Wednesday, July 07, 2010

La Señora Muerte – review

Director – Jaime Salvador

Release date: 1969

Contains spoilers

A little while ago we looked at the Mexican movie Las Vampiras, which actually featured a dubbed John Carradine. Carradine actually made several movies in Mexico at around the same time including this, La Señora Muerte or the Death Woman.

Just as he did in las Vampiras, Carradine provided an opening narration but this is a completely different type of film and it features a (bad) science based vampire. Indeed there are overtones in this of Atom Age Vampire - which I didn’t feel was actually a vampire movie – but it edges much more towards I Vampiri.

Andres and Marlene in love
Things start, however, with a couple in bed. Andres (Victor Junco) and Marlene (Regina Torné) are married and very much in love. She owns a successful fashion house and he is a doctor and, from their conversation, it appears that she cannot live without him and he… Well there is a dark cloud as he talks of death and it appears that is justified. He has what appears to be a heart attack and tells her to take him to Dr Favel (John Carradine) as only Favel can save him – she knows Favel has been kicked out of the medical and scientific community.

come up to the lab and see what's on the slab
She follows his wishes however and takes her husband to what is a mad scientist’s lair. I have to say there seemed to be a clash between the main film that had a gaillo feel and the scenes in the lab that felt like they had been extracted from a movie shot 10 years before. Anyway Favel, who as well as the lab has a hunchback assistant called Laor (Carlos Ancira), confirms that Andres has degenerative cancer. He places the patient into suspended animation.

Laor working the machines
To save him, Favel says that he is replacing all his blood with healthy blood but something goes wrong and Andres dies. Not to worry, he can bring him back – he just needs healthy young blood – like Marlene’s. She offers every last drop and the procedure is scheduled for the next night. She gets back to her home and her assistant Lisa (Isela Vega) is there preparing invites for the next fashion show. Actually she is waiting on the designer Tony (Miguel Ángel Álvarez) with whom she is having an affair.

I'm... hideous
Marlene returns to Favel’s lab and he explains that he is going to draw her blood for Andres, treating it with radiation. She lies down and he starts the procedure but, again, something has gone wrong. She rushes to a mirror and half her face is old and twisted. Favel suggests that her system couldn’t stand the intensity of the treatment and her cells have partially degenerated and the condition will only get worse. However he can make her young again and save Andre – but the price is blood. She must kill to survive.

siphoning blood
That is then the gist from thereon in. She kills young women and then drains their blood. This is done through a bottle and tube (off screen) and bizarrely – despite looking like it could only hold a pint – she manages to drain every last drop. The doctor has given her an injection (of blood or something else, was not clear) that makes her temporarily normal again and, actually, the aging almost seems random.

attack from the dark
There is a side story with Laor falling in love with Marlene and expressing it by trying to rape her – but eventually becoming quite a sympathetic character, quite bizarrely. However the majority of the film is her taking out victims via piano wire and daggers and trying to frame Tony for the crimes. However there is a wonderful undertone to this, which makes this film stand out.

Marlene starts to lose it more and more and yet her madness is due to guilt. The killings are not actually a product of her vanity, she genuinely wants to try and save her husband in the first instance. Torné’s performance is brilliant and she imbues the character with just the right level of desperation. We see her crimes and yet we sympathise with her.

John Carradine gurning at the camera
Favel, on the other hand, is just absolutely nuts and Carradine seems to be having a ball gurning at the camera with a multitude of insane expressions. It is just a shame that his dialogue seemed clunky and the poor dubbing didn’t help that at all.

This isn’t the best film of its type but Torné’s performance makes it worth seeing. 5 out of 10. The imdb page is here.

No comments: