I hope this news isn't too shocking or duplicitous-seeming. Remember, it's me, not you, and we'll always be friends, I swear.
Anyway, the cover art for Alucarda has intrigued me for quite some time and as I was taught to always judge a book by its cover (GAWD I hope no ugly people read Final Girl), I decided to finally give the movie a try. My expectations were...not exactly low, necessarily, but seeing as that the DVD release hails from Mondo Macabro, I certainly had an idea of what was in store for me: super fake blood, tits, and any manner of "-ploitation" from all around the world. Don't get me wrong- Mondo Macabro flicks are a lot of fun (if you haven't seen Dangerous Seductress or Lady Terminator yet, I suggest you do so ASAP for a craptacular good time), but not typically something I'd review here. But dammit, slap my knee and call me Debralee Scott- there's something to this so-called Alucarda...and so here we are, together on The Internet, me writing and you reading. Whooda thunkit?
Welcome to the convent:
After crossing paths with a gypsy (Claudio Brook) who hints at the aforementioned trouble, the girls frolic their way into a crypt. Alucarda is drawn to a coffin and opens it- little does she know that the dessicated corpse inside is actually her mother. Oh noes! Opening the coffin releases some evil spirits or something, and Alucarda flips out.
Somehow, it seems, the girls have just been inducted into Satan's Junior Cadets. What does this mean? It means that Justine and Alucarda totally hate God now and invoke the name of Satan to the horror of the entire convent. It means the girls scream a lot and can't stand the sight of a crucifix. It means the gypsy magically appears in their room one night and helps the girls perform their blood pact in service to Satan: Justine and Alucarda get naked, cut each other, drink each other's blood a bit, and make out. I know how that reads on paper, yet somehow this scene managed to be about as erotic as an average episode of Matlock. The girls are then led to the gypsy camp where everyone is naked and hairy and dancing around in a circle; the orgy proper begins and Beelzebub appears- well, I wasn't sure if it was actually supposed to be Beelzebub or if it was a gypsy in a ceremonial Beelzebub mask, but I suppose it makes no difference. The girls are now officially Satan's Little Helpers!
Meanwhile, back at the convent, Sister Angelica (Tina French), ever protective of Justine and Alucarda, feels that evil is afoot and so she begins to pray super ultra hard. She prays so super ultra hard, in fact, that she begins to sweat blood and leviatate, which was pretty fucking cool. That actually happened to me right before I took the SATs- man, I was nervous about getting into the college of my choice.
Later on, the girls' behavior gets so outrageous (more screaming, more Satan's name-invoking) that the priests and nuns begin ruminating on the possibility that the girls are possessed. When Justine takes dreadfully ill, Dr Oszek (Claudio Brook) is called in to treat her; when his leeches don't seem to take care of the problem, it becomes clear: the girls are, in fact, possessed. That means...it's exorcismin' time!
Justine and Alucarda are each tied to a cross while the nuns writhe around on the floor and scream. Justine is stripped nude (naturally) and...poked with a nail or something (again, naturally) until she's dead. Dr Oszek rushes in and berates everyone for this bizarre exercise in making no sense; before they can kill Alucarda as well, he takes her away to his house and to safety.
Little does he know, however, that the members of the convent were right- the girls were possessed! Whilst lying in shroud and awaiting burial, Justine's body disappears; the nun who was attending the body is found burned to death. She springs back to life, however, and must be decapitated- this is enough to prove to Dr Oszek that science is bunk and there's definitely something supernatural going on here.
Sister Angelica finds Justine in the crypt, lying in a coffin full of blood. Justine scratches and bites Angelica to death before being killed- for good this time!- by some refreshing spritzes of holy water.
Alucarda, meanwhile, has befriended Dr Oszek's blind daughter Daniela (Lili Garza). The two return to the convent where Alucarda, still pissed off over Justine's death, lays the smack down all Sissy Spacek in Carrie style, tearing down the building and setting people on fire.
You know, if I ever had to be (or decided to be) possessed, I'd much rather follow Alucarda's example than that of Regan in The Exorcist. I mean, really. What did Regan do? She got gross and laid in bed all the time, that's what she did. Alucarda keeps her good looks, and all she has to do to set a nun on fire is glare and yell "Beelzebub!". She's a proactive minion of Satan, and Regan sure seems awfully lazy in comparison.
As Alucarda rampages, some nuns carry in the dead body of Sister Angelica. Angelica suddenly opens her eyes, and Alucarda simply can't stand up to Angelica's Super Stare of Piety. I think George Michael said it best when he said
'Cause I gotta have faith...
Mmm, I gotta have faith
'Cause I gotta have faith, faith
Mmm 'cause I gotta have faith-a-faith-a-faith-a
Alucarda is an odd duck to be sure, but one worth checking out if only for the visuals alone. Director Juan Lopez Moctezuma has created a bizarre, surreal world full of striking imagery, particularly in regards to the setting. At times it's blatantly artificial, an approach which, when coupled with the cast's tendency to overact, gives the film an almost fairy tale-like quality.
Despite the trashy overtones and the irritating amount of screaming (seriously, there's more screaming here than there was when The Beatles played Wembley in '64), it seems as if there just might be a deeper meaning to Alucarda. Mexican filmmakers of the era, after all, were much like American filmmakers of the era; by and large they sought to provide a viewpoint and/or social commentary in their work. Is Alucarda, then, perhaps an indictment of the Catholic Church? It's entirely possible that it is, particularly if one views the "possession" in the film as an allegory for "free love" or even homosexuality. On the other hand, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and a movie about vaguely lesbian Catholic girls who become possessed by Satan and turn into fire-starting pseudo-vampires is just a movie about vaguely lesbian Catholic girls who become possessed by Satan and turn into fire-starting pseudo-vampires.