Alucarda (1975)
By: Drexl on January 23, 2003  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Mondo Macabro (UK). All Regions, PAL. 4:3. English Mono. 74 minutes
The Movie
Director: Juan Lopez Moctezuma Starring: Claudio Brook, Tina Romero, Susana Kamini, David Silva
Screenplay: Juan Lopez Moctezuma and Alexis Arroyo
Music: Tony Guefen
Tagline: They gave their souls to hell .... but the Devil wanted more!
Country: Mexico
AKA: Alucarda, la hija de las tinieblas; Innocents from Hell; Sisters of Satan
This strange and obscure Mexican shocker tells the tale of Justine, a young orphan girl, who is befriended by an odd young lady named Alucarda. The girls live in a run-down convent ruled by an over the top, raving lunatic of a priest who insists on terrorizing the unfortunate residents with his religious ramblings. Needless to say that Alucarda doesn't play along with this, preferring to dabble with black magic and things altogether more unholy.

After a meeting with a group of gypsies, led by a bizarre looking character with more facial hair than Larry Talbot at full moon, the girls stumble upon a ruined church in the nearby forest. Messing with things they should have left well alone, they release an unseen, evil force which sends Alucarda into a state of demonic possession. Hurrah! Acting quickly to get her new pal on her (dark)side Alucarda and Justine swap spit and blood in a black magic ritual, helped along the way by our hairy gypsy friend who appears out of nowhere to supervise the unclothed proceedings. After this it's all downhill for the girls as theirincreasingly un-pc behaviour results in the two of them being hauled in front of the priest and the rest of the residents for an exorcism. Justine comes off the worst of the two after being tied to a cross, stripped and then 'killed' by the loony priest and his sidekicks. Alucarda, on the other hand, is saved by the timely intervention of the local Doctor who believes there is a more scientific explanation for events. Life can be so unfair. The Doctor takes Alucarda back to his house to rest and then introduces her to his young daughter - probably not the best idea he has ever had. The Doctor quickly realizes he has made a major goof after the discovery of a burnt corpse and the disappearance of his daughter. All of this leads to the final, fiery scrap between the bad gals and the good guys.

I must admit that the first time I watched this film I thought it was utter drivel and pretty much left the DVD to gather dust in the corner of my living room but, after a couple of Sunday afternoons with nothing better to do and a couple of repeat viewings, it has grown on me. It certainly has a few selling points, the biggest of which is the photography and set design. Some of the images are quite striking and memorable, especially the ruined church draped in purple cloth and a naked and blood-soaked Justine tearing the throat out of an unfortunate victim. Considering the film was made in 1975 it is fairly strong stuff, containing some quite bloody scenes (including a decapitation) and oodles of full-frontal nudity. In the not too distant past the British censors would have quite happily put their scissors to work on this film but this print has, I'm glad to say, passed unscathed. The films short running time is also to it's benefit as it is never boring and certainly doesn't overstay it's welcome. It also manages to cram all the required clichés of this particular sub-genre into it's brief running time with naked, moonlit black magic rituals/orgies, demonic wailing and copious bloodshed all present and correct. Good stuff. To be honest, I can't really think of anything bad to say about the film. OK, the plot is wafer thin but it would hardly be the first horror movie to be guilty of that shortcoming and, other than that, there isn't too much to gripe about. I would expect that anyone who enjoys a slightly off-the-wall and surreal horror movie would gain some enjoyment from this entertaining little oddity, but if you are looking for hockey mask wearing killers orflesh munching cannibalsthen this film might be best avoided.
Considering the age and obscurity of this movie the video quality is pretty good. White flecks and grain are evident throughout the film and there is some print damage, although this is infrequent. Colour is nice and strong. The disc authoring is fine and no coding problems were spotted. The accompanying documentary (see extras) gives a brief glimpse of a matted, widescreen print of this film but the open matte print utilized here is fine, framing wise, in my opinion.
Average at best with some distortion and slight muffling of the soundtrack. I did have to grab the volume control a few times during viewing to adjust the sound levels.
Extra Features
A reasonable selection of bonus goodies. First up is a 20 minute or so documentary on Mexican horror movies. A fairly interesting, although not very in-depth, look at Mexican horror over the years. Nicely put together and well worth a look. Next is a stills gallery consisting of grabs from the main feature and two pieces of promo art. An interview with the director follows - the bad news is that it text only, dating from 1977, but still worth a flick through. Last up is a biography/filmography for the director. The menus and chapter selection screens are animated.
The Verdict
A strange little movie that has improved on repeat viewings. It certainly doesn't class, in my humble opinion, as a great film and William Friedkin will hardly lose any sleep over the competition but it's a watchable little oddity and, without a doubt, something a little bit different. Mondo Macabro are obviously inspired by the success of Something Weird Video in the USA and it's nice to see obscure material such as this being given a decent quality release. I will certainly look forward to their future releases. North American residents who fancy checking this movie out will be pleased to hear that, at the time of writing, a region 1 release is being prepared which will, according to early reports, be superior to the British disc reviewed here.
Movie Score
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