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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "The Witch's Mirror" or "Espejo de la Bruja" )

 

directed by  Chano Urueta
Mexico 1962

 

Sorceress housekeeper Sarah (Isabela Corona) consults her magic mirror to show Elena (Dina de Marco) that her surgeon husband Eduardo (Armando Calvo) is planning to murder her. She also shows Elena her rival in love, the beautiful Deborah (Rosa Arenas, CURSE OF THE CRYING WOMAN). Sarah appeals to Satan to help her defend Elena but is told that she cannot reverse Elena's fate. Elena does not heed the warning and is poisoned by Eduardo who subsequently marries Deborah who soon finds herself haunted by Elena's presence (though Eduardo claims that there is a natural explanation even as they are staring at the piano playing Elena's favorite tune by itself). When Eduardo sees Elena's reflection in the magic mirror, he shatters it with an oil lamp; inadvertently scarring Deborah's face and hands. Eduardo starts to work on restoring her face and hands through plastic surgery, making use of dead women stolen from the morgue and from funeral homes (without Deborah's knowledge). When his assistant Gustavo (Carlos Nieto) informs him that a pretty pianist has recently died of a heart ailment, Eduardo attends the funeral and sees that she has hands like the dead Elena and decides to use them to replaced Deborah's scarred ones. Eduardo and Gustavo dig up the dead woman only to find out that she is alive and suffered a cataleptic fit. Nevertheless, Eduardo uses the dead woman's hands. Sarah, however, calls Elena back from the dead and switches Elena's hands for the transplant ones. Elena's hands are successfully grafted to Deborah's body and she and Eduardo discover that the hands have a life of their own!

THE WITCH'S MIRROR starts out as a gothic "husband doing the wife in and the new wife is haunted" story but switches gears at the half-way point to the surgical horror trend following EYES WITHOUT A FACE as well as the transplant possession themes of MAD LOVE and THE HANDS OR ORLAC (which draw from the same source novel). In the audio commentary, Frank Coleman points out that the film is listed as being a 1960 production but other sources cite a 1962 date and the film does indeed seem to have taken inspiration from certain other 1962 productions such as Jess Franco's THE AWFUL DR. ORLOFF and Riccardo Freda's HORRIBLE DR.
HICHCOCK. Strangely though, THE WITCH'S MIRROR does not go to the exploitation extremes of the former productions (as well as EYES WITHOUT A FACE) as it eschews the objectification and pursuit of live nubile victims in favor of already dead donors (although it lacks the necrophiliac twist of HICHCOCK). The sets and the mood have a gothic elegance about them which is undercut by script contrivances (such as Eduardo's continued insistence on logical explanations in the face of pianos playing by themselves, fires automatically extinguishing, and the like) and by the recycling of effects footage (Coleman in the commentary points out that it seems as if Elena's grave has never been filled in as the same shot of Elena's open grave from the funeral appears in the magic mirror every time Sarah makes contact with her spirit and Sarah transforms from owl to woman twice using the same shot and optical transition). Nevertheless, the atmosphere is superb and contemporary audiences might be surprised at just how lurid and graphically explicit this early sixties Mexican production really is.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 1962 (USA)

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DVD Review: Synapse Films - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Synapse Films

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:15:24
Video

1.31:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.94 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Spanish (Dolby Digital 1.0 mono); English (Dolby Digital 1.0 mono)
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Synapse Films

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.31:1

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary by IVTV founder Frank Coleman
• Chanovision: The Films of Mexican Cult Moviemaker Chano Urueta essay
• Cast and Crew Biographies
• Poster and Stills Gallery

DVD Release Date: September 29, 2009
Amaray

Chapters 16

 

Comments

THE WITCH'S MIRROR was previously available on the grey market circuit in the eighties in its K. Gordon Murray-produced English language dub (derived from 16mm TV prints) before disappearing after the introduction of NAFTA. CasaNegra's DVD presents the original Spanish language version (with an optional English dub track) in a beautiful progressive transfer. The Spanish language version runs longer than the English one so there are a handful of segments where the English track reverts to Spanish with English subtitles. The clarity of the image lends a gloss to the sets and set decoration details (like a statue that turns its head) and also heightens ones sense of just how lurid this black and white production really is, but it also makes some of the opticals more apparent. Frank Coleman contributes another commentary with encyclopedic information about the cast and crew as well as pointing out several of the films THE WITCH'S MIRROR references both thematically and stylistically (but he misses one camera movement directly lifted from BLACK SUNDAY).

The Casanegra label is now defunct but the titles have been re-released by Synapse Films (along with titles by the defunct Panik House) but they are limited to the excess inventory on hand (the Amazon link above will take buyers to a new entry for the film; not the original release entry which is considered "out of stock"). Synapse Films have no plans to reprint any of the releases as of this time.

 - Eric Cotenas

 



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Synapse Films

Region 1 - NTSC

 




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