Archive for the Mexico Category

MANSION OF MADNESS (1973) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Mexico, movies on April 1, 2011 by goregirl

I’m a big fan of Juan López Moctezuma’s film Alucarda and was anxious to check out his other efforts. Moctezuma only directed five films and besides Alucarda, Mansion Of Madness has been the only one I’ve been able to find for rent thus far. Mansion of Madness is the director’s comedy-horror debut set in a mental asylum in the country and is jammed packed full of imaginative and surreal visuals. The film is light on horror elements and heavy on wackiness. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and once again find myself disagreeing adamantly with the IMDB general population who gave the film a failing grade. I guess if you went into it expecting a horror you’d be disappointed but if what you read below intrigues you then you are in for a real treat!

Reporter Gaston LeBlanc travels to a remote mental asylum to speak with Dr. Maillard about his “soothing system” for treating the insane. What he finds are patients roaming freely about the property engaging in all manner of peculiar behavior and the doctor may be crazier than his patients!

Mansion Of Madness has a story similar to S.F. Brownrigg’s film released the same year Don’t Look In The Basement. Neither film was the first to explore a lunatics running the asylum theme but both directors certainly leave their own unique signature on the idea. This however is where the parallels between the two films end. Mansion Of Madness relies heavily on its visuals which are definitely its best asset. The costumes and sets are superb! The colourful quirky opening is an eye-catching feast and those to follow were equally entertaining. There’s a bit of a bird theme running through the film. A man dressed like a chicken is shown pecking away at feed just like his feathered brethren who he lives with in a pen. Another trio of bird-people does a choreographed dance with scythes! Yip. Wacky fun! The goofy music definitely compliments the vibrant and strange proceedings. The story is decent and has a fun twist and was certainly an ample enough excuse to march out a parade of delightfully odd and mesmerizing visuals. No gore here folks, but there is a touch of nudity and plenty of kooky craziness.

Arthur Hansel plays reporter Gaston LeBlanc who does a respectable job playing the straight guy. Gaston falls for Eugenie while visiting the asylum who may or not be a patient. Eugenie is played by Ellen Sherman and her character’s story is one of the films twists so I shall say no more. Crazy Dr. Maillard has some really over-the-top rants and speeches through the film. The insanely passionate doc has goals of world domination. Any madman worth his salt should have this goal! The eccentric doctor is played by Claudio Brook, and was definitely the films liveliest and most amusing character. These three are pretty much the focus but there is a multitude of extras playing lunatics who steal their share of the spotlight. The only real complaint I would have about Mansion Of Madness is the dialog is occasionally long-winded. But the random wordy dialog is a small blip in an otherwise very entertaining film.

The hypnotic strange visuals were extremely appealing to me. It probably won’t attract a lot of horror fans as those elements are very spare. Director Moctezuma was one of the producers of El Topo and I would say Mansion Of Madness has more in common with El Topo than your average horror film. At least so far as it applies to unusual visuals used to tell its story. Mansion Of Madness is based on the Edgar Allan Poe story The System Of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether. I’m not familiar with that particular Poe story but now I’m dying of curiosity to check it out! I thought Mansion of Madness was an absolute fucking delight and now I’ve really got to find the man’s other three films! Highly recommended!

Dungeon Raing: 4/5

Directed By: Juan López Moctezuma

Starring: Claudio Brook, Arthur Hansel, Ellen Sherman, Martin LaSalle, David Silva, Mónica Serna, Max Kerlow, Susana Kamini, Pancho Córdova, Roberto Dumont, Henry West, Jorge Bekris, René Alís, Mario Castillón Bracho, Oscar Saro

EL TOPO (1970) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in Mexico, movies with tags , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2010 by goregirl

“If you’re great, El Topo is a great picture. If you’re limited, El Topo is limited.”
-A.Jodorowsky

Although I’ve seen El Topo several times, completing this review was a challenge. El Topo is not an easy film to explain, as it is chocked full of symbolism and little dialog. I get the feeling that every last image in El Topo has meaning but only Alejandro Jodorowsky, who writes, directs and stars could explain every detail. Every time I watch El Topo I marvel at its awesomeness and how I manage to discover something new with each viewing. The films tagline states it is “The Definitive Cult Spaghetti Western”, but it is so much more than that. Sure, it’s got a gunslinger dressed all in black riding a horse through the desert but El Topo’s strange, surreal, mystical and violent journey is something quite unique.

