DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
CURSE OF THE CRYING WOMAN, THE (LA MALDICION DE LA LLORONA) (director/writer: Rafael Baledón; screenwriter: Fernando Galiana; cinematographer: José Ortiz Ramos; editors: Ramón Aupart/Alfredo Rosas Priego; music: Gustavo César Carrión; cast: Rosita Arenas (Amelia), Abel Salazar (Jaime), Rita Macedo (Aunt Selma), Carlos López Moctezuma (Juan), Enrique Lucero (Dr. Daniel Jaramillo), Mario Sevilla (Police captain); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Abel Salazar; CasaNegra Entertainment; 1963-Mexico-in Spanish with English subtitles)

 
"It's Mexican director Rafael Baledón's homage to Mario Bava's Black Sunday."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

It's Mexican director Rafael Baledón's homage to Mario Bava's Black Sunday. It was first filmed in 1933 as La Llorona. Cowriters Fernando Galiana and Baledón base it on the Mexican folklore legend of 'La Llorona,' who is a witch known for her eternal weeping and powerful evil spells. Selma Jaramillo (Rita Macedo) preserves the remains of the deceased woman (Selma's persecuted witch mom) in a crypt in her mansion's basement in the hopes she will gain her omnipotent evil powers when she is brought back to life. 

Baledón creates a haunting world of horror with a spooky mansion filled with rats, bats, cobwebs, church bells in the attic, scary large dogs on the grounds, and a foggy setting in the woods. He also enlivens the ghost-story tale with references to Sodom and Gomorrah. It opens as a traveling  party of three in a horse-drawn carriage go through the woods in a region the locals believe is cursed by monsters and all meet a grisly death. Soon afterwards recent bride Amelia (Rosita Arenas) arrives at her Aunt Selma's mansion with her husband Jaime (Abel Salazar), at the request of the widow after not being invited there since her childhood. Amelia's Uncle Daniel (Enrique Lucero) was a doctor and her aunt says died in an accident. The creepy old mansion is located near the same spot where the murders just took place (we already know that Selma, her loyal servant and the dogs are responsible for the mutilation murders). The mansion holds some dark secrets that include a man turning feral who is locked up in a secret room (later we learn that is Daniel), a frightening facially disfigured and limping ex-convict servant named Juan (Carlos López Moctezuma), constant sounds of a woman weeping, evidence of witchcraft, and that Aunt Selma casts no reflection in the mirror. Trapped in the house, the couple learn that the aunt invited Amelia because as the youngest member of the family, whose 25th birthday comes at midnight, she is the only one who can bring La Llorona back from the dead.

The stately film excels in atmosphere, there are plenty of chills and the acting is surprisingly first-class. It's only let down by its plot line clichés and weak storytelling, which fails to connect with the characters as real people as much as it uses them as ploys for its horror story scares.

REVIEWED ON 9/26/2006        GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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