By Jerome Reuter
Alucarda is a 1978 nun-sploitation/horror film, directed by Juan Lopez Moctezuma. Truth be told, I feel it’s severely underrated. I consider it in the same league as Amando De Ossorio’s Tombs Of The Blind Dead. This is one of the best horror films to emerge from Latin America. Much like the blind dead series, it manages to touch on themes of Catholic guilt, old superstitions, and devil worship. In some circles, some have even compared it to Ken Russell’s The Devils. The film has even received praise from acclaimed director Guillermo Del Toro.
The story is centered on two girls living in a convent. (Catholic guilt, much?) The two girls in question are named Alucarda and Justine. I’ve always seen the Justine character as a slight homage to the Marquis De Sade novel of the same name. Anyway, the two forge a close relationship that borderlines on a sexual one. The two forge a blood pact with each other, and one with the Devil himself. This is a trope you’ll find in many nun-sploitation films, girls in a convent joining the ranks of Satan. Here, it’s really well done. The film shows the transformation of Justine, from innocent girl to daughter of the devil.
Aside from this angle being entertaining, there’s a hidden commentary here. It addresses the sexual repression felt by many who might have had a strict Catholic upbringing. In any nation with strict Catholic ties, a lesbian/homosexual relationship is a strong taboo. At least in earlier times, so this really plays upon social morays of the time period.
The film also takes an angle regarding demonic possession. Once again, this is an angle many films took. From Lisa And The Devil to The Exorcist, this was a popular theme to work with. I think a lot of this has to do with the rigidness Catholic dogma placed on society for so many years. With modern Satanism entering its way into popular culture, it’s only natural to exploit the Devil, and all the controversy that comes with him.
That’s what this film is, and it’s also why I have a high regard for it. It has themes and tropes that have been seen several times before. On the surface it appears as just another film about devil worship, young girls being scantily clad, and Catholic guilt. However, it deals with themes that have courted controversy, and is a work that’s well put together. Give this one a watch, you won’t be disappointed.