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Alucarda (1977)
"Alucarda, la hija de las tinieblas" (original title)

6.2
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 1,516 users  
Reviews: 38 user | 56 critic

A young girl's arrival at a convent after the death of her parents marks the beginning of a series of events that unleash an evil presence on the girl and her mysterious new friend, an ... See full summary »

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(as Juan L. Moctezuma)

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(novel), (story), 5 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Claudio Brook ...
David Silva ...
Tina Romero ...
Susana Kamini ...
Lili Garza ...
Daniela Oszek (as Lily Garza)
Tina French ...
Birgitta Segerskog ...
Adriana Roel ...
Antonia Guerrero
...
Brother Felipe (as Martín Lasalle)
Manuel Dondé ...
Wagon Driver
Adriana Riveroll
Susan Inman
Alejandra Moya
Agustín Isunza ...
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Storyline

A young girl's arrival at a convent after the death of her parents marks the beginning of a series of events that unleash an evil presence on the girl and her mysterious new friend, an enigmatic figure known as Alucarda. Demonic possession, Satan worship, and vampirism follows. Written by acidxian

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They gave their souls to Hell... but the Devil wanted MORE! [Canada]

Genres:

Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

26 January 1978 (Mexico)  »

Also Known As:

Alucarda  »

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,  »
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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

ALUCARDA (Juan Lopez Moctezuma, 1975) ***
17 October 2004 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

After much deliberation and, at one time, even an outright cancellation, I finally took the plunge and purchased Mondo Macabro's R1 SE DVD of Juan Lopez Moctezuma's diabolical horror opus ALUCARDA, which I've received a few days ago and have now watched for the first time. Essentially a modest undertaking, it still manages to be a very creepy piece (the demonic sound effects in particular) and, quite frankly, I found ALUCARDA a lot more enjoyable than either THE DEVILS (1971) and THE EXORCIST (1973) – perhaps the most obvious touchstones of the 'demonic possession' subgenre.

Before writing this personal appraisal, I've re-read all the reviews for the R1 disc I could find on the internet and one thing that I don't remember having been mentioned anywhere is that, unlike most films of its type, Alucarda is not gradually possessed but, as can be seen from the very first scene (her clandestine birth in an unused barn 'decorated' by the relics of ancient demons), she is possibly a spawn of the devil! In fact, her very first appearance as a grown-up – manifesting out of the shadows, like a supernatural entity, behind new intern Justine – seems to substantiate this thesis. The girl's essentially malevolent nature may have been tempered by her stay in the convent (considering her own genuine confusion and shock when, drawn to the barn once again, it is powerfully re-awakened) but it's also obvious that, perhaps unwittingly, she may also have been working her spell on the other nuns: their own religious zeal borders on possession (at one point one of them actually levitates and sweats blood, and witness also their behavior during the grueling exorcism scene).

The film offers any number of highly effective (and potentially subversive) imagery: the nuns themselves, clad exclusively in white, resemble nothing less than a host of mummies; the catacomb-like convent setting with its overhanging religious paraphernalia; a shepherd (usually associated with Christ as leader of the Church) is actually the tempter here, leading the two girls first into a lesbian blood pact and subsequently a demonic orgy!; there are also elements of vampirism on display, as when a charred corpse is suddenly re-animated and has to be restrained by being viciously beheaded and the scene in which Justine (also thought to have died) emerges naked and blood-soaked from a coffin filled with copious amounts of the red stuff and unceremoniously takes a bite off Sister Angelica, who had always been over-protective of the two girls (a sure sign of her own latent lesbianism)!; Alucarda's demise, fading away during the fiery climax when faced with Sister Angelica (being carried by the other nuns) striking a cross-like pose.

Another powerful scene is when Alucarda is sent to confession: she provokes and confounds the priest by first questioning his faith, and then taunts him to give in to his lust for her. The ending has caused a lot of debate: I must say that I had no trouble at all with the conflagrated figure of Christ on the cross. As for the film's apparent unwillingness to take sides, all I can say is this: while organized religion is definitely not portrayed in a good light (the cringe-inducing exorcism as already mentioned but also the self-flagellation sessions), it is also obvious that Alucarda and Justine would need to perish at the end, as we certainly cannot have Satanism emerge triumphant!

Though the film is obviously a period piece, there is no overpowering urge here to recreate it in detail (as was evident in THE DEVILS, for instance) – and, in fact, I would say that the film feels quite 'modern'. The acting is high-pitched but involving: Claudio Brook's ambivalent dual roles and Tina Romero (who also does double-duty as an actress, which fact I was not aware of until I re-read Mondo Digital's review!) – she is effortlessly seductive and possesses (no pun intended) an undeniable screen presence, yet this is mixed with an odd vulnerability which makes her something more than a conventional 'possessed' girl. The synthesizer-based score is also very effective, and genuinely unnerving.

Still, that quote from 'The Psychotronic Video Guide' on the DVD cover is somewhat misleading: it's true that the film is awfully bloody at times but this and the nudity are certainly not consistent, or in any way extreme, like I was led to believe! And while there IS a lot of screaming (I'd say even more so than in THE Texas CHAIN SAW MASSACRE [1974]), it is not as annoyingly hysterical as that heard in THE DEVILS either (though I concede that the latter film was made on a far broader scale). Conversely, the so-called 'Satanic' orgy is no great shakes; in fact, as a rule, I did not find the film all that shocking!

Some of you here may know that I'm not a great fan of Alejandro Jodorwosky's work, so I was actually thankful that ALUCARDA proved very dissimilar in approach to that film-maker's 'Surrealistic' films. On the other hand, I did feel that the few snippets I saw of Moctezuma's MANSION OF MADNESS (1971) smacked unmistakably of Jodorowsky's somewhat extremist style (though, being based on Poe, I would still love to watch it and, hopefully, Mondo Macabro's proposed DVD edition is not too long in coming)!

One final question with regards to ALUCARDA: does anyone know whether there is actually a longer 90-minute version of this film? Pete Tombs of 'Mondo Macabro' says he could not find any evidence of this, yet some (who were around when it first came out) feel that the 'present' version is somewhat choppy!

Now to the DVD itself: the print, with all its apparent defects and the fact that it is presented full-frame (though it may well be its OAR), is perfectly acceptable under the circumstances. The audio, however, was somewhat problematic displaying echo and distortion which I found rather distracting (I've encountered this same glitch on a small number of other discs and it has always bothered me) – all in all, the Stereo soundtrack sounded unnatural to my ears, and I truly wish the Spanish track had carried subtitles! The supplements, however, I found to be excellent indeed: the documentary on Moctezuma, as well as the text interview and biography, but also the enthusiastic interview with director Guillermo Del Toro who expresses his admiration for Moctezuma's work in general, and even discloses some of his other influences. The theatrical trailer is said to contain missing footage and alternate angles – but I have to say that, since it was presented in Spanish, I didn't give much attention to it!

This had only been the third Mondo Macabro disc I've purchased, but I look forward even more now to more obscure horror titles from this stable, beginning with THE LIVING CORPSE (1967; in terms of extras alone, perhaps their best release yet), which I hope to order in the very near future...


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