Director - Juan Lopez Moctezuma
Cast - Tina Romero, Claudio Brook, Susana Kimini
Country of Origin - Mexico
Distributor - Mondo Macabro
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
Date - 02/20/13
The Film (5/5)
Justine is a young woman whose parents have both recently died. This tragic turn of events has forced her into a convent, where she is put together in a room with Alucarda, another young woman with a tragic past. Alucarda and Justine quickly become friends, and that friendship actually blossoms into something quite a bit more as the two explore the area surrounding the convent, and each other.
One day while exploring the two find themselves in a tomb. While in the tomb Alucarda dares Justine to open a coffin, upon doing so a spirit emerges, and appears to take hold of the duo. At first things appear to be alright, but as the night falls and time passes Alucarda and Justine begin to show signs of demonic possession. The nun in charge of taking care of the girls, Sister Angelica immediately begins to notice the signs of their change, and begins to work with the others in the convent to bring them back from the brink of possession.
Alucarda tends to play in the same sandbox as the nunsploitation and demonic possession genre but director Juan Lopez Moctezuma offers a truly distinctive vision that truly separates Alucarda from other films of its ilk. Then we have these wonderful little details provided such as the mummy like outfits that make up the nuns wardrobe, to the cavern-esque appearance of the convent itself. It's little moments such as these that contribute to the bizarre atmosphere of the film.
The performances are across the board excellent from Tina Romero as Alucarda who positively dominates the screen with her sheer presence every moment she's on to Susana Kimini and Tina French as Justine and Sister Angelica respectively. The direction from Moctezuma offers a strange anything goes atmosphere, and the film itself has an almost organic tone that does give it a close kinship to the early films of Alejandro Jodorowksy.
When Alucarda arrived in my mailbox, my initial thought was Mexican Nunsploitation. Now I certainly like a good Nunsploitation film, but this film certainly defies that categorization. Yes, there are certain elements of that genre present (Nuns, Lesbianism, Religious Iconography, Flagellation), however Alucarda is much more and much greater than that. If I had to describe it simply it would be as if aforementioned Alejandro Jodorowsky decided to direct a supernatural take on Ken Russell's The Devils, and that only scratches the surface. That is because while I can offer comparisons to preexisting material, the film itself is a unique entity that while not wholly original still feels like a breath of fresh air in a crowded genre landscape.
Mondo Macabro brings Alucarda to DVD in a quite nice 1:33:1 full frame transfer preserving the films original aspect ratio. The colors on this transfer are quite nice, blacks are solid, and there is fine detail is also very good. There are a few bits of print damage and scratches throughout, but that is to be expected, and does not detract at all from the transfer itself.
Mondo Macabro has presented Alucarda with 2 Dolby Stereo language options one in English and one in Spanish. Normally, I would take the Spanish option for my viewing, however, it appears at least at first glance that the Spanish track is not subtitled. However, the English track is quite solid in it's own right. The dialogue comes through nice and clearly, and I only detected a few moments of minor audio issues on the track.
Mondo Macabro have put together an excellent slate of extras for their release of Alucarda. The disc kicks off with a documentary featurette Juan Lopez Moctezuma - A Cultured Maverick which discusses the career of the auteur responsible for Alucarda. We then have an interview with Pan's Labyrinth/Hellboy 2 director Guillermo Del Toro about Moctezuma, and the influence his films had over his career. There is also a theatrical trailer, text cast and crew bios, and a text interview with Moctezuma rounding off the disc.
Alucarda is an absolute blast of horror-exploitation goodness. It successfully blends elements of demonic possession, and nunsploitation films to create something unique and fun. The A/V restoration from Mondo Macabro is excellent, and they have included quite a few nice and informative extras on the disc. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!