Perdita Durango (aKa Dance with the Devil) is a 1997 crime film co-written and directed by Álex de la Iglesia (The Day of the Beast, 800 Bullets, The Last Circus. and 30 Coins). It’s a spinoff of 1990’s Wild at Heart featuring a few of the same characters from that but played by different actors here. It was based on the 1992 novel “59° and Raining: The Story of Perdita Durango” plus co-written by author Barry Gifford (Wild at Heart, Lost Highway, City of Ghosts, The Phantom Father, and You Can’t Win). It was co-written by Jorge Guerricaechevarría (Witching and Bitching, The Day of the Beast, Mutant Action, Live Flesh, and 30 Coins) and David Trueba (The Good Life, Two Much, Welcome Home, and Soldiers of Salamina). It was produced by the legendary Max Rosenberg (Scream and Scream Again, The City of the Dead, The Skull. The Psychopath, Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, The Deadly Bees, Torture Garden, The House That Dripped Blood, Tales from the Crypt, Asylum, The Vault of Horror, And Now the Screaming Starts!, From Beyond the Grave, Madhouse, The Beast Must Die, Bloody Birthday, Cat People, and many others). It was originally released in the states in two different versions compared to this fully uncensored director’s cut (130 minutes) which was the edited 115 minutes and the R-rated version that was 121 minutes!!!!
Perdita Durango (played by: Rosie Perez from Do the Right Thing. White Men Can’t Jump, Untamed Heart, Pineapple Express, Birds of Prey, and The Dead Don’t Die) has gone to Mexico to scatter the ashes of her dead sister. There, she is picked up by bank-robbing drug dealer Romeo Dolorosa (played by: Javier Bardem from No Country for Old Men, Skyfall, Collateral, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, The Counselor. and Mother!). Dolorosa had robbed the bank to pay off his debt to loan shark “Catalina” (played by: Demián Bichir from Godzilla vs. Kong, The Grudge, The Nun, The Hateful Eight, and Machete Kills). He also engages in scams in which pretends to be a Santeria priest and hacks up corpses while snorting cocaine. Romeo’s latest scam is working for gangster Mr. Santos (played by: Don Stroud from Django Unchained, License to Kill, Sweet Sixteen, The Amityville Horror, and Coogan’s Bluff) transporting refrigerated human fetuses to Las Vegas where they will be used to make cosmetic moisturizer. Perdita devises a plan that they should capture a gringo and eat him as part of Romeo’s ceremonies.
They kidnap randomly chosen geeky college student Dwayne (played by: Harley Cross from Cohen and Tate, The Fly II, The Believers, and Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth) and his girlfriend Estelle (played by: Aimee Graham from Amos & Andrew, From Dusk Till Dawn, Jackie Brown, and Nightstalker). Perdita rapes Dwayne while Romeo rapes Estelle. They hold a ceremony to sacrifice Estelle while they force Dwayne to watch. Before the girl can be killed the sacrifice is interrupted by a gang of men led by Shorty Dee (played by: Santiago Segura from Hellboy 1/2, Blade II, Pacific Rim, The Last Circus, and The Day of the Beast). They go to the meeting with Santos’ people to pick up the truckload of fetuses. The hand-off is interrupted by the vengeful drug enforcement agent Woody Dumas (played by: James Gandolfini from The Sopranos, True Romance, Get Shorty, The Mexican, 8MM, and Killing Them Softly). Santos’ men are all killed during this which causes major problems for the criminals. Romeo seeks out Catalina for some retribution for messing with his family. Santos hires Romeo’s cousin Reggie (played by: Carlos Bardem from 30 Coins, Che, Assassin’s Creed, and Goya’s Ghosts) to kill Romeo. The crazed witch doctor criminal is about to walk into a dangerous trap. Will he survive this living nightmare????
Perdita Durango is basically the Spanish version of Natural Born Killers plus a great companion piece to 1990’s Wild at Heart. This one was renamed and butchered during it’s original release in America. This is my personal favorite from creative director Álex de la Iglesia. I actually went out my way to import this on DVD back in the day when I first started collecting to get the full uncut uncensored like this great brand new home video release from Severin Films. Perdita Durango is nasty, sleazy, violent, action packed, and full of nightmare visuals. It’s a very dark crime feature all kinds of horror elements in it. The script is very impressive and it takes you on a journey into hell. It’s loaded with a variety of weird and unique characters. Rosie Perez gives her best performance in her entire career as Perdita Durango. Oscar winner Javier Bardem gives his craziest performances here as psychopath Romeo Dolorosa. He’s known for his iconic villain role in No Country for Old Men but this guy is nastier and more gruesome than one.
