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(aka "Sisters of Satan" or "Innocents from Hell" or "Alucarda, la hija de las tinieblas")

 

directed by Juan López Moctezuma
Mexico 1975

 

After the deaths of her parents, Justine (Susana Kamini, MANSION OF MADNESS) is sent to a convent. She quickly establishes a sexually-tinged friendship outcast roommate Alucarda (Tina Romero). When the two girls encounter a satyr-like gypsy (Claudio Brook of Bunuel's SIMON OF THE DESERT), he initiates them into a witches' sabbat but the prayers of Sister Angelica (Tina French) - whose love for Justine is more spiritual than Alucarda's - result in the death of the coven's leader. The devil takes revenge by possessing the girls and bringing chaos to the convent that requires the joint efforts of the priests (lead by David Silva) and the skeptical local doctor (Claudio Brook, again) to exorcise the convent. When Justine dies during an exorcism, Alucarda unleashes her fury on the convent with baths of blood and combustible nuns aplenty. Moctezuma (who also produced Jodorowsky's EL TOPO and FANDO Y LIS which was scripted by Fernando Arrabal) was an important intellectual figure in Mexico in the fifties, sixties, and seventies and although his filmmaking oeuvre was small, his three horror films (including this film, MANSION OF MADNESS, and the American co-production MARY, MARY, BLOODY MARY) were all distinctive works (the fact that MANSION and ALUCARDA were shot in English along with the rampant nudity and bloodshed likely assured them American exhibition despite their surrealistic elements in contrast to the underrated and equally worthy works of Carlos Enrique Taboada. The set design is even more stunning here than in MANSION and Moctezuma and cinematographer Xavier Cruz manage some simple yet effective lighting effects and 4:3 compositions. Like Brook, Tina Romero plays a dual role as Alucarda and as her mother in the pre-credits sequence. Susana Kamini had a small but prominent role in MANSION which also starred Brook in a more flamboyant role. As with MANSION, ALUCARDA's world is made up of a strange melange of literary references (Alucarda may be the offspring of Dracula and the Lucy Westenra character in the novel and Justine encounters a convent of nuns and priests who are masochistic - and possibly sadistic - but not necessarily corrupt as they are in De Sade and emerges from a bath of blood a la the popular depiction of Countess Bathory not to mention the grueling exorcisms and Alucarda's CARRIE-esque fiery attack on the convent). Although made after MANSION OF MADNESS, ALUCARDA seems like an earlier work with its reduced scale but it could also be seen as a return to form after the American co-production MARY, MARY, BLOODY MARY (whose contemporary setting and milieu of modern art are not quite as impressive as the period settings of Moctezuma's other two horror films). The ethereal electronic music and sound design are also quite impressive for a low budget Mexican horror film. ALUCARDA would also make a suiting supernatural companion piece to Mondo Macabro's release of the French film DON'T DELIVER US FROM EVIL.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 26 January 1978 (Mexico)

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DVD Review: Mondo Macabro - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Mondo Macabro

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:17:54
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 English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo; Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Mondo Macabro

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.31:1

Edition Details:
• Documentary on Juan Lopez Moctezuma (16:9; 13:44)
• Guillermo del Toro on Moctezuma (16:9; 7:31)
• Mexican Theatrical Trailer (4:3; 2:44)
• Stills Gallery
• Text Interview with Moctezuma
• Mondo Macabro Promo Reel

DVD Release Date: 25 March 2003
Amaray

Chapters 12

 

Comments

A Mexican production, ALUCARDA was shot in 4:3 as it is presented here. The image is interlaced but as the ghosting is slight, it may be that it was hard-telecined rather than standards-converted from a PAL master. Mondo Macabro first released the film from their now-defunct UK arm and became the debut release of the American relaunch (the predominant use of red, black, and yellow on all of Mondo Macabro's cover designs seems to derive from ALUCARDA's poster artwork). The reissue reportedly sports an improved transfer. The English track is also mixed in stereo unlike the mono track on the UK disc. The US disc also sports a Spanish track no present on the previous release. Regrettably, there are no English subtitles (subsequent European offerings from Mondo Macabro feature subtitles for the foreign track even when they have an English dub) as the Spanish track does sometimes vary from the English one (the witches invoke only Satan and Lucifer on the Spanish soundtrack whereas on the English soundtrack they use Satan, Astaroth, Beelzebub, Belphegor as well as the Celtic stag-horned Cernunnos and a few others but never utter Lucifer - perhaps a bit of pre-emptive censorship?). The film was shot in English so the post-synched English matches the line readings more closely than the Spanish (Brook and Silva seem to dub themselves on both tracks).

The documentary on Moctezuma is an extract from the Mexican Horror episode of UK series Eurotika while Guillermo del Toro (PAN'S LABYRINTH) talks about the influence of Moctezuma in a 2002 interview at the Sitges Film Festival (both the Eurotica excerpt and the Del Toro piece also appear on Mondo Macabro's DVD of Moctezuma's MANSION OF MADNESS). A still gallery, Spanish-language trailer (which makes use of the same credits artwork and lettering from the film's actual title sequence), and a text interview with the director is included as part of a biography/filmography section.

 - Eric Cotenas

 



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Mondo Macabro

Region 0 - NTSC

 




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