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The Witch's Mirror is a film that mixes numerous horror ideas into one
incoherent, but brilliantly fun little film. The Witch's Mirror is
directed by Chano Urueta, who also made the completely bizarre Brainiac
in 1962. It's clear that Urueta has an eye for visuals and isn't too
bothered about telling a story, as both The Witch's Mirror and Brainiac
are heavy on the style without putting too much focus on the plot. This
film has borrowed from numerous horror classics, from American films
such as Mad Love to the French classic Eyes Without a Face. The plot
focuses on witchcraft and sorcery, and more specifically; the act of
mastering the use of a mirror. A witch named Sara enchants a mirror in
order to protect Elena, her adopted daughter, from her nasty husband
Eduardo. However, the enchantment doesn't work as planned, and when it
fails; Elena is murdered, which leads the witch to try and get her
revenge through a series of supernatural spells and sorcery.
The fact that the plot is incoherent obviously hinders the film, but there's so much going on that it's not a big problem. The Witch's Mirror isn't dull for a moment as there's always something going on to hold the audience's interest. The film includes themes of witchcraft and sorcery, as well as a big dose of mad science, as the film's doctor attempts to reconstruct his wife's deformed face. The special effects are superb considering the film is almost forty five years old, and they're also a marked improvement over the largely silly effects seen in Brainiac. The film is rather arty - more so even than The Curse of the Crying Woman, but that's not a negative comment as The Witch's Mirror features some truly beautiful sequences, which are well utilised and make the film more memorable. Overall, I can't see a good reason not to enjoy this film. It's not dull for a second, features some of the best art sequences in horror and does well at mixing a number of different horror ideas. It's not the best film from the recent batch of Casa Negra releases, but it's still well worth watching!
A great Horror entry made in Mexico at a time when their film industry was still robust and interesting. The theme of The Witch's Mirror can equally fall into the genre of supernatural just as much as horror. Either way it's a Macabre film, very well shot in black and white and director Chano Urueta makes excellent use of some great special effects for the time. Isabel Carona plays the witch who uses her magic mirror to cast revenge on Armando Calvo, who is really great as the sinister, twisted mad-scientist of sorts. Most of the film takes place in what appears to be a old Mexican castle although the outside of it is never shown but it's very Gothic and atmospheric with brooding shadows around every corner. The Witch's Mirror is definitely Classic Mexican Cinema and sadly many of these films produced from this era have gone un-noticed for far too long. If you plan on seeing it I recommend you make some popcorn, turn off the lights and enjoy this fun little picture from the days when Mexican cinema was still golden.
Most Latin American people are familiarized with those Mexican soap
operas that are overflowing with baseless action and pitiful
situations. They're undeniably amusing and it's all right to watch them
if you're too bored and you want to have a good laugh. However, it's
not funny anymore when you really trust an old Mexican Gothic horror
film and you find one or two similarities between those ridiculous soap
operas and the movie you wanted to see. Firstly, I would like to say
that I do not mean to be rude to anyone with this review. I know
Mexican people are very nationalistic and they tend to stand up for
their films a lot. I understand that and to be honest, I actually
really enjoy Mexican horror films too. That's the reason why I was
somehow disenchanted when I found out that "El Espejo de la Bruja" was
not exactly as good as I was expecting.
The film sets in motion with a very well done introduction to the main characters, a beautiful woman named Elena and her godmother, Sara (also known as The Witch!). The view is quite stylish and atmospheric. Both characters look darkly beautiful and yet naïve somehow. In this opening scene, Elena becomes aware of a very shattering truth about her approaching fate, through the magic mirror that belongs to her godmother. Unfortunately, this depressing reality cannot be altered, since all judicious witches know very well that the itinerary of life, is not meant to be disrespected. Broken-hearted and clueless, Elena has no choice but facing the reality and becoming a victim of her atrocious fate. As it was stated previously, all bright witches know very well that fate is not meant to be changed, however, there are no laws aligned with revenge. In "El Espejo de la Bruja", we see a resented woman trying to make justice and claim for the blood of those who harmed her goddaughter. Sara is the witch and when witches are good, they're very good, but when they're bad .
