Set in 1865, recent orphan Justine (Susana Kamini) is brought to live in a convent. She has to share a room with another orphan, Alucarda (Tina Romero) who wants to share her "secrets" with her. The pair are frolicking in the woods looking for secrets when they meet some mysterious gypsies. The satyr like gypsy man (Claudio Brook) gives Alucarda a knife and returns later to join the girls in a bizarre ceremony where they invoke devils and drink each others blood.
The girls go on with life at the convent, causing mayhem, by denying god and praising Satan. Alucarda even tries to rape the priest at confession. The nuns decide the girls are possessed by the devil and decide to perform an exorcism. Justine and Alucarda are crucified. Justine is killed but a doctor arrives in time to save Alucarda and takes her to stay at his home with his blind daughter Daniella (Lili Garza). Daniella replaces Justine in Alucarda's affections. Panic ensues when the corpse of Justine is found missing and they realise that she has "risen again." She is found in a coffin filled with blood and dispatched with holy water, but not before killing Sister Angelica (Tina French), the nun who was in love with her. Alucarda returns to the convent and invokes hellfire to raise it to the ground in a cataclysmic ending… Sister Angelica's body is brought in and crucified and is consumed by flames…
Alucarda reminds me very much of Countess Irena in The Female Vampire. She is a seductive dark beauty… yet with an air of innocence. Amoral rather than evil she is a powerful tool. She is a lesbian, in love with Justine and later Daniella, yet the gender of her partners seem irrelevant, she seems to represent sexuality in general. The film suggests that she is the daughter of Lucy Westenra and we presume Satan… Dracula? She also appears insane, suggesting the untamed chaos of nature… born of the woods and initiated by a man who looks like a satyr she becomes a symbol for pagan forces… There are no fangs, bats or men in black cloaks. Vampirism is seen as demonic possession.
Justine is 15, wide-eyed and innocent. She, like the Justine of the Marquis de Sade enters a journey of corruption. She is adored by both Alucarda and sister Angelica (suggesting there is a battle for her soul). However, the irony is that it is the church who finally end her human life in an exorcism. Her crucifixion and subsequent rising again parallel her to Christ.
This film works on many levels. It can be seen for a metaphor of how the Christian Church persecutes pagan beliefs, and deviant sexuality, even the female gender. Alucarda and Justine are just 15 on the brink of adulthood and the church tries to mould them and they are punished for exploring their sexuality.
The film is shocking in its gratuitous nature, many might be offended particularly by its treatment of Christianity. It is full of female nudity, has a full orgy scene as well as showing graphic violence, a naked girl is crucified, a priest is nearly raped and the final scene shows people being burnt to death. There is also a hint that Sister Angelica is a lesbian.
The mis-en-scene is almost organic, from the lush woodland to the temple and the convent itself. It pulses with life, and adds to the eroticism of the film and hints at the pagan beliefs. The costumes are also symbolic. Alucarda is always dressed in black, a long flowing dress and her hair is unbound, in contrast to the nuns who wear white, restrictive clothing and head coverings that look like bandages or death shrouds (showing the disease of the church from within).
Some of the images are iconic. The scene where Justine rises from the coffin full of blood and Attacks sister Angelica is amazing as a symbol of the struggle between sexuality and virtue. You desperately want Sister Angelica to help Justine, even though she is damned and soaked in blood, yet the Dr. comes along and douses her in holy water.
The scene where Justine is crucified and the priest has her dress ripped off so that he can find the mark of the devil, shows the perversion of the clergy. The scene where Alucarda and Justine are initiated is unbelievably erotic - two naked women holding a knife with a woodland god between them, it almost looks like a painting. The ending where Alucarda causes the convent to burn down with her mind, symbolises the release after being repressed by the church. It is touching when she sees her lover Daniella in the chaos but is powerless to save her… Finally the conflict between Christian and Pagan beliefs is symbolised by Sister Angelica praying while Justine and Alucarda are initiated into what appears to be a pagan cult, dancing naked and chanting. Angelica cries tears of blood and the power of her prayer kills the female leader of the orgy. At that point Sister Angelica becomes soaked in blood her face dripping with it, showing the blood spilt by the church.
Linking vampirism with demonic possession is an original take on the vampire legend.
The acting is terrible. Alucarda looks the part, but there is little depth to her nor indeed any other character. The characters become mere symbols… the only character with any real depth is Sister Angelica. The lines are delivered woodenly, and there is little chemistry between Alucarda and Justine or Daniella.
The dialogue is very flat, most of it is screaming… by the end it is one long scream-fest. This gets really annoying. You could watch this as a silent film and I don't think it would make a difference.
The film seems to jump, particularly in the relationship between Alucarda and Justine. Alucarda approaches Justine like a loony… and then they are merrily frolicking in the woods together… and then Alucarda reveals her undying love for her… It all seems exceedingly sudden. And what's Alucarda and Daniella all about? Alucarda tells Justine that she could only fall in love with her and immediately after her death she is kissing Daniella… I find this strange, that Alucarda is more disturbed by Daniella's death than Justine's.
Logic let me introduce you...
How did Lucy Westenra get into a little known satanic temple? I presumed that she was the mother of Alucarda that we see die in the opening sequence… While nothing explicit is given, Alucarda finds the coffin of Lucy and says she died in 1850, 15 years ago and the year they were born… How did Lucy come to be there? The Lucy of Dracula is killed and never had a child. However it does seem a more than a coincidence that she bears that name and has a daughter whose name is a Dracula spelt backwards…
Say What? Cool Quotes:
Biggest sign of imminent doom:
"Now child, there's nothing to be afraid of…"
Best thing to say to a Christian priest to piss him off:
"You worship death- I worship life"
Vampirism as demonic possession:
"That's it a heleophobic demon, that's a 6th category devil who hates light, he acts at night where the shadows protect him."
The church's justification for crucifying someone:
"Do not despair child, we are here to deliver you from evil."
Just in case you're not certain:
"These are the doings of the transgressor, the seducer, the enemy of virtue, the perpetual persecutor of innocence, the archenemy of god!"
Dracula, it mentions Lucy Westenra
Justine by the Marquis de Sade
There is very little music, but then it would be hard to hear much over the screaming.
Claudio Brook also stars in the Mexican vampire movie Cronos (1992)
This film may be limited by budget, and because of the era in which it was made, may appear a little rough around the edges, particularly in the lack of acting ability, but it is truly beautiful. It is erotic, shocking, yet tragic and profoundly moving. It bears all the iconic symbolism of the Eurotica films, leaving images in the mind long after the film is over, and yet it has a plot. Certainly this is not going to be to everyone's taste and if you are easily offended you should avoid this film, however if you have an open mind then let the beauty of Alucarda wash over you. It is truly original and beautiful. Outstanding.