• Alucarda (Mondo Macabro) DVD Review

    Alucarda (Mondo Macabro) DVD Review
    Released by: Mondo Macabro
    Released: 2002.
    Director: Juan Lopez Moctezuma
    Cast: Claudio Brook, Tina Romero, Susana Kamini, David Silva
    Year: 1975
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    Alucarda – Movie Review:

    Directed in 1975 by the late Juan Lopez Moctezuma (producer of Alejandro Jodorowsky's El Topo), Alucarda is a powerful and genuinely disturbing piece of nunsploitation. Known under a few different titles, it was most commonly seen in the USA as Sisters of Satan, and that's not a totally inaccurate description of this story of a pair of young nuns, Justine (Susana Kamini) and Alucarda (Tina Romero), who once enrolled in a convent form a blood pact together.

    Soon after they do this, the two new Brides Of Christ begin acting strangely and chanting satanic incantations during church services. They even stand up and oppose the head mother of the convent, which doesn’t go over well with the powers that be. The other sisters in the convent decide that the only way to save the girls from the fiery pits of Hell is to conduct a grisly exorcism, and the pair ends up tied to some wooden crosses in the basement while the on-looking nuns shriek and wail in distress.

    But when a local doctor happens upon the sadistic ritual, he grabs Alucarda and takes her out of there, hoping that he can cure her with science. And then all Hell breaks loose, literally, as the stories twists and turns and ties into Alucarda’s past.

    It isn’t particularly shocking at all to find out about Moctezuma's affiliation with Jodorowsky, as you can see his influence in this film on both a visual and thematic level. Alucarda is very much its own film though, and not a rehash or rip off of Jodorowsky's material - it's very much its own beast, tackling some of the issues that the filmmaker clearly has with the establishment of the Catholic church while still staying focused on delivering an effective and original horror picture. The film also shares some noticeable similarities in the ending of this film with the finale featured in Brian DePalma's Carrie. If you see the movie, keep in mind, Alucarda came a year before Carrie did.

    Alucarda is also quite interesting on a visual level. The colors on screen are very well used, particularly the constant barrage of deep reds, and the sets are wonderfully archaic and gothic looking. Much of the film’s content, while a bit dated and very sleazy, is still quite disturbing and much of the film is comprised of violent shrieking and chanting of 'Satan Satan Satan' over and over again, which can really tend to get under your skin (clearly an intentional move on the part of Moctezuma).

    Alucarda – DVD Review:

    The movie presented fullframe, and it would seem that it was composed that way, as you won’t notice any picture loss at all. The print used is a bit grainy with some damage noticeable in a few scenes, but for the most part it looks decent enough, with colors (which play an important role in the look of the film) in particular looking very nice for a DVD released almost twenty years ago, even if it definitely shows its age in that regard. Mondo Macabro would later reissue the film on NTSC DVD with an improved transfer. We’ll update this review with caps from that release once I figure out where I put that disc…

    The Dolby Digital Mono audio track, in dubbed English, is sometimes a bit hissy and a bit muffled for most of the presentation. With a few exceptions, however, dialogue is pretty clear and easy to understand.

    While the disc isn't stacked, what extras are here are really nicely done and very interesting. First off, besides scene access and interactive menus, there are some well-written cast and crew biographies. There is also a great text interview with the director supplied on the disc. But the real icing on the cake is a twenty-minute documentary on the history of Mexican horror films. For those unfamiliar with the unique brand of horror that comes from south of the border, this is a great crash course, and for those already familiar with it, well, it's still a lot of fun to watch and contains some great information.

    Alucarda - The Final Word:

    Proving that there's more to Mexican horror than masked wrestlers and vampires, Alucarda remains a testament to the power of blending horror and quality sleaze and we thank Mondo Macabro for bringing it to DVD (and continue to hope for an eventual Blu-ray).