It would be unfair to say that "El Espejo de la Bruja" is only laughable and overwhelming when it comes to making a reasonable balance. My only problem is that there was a little bit too much action for my taste. During the first half an hour, it is like the audience has nothing else to see, but there's still more and more and more. All of a sudden, a dramatic Gothic horror tale turns into "Re-Animator". The bad thing is that the humorous situations are not exactly intentional. Armando Calvo's performance is perhaps one of the worst in this film and his facial expressions are merely side-splitting. The rest of the cast is all right, but the problem is that Mr. Calvo looked over the top all the time, which is a tragedy, considering that he's the leading male character. Then, there are all these scenes in which we see Rosa Arenas's character wearing some kind of big bandage that covers her entire face, with the two little holes for the eyes. That is perhaps one of the most hysterical images ever and I'm not just talking about this particular film. It resembles the invisible man, but wearing a delicate night gown. "El Espejo de la Bruja" is full of action, which can be entertaining for moments and overwhelming for others. It has a few good things that make it enjoyable for all horror fans, for example, the already established but still welcomed clichés like: owls, dark shadows of Satan, lots of fire, graveyard scenes, phantasmagorical silhouettes and of course...black cats!. Overall, an okay flick, but I still think I'm not the only one who lost interest during the last minutes, ironically due to the overindulgence of action. If you're in the mood for a good Mexican Gothic horror film, rent "La Maldicion de la Llorona" instead.
You really never know what to expect from the Mexican Horror movies from
the late 50's-early 60's. The rights to most were bought by K Gordon
Murray.He dubbed the films generally using the same actors and the same
stock music and ham handed re-editing cutting out crucial dialogue/scenes
etc. Sometimes the dubbed dialogue is absolutely hysterical (and it
shouldn't be).Every once in a while a great film sneaks
The Witch's Mirror is much better than most.The story concerns a witch's(Sarah) godchild(Helen) who sees her own murder in a mirror. The killer is her husband (a doctor/scientist) who is having an affair.As much as the witch tries to prevent the murder she is unable to do so.Helen is poisoned leaving him free to marry Deborah.
Sarah uses the powers of black magic to communicate with Helen in the grave. Helen is able to use the mirror to terrorize hubby and his bride.Flowers die instantly in a vase;cold winds blow through the house and the piano plays Helen's favorite songs..by itself.
Blaming the mirror for the haunting the doctor shatters it with a lit oil lamp. Deborah somehow is turned into a screaming fiery torch.She lives but is horribly disfigured.The doctor tries skin grafts from cadavers to restore her beauty.Then he moves on to living women for his needed tissues.Then Helen really gets p----d and her revenge is cruel and ruthless.
While you feel for Helen you also feel for Deborah who actually didn't know that her new hubby was married before.The cruelties inflicted on her are almost unwarranted.The husband deserved more punishment than she did.Then again having his wife's beauty destroyed ruins his life in a mad pursuit to restore her.
The dubbing isn't as inane as often happens in this film. The plot is good and the film moves along nicely with no tedious scenes.There also isn't any of the usual quick edits in the scenes that jar these films so often.
Studio Azteca is really not used to its full advantage as it has been in other films(The Vampire, The Brainiac etc).That's a minor quibble.Gets a big 9+.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A powerful witch, Sara(Isabela Corona)who devotes her entire being to
Satan, has the unique ability of seeing the fate of others through a
mirror. In the opening narration, it is explained that a veritable few
have this gift of seeing not only the future but other supernatural
things. Sara vows vengeance towards the husband, Eduardo(Armando
Calvo), who poisons her god daughter, Elena(Dina de Marco). You see,
Eduardo has a lover, Deborah(Rosa Arenas)and wishes to remove Elena
from his life for good. What he doesn't suspect is his housekeeper, who
has earned his trust and loyalty, being a witch who wishes to make his
life miserable..Sara! In secret, Sara plots patiently, contacting,
through the mirror, the soul of Elena as they plot their revenge. The
other target is obviously Deborah, even more so when she becomes the
new woman of the house wishing for Elena's entire memory(..including
the favorite flowers of Elena's)erased so that she doesn't stand
reminded of her adulteries. But, Elena doesn't want her memory erased
and spooky happenings plague Deborah as Eduardo is away. When Eduardo,
suffering from the guilt of the murder, begins seeing what Deborah has
experienced, that's when the real ghoulish music from director Chano
Ureta is woven. We see Elena's ghost appear from the mirror, flowers
Deborah had replaced Elena's with wither and burn, the house piano
playing Elena's favorite tune by itself, the flame blazing the wood in
the fireplace goes out unexpectedly, there's an ominous loud groan, &
the front door exploding open with furious wind and leaves intruding.
