Some films were so scandalous in controversial content that they were buried for a while until they eventually see the light of day once more. Alucarda was that kind of film, with lurid sexual content, demonic possession and exorcism (which may as well be a form of psychological torture), which you might have seen in other similar Satanic horror films, but this film was a modest cut above most of those other films, even though oftentimes its low budget shows. Given its cheap production values and its pulp fiction plot, you’d be forgiven for thinking this film is a waste of time, but it has a way of surprising you.
The plot of this film concerns two orphaned girls named Alucarda and Justine, who in short order develop a very intimate friendship. They wander off into the woods and met a band of gypsies, and then they accidentally unleash a demonic force that escapes from a casket and gradually consumes the convent. They then get possessed by the Devil, and are driven to wreak havoc on the convent and the nuns and priests that mind it.
The film has been compared to Ken Russell’s The Devils, a film that explored similar themes, but was far more well-made. That being said, some have pointed out similarities between this, and the famous vampire novel Carmilla, with which it shares similar themes. You could call Alucarda the compact, Mexican equivalent of the Ken Russell classic if you want, though that might be a disservice to this film, as it casts the shadow of an unquestionably superior film over it in your mind, and that would ultimately ruin it. That said, I like that the film is confined to a 75 minute runtime, as this makes the film quite straightforward in terms of plot progression, but at the same time, it seems like the story was quite rushed. That being said, it doesn’t take very long for the film to get into gear.
The acting isn’t great. In fact, there’s a tendency to overact, and there’s a lot of screaming that’s more annoying than it is convincing. When they’re not screaming, their performance has a kind of campy, B-movie horror vibe. Even though the film was made in Mexico, the film was originally filmed in English, so we aren’t even dealing with some sort of crappy dub like with most foreign films. The lip movements match the English dialogue.
What the film succeeds in is its evocation of gothic style, albeit in a cheap B-movie sort of way. The set pieces aren’t too bad, and the film’s soundtrack has a weirdly enjoyable prog vibe, and I say this because I swear they used a keyboard in place of a church organ. The film does have plenty of gory violence, but it’s quite tame compared to most films, and the horror scenes are quite cheesy, but the film does have some genuinely creepy moments.
Alucarda is one of those films that’s more for the people who are really into underground horror films, particularly those that have been granted a certain mystique over the years, despite the fact that they are quite mediocre. You could say it’s “so bad it’s good”, but it’s not bad. In fact, it could have been quite good, if only the producers had more money.
- Score: 65%
- Grade: C