downtown most of the video stores are independants and carry a lot broader selection of films and some even specialize in niche markets and carry no Hollywood movies at all. So Blockbuster downtown added a section called “CULT” which contains about thirty movies to compete with the surrounding market.

    I haven’t rented there since I was a kid and lived in the suburbs and it was either rent the three movies that the convinience store bloke had or get a grander selection of five mainstream releases.

  • May 2, 2007, 1:01 p.m. CST

    Haven’t seen these yet…

    by Bone-In Foray

    …as I’ve never had access to the pirated versions of these films (or otherwise). But after reading Vern’s impassioned pitch and the response from the AICN faithful my curiousity has been thoroughly stoked. Though… I must admit – I’m curious as to where all of the undying support for Vern’s reviewing skills stem? Sorry Vern – thumbs up for the passion, thumbs down for the meandering AICN-style babble. Your insistence on punctuating every other sentence with an insipid metaphor/analogy makes me sleepy.

  • May 2, 2007, 1:12 p.m. CST

    I’ve been chasing down these movies for two decades

    by GenericGeek

    But, animal sacrifice? Jeepers. I guess I’m a coward after all, and not man enough to watch them. Santa Sangre’s diseased elephant was quite enough.

  • May 2, 2007, 4:27 p.m. CST

    Fuck Klein, A.J. fucked everyone else…

    by Prague23

    A. Klein’s the reason these films are so hard to find. He’s a fucking bastard.
    I recorded a copy of El Topo and The Holy Mountain off of laserdiscs from Seattle’s Scarecrow Video where they’ve had the PAL tapes forever as well and immediately got the import DVDs like 4 years ago to buy as well as rent.
    When Jodorowsky was going to direct DUNE he just about had Salivor Dali playing the main bad guy and offered him 1 million dollars for every minute of screen time. That’s what kind of sunk that potential masterpiece. Or so I heard.

  • May 2, 2007, 4:38 p.m. CST


    by Vern

    What do you mean by sycophantic? I thought a sycophant was an asskisser. Whose ass is the movie kissing?

    Anyway sorry you didn’t like it bud, but I gotta disagree with everything you said. HOLY MOUNTAIN does have a clear structure to it. First the character called “the thief” wakes up, goes to the city, experiences some religious troubles, then goes to the tower and tries to steal the gold. That’s part 1. Part 2 is the section which introduces the Alchemist and then each of the other characters by name and planet and shows their background. Then part 3 is the actual journey to the mountain and the quest for immortality.

    That said, I am still laughing that you called that movie cliched. I would like to see what a fresh, original movie looks like in a world where HOLY MOUNTAIN is cliched.

    Also, while both of them use surrealism and symbolism, I think that lumping in Jodorowsky with Fellini as being the same thing is pretty superficial. When Fellini did “it” first I guess “it” was a pretty different thing.

    Anyway thanks for the comments, it is good to have some disagreement in here, even if I am right and you are wrong. In my opinion. But also in fact.

    Just kidding, although it’s true. thanks bud.

  • May 2, 2007, 5:08 p.m. CST

    True that

    by TheDohDoh

    Just ordered my boxset from Amazon. Didn’t even know about the soundtracks. Shit was only $40.

  • May 3, 2007, 1:55 a.m. CST

    Jodorowsky = Still The Man

    by Mullah Omar

    I didn’t understand what a “sycophantic” movie was, either. Maybe it was just a play for some big word points. As for Holy Mountain being cliched, I’d love to see a shortlist of films that anyone thinks Jodo ripped off for that one.

  • May 3, 2007, 4:51 a.m. CST

    Santa Sangre

    by Henry Fool

    Does anyone here know if there are plans to release Jodorowski’s other masterpiece, ‘Sante Sangre’ on DVD? It’s one of my favorites… and nearly impossible to find.

  • Aug. 9, 2007, 4:22 p.m. CST

    3 Months Later…

    by YakMalla

    Just watched Holy Mountain. Thx 4 the tip, Vern. Unlike anything I have ever seen. Still, for all its inventiveness, a good deal of it is really stuck in the 70’s, and the middle section drug on too long for me. Not sure I’d recommend this to just anyone. But some will truly love this.

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