Wishing to put an end to the hocus pocus, Eduardo slings a kerosene
lamp at the mirror of Elena's room as both he and Deborah see her
spirit coming towards them. What Eduardo doesn't expect is that his
wife's body will instantly set on fire horribly scarring her.
Then, the film takes on an even more twisted path. Eduardo becomes quite mad as he uses the skin from dead stolen corpses thanks to his paid assistant, Gustavo(Carlos Nieto)experimenting on a way to repair Deborah's face so that she can embrace her beauty once again(..clearly inspired by Franju's Eyes Without a Face). We know he's on a crazed journey with no return when, in the flick's darkest moment, Eduardo amputates the lovely hands of a woman who was buried alive after having been presumed dead when in actuality she had a case of catalepsy. Yet, what he doesn't see coming is a classic case of the ole "switcheroo"..Sara cremates the amputated hands and replaces them with the hands of Elena!! So, Deborah has the hands of Elena which sets in motion the revenge Sara sought with many prayers to her lord Lucifer.
This is my favorite of the few Casa Negra releases I've seen. It's definitely warped, with quite a few tacky, but inspired, special effects(..due to a low budget, director Ureta had his hands tied, but does what he can). The story itself keeps reinventing itself..certainly has a "kitchen sink" screenplay, that's for sure. I didn't particularly mind this myself since it all leads to Sara and Elena getting their revenge while Deborah and Eduardo suffer for the crimes they committed. What I found very fascinating, and thought it was successful, was that we side with the Satanic witch, because Eduardo is the one who commits the true ghoulish acts not to mention that Deborah is selfish and self-centered. I think my favorite scene exposes Deborah for who she really is. We see Eduardo grafting skin to Deborah's face and await the final result..whether it's a success or failure. Deborah finds out about how Eduardo secures the skin applied to her face and the hands that replaced her charred ones. She is quite upset..that is until she sees that Eduardo's work was a success then all is forgiven. One might make a statement, and deservedly so, that all the characters in this flick are so corrupt there is no one to root for. The ones being tormented committed terrible acts to Elena, who is the true victim. Even so, Sara is a witch who worships Satan and behind the horrors that occur in the act of seeking retribution for a murder she couldn't stop. But, I think that is actually beneficial that the film doesn't choose sides exactly, although the film clearly backs Sara and her nefarious way(..you can lie to me if you wish, but sure you were rooting for the witch). Heck, the audacity to this, making the witch the heroine I mean, deserves mention. This is quite a nasty piece of work, but loaded with atmospheric flourish and a stew of demented ideas(I must admit, though, it's certainly a patchwork of borrowed ideas).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Witch's Mirror is a veritable cornucopia of horror themes. Over the years, I've seen a number of very promising films ruined by an overly ambitious screenplay that tries to throw everything but the kitchen sink into the plot. Fortunately, The Witch's Mirror defies the odds and most of varied plot elements work. The movie is sort of a mixture of an Italian Gothic ghost story (like Riccardo Freda's The Ghost) and a brilliant surgeon turned mad scientist film (like Georges Franju's Eyes Without a Face) with a dash of grave robbing and devil worshipping. The fact that director Chano Urueta was able to combine all of these elements into an entertaining movie and effectively keep distractive plot holes to a minimum is amazing. As my examples would seem to indicate, while The Witch's Mirror is a Mexican made film, it has a definite European feel to it. And like its European counterparts, Urueta was able to effectively fill The Witch's Mirror with atmosphere to burn. If you're looking for that old-school, slow-burn, atmospheric type of horror, you can't go wrong with The Witch's Mirror.
I was surprised to learn that "The Witch's Mirror" came out a year BEFORE director Chano Urueta and producer Abel Salazar released their more-well-known cult horror film "The Brainiac" (1961), as this earlier effort by the same team strikes me as a much more polished, effective and professionally made piece of work. "The Brainiac" had almost seemed the result of a Mexican Ed Wood making his first film while on acid, whereas "The Witch's Mirror" turns out to be a bona fide find; one of the best horror films I've seen in a while. The picture can be seen as two distinct stories, actually, cleaving fairly evenly down the middle. The first half tells of the revenge that a witch, Sara (who reminded me of Dr. Joyce Brothers, of all people!), takes on the man who poisoned her goddaughter, as well as on this man's replacement bride. This first half has a positively Gothic feel and could easily take place anytime during the last 200 years. The second half of the film veers off suddenly into "Frankenstein" and "Eyes Without a Face" territory, with a more modern-day vibe. The film offers up some strikingly composed shots, beautiful B&W photography, some eerie moments and, most surprising, some shocking gross-out elements. The FX are, for the most part, very well done (those crawling hands excepted, perhaps), and the picture winds up most satisfyingly indeed. I'm not sure that Debra's (wife #2's) ultimate fate is deserved, but whatcha gonna do? This IS a horror picture, after all, and quite an excellent one at that. My thanks to Casa Negra for rescuing it from relative oblivion. All horror buffs, I feel, should pounce on this one.