Both Rosie Perez and Javier Bardem have amazing chemistry together in this. They make Bonnie and Clyde look like a cartoon compared to their insane actions here. Don Stroud, Santiago Segura, and Demián Bichir all play different but high quality villains in this. Technically, James Gandolfini as Woody Dumas to supposed to be the hero here because the main characters are lunatics but how it’s written he kinda comes off the main baddie here chasing the likeable duo around during all this madness. Gandolfini is one of my all time favorite actors and this performance is highly underrated. Besides the ones I mentioned, this one has a very entertaining supporting cast that includes Harley Cross, Aimee Graham, Carlos Bardem, filmmaker Alex Cox (Repo Man), and musician Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (Two Moon Junction). Perdita Durango has always been underappreciated here due to it’s bad release and poor treatment during it’s original run in the states but I hope this new 4K/UHD disc gives it some more attention because it deserves it. This might be my all time favorite Severin Films release and that’s a bold statement. It’s definitely one of the biggest films that they ever handled. It’s one of the best crime films in the 90’s. It’s so much and entertaining, HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Severin Films! This 2160p (2.35:1) transfer with HDR10 is from a brand new 4K restoration. It’s now fully uncut in American for this director’s cut and 15 minutes longer than the last DVD home video release here. It looks amazing compared to anything in the past and it’s huge upgrade. The nightmarish visuals and cinematography really shine here. The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Spanish: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks are a major improvement on this brand new 4K release from Severin. All of the audio is crystal clear, just a warning it still has some Spanish with subtitles on the English version. All the batshit crazy moments are elevated in this and the music has a killer boost on this UHD disc. It also has English subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features from Severin Films! The only extras on the UHD disc are the “Trailers”. Everything else is located on the blu ray. “On the Border” is a little over 28 minute interview with director Alex de la Iglesias, it’s in Spanish with English subtitles. He chats about how Bigas Luna was supposed to originally direct this. He talks about how he got involved with this project. He goes over the script and how he made his own changes to it. He mentions the main characters and working with the cast on this especially Javier Bardem. He brings up how filmmaker Alex Cox and musician Screamin’ Jay Hawkins got attached to this as actors. He chats about his overall experience on it and tells a story about an accident with pyro from the set. It has some behind the scenes footage from the shoot here. “Writing Perdita Durango” is an almost 17 minute interview with author Barry Gifford. He chats about writing Wild at Heart and coming up with the Perdita Durango character in that novel. He talks about her connection to that crazy universe and goes more into detail about her name. He says she was such a strong character that he had to give her own book. He goes over how he got attached as a writer for this feature film. He actually admits that they should have used to the re-written script over his original one because he was just learning screenplay writing at the time and how it was so different compared to writing full novels. He mentions other directors were brought in to do this before Alex de la Iglesias and why they didn’t work out for this. He said he made a song for the movie but it didn’t get used in the final version. He mentions his work and thoughts in general about it in cinema. He gives his thoughts on the finished product of Perdita Durango and it’s troubled release in the states. “Dancing with the Devil” is an almost 13 minute interview with Rebekah Mckendry. The film critic and podcaster chats about the director’s career. She talks about the release of this in the states and how it was supposed to be his entrance into Hollywood. She brings up the performances and it’s connection to Wild at Heart. “Narcosatanicos: Perdita Durango and the Matamoros Cult” is a little over 18 minute short feature covering the real life events that inspired the film. It tells the story and bizarre events of what happened in 1989 that Perdita Durango is based on. I won’t get too detailed on this one and let you experience the true crime about Adolfo Costanza and Sarah Aldrete that made this wild ride happen for your own. “Canciones de Amor Maldito: The Music of Perdita Durango” is a little over 21 minute interview with composer Simon Boswell. He chats about getting the gig not knowing what was going to happen with the music with it and figuring it out as it went on. He talks about the Italian influence when it came to the work here. He goes over working with the director and his experience on this film. “Shooting Perdita Durango” is an almost 5 minute interview with Flavio Labiano. He chats about getting involved with the film. He talks about shooting it in the states and Mexico. He brings up this was a bigger budget and production that he was used to when it came to his other work. He goes into great detail about the shooting aspects of the movie. It has some behind the scenes stuff included here. It also comes with a slipcover and a blu ray copy of the release. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!