Story: Perdita (Rosie Perez) finds herself on one hell of a wild journey, one which started when she crossed paths with a colorful maniac named Romeo (Javier Bardem). His chaos is fueled by his devotion to Santeria, which he feels requires nearly constant sacrifices and of course, he is all too willing to seek out such offerings. While Perdita and Romeo make a odd pair, the two strike up a quick bond and Romeo pitches a partnership, one in which she helps him kidnap a young couple for sacrifice. But while that plan turns violent, the offerings are secured, though Romeo is distracted by a cocaine deal and a fetus smuggling operation. The two burn a sadistic path of destruction, but a cop (James Gandolfini) is in pursuit and looking to end their brutal roadtrip. But with Romeo juiced on cocaine and religion and Perdita ready to fight by his side, can anyone stop this chaotic couple?
Entertainment Value: This is one wild ride, a surreal and manic cinematic experience that rarely takes a moment to breath between outrageous moments. The narrative is mostly coherent, but goes a mile a minute at times and veers off into some unexpected places as well. An example of how Perdita Durango can go for broke would be the voodoo ritual sequence, which is really an experience to behold. There is blood, cocaine, black magic, chanting hordes, and in the middle of it, Javier Bardem going absolutely bananas. Not all of the movie can match that kind of energy, but there is an impulsive vibe at work here and that helps create an atmosphere where anything seems possible, even bonkers, drug soaked rituals. The movie has a lot of violence, most of which is carried out with great enthusiasm, while there is also a good deal of sexual content. Blend in some fantastic, super wild performances, smart writing that pushes boundaries, and a visual style that really commands your attention and Perdita Durango takes shape as the kind of flick you just have to take notice of. The original version clocks in at 130 minutes, but there is no time wasted or slow stretches to speak of, this is still pedal to the floor type cinema. I think Perdita Durango is a unique, masterful movie that more than earns our highest recommendation.
The cast is one reason the picture works so well, as you need a talented, enthusiastic group to bring this kind of manic chaos to life. I think the performances are excellent and mostly memorable across the board, but Javier Bardem seems to channel other dimensions with his effort here. The voodoo ritual alone is enough to cement this as an all time classic performance, but Bardem is guns blazing from start to finish. He comes across as totally lost in the role, embodying this chaotic, violent character with full abandon. Just watching him converse with other characters is wild enough, but the material really gives him chance after chance to go for broke, which he does. His turn as Romeo is among my favorites of all time, just a manic, electric performance that never loses its impact. Rosie Perez is great as well, taking the character to all the places she needs to be, while having some interest chemistry and exchanges with Bardem’s Romeo. Perez doesn’t hold and answers every call the material makes, so it is a lot of fun to see her really run with such a colorful character. The cast also includes James Gandolfini, Alex Cox, Don Stroud, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Demian Bechir, and Roger Cudney.
The Disc: Severin Films brings not only the complete version of the movie here, but a new 4k restoration that brings this cult classic to the realm of ultra high definition. The end result is spectacular and even when compared with the included Blu-ray version, stands out as a sizable improvement. The print looks super clean and detail is simply remarkable, with even the smallest of visual touches evident. The colors are bright and vivid, even trippy when called for, while black levels are stark and consistent. I was floored by this presentation and I think fans will be absolutely thrilled with Severin’s hard work on this release. The extras include the film’s trailer, as well as a host of new interviews with folks connected to and interested in Perdita Durango. Some of these run a handful of minutes, while others are much more in depth with their content. In any case, you’ll likely learn a lot about the film’s production and its legacy, thanks to these new interviews.