19th CRAZED KILLER
Tina Romero | Alucarda (1978, dir Juan Lopez Moctezuma)
There is perhaps no woman killer more crazed, more brutal and more visceral than Alucarda (Tina Romero) in Juan Lopez Moctezuma’s 1978 erotic horror, Alucarda.
After the death of her parents, Justine (Susana Kamini) is taken in at a convent. There, a series of grisly events ensue, as an evil presence is unleashed on her and her enigmatic companion, Alucarda (Tina Romero).
Given how ubiquitous movies around Satan and demonic possession had become by 1977, it would be a surprise to find any offerings that were not simply derivative of the likes of The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen.
Alucarda is that surprise. An English language Mexican horror movie, it takes the narrative to unfamiliar climes, and adds large helpings of all the (by now well-established) tropes to create an offbeat, interesting (and, at times, quite shocking) treatise on the common themes of the subgenre – demonic possession; religious fever and repressed sexuality. Perhaps most surprisingly for a movie that came from such a staunchly Catholic country, Alucarda ramps up not just the violence and sex, but also contains scenes of perversely sacrilegious obscenity, which caused a lot of controversy upon its release.
At its heart, it is an adaptation of Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla, the famed vampire tome that inspired a trilogy of Hammer Horror movies in the early 1970s. Juan Lopez Moctezuma and Alexis Arroyo rightly focuses on the Satanism and possession elements rather than just churn out a vampire romp, and the movie draws favourable comparisons to some of the more marquee films of the subgenre, like William Friedkin’s The Exorcist (1973), Richard Donner’s The Omen (1976) and Michael Winner’s The Sentinel (1977).
As Alucarda discovers her birthplace and gives herself to Satan, chaos ensues. The director does not hold back - there are buckets of blood, naked satanic rites, orgies and exorcism scenes a plenty packed into a short run time. Indeed, such a vast amount of compelling material passes before the senses at such a blistering pace that one cannot help but be captivated and in awe of it.
“And this is what the Devil does – to beget his evil, he obtains help from our virtues. Even if the game be small, his harvest is great. But God in his infinite wisdom understands the wiles of the Devil, and so He gives us the strength to face them with noble thoughts and prayer.”
The girls give in not only to the demons but also to lesbian sexual desires - given homosexuality is preached by many religions as an unholy coupling, it is no surprise by now to see lesbianism as a sign of corruption in our teenage heroines in their single-sex setting. The girls’ corruption is aptly demonstrated in a chilling scene where Alucarda and Justine disrupt a bible reading with their own take on the passages of St Theresa, recognising Satan as their Lord and master:
“And this is what the Devil does – he grants us virtues to expand his kingdom, the only valid one. God, with his lack of knowledge, does not understand this truth, and opposes it with false thoughts and prayers.”
This, of course, is just the beginning of their mischief, as Justine and her companion visit hell upon the convent
Competently made, with a compelling narrative and enough elements of incoherence to convince that Satan truly is at play, Alucarda finds a near-perfect balance between the camp and the gruesome. Very well acted by the two leads, Alucarda is a worthwhile and compelling effort and a welcome addition to the subgenre. Any fans of Le Fanu’s novel who wants to see an alternative to the Hammer adaptations should seek it out.
Check out the TRAILER for "Alucarda" (1977)
Have you listened to the new Beyond The Void Horror Podcast Episode? It's all about Possession. We talk Possession (1981) & The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014). Two extremely great performance from women for #WiHM9. CLICK HERE or on Pic to listen!