El Topo’s story begins in the desert with his seven-year-old son. The boy is told he is now a man and must bury his first toy along with a picture of his mother. The two stumble upon a town where a bloody massacre has taken place. El Topo adorns his fingers with elaborately jeweled rings and rides into the desert. He is quickly surrounded by three bandits who he dispatches, but not before one of them names a man called the Colonel as the one responsible for the massacre. He finds the Colonel along with his gang already terrorizing another small town. El Topo is just in time to prevent the gang rape of a woman. He makes short work of the Colonel but fails to eliminate his biggest threat, the woman herself. Mara, ends up riding into the desert with El Topo as he leaves his son behind with a group of monks. After coming between the man and his son Mara insists that El Topo find and defeat the four masters that live in the desert. She can only love El Topo if he is the greatest gunfighter alive. Seemingly motivated by his love for Mara, El Topo embarks on a journey to find the masters.

El Topo is Spanish for “the mole”. We are given a brief fun fact about the mole, which digs and digs and when it finally makes it to the surface it is blinded by daylight. Attributing the mole’s behavior to the gunfighter is logical enough; particularly considering El Topo literally spends the films final scenes digging a tunnel. The result that lies at the end of the digging is not blindness however but something far more tragic and disheartening. To call the ending of this film bleak and tragic would be the understatement of the year. Although the ending is certainly dark, and features some unflattering portraits of humanity, it isn’t without its positive moments. In fact, Jodorowsky leaves us with one final image that is actually beautiful and hopeful. Revenge, guilt, power, lust, jealousy, pride, honour, racism, love, homosexuality, Eastern philosophy, Christianity, are just a few topics touched on throughout the film.

The characters are a pretty eccentric bunch, particularly the four masters. One of the masters has a Jesus vibe and can let bullets pass through him without harm. He lives in a bunker guarded by a man with no legs who sits on the shoulders of a man with no arms. Another master lives out in the middle of the desert with his mother who is gifted with the ability to see the future. The master’s weapon is pure strength but he spends his days making delicate little objects. The third master lives in a corral filled with rabbits, which apparently sense bad mojo that results in their death. Rabbit masters finale is particularly memorable. And the final master is a nutty old guy who can catch bullets with a butterfly net. Then we have Mara. I hate Mara. The woman is a complete narcissist and acts accordingly. She has no problem kicking a seven-year-old boys hand off her foot as he tries to prevent his father from abandoning him in the middle of the desert. Along the way Mara and El Topo meet a woman in black who begins trailing them. The woman in black aggressively pursues Mara for her own. She gives Mara a mirror which she gazes into every waking hour, even when she is having sex with El Topo. This eventually gets on El Topo’s nerves and he shoots and shatters it.

There are plenty of bad guys in the film, and they are a strange lot themselves. One of the Colonel’s men collects high-heel shoes to smell and caress and then uses them as target practice. The Colonels banditos are hurting badly for some female affection. So bad in fact, that they dress up four monks like women and have themselves a dance party. El Topo’s travels take him to a town full of hideous hateful bastards with even more hideous and hateful wives. The exception being the town Sheriff, a chubby homosexual whose hobbies includes cross-dressing, executions and banging his deputy. The entire town is adorned with a symbol represented by an eye inside a triangle much like the one on the U.S. Dollar bill. I assumed this town was supposed to represent the United States. El Topo also encounters a group of unfortunate souls who have been forced to live underground due to their physical abnormalities. I can’t explain their role in the film without a major spoiler but they help to connect El Topo’s story and bring it full circle.

El Topo is a fantastic film to look at with countless amazing and unforgettable images. The violence in El Topo is plentiful. Numerous people are shot and there is a significant death toll by the time the final credits roll. There are literally rivers of blood! El Topo has long stretches with no dialog and you’ll be thankful that you were given the opportunity to absorb what you’re seeing. The spare dialog is perfectly accompanied by an excellent soundtrack. El Topo is an extraordinary film. It is complex and simple, ugly and beautiful, wicked and sweet. It evokes an array of emotions and it is all rapped up in this surreal and strange package that makes for a genuinely unique experience. I absolutely love this film and it gets my highest of recommendations.

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: Alejandro Jodorowsky

Starring: Alejandro Jodorowsky, Brontis Jodorowsky, Mara Lorenzio, David Silva, Robert John, José Antonio Alcaraz, Felipe Díaz Garza, Paula Romo, Bertha Lomelí, Juan José Gurrola, Jacqueline Luis

La maldición de la Llorona – THE CURSE OF THE CRYING WOMAN – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Mexico, movies, Trailer with tags , , , , , , on December 22, 2009 by goregirl

I thought the name Abel Salazar seemed familiar. He played the wacky Baron Vitelius in the 1962 film ‘Brainiac‘, which I reviewed back in September. It was released one year before ‘Curse of The Crying Woman’. Both films were made in Mexico, but that is about the only parallels I could draw. ‘Curse of The Crying Woman’ is a considerably more ambitious film in both plot and visuals. It is a dark gothic tale with a gooey folklore centre that is oh, so delicious!

