In 1661 Mexico, the Baron Vitelius of Astara is sentenced to be burned alive by the Holy Inquisition of Mexico for witchcraft, necromancy, and other crimes. As he dies, the Baron swears ... See full summary »
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Peter Graham Scott
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THE CURSE OF THE DOLL PEOPLE (Benito Alazraki, 1961) **1/2
I was looking forward to this Mexican horror film - released on DVD not by Casanegra but rather by BCI as a double-bill with NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES (1969), which I should be getting to presently, and where the two films are accompanied by their alternate English-dubbed variants - because of its similarity to Tod Browning's THE DEVIL-DOLL (1936), but it turned out to be something of a disappointment!
Even if the villain of the piece is appropriately flamboyant and the fact that the voodoo expert in this case is a woman is, in itself, a novelty with respect to this type of film, it's all rather uninspired - with even the trademark atmosphere coming off as somewhat flat! However, my biggest gripe with the film concerns the titular creatures: their movements are so awkward and sluggish, and their appearance (obviously midgets wearing a none-too-convincing mask!) so poorly realized that the suspense in their numerous attacks (and the terror they're supposed to evoke) is greatly diluted!!
The script, too, is something of a hack job, as we basically get an uninterrupted succession of people being rushed to hospital after an attack by the dolls (made in the image of previous victims - with the funniest-looking being one sporting a large pair of glasses!) where the doctors are apparently dumb-founded as to the source of their 'ailment'!! Equally ridiculous is the hulking zombie whom the sorcerer uses to do his evil bidding: how he's never noticed by anyone out on the streets as he's carrying the dolls (in large packages) is anybody's guess; incongruous, too, is the fact that the sorcerer has relocated to Mexico from Haiti (going after the infidels who stole the all-important statue of one of the gods of his sect) but, apparently, has contrived to bring along with him a whole set of exotic paraphernalia to decorate his new residence - including an enormous sarcophagus for the zombie to sleep in!
Still, even if there are several long-winded explanatory scenes, some moments are undeniably effective - for instance, the doll autopsy scene, with the creepy effect of its eyes (after the head has been disembodied) suddenly starting to gleam...even if the scene does include a hilarious shot of a male doctor closely inspecting a pair of tiny boots!; and the climax - as is typical of many of these films, it all ends in a blaze (and where one reluctant doll proceeds to exact revenge on its master!) - is also nicely handled.
The extras are minimal (only a still gallery - I have little use for the English-dubbed version prepared by K. Gordon Murray, especially since it's cut by some 13 minutes!) and the print quality is quite poor, when compared to the Casanegra releases...
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