Friday, August 3, 2012

Vudú sangriento (1973)

... aka: Black Exorcist
... aka: Black Voodoo Exorcist
... aka: Bloody Voodoo
... aka: Vengeance du zombie, La
... aka: Vengeance of the Zombie, The
... aka: Voodoo Black Exorcist

Directed by:
Manuel Caño

"A thousand years ago" in Nigeria, a woman's lover accidentally killed her husband during a fight. The adulterous duo were then brought in front of their tribe for punishment. She ended up losing her head and he had a pin dipped in curare driven through his neck and was then entombed in a cave. NASA stock footage (hey, why not?) brings us up to the present day. The sarcophagus containing the mummified remains of the dead man - a prince, no less - are loaded onto a luxury Caribbean cruise ship and placed in storage. The mummy's new owner, Dr. Robert Kessling ("Alfred May" / Alfredo Mayo), wants to bring the mummy to Port-au-Prince to do some televised conference and brings a few colleagues along on the trip. There's Freddy ("Alexander Abrahan"), who's assigned to watch over the coffin in the storage compartment and then there's attractive redhead Sylvia (Eva "Lion" / León), Kessling's secretary and lover, whom he wants to marry. Mrs. Thorndyke ("Mary River" / María Antonia del Río) , a nutty tarot-card reading old woman, predicts an unexpected visitor aboard the ship. They get one when the mummy springs to life and immediately smashes a poor kitty. The mummy just as quickly manages to regenerate back to bald-domed human form as Prince Gatanebo (Aldo Sambrell). The Prince just as quickly changes back into mummy form from time to time to kill whoever happens to be in his way.

When Freddy tries to steal an invaluable gold ring off the corpse, it comes to, slaps him in the face and then injects him with a substance, saying "You will do what I want!" Now with a faithful helper at his side, the mummy goes about trying to reunite with the reincarnation of his lost love Kenya, who happens to be Sylvia. How convenient! Sylvia finds herself unexplanably drawn to the sarcophagus: "I had the impression of being turned inside-out into a state of no gravity." Gatanebo decapitates a steward with his sword and leaves the head on Sylvia's bed as an offering. Seeing how there's a murderer on the loose, the Captain decides it would be best to dock early in Kingston, Jamaica so the local police can come on board and investigate. Dr. Kessling is supposed to pick up a doctor at the airport anyway, but Gatanebo and Freddy manage to get to him first and run over him with a steamroller! Inspector Dominguez ("Ferdinand" / Fernando Sancho) shows up, says "When I don't have a lead, I drink gin and wait." then leaves without doing anything.

Gatanebo finally reveals himself to Kessling and promises to help him with his voodoo studies in exchange for anonymity. Kessling lets him impersonate his flattened colleague Dr. Craig so he can get back on the ship without being detected. The mummy-man dishes the dirt on voodoo rituals and says "Three centuries in museums, I have learned many, many things." He's also lost his sacred ring and wants it back. Upon arrival in Port-au-Prince, the mummy gets into a series of little adventures. He stops by a television station to slap a dancer around and kill her sugar daddy. Then he gets into a fight with a man armed with a fire hose and kills him. Finally, he has Freddy kidnap Sylvia and the two drag her back to some caves. The inspector and some policemen show up for the incredibly anti-climactic finale.

Awful editing, terrible English dubbing, bare bones plotting that still manages to be confusing, some really bad makeups and thorough technical ineptitude turn this one into a laugh riot in no time. During one of the murder scenes, both the cameraman and the director are clearly visible in a mirror several times. It keeps zipping back to the "thousand years ago" scenes and tints them red to pad out the running time. The director's tendency to film his actors at the edge of the frame doesn't hold up to well with the full screen presentation, where people's heads, faces and sometimes their entire bodies are off-screen. The film also boasts ones of the laziest and most incompetent police inspectors of all time. He bitches about being tired and hot, constantly fans himself with his hat and has dialogue like "I'm not used to thinking so much." This was a typical role for the portly Sancho, who played similar roles in many other genre films.

There's lots of misinformation about this one on the web, particularly in regards to the cast. The Anglacized credits are at least partially to blame for that. Second-billed "star" Tanyeka Stadler is usually listed as playing Kenya, but that's not actually the case. Kenya is also played by León (in blackface!), the real female star here despite being billed sixth. If I had to venture a guess, I'd say Stadler (probably a fake name to begin with) is the large-breasted, drag-queen-looking fire dancer whose routines they keep showing over and over again. The actor who plays Freddy also plays Kenya's husband in the pre-credits footage. I recognize this guy but can't place him at the moment.

It was a Spanish / American production and was filmed in Haiti, Jamaica and Santo Domingo. The director (who also made the IMO much-better SWAMP OF THE RAVENS) probably just hired out a cruise ship for the filming, so I'm sure all involved at least got a nice vacation out of this.



Stevie B. said...

To me 1974's ABBY is a movie much more worthy of the title THE BLACK EXORCIST.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

It's definitely more accurate but may have given creedence to Warner Brothers' BS lawsuit! I am still waiting for a decent release of ABBY...

Stevie B. said...

I'd read a while back that Glenn Danzig was supposed to be working on releasing a good-looking DVD of ABBY but I'm not sure if that's still happening. I just have it on an old crappy VHS.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

I bought Abby on DVD and was a bit surprised at how terrible the print condition was. I mean it was great to finally see it but I'm still hoping for a much better-quality version one day.

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