Friday, 31 October 2008
HALLOWEEN HORRORS: THE CURSE OF THE CRYING WOMAN
This quick-off-the-mark Mexican homage to Mario Bava's BLACK SUNDAY wastes no time in creating a haunted world that, on its own terms, comes close to giving the Italians a run for their money.As a coach bearing three travellers continues its journey through an eerie wood, a sightless woman, flanked by three hounds, silently bids her henchman to stop the coach and murder its occupants. Hell of an opening, and, for the viewer, things get even better when Emily (Rosita Arenas) arrives at her Aunt Thelma's spooky hacienda, a matter of hours before her 23rd birthday.As one of the most renowned films from Churubusca Azteca Studios, THE CURSE OF THE CRYING WOMAN certainly lives up to its reputation, with Rita Macedo taking centre stage as the black magic woman who plans to use her niece to help resurrect one Marianne Lane - 'The Wailing Witch.'Macebo and Arenas are both excellent here, pushing their compelling battle of wills to the limit, while Salazar (Emily's husband) and Moctezuma (Thelma's hired hand, rescued from the gallows) make for good opposing characters; the real deal, however, comes with some exceptionally unnerving special effects: haunted mirrors, decaying not-quite-dead bodies, Macedo's gobsmacking entrance through a window and a wonderful series of shots featuring satanic rituals, shot with negative film stock - think Benjamin Christenson meets Italian Gothic. Just a few of the highlights from a film which may have come under the scrutiny of a pre-BARON BLOOD Mario Bava and, possibly, Dario Argento: check out INFERNO again and note not only the finale, but also certain dialogue similarities. My first experience of this film came via Beverly Wilshire's DVD, which, while bearing the customary scratches and splices of their Mexican series, is more than acceptable though it does, of course, highlight budget restrictions (rubber bats on wires, etc). For an infinitely more pleasing presentation, interested punters are directed to the special edition from Casanegra, which features a pristine transfer taken from newly restored vault elements. I'm sure I'm not the only one to express sorrow regarding the demise of this enterprising label.