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Movie Review

Romasanta

Directed by Francisco Plaza (2004)
Reviewed by Steve, added on Nov 23 2006


NOTE: When I saw this movie it was called Werewolf Hunter: The Legend of Romasanta. Beware multiple titles.

Julian Sands is a badass. And thatís all I have to say about that.

Romasanta is supposedly based on a true story about an 1800s serial killer who once captured for his crimes, pleaded that he was innocent because he was a werewolf. Why donít more criminals do this?

Anyways, Romasanta is a traveling merchant who travels from place to place selling his wares. Wares that are taken from his victims as a werewolf. Predominantly these wares are soap made from the body fat of his victims. After feeding and harvesting, Romasanta dumps the bodies out in the woods to make the ever weary authorities believe they were attacked by normal wolves. For the longest time everything was going pretty swell for Romasanta (badass Julian Sands) until he screwed with the wrong family. Sands seduces one of three sisters and then makes plans to move away with two of them. He travels a bit but then the calling takes over him. He kills and eats the two and then returns to seduce the last sister. To get past all the nagging ďwhere is my sister?Ē stuff, Sands forges letters stating they have found employment in another town.

Sands uses this trick a lot, not just with the sisters. Romasanta is apparently one of the few literate people in the town the movie begins with. He gains the trust of most of the people by writing letters for them to be sent to distant loved ones. One of my favorite scenes in the film is the discovery of a stack of letters Sands has from his dead victims to their loved ones that he has yet to deliver. Most of the letters give circumstances why either the victim wonít be coming home or why the victimís family shouldnít come to visit. The impression is given that Sands has been keeping this up for years. Inventive and very smart. No one investigates crimes that they donít know have occurred.

Of course if dear mister werewolf got to keep his jolly uneventful life (for a werewolf) we wouldnít have much of a movie. And so when the last sister discovers Romasantaís secret as well as a werewolf hunter trying to kill him, all hell breaks loose for Sands. And so after about 45 minutes the movie finally really begins.

One thing that intrigued me about this movie is that it never really says whether or not Sands is a real werewolf or if he just believes that he is. There is one transformation scene yet it could very well just be in Sandsí head. Furthermore, Antonio, the werewolf hunter and former partner and victim to Sands claims to have the wolf in his as well, yet he never transforms. In fact in his flashbacks and memories he stays in human form the entire time while attacking and eating people. Is this some widespread insanity or do these two really grow fur and eat people? No one knows.

Beyond the fact that Sands eats people the movie has little to offer so far as horror goes. There is some good gore with a nice eating of entrails while the woman is still alive scene and a cool bit where a doctor lifts up a flap of skin on a victim and starts scrapping body fat out from under it with a popsicle stick. Iím hungry. Otherwise the last bit of the movie plays out like a courtroom drama with one side arguing that Sands should be convicted and killed and the other side arguing that Sands is crazy and should be treated. Unfortunately that leaves surprisingly little time for werewolfy goodness. But the movie didnít really need any of it.

This movie takes a long time to really get started but managed to hold my interest throughout. Even if most of that time I was trying to figure out exactly what the hell was going on. Iíd call it more of a supernatural drama than horror but it was a decent movie experience none the less. Itís also a lot better than most gore splattered werewolf movies with guys hopping around in bad furry suits. Strange. Anyways, I enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would have. If youíre flipping through channels at 4am like me, give Romasanta a chance. Is this guy a criminal, crazy, or something else?

7 / 10




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