Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Alucarda (1978)

Caution: Spoilers Galore

A beautiful, young woman (Tina Romero) has just given birth to a daughter in a most desolate place. She hands the infant to a straw-covered old goat of a woman, instructing her to protect the child, “and don’t let him take her away.” The Goat Woman whisks the child off, leaving the young woman alone and frightened. The structure begins to echo with disembodied growls and unholy groans, while the young woman grimaces in terror. Methinks the little girl’s Daddy might have some friends in low places…

The child is taken to a convent to be raised by a strange order of nuns, who wear habits made of soiled feminine hygiene products. Alucarda (Tina Romero), who is shown now a young woman, finds a kindred spirit in Justine (Susana Kamini), who is taken in by the convent after the death of her parents. The beautiful, soft-featured Justine stands in bold contrast against her pale, raven-haired new friend. Be-frocked in heavy, head-to-toe black, Alucarda’s behaviour is unabashed. She takes Justine out into the woods to show her the many “secrets” she has discovered there.

The two girls encounter a barnyard oddity (somebody, at some point, loved a goat out in those woods and spawned a whole new kind of ugly) who is eager to show them his collection of protective amulets. Justine is frightened of the gamey woodland peddler (Claudio Brook), and rightly so. Alucarda, on the other hand, is intrigued by the gypsy’s talk of fortune and alchemy.

“I see your dream clearly, your past and future.
You have come from the dew in the forest, and
there they will be waiting for you.
Strange creatures, they are,
and you must take care.”

Alucarda flees, in tears, with Justine following behind her. They come upon what appears to be an old church, which the Tampon Torture Nuns have graciously decorated in gore-soaked bed sheets. Alucarda feels she knows the place, somehow, although she is certain she has never been there before. She brazenly decides to look inside. The bosom friends are entering into a crypt.

“Are you afraid of dying?
I mean, dying loving each other.
Dying together, so we may live as one
forever, with the same blood always flowing
through our veins. Darling, darling Justine…
I live in you...Would you die for me?”

Just as the girls prepare to enter into a solemn death pact, Alucarda unwittingly opens her own mother’s coffin, and in doing so, releases a terrifying cacophony of unholy voices which torment her mind. Alucarda herself lapses into delirium, while poor Justine looks on in horror. Just before our raven-haired Hellcat begins pulling out her hair in large, bloody chunks, the girls are able to break the spell of paralyzing terror that the haunted place has cast upon them, and flee to the sanctity of the convent. But the “voices from the past” haunt them, still. The girls sense that something has travelled back with them; a dark malevolence perceptibly casting its shadow over their union.

Justine collapses during a particularly fire-and-brimstone-filled sermon at Our Lady of the Tampon Torture Nuns. When Alucarda is charged with the responsibility of watching over her delicate friend, the girls speak openly about their shared sense of impending doom. After but a few moments alone with Justine, Alucarda is in fits again. This time, she seems to have developed a rather intense distaste for Jesus Jewelry.

Alucarda seems quite possessed; omitting sounds which only dogs can hear, along with others which are both audible and extremely uncomfortable to humans. Calling out the names of the fallen angel, she suddenly a starring role in a rather intriguing, ritualistic tableau: Justine lies limp and helpless against a wall, as the Gypsy Goat Man (when did he get here?) dry humps her. Alucarda is propelled backward by the awesome force of her 70’s beaver, achieving top-notch contortion while continuing to wail in a demonic language.

Gypsy Goat Man strips Justine of her clothes, and binds her to Alucarda by hands and blood. In spirit, the girls are led into the woods to become the sensuous centerpiece in a bona fide Witches’ Sabbat, complete with raucous orgy touched by the hands of the Horned God himself!

As Justine and Alucarda become more entrenched in their erotic woodland adventures, the most benign of the Tampon Torture Nuns, Sister Anjelica (Tina French), works herself into a bloody, bombastic Jesus frenzy on the girls’ behalf, beseeching her Saviour to protect them from harm. A lightning bolt of Righteous Revenge strikes and kills the High Priestess, thus ending the unholy ritual, and Sister Anjelica takes a well-deserved moonwalk across a beam of heavenly light in celebration.

But the demonic merry-go-round hasn’t stopped spinning yet! During Daily Scripture Drill, Justine and Alucarda are caught snickering in the back of class. When confronted by Sister Germana, they erupt into anti-Christian philosophy. Oh, my!

