PERDITA DURANGO (1997) Reviews and Severin Films 4K UHD and Blu-ray news

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Perdita Durango is a 1997 film about the titular character and her demonic lover Romeo Dolorosa who sacrifices humans in Santeria ceremonies. The pair kidnap teen sweethearts Duane and Estelle and travel with them to Las-Vegas.

Directed by Álex de la Iglesia (The BarWitching and Bitching; The Last Circus; The Oxford Murders; Day of the Beast) from a screenplay co-written with Barry Gifford (Lost Highway), Jorge Guerricaechevarria and David Trueba, based on Barry Gifford’s 1992 novel 59° and Raining: The Story of Perdita Durango, the Spanish/Mexican action-crime-horror production stars Rosie Perez, Javier Bardem, Harley Cross, Aimee Graham, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, and James Gandolfini.

New release:

Perdita Durango will be released by Severin Films on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray on March 30th 2021. The film has been newly restored in 4K with 2.0 and 5.1 audio options and can be ordered direct with a limited-edition slipcover. Special features:

Interview with director Álex De La Iglesia
Interview with writer Barry Gifford
Interview with director of photography Flavio Labiano
Interview with composer Simon Boswell (Lord of Illusions; Hardware; Phenomena; et al)
Interview with Morbido Fest head programmer Abraham Castillo Flores and Cauldron of Blood author Jim Schutze
Dancing with the Devil: Appraisal by film scholar Doctor Rebekah McKendry


“An excruciatingly exhausting barrage of stimulus and symbolism, shifting from cartoonishly hallucinogenic to all-too-real violence, Perdita Durango is embroidered throughout with De la Iglesia’s trademark black humor, often forcing the viewer to cringe and laugh simultaneously.” AllMovie

“De La Iglesia stays true to the book while putting in his own personal touch that fits perfectly with the Gifford attitude. He handles with the film with great skill. The pacing is fast and furious […] De La Iglesia’s film is the exploitation answer to Badlands. It’s Natural Born Killers without the hammy anti-media rhetoric. Its a manic, surreal love story.” DVD Talk

Perdita Durango is a film-noir, a send-up of our own concept of controlled and civilised behaviour. In effect, it’s a modern myth and will undoubtedly gain cult status for the door it leaves open for pontificating movie critics with more than 200 words to say about it.” eFilmCritic

“Romeo dresses heavy metal. Perdita wears skimpy tank tops. Guns are phallic. Ditto cacti. Killing becomes so commonplace, screams from the teenagers have more shock value. It’s all good fun for the late, late crowd. Except it’s not. The gratuitous violence sickens. The grandstand sex is faked. Bonnie And Clyde Go Tex Mex? In your nightmares.” Eye for Film

Perdita Durango is a splendidly irresponsible film. There is a genuine blast of anarchic splendour and malice to Alex de la Iglesia’s direction. The film is like a sarcastic stab up against all that is wholesomely middle-class – Harley Cross and Aimee Graham (Heather’s sister) give hilarious performances as the whitebread kids with some hysterical scenes…” Moria

“The stage is set for some outrageously madcap madness à la Beast, but the tone of this Dance is confused: Perez and the plot to to kill and eat go for campy laughs; a thread involving a robbery job Romeo must pull is played straight; and the ending attempts to pull heartstrings. The film would have better off staying with the comic tone, for that’s what de la Iglesia does best–and where his interests clearly lie.” The Movie Report

Perdita Durango has its uncomfortable moments (the sexual violence, in particular, is squirm-making) but being made to feel uncomfortable isn’t necessarily such a bad thing, right? Plus, the two leading performances are sensational. Perez has never been better, and Bardem sports one of those demented haircuts that would go on to become a recurring motif in his career.” Multiglom

“The problem with Perdita Durango is that nobody in this Spanish-Mexican production knows enough about the American culture (as embodied in the characters of Duane and Estelle) the film is meant to be ridiculing to tease out the subtleties and nuances that would transform mere crudity into social satire, shock and laughter.” Sight & Sound

“This warped, romantic action romp from Spanish director Alex de la Iglesia (Day of the Beast) packs one hell of a punch. Perez is a revelation (you’ll almost forget her annoying trademark yammering), and de la Iglesia’s direction is tight and crisp.” TV Guide

“Despite being dressed up with novel elements of black magic, mysticism and religious superstition, and being peppered throughout with plenty of dark humor, down-and-dirty sex and explosive, well-handled action set pieces, the story seems a little thin to justify a two-hour running time. Faster cutting, particularly in the second half, would help sustain the frenetic rhythm that de la Iglesia successfully establishes in the early reels.” Variety

Cast and characters:

Rosie Perez … Perdita Durango
Javier Bardem … Romeo
Harley Cross … Duane
Aimee Graham … Estelle
James Gandolfini … Dumas
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins … Adolfo
Demián Bichir … Catalina (as Demian Bichir)
Carlos Bardem … Reggie
Santiago Segura … Shorty Dee
Harry Porter … Ford
Carlos Arau … Phillips
Don Stroud … Santos
Alex Cox … Doyle
Miguel Galván … Doug
Regina Orozco … Lilly

Technical details:

129 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1
Audio: Dolby Digital

Alternate title:

Also released in a truncated, censored version as Dance with the Devil

Fun facts:

Loosely references the story of Adolfo Constanzo and Sara Aldrete, later faithfully depicted in the documentaries Rituales de Sangre: The True Story Behind the Matamoros Cult Killings (2008), Instinto Asesino: El padrino (2009), Deadly Cults: Palo Mayombe (2019) and fictionalized in Borderland (2007).

When Bigas Luna was due to direct the film, Madonna, Javier Bardem and Dennis Hopper were his first choices to play Perdita, Romeo and Woody Dumas. Madonna deserted the project and Victoria Abril was supposed to replace her as Perdita, alongside Johnny Depp as Romeo and Ray Liotta as Dumas. Luna abandoned the production and Álex de la Iglesia took over.


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