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Unless otherwise noted in the post title, these are not
reviews, per se. They are articles for people who have already seen the film or read the book in question--meaning that there will be spoilers. If you're already familiar with the material being covered, or don't mind the plot being spoiled, please read on and leave a comment.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

[Satanophobia] Alucarda (1977)

Young Justine (Susana Kamini) arrives at the orphanage shortly after the deaths of her parents, and is given
Alucarda - Theatrical Poster
Theatrical Poster
lodgings with Alucarda (Tina Romero), another girl of the same age. The two hit it off and become fast friends, frolicking through the countryside together in search of innocent adolescent adventure. On one of these quests, they happen upon an old crypt that they decide to enter. They accidentally unleash an ancient evil force, and in short order, the girls find themselves under a dark and demonic influence.

The nuns who run the orphanage first believe the girls to be ill, but as their behavior becomes more and more outrageous—they interrupt worship services to publicly denounce God, for instance—they are forced to deal with the fact that these innocents have been invaded by Satan.

An exorcism is obviously the next step, but these girls are not going down without a fight.

There are a few monks on hand to assist with the heavy lifting, but they are mostly silent background figures and nothing more. The true forces of good here are the nuns—though they're not quite like the nuns that we are used to. They do not sport the traditional black-and-white habits, but are attired in unusual garb that makes them look almost like mummies, and they flagellate themselves with whips in religious ceremony. Perhaps their bandage-like attire is due to the wounds from their self-flagellation. And as for how "good" they actually are, that is all dependent upon your viewpoint, as their cure for the girls' spiritual ailment was dependent upon their deaths.

The sisters are assisted by the local doctor, Dr. Oszek (Claudio Brook) who is initially skeptical of and outraged at the exorcism treatment, but has to quickly reevaluate his belief system when a deceased Justine returns to life. It is remarked that "The devil moved her limbs! She was dead but the forces of evil have not abandoned her!" She has become merely hell's marionette.

Alucarda - The Devil's Daughter?
Alucarda: The Devil's Daughter?
While Justine appears to have been a victim of circumstance in these proceedings, Alucarda was destined for this from the very beginning. The opening scene shows her being birthed, and immediately ushered away from her mother before "He" can get to her. "He" is certainly Satan, and after the baby is removed from the premises, some unseen force attacks the mother, resulting in her death. Alucarda is unaware, but it is her own mother's tomb that she disturbs, unleashing the evil that was residing within. No mention is ever made of the girl's father, and it is conceivable that her daddy is the devil himself.

Having such a tainted bloodline would account for Alucarda's strange behavior from the start. When we first see her as a teenager, she emerges from the shadows behind Justine, almost as if by magic. She is at home there in the darkness, hiding from the light, and yet she is instantly drawn toward Justine, an innocent. Evil loves to corrupt.

When the girls arrive at the tomb—a strange building strung with red vestments—Justine wants to leave. Alucarda, though, finds it beautiful and insists that they go inside. Being surrounded by death and earthly remains puts most people in a somber mood, but it has the opposite effect on Alucarda. As she was goth long before The Cure came along and made it cool, Alucarda chooses this place to declare her love for Justine, and they make a solemn pact: "If we ever depart from this life, we shall do it together."

Further evidence that Alucarda was harboring at least a tinge of evil from the start actually comes at her end. When the possessed Justine was finally defeated, she melted away into grue and bones. However when Alucarda was defeated, she disappeared into nothingness, leaving behind no more than a few motes of dust.

The relationship between the girls only hints at lesbianism at first, but it is shown more blatantly later on. In order to seal their bond, Justine and Alucarda consume the blood from each other's breasts (sliced open with a ceremonial knife bestowed upon them by a malevolent gypsy fellow), and then follow this up with a kiss. If there were any hope for Justine, it is lost following this encounter as Alucarda's tainted blood has now intermingled with her own.

Poor Justine. With her soul promised to God, her heart promised to Alucarda, and her body taken over by Satan, there's not much left for herself.

For a movie whose primary characters are nuns and underage girls, there is an awful lot of nudity. This is
Alucarda - Bloody Justine
Bloody Justine
probably why some refer to it as a nunsploitation film...though I don't really feel that it falls into those parameters. Taboo as it may appear on the surface, it's worth noting that the two actresses playing our leads were both in their twenties during filming—though that does little to alter the feeling of exploitation that comes with that element of the story.

ALUCARDA, imported from Mexico, was reportedly based on the novella Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu, though the more overt acts of vampirism have been replaced with a different breed of evil. The screenplay was written by Alexis Arroyo and the film's director Juan López Moctezuma. It was Arroyo's one and only screenwriting credit.

Moctezuma was a friend and contemporary of filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky, and even produced two of the man's masterworks: FANDO AND LIS (1968), and EL TOPO (1970). The rest of Moctezuma's filmography is sadly brief, consisting of the Edgar Allan Poe adaptation THE MANSION OF MADNESS (1973); vampire artist film MARY, MARY, BLOODY MARY (1975); the thriller TO KILL A STRANGER (1987), with the impressive cast of Dean Stockwell, Donald Pleasance and Aldo Ray; and EL ALIMENTO DEL MIEDO (1994), which was left unfinished at the time of his death in 1995.

Fans of this film should definitely seek out the rest of the man’s work.  It’s just a shame that there is so little of it to go around.


--J/Metro

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