Not Your Mom’s Horror Movie: Alucarda (1977)
Directed by Juan López Moctezuma, 1977’s Alucarda, is not your mum’s horror movie. Unless your mum is a bit of a freak who loves copious amount of blood, believes the Catholic Church is full of corrupt, evil folks, and thinks nothing of sullying religious objects. In which case, your mum is cool as fuck. Cherish her.
Set in the late 1800s, Alucarda (Tina Romero) is a 15-year-old orphan who has lived her entire life in a convent. We come into the story as another orphan, Justine (Susana Kamini), is moving into the convent. The two become fast friends and they get themselves into mischief. Or, as much mischief as two young women can get into in a convent, like frolicking in the forest, cavorting with gypsies, and welcoming demons they release unto the world. You know, the usual stuff.
Now, if you haven’t guessed, this convent is a little unusual. Of all the weird shit that goes on, one of the strangest things might be what the nuns are wearing. Instead of wearing a regular habit, these nuns are swathed in what appears to be gauze. Gauze that is covered in blood. What kind of blood? Whose blood is it? Well, you’ll have to watch the movie, but let’s just say that these images of the nuns walking around stained with blood is one that sticks with you.
Let me just say a few words about Romero as Alucarda; hers is an absolutely fearless performance. She plays Alucarda with complete and total abandon. She is glorious and when she’s onscreen, you can’t take your eyes off her. It’s a shame she didn’t go on to bigger things because she is terrific. And, boy, am I covetous of her hair.
I was trying to think of a way to describe Alucarda as my husband and I rewatched the movie the other day. I came up with, “The movie is like if Jodorowsky got together with Ken Russell and mixed in a bit of Andy Milligan while they were at it.” And if that doesn’t pique your interest, I’m not sure what will. Visually and aurally, you will be assaulted. Alucarda is lurid, loud, and lascivious. There’s a little something in it to offend just about everyone in the best way possible.
Director Juan López Moctezuma was a Mexican director with a lot to say about the Catholic Church in Alucarda. When I say a lot, I mean a whole fucking lot. The film is chock full of imagery depicting all sorts of sacrilege. The powers that be in the movie are not shown in a flattering light. They’re oppressors who deserve everything coming to them from the girls. I’m guessing this one isn’t on rotation in the Vatican’s movie selections. Then again, maybe it is. I’m looking at you, Young Pope.
If you want to watch something a little different this spooky season, you should absolutely seek out Alucarda. I first saw the movie via the Mondo Macabro DVD. Sadly, the movie has yet to be released on Blu-ray but please don’t let that stop you from watching it. Seeing it in the condition I did just adds to the experience. While I’m at it, if you haven’t explored the world of Mexican horror films, please do. There are some real gems in there just waiting for you to discover.