Monday, November 30, 2009

Alucarda (1978)

Title: Alucarda (1978)

Director: Juan Lopez Moctezuma

Cast: Claudio Brook, David Silva, Tina Romero, Susana Kamini


The critics quote on the DVD cover for Alucarda cought my attention one day while I was shopping around for new movies. The quote said that Alucarda had "More nudity, blood and loud screaming then any movie I can think of" and I thought to myself, "Damn! Those are bold words right there!" But I’d been fooled more then once by phony critic quotes on DVD covers saying the film you are holding in your hand is the best thing you are ever going to see in your whole life. So I decided to do some research. Turns out Alucarda is actually held in high regards amongst horror fans and movie buffs. Its not a very well known movie (even amongst horror fans) but the ones who have seen it say its something of an undiscovered gem.

Justine's just lost both of her parents and has been sent to an all girls orphanage/convent. Here she lives amongst nuns and other orphans as they worship “the lord”. Pretty early on, she befriends Alucarda, the freakiest girl this side of The Exorcist! Since they are both orphans, they quickly become extremely close. Almost too close! In fact, their relationship borders on lesbianism. They run around the hills all day, frolic and jump and rung amongst the woods, you know, just having fun. Until one day, they stumble upon an old burial ground. They decide, just for the heck of it, to open up and old casket. An old entity comes out and posseses them! And just in case, they also sell their soul to the devil thanks to the help of a mysterious old gypsy dude! From there on in, the film is total mayhem.

Don’t know how many of you guys have seen nunsploitation films, but basically, what these films do is they exploit nuns. They usually do so in a very negative manner. On these kinds films nuns are evil, get possessed, raped or they are somehow involved in some kind of orgy. Basically, nuns will do everything that their god doesn’t want them to do! With Alucarda, the nunsploitation flick never looked so good! Or so sacrilegious! On this one, nuns scream, bleed, and are being constantly harassed by demon possessed girls! The director, Juan Lopez Moctezuma really wanted to shock audiences; he basically takes everything many Christians hold sacred and desecrates them! In other words, on this film, Satan appears! The girls sell their souls to him! They invoke Satan inside of a church! Nuns bleed profusely! A crucifix is burned to smithereens! A church and its parishioners gets burned down to the ground! So be ready for that kind of film where nothing is really held sacred. And if it is, its gonna get desecrated! Basically, if you hear this movie too loud, your neighbors will think you’re a Satanist!

Its nuts! At one point Alucarda and Justine start saying how they both renounce god and want to worship Satan forever! And they say it with such conviction and glee, it kind of made me chuckle a few times! I don’t believe in Satan or anything, but what their saying just sounds so wrong! Its like they give themselves entirely to Satan! 100%! The movie is filled with scenes like this one. So if you can’t take that sort of thing, don’t bother with this one!

Another thing that lets me know that Juan Lopez Moctezuma really wanted to shock audiences is the fact that there is so much nudity on this film. There is this extended scene where Alucarda and Justine run away for one night deep into the woods, and they stumble upon a full fledged Satanic orgy. Theres all sorts of freaky people dancing around naked in the fire! Even Satan shows up for this wild and crazy night. This whole sequence actually reminded me a lot of a scene just like it in Haxan: Witchcraft through the Ages, in which Satan shows up during a witch reunion. Also, saying that there are lesbian undertones in Alucarda and Justine’s relationship is actually an understatement, there aren’t any undertones. These girls are in love with each other! Needless to say the movie is sexually charged. This aspect of the film also reminded me of a Hammer film, particularly films like The Vampire Lovers from the whole Karnstein series of films that Hammer produced during the 70’s. Actually, many people thought that this movie was based on Carmilla, the same book on which The Vampire Lovers was based on, but those rumors were always denied by the filmmakers.

The art direction was superb in this movie! I love how they made that spooky church. It seemed to be an underground cave of sorts. With statues of human bodies coming out of the walls, hundreds of lit candles. And right smack in the middle of the church, amongst all the hanging bodies, there’s this spooky looking crucifix!

The film is well acted. Everyone involved does a fine job. Tina Romero of course stands out as Alucarda, the devil obsessed girl. She really goes crazy in some scenes, her sacriligeious dialogue is told with such conviction, that she really does come off as someone who doesn’t give a flying flip about anything, and has simply donated her soul to the services of Beelzebub. With absolutely no remorse in sight! Susana Kamini as Justine plays the opposite of Justine. The good girl, who eventually ends up getting completely corrupted by evil. And finally, Claudio Brook. The actor who plays Dr. Ozek in the film. He deserves a special mention here because he actually plays two roles. On the one hand he plays Dr. Osek, the man who directs his life by logic, science and reason, and on the other hand, he plays the weird gypsy dude who helps Justine and Alucarda sell their souls. Juan Lopez Moctezuma actually wanted Peter Cushing to play this role, but we ended up getting Claudio Brook who did an excellent job anyway.

