Alucarda (1977)

[6.5]

In this dream-like film from director Juan López Moctezuma, a teenaged girl named Justine goes to live at a convent after the death of her parents. Unfortunately, her nun roommate, Alucarda, turns out to be a satanic lesbian with slightly vampiric tendencies. How the nuns missed the warning signs, we’ll never know. But after Alucarda takes Justine to a devil orgy in the woods and the two girls take turns drinking blood from each other’s sliced bosoms, there’s really no turning back. The nuns enlist a priest and a doctor to help, but after an exorcism goes wrong, there’s no saving anyone from Hell’s fury.

Alucarda is rough around the edges in some of its execution, but it’s remarkable for its theatrical locations, set design, and wardrobe. It achieves an odd, timeless quality with the nuns wearing mummy bandages and the walls of their convent covered in what looks like a mosaic of stone vaginas. The first two acts move briskly, containing a generous amount of nudity, especially at the wild woods orgy where Justine becomes possessed by the dark one. At first, I thought the movie would become an exploitation flick, but it doesn’t rely on its exploitive elements enough to get that label. It’s more of a dark, subversive, fairy tale.

The third act drags just a smidge, but before you know it, nuns are literally bursting into flame. Can you think of a better way to save a third act? I can’t. There’s also a great scene in which the nuns submit to flagellation while deliberating their predicament. The music is more minimalist and dated that I’d like, but the acting is far better than average for this sort of fare, with leads Tina Romero and Susana Kamini delivering convincing possession scenes full of spinning, screaming, and… is that farting I hear on the soundtrack? In any case, Alucarda is far from conventional. Some may be drawn to its experimental and subversive qualities, others to its crudeness and ‘midnight movie’ value. For me, it’s a mixed bag that’s ultimately more inspired than hindered. With David Silva (El Topo) and Claudio Brook (Cronos).