Thursday, October 25, 2007

El Espejo de la Bruja (The Witch’s Mirror)

(1962, Mexican) ***1/2

Thematically similar to Les Yeux Sans Visage (which is probably why Netflix practically begged me to check it out), The Witch’s Mirror tosses witchcraft and mad science into the mix with interesting results.

After foreseeing the murder of her goddaughter at the hands of her husband, a witch named Sara prays to Lucifer for assistance. The Devil hears her prayers but explains that Elena’s death is predestined and cannot be prevented. Elena accepts her fate and bravely (or stupidly) drinks the poison drink that Eduardo puts in her hands. Sara vows revenge.

Eduardo marries his former mistress and unknowingly hires the scheming godmother as their maid. His new wife Deborah is very moody, manipulative and condescending. She instructs Sara to remove all traces of Elena from the home. Sara obliges, but simultaneously summons Elena’s ghost through a totally cool magic mirror. After a thorough house haunting, Elena gets her vengeance by horribly disfiguring Deborah with a fire.

Surprisingly, Eduardo proves his love for Deborah by standing by her side and vowing to make her beautiful again. (He also happens to be a doctor.) With the assistance of handyman Gustavo, he steals bodies from the morgue to use for the skin graft operations. When corpse-napping doesn’t suffice, he moves on to murder. All of this serves only to fuel Sara’s rage. She spends the remainder of the film going through great lengths to prove that pissing off a witch is a terrible idea.

I enjoyed the fact that there are no purely good or purely evil characters. Eduardo is a murderer and bastard yet he is wholly devoted to Deborah. Sara’s vengeful behavior stems from her love for Elena and the unjustness of her death. Elena dies an innocent victim but her spirit takes part in the diabolical plans. And Deborah could be accurately described as a total bitch but she was not involved in any criminal activity and her suffering is therefore unjustified.

It also boasted delightfully eerie sets and music. The scenes involving witchcraft were executed with great care and prove to be a cut above most of its 1950's American counterparts.


Johnny Sweatpants said...

Alright I'll admit it - I had absolutely no idea that Mexican horror movies even existed. It makes me wonder about other countries. Greenland? Saudi Arabia? South Africa?

JPX said...

Our first Mexican horror review! I continue to be impressed with your horror movie discoveries this year. I think you win the prize for most movies I never knew existed.