Stiggy’s Film of the Day Alucarda (1977)

Year: 1977
Director: Juan Lopez Moctezuma
Cast: Tina Romero, Claudio Brook, David Silva, Susana Kamini
Themes: Demonic Possession, Paganism, Witchcraft, Nuns

alucarda coverStory

Fifteen year old Alucarda has lived in the local convent all her life. Unbeknown to her, the girl’s mother perished at the hands of a malignant force, just after placing her newly born daughter in the care of the nuns to keep her safe. It is in this care that Alcuarda has lived completely oblivious to her past. When a recently orphaned Justine arrives, the two girls strike up a special connection and quickly become inseparable. Alucarda feels compelled to share her secrets with her new found friend- including her innate affinity with nature. As the duo skip off to frolic in the woods they stumble upon Alucarda’s birthplace, a musty old tomb that hosts a statue of Pan and a skeleton in a crypt. This opens up the door to Alucarda’s dark past which is about to consume both her and Justine and draw the two  over to the side of evil. This has disastrous consequences for the convent and the nuns who have sworn to protect the girls.

Cast and Crew

For anyone acquainted with the director Juan Lopez Moctezuma’s other work you will already be aware this was a filmmaker who didn’t really show any restraint in his work. The fact that Moctezuma kicked off his career working as a producer for Jodorowsky should tell you all you need to know. Like many of the directors to be born out of the Panic Movement Moctezuma’s work carried a certain anarchistic energy that is difficult to resist for all those who love fringe cinema. That spirit is evident in his crazed take on an Edgar Allen Poe story in The Mansion of Madness (1973), and also his steamy vampire romp Mary Mary Bloody Mary (1975). However, Alucarda has to be considered the filmmaker’s most daring project though, when you consider the time and place it was made, and it is definitely his most avant garde in its approach.

The choice to cast Tina Romero as the lead Alucarda when she was nearly thirty years old at the time might seem like an odd move, however when you consider there is plenty of bare breasted, full seventies bush fronting from both Romero and her co-star Susana Kamini (as Justine)- along with some blood laced French kissing, and breast cutting- it perhaps makes a little more sense. Romero does look fairly fresh faced, despite her age at the time of filming, and oddly a little like Manson family member Patricia Krenwinkel- which just adds to her menacing appeal, especially when she enters the zone of sneering faced child of the devil. Either way it all works for the greater good. Alongside the  supporting cast Romero and co. really get into their roles with an ardour that appears like the entire ensemble are partaking in a drama class warming up exercise- it is as if the director has just told them to go all out and as hysterical as they can possibly get. This approach must have proved exhausting for the cast, but ultimately it is in the histrionics and overwrought wailing that the magic of Alucarda happens and therefore kudos has to go to the actors for just allowing themselves to let go. As the plot progresses dialogue starts to move away to a primal form of communication with plenty of screeching and grunting in among the odd Satanic summoning chant, so be aware you may need to watch that volume if you don’t want your eardrums inadvertently pierced as the climax mounts.

Alucarda (1977) Production

Like the director’s other work there is a distinct artful approach in some of the set design, although the production values do start off quite modest, they become increasingly bold as the drama begins to unfold. I have to say I particularly liked the crafting of the ‘demonic’ force- and associated tomb- in a pagan vein; with the spirt of nature, and strange faun creatures with a carnie vibe, initially representing the oppositional force. The aforementioned aspect definitely gives the film an edge and helps it to stand out from your usual Satanic Panic type features. The religious icons, including a ceiling with loads of crucified Christ figures that appear on the main convent set are quite remarkable and give the film a highly stylised look in places. While the ample nudity and sex and violence should please those who love a bit of low-brow in with their ‘art’.

Alucarda (1977) Verdict.

Here at The Gore Splattered Corner we always strive to bring you the sleaziest, most gratuitous and outrageous cinema out there, and on that note we had to ask ourselves what Witchy season would be complete without a film that makes the last third of The Exorcist (1973) look positively mundane in comparison? Of all the films included in this season Juan Lopez Moctezuma’s Alucarda has to be one of the most out there- possibly only topped by Ken Russell’s debauched masterpiece The Devils (1971). Thankfully Moctezuma has just gone peddle to the metal, cutting away the margins of ‘good’ taste, to deliver a breezy frolic into decadent blasphemy and Satanic Shenanigans of the highest order. Oh what eye watering filth the film delivers too, seriously nothing is off limits, from naked witchy orgies and worshipping to Pan gods and goat lords, nun zombies, blood soaked lesbianism, Self-flagellating nuns, vampirism, and burning nuns- come on who can resist a burning nun, or two or three? I know I can’t. The director stuffs so much sacrilegious material and profanity into the nifty running time I have to admit seeing such a bold statement- which stumbles into  high camp on occasion- race across the screen is almost enough to bring a tear to my eye. I think it would be safe to say if there is one key word to sum up this film it would be ballsy, some may beg to differ and say insane, but I prefer to go with my first choice. Alucarda is delirious, never once faltering or running out of steam, a frenzied assault on the viewer with the filmmaker constantly staying one step ahead to ensure each new scene becomes a revelation of fabulous obscenity. Story and coherence is just thrown out in favour of intensity, naked flesh and a generous helping of bodily fluids to just ooze things along. If this isn’t doing it for you, I really don’t know what will, but if there is one thing I can be certain of, Alcuarda is not for the faint of heart. If, on the other hand, you really get your kicks from seeing content that goes against the moral grain to deliver something fiendishly fruity, this film is essential viewing .



Categories: 70's horror, Reviews

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