Estigma (1980)

Sebastian has become possessed and now has the power to make his thoughts come true. Somehow, all that allows him to do is relive his past lives again and again.

Director José Ramón Larraz also worked in comic books, as well as helming the films Symptoms and Vampyres.

The film starts with Sebastian learning that his father has died and his mother feeling free and ready to start her life all over again.

It turns out that Sebastian was born with a veil of skin covering his face, which is a symbol of psychic power. That may be how he knew that his father was dead before anyone told him.

Also, Sebastian has issues with women. He puts off anyone who wants to be with him and gets upset when his mother kisses another man. Learning that his father was with a whore when he died, he declares that all women are whores. His mother answers by slapping him.

Sebastian and a girl who is interested in him, Marta, end up kissing but he forces himself on her until his lip begins to bleed. At confession later, a priest tells him that wishing evil is the same as doing it. What does this have to do with Marta being dead now?

An old woman named Olga remembers Sebastian from the past as he has a vision of hanging himself. Olga awakens her granddaughter Angie, sure that something bad is about to happen to Sebastian. There seems to be a romantic triangle between him, Angie and his brother Joe.

Sebastian ends up recording his mother having sex with her new lover. This upsets him so much that his shower is filled with blood and his vision of a ghost woman makes his lip bleed again.

That love triangle I mentioned above ends up with Angie and Joe having sex. Yet Olga thinks that Sebastian and Angie have an attraction too. She’s worried about the danger that he brings. While on a ferry with Angie, Sebastian sees the ghost woman again. He confesses to Angie that when he thinks of someone he hates, he makes them die and his lip bleed — that’s his stigmata. He also can see himself from the outside of his own body and he probably killed his father.

Joe confronts Sebastian about the issues that he’s having in school, so Sebastian thinks of him dying in a car crash. Angie believes that he is evil, but he says that he has no control. Once he realizes that someone is going to die, it’s too late.

Here’s where things get really bonkers: Sebastian keeps seeing the ghost woman, so he talks with Olga. She hypnotizes him and he remembers where he killed Marta. He then goes into his past lives, where he sees his sister, who looks exactly like Angie. They have sex and he awakens in a panic as his father had become angry with him.

While he doesn’t want to see Olga again, Sebastian uses tapes of her seance to calm himself. Soon, he is visiting the setting for his dreams in real life and has more visions of his past inside them. Angie comes searching for him and he shows her where people died in the building as he starts to bleed from his lip.

That’s when we go back into the past again, where he has sex with his sister again and his father criticizes him. When his sister is engaged to be married, he becomes depressed. She doesn’t even think of him any longer and he can’t forget her or stop disappointing his father.

That’s when he uses an axe to kill his parents, then starts making love to the maid. He decides to strangle her instead, then remembers many other girls that he is killed. A mirror breaks and he begins to bleed from the lip as we return to the present and he listens to the seance tapes.

I honestly had to read several sites to make sense of what happens in this movie. It’s long on style, short on substance and yet it has a unique doom feel. I was pretty forgiving of its narrative issues, but your mileage may vary. I was interested to see what would happen next and it had enough verve to keep me watching.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime or order it from Diabolik DVD.

One thought on “Estigma (1980)

  1. I had the same problems as the writer, sometimes getting totally lost with the plot and searching online to find out what on earth was going on. But, also the same, there was enough about it to keep me watching to the end. I might give it another go sometime in the future and see if I can make more sense of it


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