“And this is what the Devil does:
he grants us virtues to expand his Kingdom,
the only valid one. God, with his lack of knowledge,
does not understand this truth, and opposes it
with false thoughts and prayers…
Satan, Satan, Satan! Our Lord and Master!”

Sister Germana (Adriana Roel) urges the girls to repent, but poor, confused Justine merely flops around, speechless, while Alucarda hovers in the darkness, stoic in her evil vows. The Sisters order them to prepare for Confession at once, although Justine barely looks like she’ll hold out until dinner time. Stricken with what is presumably the physical manifestation of her allegiance with the Devil, she quickly slips into her deathbed, and pulls up the covers.

Alucarda’s confession doesn’t go very well. After spewing even more anti-Christian philosophy, our dark heroine makes a sexual advance on Father Lazaro (David Silva) and is ordered banished from the convent. Father Lazaro and the Tampon Torture Nuns retire to the Whipping Lounge to unwind after a long day spent dealing with demonic little girls. They must save their strength for the Exorcism!

Sister Anjelica arrives with Dr. Oszek (Claudio Brook) to inject some reality into the torrid scene of nuns rolling around on the floor in ecstasy, and teenage girls strung up on crosses, their clothes torn off and their blood spilled.

“This is not an act of faith!
This is the most primitive expression of ignorance
I have ever seen! You have just killed Justine!”

Dr. Oszek takes Alucarda away to the safety of his own abode, where his blind, trusting daughter Daniela is primed and waiting for the Devil Girl’s seductive charms. When she first awakens in the strange, new environment, Alucarda reacts like a caged animal. There is something horribly familiar about the Doctor, no matter what he says to try to calm her. But once the helpless, innocent Daniela begins exploring Alucarda’s face with her soft fingertips, Devil Girl is enraptured again.

Back at Our Lady of the Tampon Torture Nuns, the Satanic shit continues to hit the fan! Dr. Oszek is called back to help after Justine’s body is discovered missing. When the carcass of one of the Tampon Torture Nuns is found charred, as though by “the fires of Hell,” Father Lazaro takes matters into his own, sanctimonious hands, and dismembers her remains with the Lord’s Sword.

“She was dead, but the Forces of Evil
had not abandoned her!”

Even Dr. Oszek is convinced now; it must be the work of the Devil! The Devil, working through the still-possessed, undead body of Justine! And what’s worse, Alucarda, probably still-possessed as well, and most definitely still alive, is back home – alone – with poor Daniela! Sweet Christ!

The house is deserted. Alucarda has gone back to the only home she has ever known: the convent. Sister Anjelica takes Dr. Oszek to the crypt deep in the woods, where Justine’s body lay marinating in a coffin full of blood. She springs from her resting place, slashing at Sister Anjelica with all the fury of Hell. The persistent Sister makes one last plea for Justine’s immortal soul, and at last, innocence and purity flickers once again in the girls’ eyes… Until Oszek and his gang of Priests come rushing in to ruin the tender moment by dousing it with Holy Water.

In her final, searing moments, Justine lunges at Sister Anjelica, tearing her throat out, before collapsing dramatically to the floor, leaving little more than a charred mound of un-undead flesh behind. The crusaders must now seek out and destroy the Devil Girl, by means of Exorcism. They find Alucarda in the convent proper, setting nuns on fire with the fully-realized force of her Devil-given powers. At her side is Daniela, frightened and defenseless. Alas, Alucarda’s special brand of scary love brings about the undue suffering of yet another innocent playmate. As the blind girl tumbles down the staircase, Alucarda’s face is marked briefly with remorse, followed immediately with even more Hellfire.

The tattered, old hide of Sister Anjelica is erected during a crucial moment in Alucarda’s fiery Exorcism. Held Christ-like in the face of the raving Devil Girl, it acts as the Ultimate Weapon against the Forces of Evil living deep within the child. Alucarda howls ferociously, and pulls her hair some more for old times’ sake, but God’s Army hath expunged the Devil Girl… While the convent and a sizeable portion of its inhabitants burns, so it was a win-win situation.