Amelia accepts an invitation to visit with her Aunt Selma, whom she hasn’t seen in many years. Along with husband Jaime, they travel to her villa in the woods. Strange things begin to occur almost instantly upon entering her aunt’s home. Amelia is feeling uneasy, and realizes that her aunt is not the same woman she once knew. Aunt Selma shares with her the horrific story of the curse of the crying woman. She reveals to Amelia the hidden agenda behind her invitation. Amelia is to be the final sacrifice that will resurrect the powerful cursed woman. Only this woman can grant Selma the omnipotence she desires.

The opening scene of the film is great. We see Selma, possessed by the cursed woman, standing on the side of the road with some large dogs. Also standing nearby is Juan, her badly scarred and limping servant. Mist settles down around the bare trees and the silence is broken by the sound of a stagecoach. They cause the stagecoach to stop, and kill all three passengers and the driver. It’s a mighty opening scene full of mood and style. ‘The Curse Of The Crying Woman’ is filmed in beautiful black and white and has more mood and style than you can shake a candelabra at! The sets and props used throughout the film are perfect. Selma’s Mexican villa is extraordinary. It’s almost like a cave inside with its massive ceilings and adobe walls. I’ve never seen so many staircases! Wandering around this place is like playing a game of snakes and ladders! The most peculiar prop is the massive cast iron bell. It is the type of thing that would normally hang in a bell tower in a church. Every home should have one!

A quirky cast of characters nicely compliments the strange folklore storyline. It is the character of Selma that is the real showstopper. A striking older woman who exudes charm and elegance, but yet a cold aloofness. Her actions are calculated and precise and she handles her horrific tasks calmly with a steady sense of purpose. She may be crazy as a loon but the woman knows what she wants! We don’t really learn much about Juan, other than he is a faithful servant to his mistress. It is he who does much of her dirty work. The guy is strong as an ox but is burdened with a badly scarred face and one nasty limp. He is forced to go up and down the homes numerous staircases, and it is almost painful watching him get around. But like Selma, he is a man with purpose. There is also a third person living in the house with Juan and Selma. They keep him locked up and give him a good whipping when he needs it. You’ll learn more about him when you watch the film. He doesn’t have much to say, but he definitely has a bone to pick with Juan and Selma. Finally we have Amelia and Jaime our newly married couple. The lovely Amelia spends most of the film being horrified and husband Jaime is the voice of reason in a most unreasonable situation.

I was really impressed with Selma’s makeup in the film. When she is possessed, her eyes go black, which is pretty cool. But they do an effect with the skin around the eyes that makes her look bug-like, or alien-like. The final result is fantastic! I thought Juan and locked up mystery man’s makeup also looked good. There are neat effects with a mirror that work well. A terrific flashback sequence relating to the curse had a wonderfully dream-like vibe that is masterfully done. Overall, the effects in the film are very good, but their limited budget does show through in a couple scenes. Most notable is a scene near the end when the house is falling apart. They cut back and forth to the action inside the house and then outside it, to show the extent of the damage. It looked kind of cheesy, but even this scene is not completely without its charms.

It’s a rich but simple folklore yarn of witchcraft, curses and evil. With wonderful sets, interesting characters, and creative effects, the sinister mood will keep you mesmerized. If you love the black and white gothic horror of the 1960’s than you have to seek out this little gem from Mexico. Highly recommended!

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Rafael Baledón

Starring: Rosa Arenas, Abel Salazar, Rita Macedo, Carlos López Moctezuma, Enrique Lucero, Mario Sevilla

El Barón Del Terror – BRAINIAC – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Mexico, movies with tags , on September 22, 2009 by goregirl

brainiac still el baron del terror‘Brainiac’ markets itself as “The most bizarre horror movie. Ever.” I am sad to report that ‘Brainiac’ was NOT the most bizarre horror movie I have ever seen. Not by a long shot. There is no disputing the weirdness factor though, which can be attributed almost solely to the Baron and his transformation into the horrible, forked-tongued, face-pulsing, brain-eating monster.

The Holy Inquisition of Mexico condemns Baron Vitelius to be burned alive for his crimes. Before he dies, he names each inquisitor and warns them that in 300 years he will avenge his death by eliminating their descendents.

