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Orozco the Embalmer - Massacre Video - DVD Print E-mail
User Rating: / 4
Written by Richard Taylor   
Wednesday, 07 January 2015
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AKA: Orozco el embalsamador

Directed by:
Kiyotaka Tsurisaki
Written by:
Kiyotaka Tsurisaki
Produced by:
Kiyotaka Tsurisaki
Cinematography by:
Kiyotaka Tsurisaki, Álvaro Fernández Bonilla
Editing by:
Susumu Saegusa, Kiyotaka Tsurisaki
Froilan Orozco
Japan, Colombia
Runtime: 1h 31min

Studio: Orozco Productions
Distributor: Massacre Video

"Shockumentaries" or Mondo movies have been around for quite some time; films which usually portray real or in some instances staged scenes of death, suicide, rituals, human oddities, animal cruelty, murder etc. all caught on camera. Early films in the genre such as Mondo Cane, Shocking Africa and probably the most infamous being The Faces of Death series. Later, films such as Traces of Death in the 90's (a personal favourite of mine), Faces of Gore, Inhumanities, Death Scenes, Executions, Death Files etc. The Traces of Death series made a stake in the claim to be the first shockumentary series to ever feature only true scenes of death. Equipped with an over the top host calling himself Brain Damage and a throbbing death metal soundtrack it delivered sinister footage with fitting music. Personally, I can remember watching old shitty VHS dupes of Traces of Death 1-3 from Dead Alive Productions back in my tape trading days. Other films I can remember not being shockumentaries but containing real animal cruelty or autopsy stock footage would be Men Behind the Sun, Laboratory Of The Devil, Cannibal Holocaust, Cannibal Ferox and possibly any film in the cannibal subgenre plus many others. Then the shockumentary took a turn for the commercial when in the late nineties The Banned From Television series could be seen advertised for purchase on day time television stations and different TV specials would air on TV such as When Animals Attack. In a way the Mondo films or Shockumendtaries paved the way for all the reality TV polluting the masses today.

I haven't watched a shockumentary in many years but Orozco the Embalmer offered something different -- a solid and valid serious documentary of Froilan Orozco. Said to be the senior embalmer for the Institute Of Legal Medicine in the most violent area of the Bogota district known as El Cartucho a.k.a. The Rue Morgue. Director Tsurisaki Kiyotaka, a professional corpse photographer was attracted to Columbia for its history and violent nature which led him to Orozco. The film mainly consists of footage of Orozco partaking in his everyday embalming procedures with scenes of junkies getting fixes, drug use, arrests and everyday life on the streets of which death seems to be just another part of the daily routine. Human life is not valued here. El Cartucho is said to be filled with drug dealers, addicts and drug related crime.

The beginning of the film opens with a foreboding soundtrack of regional music interlaced with aural noise and somber bell tones which set the mood with the grainy camera style as we slowly descend through the crumbling streets. We see Orozco waiting to gather bodies for his day’s work. He has a small room with white tiles on the walls and a scummy yellow light shining above. There's also a slab with metal bars elevated above a drain so he can bleed the corpses out and disembowel them. Then in routine fashion he puts the viscera back in, adds formaldehyde or formalin which "cooks" them, "the same as putting a piece of raw meat in boiling water" Froilan is quoted as saying. He stuffs in dirty rags, cotton and fabric in the orifices and the body cavity. Stuffing the bodies is so the natural features don't cave in. This also makes them weigh more so the embalmers get more money for the body. The heavier the body the heavier the price. The most Orozco gets for a body which I gathered from the film is 50,000 peso's or 50 U.S. dollars, but he had done bodies for as little as 10,000 pesos. In a bigger city center operation, he says it would cost $400 U.S. for the job he charges $50.

There is no on screen violence towards any living human being in the movie, just the aftermath of murders on the streets with bodies lying in gutters or in the road whilst crowds of children play in the background and bystanders with women and children watch the authorities clean up the scene. The authorities in one instance clean up and collect evidence from the body of a bloodied woman lying in the street. One particular unsettling scene depicts an official taking a pendant from the deceased woman's neck, lifting her head and putting back her hair causing a grotesque flick of blood.

Froilan himself is not untouchable as health problems plague him in the film causing him to require an assistant to aid him in his work. Orozco believes in his work and knows his work well. It is said that he has performed upwards to 50,000 embalming’s, 5-10 bodies a day or more for 30 years. His obvious lack of refined tools, usually kitchen looking utensils and reprehensible sanitary conditions has not let him falter in his work. Orozco has his own set methods and is confident they work. His dislike of medical scalpels for cutting, use of everyday belts which normally hold up pants are bracing the necks of embalmed corpses as Orozco lifts them up and lowers them into a casket by himself. His sharp eye for shoddy autopsies or lack of an autopsy is prevalent. One of Froilan's rival embalmers named Wipa calls his work sloppy. We get to see Wipa in action too as he embalms a women, crazy glues her eyes shut and stuffs newspaper back into her cranium where her brain once was.

We learn about Orozco's past vaguely; he served in the army and was once a police inspector during a time in Columbia known as Violencia where authorities inflicted torture and other atrocities on innocent people, a time he cares not to remember. In a way his Embalming job is almost like he is repenting his sins, no longer killing but preparing the bodies for rest.

The gore in Orozco is hard to watch. No sound effects needed here. The natural sounds of knives cutting through layers of skin and fat on a stomach and pulling out of entrails, the sound of needles piercing dead cold flesh getting sown up and pulled tight makes one feel uncomfortable. These are real bodies of real people and they are not gracefully or delicately prepared. Froilan often swears profanities like “bastard” at the bodies if they are heavy and he is having trouble turning them over to get them dressed, a job which he says is one of his favourites "I love dressing a corpse" he says. In one particularly disturbing sequence Froilan turns his attention to a woman who arrives in his closet sized mortuary with a small white coffin while he is already performing an embalming. Froilan opens the pint sized casket and pulls out a little deceased body of an infant by the head which he refers to as "little shit", then proceeds to lift it up by the head to show the camera. He stuff's the infants nostrils with what looks like cotton and then asks the woman who brought the baby in, whom he refers to as "bitch", to go with him for lunch. She refuses. We also get comments on one dead female corpse like "she has a nice firm bushy pussy."

This release has a great featurette with director Tsurisaki Kiyotaka who is an interesting and dark character himself, with an interview with him about his experience shooting Orozco, a man which he says let him shoot freely without any restrictions or problems. He let him have free reign on shooting, if you will. I've watched the film a couple times now and despite its exploitative nature in particular areas, it serves as the will and testament to a man who would otherwise go unnoticed in the world with his brutal yet fascinating work.  Orozco the Embalmer is a showcase of death in a place ruled by it -- a nihilistic society where human life comes and goes without any meaning.



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 Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
 Region: NTSC R0
 Audio: Dolby Digital

 - Words with the Director
 - Extensive stills gallery with over 140 photos
 - Reversible "gore" cover
 - Fold out poster
 - Trailers

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3.22 Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved."

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