Sunday, June 13, 2010

Alucarda (1978)

Directed by Juan Lopez Moctezuma
Starring Tina Romero, Susana Kamini, Claudio Brook

"I told you this place frightened me. And look what it's done to you!"

Justine (Susana Kamini), a newly orphaned teenager, is sent to live in a convent in Mexico. Proto-Goth weirdo Alucarda (Tina Romero) takes to her instantly. The overly possessive batcaver quickly begins to follow Justine around everywhere she goes, incessantly spouting sweet talk of how much she loves her and how they will never be parted.

It isn't long before the two lovebirds are doing all the ordinary things that girlfriends are want to do: fondling bugs, frolicking through the forest, rolling down grassy hills while holding each other and laughing, hanging out with hunch-backed gypsies and roaming around decrepit burial sites.

Their involvement in the latter of these activities is the point in which their innocent fun turns into a battle for their very souls. Upon opening a tomb, they unknowingly unleash a demonic force so strong that it instantly takes hold of Alucarda, sending her into a hysterical fit of shrieking and hair pulling.

Shortly thereafter, the girls take place in a midnight ritual where they strip nude and give themselves over to Satan. This said ritual involves such charming activities as breast cutting and erotic blood licking. As the pact with the devil comes to its climax, winds blow, nuns pray and a huge orgy of naked flesh is led into lusty sin by a giant goat.

Now that the girls are runnin' with the devil, it's time to show those nuns what's really going on. During a bible study class, the girls befoul the fellow students minds with a recitation of the greatness of Satan and the frailty of God. The teacher of the class flips out and after evacuating the frightened children, calls in Father Lázaro (David Silva) to give them a fresh dose of the holy ghost.

This cleansing of evil involves the usual rigmarole of removing their clothes, tying them to crosses and poking them with sharp instruments. Justine is the first to get some God in her life, but things don't go so well when she inadvertently drops dead from all the priestly love. Alucarda is not having any of this and gets all growly and hysterical again.

Dr. Oszek (Claudio Brook), the rational scientific mind in the city, comes running in to chastise the religious freaks for their trespasses against the innocent girls. He snatches up Alucarda and gets out of dodge with the quickness. He takes Alucarda to his home where his blind daughter Daniela (Lily Garza) is entrusted to "watch" over their new guest while the good doctor takes care of business.

Unfortunately, when Dr. Oszek returns to the convent, he finds that his reasonable atheistic minded ways were a bunch of naive junk. A dead nun has returned to life - powered by demon juice.

How will things resolve? You'll just have to watch and find out. All I can say is it involves a heaping helping of bloody, blasphemous good times that will bring a twinkle to your eye and make puppy dogs cry.

Despite some minor quibbles with character development and the overabundance of ear shattering screaming, I had a wonderful time with this film and recommend it to anyone who isn't sensitive to the subject matter. It's beautifully filmed and has amazing locations that teem with atmosphere. Hell, if it's good enough to be one of Guillermo del Toro's favorite movies, it's good enough for me.

You can procure this fine film from Mondo Macabro in remastered special edition form or for a $5.00 no frills version, visit:

- Jeremy Vaca

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