ALUCARDA is an absolute dream to watch, time and again. The artistry is as rich and vivid as the underlying themes of religious oppression, sexual repression, and love’s innocence. Every frame of Juan López Moctezuma’s masterpiece is exquisitely shot, staged, dressed, and lit, by a brilliant team of artists led by Kleomenes Stamatiades. The musical score, composed by Anthony Guefen, provides all the necessary dramatic nuances without overpowering the breathtaking imagery.

Tina Romero is phenomenal in the title role, with a face so expressive that she actually seems to communicate her character better during non-speaking scenes. Romero’s portrayal of Alucarda as a lost orphan searching for a sense of belonging is as believable as her portrayal of the shrieking Devil Girl with the hypnotic eyes. Always filmed in sharp contrast against Alucarda, Justine’s character balances Alucarda’s insolence with soft, virginal beauty. Susana Kamini’s delicate features and demure mannerisms endear her to the role of Justine, the perfect companion for Alucarda in her harrowing journey of self-exploration.

So, run – don’t walk – to the woodland clearing filled with writhing Satanists nearest you!!!

My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult

5/5 Kitty Skulls = Pick of the litter!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jennifer Tilly!

I will resist the urge to lapse into verse here, and simply wish a Happy Birthday to Jennifer Tilly, who turns 50 today. Born Jennifer E. Chan in Los Angeles, and raised by her mother in British Colombia (Canada), the titillating Ms. Tilly enrolled in a theatre program at Stephens College in Missouri, and has since gone on to win starring and supporting roles in over 100 film and television productions.

The deliciously offbeat stunner is perhaps best known for her role in the sexy and suspenseful BOUND with Gina Gershon (more for the steamy girl-on-girl love scenes than anything else, which is a shame, as the film was quite inventive and entertaining), and of course, the chemistry she and Brad Dourif shared in lending their voices to the demonic dolls Tiffany and Chucky in BRIDE OF CHUCKY, and the subsequent SEED OF CHUCKY (which was an absolute turd of a movie, with virtually no redeeming qualities beyond Ms. Tilly's unmistakeable, love-it-or-hate-it voice).

The Doe Caught in the Headlights style which she has made so uniquely her own works incredibly well in comedic situations, case in point being her uproarious performance alongside KIDS IN THE HALL alumni Dave Foley in THE WRONG GUY. Tilly plays Lynn Holden, a narcoleptic country bumpkin who falls in love with Nelson Hibbert (Foley), a man who is on the run from the law because he believes himself to be the prime suspect in a grisly murder case (he's actually not, wherein lies all the fun and hijinx). This is one of the few comedies I've seen which actually gets better with subsequent viewings, and is easily one of my favourite laugh out loud films - definitely worth a peek!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Black Devil Rock God: A Portrait

Black Devil Rock God

Acrylic on Mystery Wood

Pictured is Punky, the bratty guitarist from blasphemous heavy/industrial band Voice of God. Completing this piece was a momentous occasion for me, as this was my first attempt at painting a man's face.

The female lines are so much more pronounced, and seem to be more easily translated into brush strokes (at least for hack hobby artists, like myself). I have always maintained the theory that it is far more difficult to find the appropriate focal points in a man's face without overemphasizing them. After all, can a woman's eyes ever be too large, or her lips too full? No, but a man's certainly can. Masculinity is far more subtle, and fragile than I had originally estimated.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Dead? Alive?

Not dead. Not alive. Hanging on a laundry line, somewhere in between.

Since my last post here, I've been sick. Real sick. Sicker than 8 bitches on a bitch boat.

I know what you're thinking: "Is it contagious? Can I get it from reading your blog?" The answer is NO, but there's a lot of other nasty junk floating around in here that could pose a potential risk to your overall health and well-being. The management assumes no responsibility...

As it turns out, The Sickness is really more like a Lifelong Ailment, which isn't nearly as bad as it sounds. 4/5 medical professionals think I'll go on to lead a normal, uneventful life. The 5th medical professional wanted me to tell you to keep tha eff back while the moon is full. And also, to beware the moors.

So... in the off chance that anyone is still reading this blog, now that I am on a steady dose of Deadly Nightshade and feeling much more like myself, real, actual content is most definitely forthcoming. Grab yourself a naked witch, a horned god, and get on down to the clearing in the woods -- next time we gather here, we'll be discussing one my all-time favourites, Alucarda (note the appropriately demonic URL).

Until then, please remember to wash your hands. I touched everything in here.