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Great Horror Atmosphere in this Semi-Cult Classic,
This review is from: Alucarda [Import] (DVD)Juan Lopez Moctezuma's horror film Alucarda is mentioned with only moderate frequency as a horror classic, and even then only in the most dedicated circles of horror cinephiles. There are some films that explore the subject of demonic possession far more convincingly (i.e. the Exorcist) so only those horror fans who can appreciate how a film's style is engineered to unnerve its audience will find Alucarda enjoyable. Some less enthusiastic audiences will find Alucarda both gratuitous and even annoying. It's style and atmosphere is unique and clearly the focus of the film. It is like Dario Argento's Suspiria meets Alejandro Jodorowsky El Topo or the Holy Mountain. Jodorowsky was involved in the production of Alucarda so that influence is no surprise.
The film follows a young girl named Justine as she arrives at a convent after the death of her parents. She befriends the mysterious Alucarda who may very well be the spawn of the devil. Basically, what soon follows is a series of horrific events that resemble demonic possession, vampirism, devil worship, and witchcraft.
Alucarda is a very low-budget and modest production. Nevertheless, it is creepy throughout. The sound effects in this film are consistently eerie and sometimes create the horror all by itself. The soundtrack is done with a cheap and unique sounding synthesizer which serves to be both creepy and helps distinguish the style of the film even further. Visually the film is even more bizarre and exceptional. The convent itself looks like a cavern more than an actual building and it is budding with religious imagery that is framed in such a way that we wonder if this is a convent or a witch coven. The nuns in the convent do resemble nuns, but also do not look particularly dissimilar to undead Egyptian mummies either. The girls bump into a random traveling gypsy and also a creepy deformed shepherd who unravels the underlying lesbianism between the two girls and then of course leads them into a naked séance or esbat. There are also some vile moments when the undead emerge screaming, one gets brutally beheaded and another, a girl soaked in blood, violently claws a nun's throat. The film also has some outstanding sequences with fire. You actually have to wonder how some people survived stunts on this set when it was completely consumed in flames.
However, don't let most hardcore horror fans fool you; Alucarda is not a shocking exploitation film. At least it isn't quite as shocking as some people might lead you to believe. There is a lot full frontal female nudity but it's not nearly as much as I expected and it's never too graphic or directly sexual. One scene combines the nudity with violence and that can be shocking. The nude girl rises from a coffin filled with blood and she is covered from head to toe in it. The film is very violent as well but again it's not anything that pushes the limits and the violence doesn't come at you with as much consistency as you might imagine. Alucarda can also get somewhat annoying at times with all of the screaming from the girls. My wife hated the film for that. I've heard it regarded as the film with the most nudity, violence, and screaming ever...or something like that. As a combination of those three things it may very well exceed all other films but overall it does not push enough boundaries to be counted as a significant exploitation film. It is still a great pure horror movie that stands on its own.