Friday, December 02, 2016

Honourable Mention: Ángeles y Querubines

This is a rare 1972 Mexican film directed by Rafael Corkidi and it is one that you could argue has more than a fleeting visitation and that the vampire is in plain sight all the way through but, on a very strict interpretation, the vampire does only fleetingly appear in the film at the finale.

It was a controversial movie, seen in its Catholic dominated homeland as quite blasphemous but it doesn’t per se go out of its way to deliberately shock – it is too languid in direction and construction for that. Rather it is quietly subversive. After opening credits roll over a shot of chained wood, crawling with ants as a tonal musical theme is played, the film proper starts in the Garden of Eden (or on a beach) and we at first get Eve (Lea Corkidi) who is a young girl running through the beach naked and then, later, she brings forth Adam (Pablo Corkidi). The sculpture that represents the tree of knowledge has a white sphere on it and it is only through cooperation that they can reach it and this causes an explosion.

Cristián and his father
What we notice is that this is already languid, strange and expressionist, perhaps even psychedelic. It owes a debt to more European fantasy films of around the same era. From the Garden of Eden we move into the home of Don Jacobo Marroquín (Roberto Cañedo). A woman sings and his son, Cristián (Jorge Humberto Robles, Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary), seems rather taken with the daughter, Angela (Helena Rojo, also Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary), of guests.

bite marks
The two young adults fall in love but Cristián’s father does not approve and this causes the family to move away. Cristián is called back to Angela as he is needed but by the time he arrives (and this is at the end of the film) she appears to be dead (though the film isn’t explicit, it is implied that it is by her own hand). He moves to give a kiss and her eye opens and so he agrees to confront his father. By the time he reaches home Don Jacobo is dead – through losing too much blood. Cristián marries his love and we see that he has bite marks on his neck.

Helena Rojo as Angela
It appears both Angela and her mother (Ana Luisa Peluffo) are both creatures of the night. But this is all over the last ten minutes of the film and there is little explicitly vampiric until we see the bites mark with just a few minutes to go. Were they vampires through the film? They may have been but the film wasn’t explicit enough, indeed I would tend to associate the vampiric state with the apparent suicide, and so the vampiric aspect seems only to be delivered fleetingly. It will not be everybody’s cup of tea. However if you like your fantasy surreal it might just be for you.

The imdb page is here.

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