This is another Mexican horror classic being given a new lease of life
via Casanegra's superb SE DVD.
The plot is a mishmash of various well-proved elements (with even a nod to Poe) - a young wife is forced to live in the shadow of her husband's former bride (largely through the machinations of the latter's devoted housekeeper) as in REBECCA (1940); when the wife is horribly scarred in a fire, her doctor husband resorts to body snatching for skin graft experiments as in EYES WITHOUT A FACE (1959); the hands he gives her (unbeknownst to him, they belong to the revenge-seeking first wife he poisoned!) take on a life of their own as in MAD LOVE (1935), etc. - but which works reasonably well in the context of its essential "witchcraft vs. mad science" theme (to quote the DVD sleeve notes).
The first half is a bit slow, but the cheaply-realized yet often poetic visuals - borrowed from Cocteau and Dreyer! - keep one riveted; the latter stages are more frenetic, with several of the characters resorting to histrionics and a fair splattering of gore (leading up to a particularly busy and highly satisfying climax). The acting from all the major players is above-average for this type of film but, best of all perhaps, is Isabela Corona as the outwardly reserved but sinister and powerful witch; the two younger women also make an impression - Dina De Marco as the murdered wife who keeps turning up as a ghost to haunt her husband and her rival; Rosita Arenas as the innocent young bride who becomes the unfortunate victim in both the doctor and the witch's scheme of things (particularly effective when essaying the pathetic qualities of the bandaged-up, desperate and lonesome woman).
As was the case with THE BLACK PIT OF DR. M (1958), the Gothic/supernatural atmosphere deployed with the barest of resources through camera-work, lighting, sets and props is truly incredible...though the special effects (which get quite a heavy workout here), ultimately, leave a lot to be desired! I've purposely refrained from describing individual sequences (as I often tend to do) so as not to deny first-time viewers - as I was myself - the pleasure of discovering its considerable felicities on their own!
The supplements are similar to those of BLACK PIT: the Audio Commentary (by the same Frank Coleman) is just as interesting, but he seems to be enjoying himself a good deal here as he approaches the film with tongue-in-cheek - while retaining a justified reverence for his subject. One disappointing aspect of these DVD editions, however, is that the English-dubbed version of the films aren't included as they were released back in the day (for instance, in the Commentary it's mentioned that the narrated prologue accompanied by sketches in the Mexican original was dropped for the export version - but the DVD includes it, presumably with the 'new' lines recently looped in!).
Back in the days when the United States film industry was making a
number of horror movies starring Vincent Price, Mexico made several
similar movies. "El espejo de la bruja" (called "The Witch's Mirror" in
English) is one of the coolest examples. It portrays a woman seeing her
own death in a mirror and dying shortly thereafter. When her husband
remarries, her godmother communicates with her through the grave, and
they both come up with a plan to get revenge on the husband...even if
bad things have to happen to his new wife.
Yeah, it sounds pretty outlandish. But these sorts of movies don't pretend to be anything else! The point is to have fun, and I'm sure that you will. If you aren't totally familiar with Mexico's horror genre, Portland's video/DVD store Movie Madness has a whole section devoted to that genre.
All in all, this witch will almost certainly have you in its spell.
This movie exemplified the best of the era. It was visually stunning
from the cemetery, to the house, to the disfigured wife.
The story also sucks you in from the start. It is about a man who murders his wife and her ghost seeks revenge with the help her godmother witch. This movie reminds me of several great movies of the era including Eyes Without A Face and Black Sunday. In my opinion, it exceeds both of them.
The acting was first rate and the directing wonderful. This is a gem from Mexico and it is nice that it finally comes to DVD.
A must see for fans of 1960's atmospheric horror.
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