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Matador Review

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Two serial killers – a bullfight obsessed lady lawyer, who has taken to seducing young torreros and murdering them on the point of orgasm with a precise thrust of a dagger hairpin, and a retired matador who now kills only disposable girls stalk each oth

★★★★

Pedro Almodovar’s labyrinthine tale of erotic horror opens provocatively by dramatising every censor’s worst nightmare as the retired bullfighter masturbates while watching a video which comprises gory highlights from Mario Bava’s Blood and Black Lace and Jesus Franco’s Bloody Moon, then is inspired to go out and commit real-life murders.

While the major maniacs execute a dance-like ritual of courtship and atrocity, an apprentice matador tries to get over his homosexual inclinations by asserting his violent masculinity, though an attempted rape goes awry when he uses the wrong implement on his penknife (a bottle-opener) instead of a knife to threaten his prospective victim and he just winds up muddying the waters of the police investigation by confessing to both strings of murders.

Eventually, in a climax inspired by Duel in the Sun, Serna and Martinez execute each other during a sexual clinch – and all the other interested parties fail to intervene because they are distracted by an eclipse.

The most extreme of Almodovar's ‘early, kinky films’, this tribute to the chic slasher movies of Bava and Dario Argento is colourful and unreal enough to be less offensive than it sounds, with some of the most beautiful people seen on screen in the 1980s (Serna’s strong profile is especially striking). It’s a screamingly funny, intriguing meditation on sex and violence, delving sacrilegiosuly into the Almodovarish underpinnings of that arch Spanish ritual, the bullfight, in which beautiful young men in tight and frilly clothes elegantly gore animals to death.

Screamingly funny, intriguing meditation on sex and violence, delving sacrilegiosuly into the Almodovarish underpinnings of that arch Spanish ritual, the bullfight.