The Curse of the Doll People
Director: Benito Alazraki
What I know about Mexican films could fit in a thimble. A small one. From
time to time I come across a blurb or review of ones from the 1950's and
60's but I have no idea what their film industry consisted of. I am sure
there was a serious artistic aspect to it but I generally only read of very
genre based films - horror, masked wrestlers, monsters, witches and so on.
And the common theme that I hear is how weird and cheap they are which has
kept me at a distance because weird and cheap don't on their own make me
itch to see them. But I came across this one - The Curse of the Doll People
a.k.a. Munecos Infernales which I guess would be translated as Devil Doll.
And it is pretty good.
If I had watched it without knowing, I would have placed this in the 1940's
- it has that black and white shadowy look to it and the violence is graphically
toned down and the sex is non-existant. In fact, if it had been in English
I might have thought it was a missing RKO Val Lewton film - in the same creepy
neighborhood and style of I Walked with a Zombie or The Seventh Victim. Down
dark threatening streets, full of ritual and superstition, unexplained deaths
and an atmosphere of impending doom.
These four nitwits gather a group of friends around them at a dinner party
to tell them that while in Haiti they broke into a secret Voodoo temple and
stole a very important sacred figure. Yikes. Rule number 1. Leave the voodoo
to the voodoo practicioners. Never interfere. But too late now. The voodoo
priest has sent them a warning. They will begin dying at midnight. Ha ha
ha. Well one of them does and even then they go - oh it must have been an
accident - another dies and they go maybe he was sick. No. Get out of town.
But they don't of course.
Only the girlfriend of a doctor (the lovely Elvira Quintana) knows what is
going on. These killings are being carried out by these doll people brought
to life to kill - either midgets or children - wearing masks that resemble
people that have died. The production cost of these masks must have run $10
but the effect is quite chilling and wonderful as they slowly - oh so slowly
- move on their targets with these needle blades. Little creeps. There is
also a hideous impossible to kill zombie as well - it is a voodoo film. Quite
enjoyable with a lot of stabbing and perhaps too much dialogue - but good
enough to make me want to seek out a few more like this.
The actress Elvira Quintana is good in this - understated and at times terrified.
She was a big star in Mexico by way of being a refugee from the Spanish Civil
War and also a popular recording star. But she tragically passed away in
1968 at the age of 32.