Antonio Banderas plays a famous plastic surgeon who has been developing a way of strengthening human skin using animal genes.
Jeered by the medical community, he retreats to his mansion on the outskirts of Toledo, where he perfects his theories on the beautiful Vera (Elena Anaya), a woman, wrapped in a body stocking, who he keeps captive while performing experiments in his private operating theater.
Almodóvar has always had a flair for transforming Hollywood kitsch.
Here he mainlines sci-fi and horror.
You can pick out the many references to everything from “Frankenstein” and "Vertigo" to Georges Franju’s French horror classic “Eyes Without a Face.”
Almodóvar’s creepy derangements take too long to come into focus; the first half of the movie, especially, is unnecessarily confusing.
But it all achieves a loony unity by the end, even though what is being unified is not altogether palatable.
Grade: B+ (Rated R for disturbing violent content, including sexual assault, strong sexuality, graphic nudity, drug use, and language.)