Is there anything bad to say about this film? Well, I don’t know, I really cant say I remember anything being particularly negative. For the most part, this is an excellent horror film! Maybe there’s a bit too much screaming? Too much nudity? Maybe Alucarda overacts a bit in her madness? Oh what the hell, this is a freaking horror movie, and all these elements fit perfectly well inside a horror film. The only bad thing I can honestly say about it is that it lacked some special effects. Maybe some decent make up effects for that devil guy that shows up? The ending goes a bit into Carrie/Firestarter territory. I think the film could have used some visual effects work towards the fiery end. But I enjoyed the way it was filmed. They achieved everything without the need to rely on visual effects which is something I often times applaud on films, when its well achieved. On Alucarda, visual effects are replaced by spooky sound effects and inventive camera work.

This was a decent film that was shocking, bloody, erotic and satanic at the same time. It was also intelligent and well written. Kind of like a Hammer flick on acid. Only more Satanic. Good stuff!

Rating: 3 1/2 out 5


Bob Ignizio said...

Nice to see you shine a light on this obscurity. I dig this movie, but then I'm a sucker for late sixties/early seventies psychedelia drenched trash.

Manuel Marrero said...

Wow i was talking about this movie at work a couple of days ago and screaming with Aldo Justine!!!,Alucarda!!!, Justine!!! Cant get that screaming out my head but hey, we smoked while watching this movie and enjoyed it plus Justine was pretty hot and the Harry Potter looking dude kicked ass doing two roles.

Anonymous said...

Gotta see this baby.


Franco Macabro said...

@Bob: Yeah, gotta shine a light on those hidden gems. This movie is probably not that well known simply because its a Mexican production, but hey, the film was made with American distribution in mind which is why its spoken in English. (with a heavey spanish accent at times!)

@Manuel: Justine! Alucarda! Satan! Satan! Satan! Its kind of funny to see these two girls screaming Satan Satan Satan inside of a church, and with such relish!

@Tagia: Defenetly! You gotta! Its fun times!

Dom Coccaro said...

I need to see this. I love it when filmmakers say "fuck it" and throw in every offensive image possible. I remember reading a lot about Alucarda in Fango and Rue Morgue. Strangely enough, I haven't viewed any real nunsploitation flicks. This would be a good place to start.

I Like Horror Movies said...

Great call here Franco, this friggin movie is pure insanity from start to finish. I have been wanting to grab the DVD for years but it NEVER drops in price. Honestly. For 3 years its been on my wishlist, and not a single copy has become available under $10.

I generally dont like Nunsploitation films in general, but this one had me hooked.

Franco Macabro said...

@Dom: Yeah Dom, this one defenetly wanted to shock and insult as many people as possible! Theres this awesome scene where the girls start chanting their devotion to Satan inside of the church, its so awesome! The things these girls say!

Other nunsploitatino films:

The Nun (2005) - About a group of catholic gilrs who are victimized by an evil nun. They kill her, but soon the spirit of the evil nun comes back to haunt them. Not bad, but not awesome. Comes from Spain, and the guys from Fantastic Factory, the Spanish film company which produced many a couple of films for Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna.

School of the Holy Beast (1974) - Nuns participate in orgies with priests. Torture themselves, whip is nuts. Its also a Japanese film!

The Convent - About a bunch of demonic nuns, and a satanic priest that wants to bring the antichrist to earth. Actually pretty fun, gory and funny low budget horror flick.

Night of the Demons 2 - If I remember correctly, this one has an evil nun turn into a giant fucking snake!

Other examples of nunsploitation films that I havent seen:

Ken Russell's The Devils (1971)
Satanico Pandemonium (1975)
Killer Nun (1978)
Images in a Convent (1979)

@Carl: I dont watch that many nunsploitation films either, Ive only seen a few, and i dont purposely go hunt them down, i just kind of stumble upon them. Usually they are not that good, and they only exploit the sexual angle of things. But Alucarda is one of the good ones.

Franco Macabro said...

I also forgot to mention a great Nunsploitation film:

Dante Tomaselli's Desecration (1999) - This one is about a young boy who kills a nun by mistake, so an evil nun haunts him all through out the film, driving him to madness and HELL!
Dante Tomaselli's finest hour! Highly recommend it!

Reina said...

is there a 3D version of Alucrada...maybe it was that magical tool!


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