... aka: Evil Revenge
Going into this I was only familiar with the director's crazy punk exploitation flick Intrépidos Punks / "Fearless Punks" (1988), which has gone on to a small following in recent years due mainly to the awesomely 80s makeup, hair and wardrobe, so this mild, talky and non-sleazy horror tale is about the exact opposite of what I was expecting! Businessmen Humberto (Noé Murayama) and Rubén (Juan Valentín, who's also a Grammy-nominated ranchero singer with #1 hits in Mexico) leave their wives and kids at home and go out to celebrate the retirement of an older colleague named Julian (Carlos Pouliot). However, Julian, a practitioner of the occult sciences, doesn't appear to be having a very good time as he's already foreseen his own death, which will be happening sooner rather than later. After attending a little get-together with other co-workers to listen to music and drink, the men get even more drunk with some "cabaret girls" (prostitutes) at a brothel. While driving home late that evening, Humberto strikes a man crossing the street and kills him. The collision has also knocked out the falling-down-drunk Rubén and injured Julian. In order to cover his own ass, Humberto slides Rubén over into the driver's seat to make it look like he's responsible, kills Julian by bashing his head against the window repeatedly and then runs away from the crime scene.
Rubén ends up getting blamed for the deaths, is thrown in the slammer and faces upwards of thirty years behind bars. His wife Lilia (Marisol Cervantes) refuses to let their young daughter come visit because she wants to spare her the indignity of her father being locked away in such a scuzzy environment. To make matters even worse, the sadistic main guard beats him, treats him like dirt, pisses all over his hands while he cleans the toilet and then makes him eat his dinner with his urine-soaked bare hands. Things start improving considerably once he's introduced to his new cellmate, Roman ("Francisco" / Paco Mauri).
Roman is in prison for murdering one of his lovers. However, he seems to believe his bitter / scorned ex Lizbeth (María Rubio), who still loves him but was unable to have him, is responsible for using black magic to force him to kill. And he's right. Lizbeth loves him so much that she'd rather see him locked up than with another woman. And now that he's in jail, he's all hers as she's the only one who wants to visit him. Clever. Rubén now sees the perfect opportunity for revenge, granted Lizbeth, who only used her powers helps those in need under special conditions, is game. Roman is able to convince her. She first warns that there are potential consequences for using witchcraft for revenge purposes and it could very well comes back like a boomerang to hit him. Still, he consents. Lizbeth goes home, does some kind of ceremony and then transfers a vengeance-seeking spirit into a blonde, blue-eyed doll. Rubén then gives the doll to his wife after a conjugal visit and instructs her to give it to Humberto's daughter, Annie (Karla Talavera), for her birthday.
The evil doll starts trouble right away, starting by making little Annie pass out at her own party before she can even blow out the candles on her cake. Its eyes move, sometimes glow red and sometimes are shot with a white band of light across them just like Lugosi's Dracula. More interestingly, the doll's stomach swells, worms crawl out of it and then enter the little girl through her ears, making her take on a sickly, deathly appearance.
Startled by the changes in their daughter, Humberto and his wife Magdalena (Cristina Michaus), who also happens to be Lilia's sister, call in their doctor friend Eduardo (Fernando Pinkus) to help. Even though she's developed under eye bags more befitting a 80-year-old than an 8-year old and her face starts breaking out in ugly dry patches, the doctor assures them that, though she may look like utter hell, physically there's nothing wrong. He recommends either shipping her off to Europe or seeking spiritual help since science can only do so much and he suspects she may have been hexed. Importing in another doctor (played by producer Roberto Lozoya) to look at her doesn't offer any answers. Is it too late to save Annie?
There's a nightmare sequence, a death premonition, a pink-filtered, round doll's eye POV shot and a few occult rituals but what we really have here is an old-fashioned, faintly competent and pretty standard morality tale where everyone involved is hit where it hurts by the tragic ending. While nothing stands out as being blatantly bad here, the problem is nothing stands out as being all that memorable either. The budget is low, the photography, direction, production values and doll effects are all pretty basic and unimpressive and there aren't really any notable stylistic flourishes, impressive special effects or exploitation elements. Passable writing and strong acting (especially from the two male leads) manage to keep things watchable but this is one of those movies you'll completely forget about a week after watching it.
As was very typical for the time, this was misleadingly packaged for Mexican home video as some kind of action movie with images of a police car and helicopter, plus a jail break-out insinuation (none of which are actually in the movie). Most sources claim this is 90 minutes, though it's actually only 80.