The premise seemed so familiar, I wasn’t sure if I had seen it or not. In the 50’s and 60’s there were more than a few flicks with executions, where the accused comes back to reek his/her revenge. Once I seen a picture of that goofy monster, I knew I had most definitely NOT seen it. The film was made in 1962 in Mexico on a micro budget and it shows.
still from brainiac el baron del terrorThere is no actual scenery, other than the interior of a few rooms. Backdrops are just photo’s. It couldn’t possibly look more fake! There is one shot of an inanimate comet that is downright hilarious! Another awesome effect used often in the film is a flashlight (or possibly a table lamp) used to shine on the Baron’s eyes. You see, the Baron has the power to transfix beautiful women with his eyes. Curvy Mexican women in pencil skirts become seduced by his gaze. They kiss him passionately, sometimes in view of their significant other, or in one case, dear old dad. The father’s reaction is classic! I included a picture, but it really doesn’t do it justice! Without a doubt, the monster is the cheesiest and strangest component. I would be curious to know where the motivation to create this creature came from. I am guessing that Tequilia was involved. Sadly I couldn’t find a good picture, but he is
still from brainiac el baron del terror 2
quite hairy with long pointy ears, and a long pointy nose, a long forked tongue, long fangs and tentacle-like appendenges for hands. His face pulses and he is capable of sucking the brains clean out of people’s heads. In fact, the Baron keeps a fancy dish full of brains hidden away for when he needs a snack. A few times throughout the film he sneaks off to go have a nibble. These scenes are quite funny. The actor who played the Baron is also a producer for the film. It is obvious the man was having fun with the role. I think my favorite scene was the opening one, where the inquisition’s sentence is being handed down to the Baron. He has a hearty laugh at their findings and immediately after, becomes dead serious. The man steals the show, but the whole damn thing is all about him anyway. This is NOT a good film, but it made me laugh. There’s really not much more I can say about ‘Brainiac’. It is a film that shamelessly self-promotes itself as “The most bizarre horror movie. Ever.” ‘El Barón Del Terror’ is a film that knows it is bad but embraces that badness and runs with it. Many people will not appreciate this film on any level. But, if you’re a fan of low budget monster flicks from the 50’s and 60’s and don’t mind it cheesy and wacky, give this one a whirl. Recommended with warning.

Dungeon Rating: 3/5

Directed By: Chano Urueta

Starring: Abel Salazar, David Silva, Germán Robles, Luis Aragón, René Cardona, Rubén Rojo and Carlos Nieto

ALUCARDA – Alucarda, la hija de las tinieblas – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Mexico, movies with tags , , , , on June 15, 2009 by goregirl

Alucarda“They gave their souls to Hell… but the Devil wanted MORE!”

This deliciously sacrilegious and surreal bit of insanity from 1978 is pure exploitative gold. They just don’t make them like this anymore!

Justine takes residence in a convent after the death of her parents. She befriends Alucarda on her first night. The two immediately form a bond and are soon frolicking through the forest and rolling down hills giggling. One day the two girls come upon a tomb which Alucarda is anxious to investigate. This is the very tomb where Alucarda’s mother, impregnated by the devil, gave birth to her fifeteen years previous. Immediately upon her birth she is handed off to a shady looking guardian to be taken to a safe place. Needless to say, her entry into this most unholy of places stirs the demon forces and the two girls become possessed. It is going to be a hot time in the old convent tonight folks!

The sets are imaginative and quite impressive. The convent has the appearance of a cave and the multiple tiered Christs hanging from the ceiling is one of the most brilliant props I have ever seen! Instead of traditional habits, the nuns are clothed in what appears to be torn bloodied bandages. Tina Romero, who plays Alucarda gives a brooding and wonderfully wicked performance. When the action starts, it keeps a spirited pace right through to the end. There is more hysterical
female screaming then I’ve ever witnessed in a single film! The dialogue is over dramatic at times and there are a few moments that are bordering on cheesy but Moctezuma’s strange, daunting and moody presentation keeps it from slipping into silliness. There is some great bonus material on the dvd, including a brief doc on the films director, Juan López Moctezuma and an interview with Guillermo Del Toro. You will be treated to bizarre images, flagellating nuns, satanic rituals, copious nudity, lesbianism, and bloody violence. It is all complimented nicely by some trippy organ music. This little gem from
Mexico City is a must see for horror fans! Highly recommended!

Dungeon Ratings: 5/5

Directed By: Juan López Moctezuma

Starring: Claudio Brook, David Silva, Tina Romero, Susana Kamini, Lili Garza, Tina French, Birgitta Segerskog and Adriana Roel
alucarda still