Sunday, 7 April 2013

Orozco The Embalmer

"This is a documentary about the monotonously ever repeating abnormal daily life of an old embalmer who is the busiest in the world, working in the most dangerous area in Colombia, one of the most dangerous countries in the world, which has been gnawed away and ruled by violence for many years. It's too simple and too minimal. In the area of El Cartucho there's nothing but corpses. Nothing exists there but a wreck of violence and prayer. I intend to depict the love and dignity still left in human beings after being robbed of everything."

-Tsurisaki Kiyotaka

Thus begins the story of "Orozco The Embalmer". A 2001 warts and all documentary filmed by Tsurisaki Kiyotaka, a Japanese photographer who has travelled to some of the most unstable countries in the world taking photographs of the dead. One of the countries that made the biggest impact on him was Colombia, where he met Froilan Orozco and decided to shoot his documentary.

Orozco was in the embalming business for many years, and had embalmed many thousands of bodies in his career, mostly for a fraction of the price it would cost elsewhere. He works in a village surrounded by murder and crime, and works so cheaply to help the poorer people in society. While he works he talks about his life and his surroundings, and also talks about his work methods.

Simply made with a video camera, this documentary really does pull no punches. It's an unflinching view of life and death in all it's ugliness, with no dramatisation or gimmicks, just a camera filming what is in front of it. Definitely the most gruesome thing I've talked about on the blog, and probably not to most peoples taste, but I personally found it to be quite powerful and interesting.

Considering the morbidity of the subject and the graphic images on the screen, I found it to be a very human film. The film is about Orozco, who deeply cared for every body that he worked on and treated them with respect, and in general seemed like a very nice man. After a while, after the initial shock of what you are seeing, everything but Orozco is secondary.

"Orozco The Embalmer" is quite a difficult film to talk about. It is very simply made and has a simple story to tell. For anyone reading this who haven't or wouldn't even think about watching a film like this, I probably seem crazy for watching it or even highlighting it on this blog. But it really has to be watched to understand where I come from. It is a difficult subject matter, but I think there is more depth to the film than what is seen on the surface. I suppose it really boils down to how high a constitution you have.

Unfortunately after the film was made, Froilan Orozco died due to a hernia from lifting corpses. A sad irony in the end, and one that really affected me as you feel like you really get to know him by the end of the film.

A popular film in the more serious horror community, and classed as a "mondo" film, I find these two examples slightly insulting. Typically these types of viewers are only there for the disturbing content with little regard for anything else. I found that the film is more than that. Maybe I'm looking too much into the film and that was the target audience (which may be the case after looking at the distribution art), but I hope not.

"Orozco has embalmed more than 50,000 corpses during his lifetime. But he himself wasn't even embalmed. He doesn't even have a grave."

Below is the full uncut version of the documentary. DO NOT WATCH IF YOU ARE EASILY DISTRESSED!!!!


  1. More films like this need to be made.

    Maybe then people will realise that we're all mortal instead of deluding themselves by hiding in the world of the "invisible death".

    The girl at the end is hot!

  2. I agree. It's refreshing to see something so candid. A lot of people would be shocked by the graphic depictions in the film, but I found it to be a superficiality. People just see that and fail to see the real story!

    Either that or we're just sick in the head Dr Blood.