Friday, 18 November 2011

ALUCARDA (Mexico, 1975)

Here's yet another cool review from the Günter Müller WEIRD ASIA archive. I totally agree with Günter's enthusiasm in regards to ALUCARDA!!
/Jack
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Rare Spanish dubbed VHS from the US (courtesy of Jayson/BoGD)


ALUCARDA
Director: Juan Lopez Moctezuma
Cast: Tina Romero, Susana Kamini, Claudio Brook, David Silva...
Mexico/USA 1975 [actually it's NOT a co-production with the USA/Jack]
Running Time: 75 Minuten
aka INNOCENTS FROM HELL


review by GÜNTER MÜLLER
'More blood, loud screaming and nudity than any horror film I can think of', says Psychotronic Video Guide editor Michael Weldon. And it's hard to contradict him.

After reading a review in my favourite magazine (Is it) Uncut (?) a few days ago I immediately knew: I gotta see this film! So I ordered it at Blackstar UK and after a week I received the disc. When I put it into my DVD player I must admit that my expectations were very high... and even those high expectations are exceeded with ease! The film was released by Pete Tombs' DVD label 'Mondo Macabro'. It is full uncut and in a wonderful quality considering that the movie is 28 years old. As extras Pete added a stills gallery, a bio- and filmography of the director (who died in 1995 and who worked together with Alejandro Jodorowski on FANDO Y LIS and EL TOPO; seems he learned a lot from him, particularly relating to surrealism), an interview with the director (that was made in 1977), plus a very interesting documentary on the Mexican horror film. Hallelujah!
[The documentary Günter Müller refers to is unfortunately only included on the UK reg. 2 version of the DVD. Mondo Macabro couldn't include it on the reg. 1 DVD as it contains film clips which they didn't own the copyrights for for the US market /Jack]

ALUCARDA kicks off with Justine (whose parents just died) arriving at a convent which will be her new home. She is received very friendly and almost immediately makes friends with a young woman... the beautiful Alucarda. When they meet a strange gypsy he leads them to his resting place where his wife tries to read the future from Justine's plam ('Shadows and Darkness'). Meanwhile the man shows Alucarda an odd amulet. On the way home they visit an eerie crypt and make a pact ('If we ever depart from this live we shall do it together'). When Alucarda opens a coffin countless voices attack her mind and she runs away in terror. Later, in their room, the mysterious gypsy appears again and the two fall under his spell. A blood pact is made, a ceremony in the woods follows, and even the devil himself seems to make an appearance shortly before the ceremony turns into a sex orgy. Back at the convent it doesn't take very long and the nuns and monks notice that something is very wrong with Alucarda and Justine. From this moment on all hell breaks loose in the convent...

It is pretty easy for me to review ALUCARDA because I can't find any negative point. All things match perfectly. There's the wonderful atmosphere of the film that is both mysterious and scary, sad and satanic, despairing and hopeless! The story moves along pretty lively and contains some nice surprises. Watching ALUCARDA makes you wonder if you are seeing an European movie that combines gothic horror with nunsploitation. There are wonderful sets with creaking doors, cobwebbed furniture, scary statues and mummified corpses, in contrast to praying nuns, shining figures of saints and burning candles. The actors and actresses aren't excellent but they are perfect for this kind of movie, above all Tina Romero as Alucarda. She is so convincing in her role, so vulnerable and sympathetic, that her subsequent destiny is very moving. On the other hand it is not so easy to feel sympathy for the 'good guys' (the priests), especially when they search with a steel pin for the 'Mark of the Devil' on a naked girl who is tied helplessly to a cross. The soundtrack underlines the proceedings effectively, and a few sound effects are excellent and cause goosebumps to appear on my hands and back. Also I can't critisize the camerawork, the editing and the direction. Top notch! In the second half of the film enough is happening to make three or four movies out of it. There is flagellation, torture, an exorcism, nuns rolling on the ground in ecstasy, much full frontal nudity, a bloodbath in the true meaning of the word, a gory decapitation and much much more. And the fiery showdown doesn't need to hide behind the spectacular climax in Brian de Palma's CARRIE.

ALUCARDA is a brilliant horror film from a time that brought us many gems. Even if some sequences of the movie are pretty hard and unpleasant to watch, the whole movie is very exciting and entertaining. Just keep repeating: it's only a movie... only a movie... And ALUCARDA belongs to the kind of movie that gets under your skin.. and very deeply at that. At least as far as I'm concerned. So I recommend ALUCARDA to all people who have a weakness for 1970s horror films, or who have a soft spot for obscure and strange movies. And of course to all the people who have enough of screaming American teenies, soullessly directed horror shockers constructed by rote, or SFX overkills bristling with state-of-the-art CGI. If you don't belong to those categories you'd better save the money...

Anyway, in my opinion, ALUCARDA is THE film discovery of the young year (on a par with the ultra-rare Hong Kong shocker THE WITCH WITH FLYING HEAD (1977) which I finally got into my trembling fingers). A few days ago I didn't even know that this film exists, and now it is in my collection and I'm totally enthusiastic about it. I really do think that ALUCARDA is among the very best of 1970s horror films. To end my raving review the same way that I started it here's another quotation from the Psychotronic Video Guide. '...the strongest, most imaginative, and visual witch movie since Ken Russell's THE DEVILS.' To be honest, I think that ALUCARDA stomps THE DEVILS into the ground...

One more thing: I don't think that the catholic church will ever recommend ALUCARDA. I however do it all the more so...
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First published in 2003.

There's a link to the reg. 1 DVD on Mondo Macabro's site here.


My Betamax tape from Turkey! Dubbed in Turkish



VHS from Japan



It should be noted that although this trailer is in Spanish the original language of the film is English, not Spanish. The MM reg. 1 DVD contains both audio tracks.

4 comments:

  1. nice one. wrote a piece on this gem a few years back over at mi casa. It's still a wonderfull movie and this bit makes me want to go back watch it like now...

    J.

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  2. Thanks, J. And yes you're absolutely right, I ALSO always wanna go back and watch it again. I really don't understand the horror fans/reviewers who deemed it too "hysterical", too much screaming, and too staged. Well, isn't that what films is for? To stage something that we can't necessarily get from real life. If you want something that reflects real life go watch the news or a documentary film! >_<

    Did I read your old piece? Otherwise I will now. xD

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  3. That is an awesome cover. This movie sounds pretty cool. I've never seen a copy in town. It's around $16 on DVD on our Amazon.

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    Replies
    1. Nod. An awesome cover indeed, and I love the film as well. Too bad some of Mondo Macabro's films are so badly distributed. They're a small label. Cool that you found my blog and thanks for your comment, Tina.

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