Saturday, August 8, 2009

In short: Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary (1975)

Mary (Cristina Ferrare) is an American painter living and working in Mexico. When she's not painting her slightly disturbing paintings or dodging the advances of her lesbian gallerist Greta (Helena Rojo), she sneaks around, drugs strangers (mostly men) and drinks their blood. Her last victim wasn't such a swell choice, though. The man was working for the American government, so now it's not only a local police man (Enrique Lucero) with a stick and a bad temper trying to solve her murders, but also an "Inspector from the FBI" (Arthur Hansel), whatever that might be.

At about the same time, Mary meets the spectacularly innocent drifter Ben (David Young). They fall in love and could have a nice life - after all, the cops aren't very bright and Mary's victims total strangers to her - if not for Mary's propensity to get especially blood-thirsty when emotionally disturbed which will cost poor Greta her life.

And one shouldn't forget the strange masked and black-gloved man (John Carradine's stunt double, sometimes even John Carradine himself) whose diet has a lot in common with Mary's and who starts to follow her around with ominous intent.

Mary may have been directed by Juan Lopez Moctezuma, the man who made the screamingly mad and nonsensical Alucarda, but if you are hoping for a similarly hysterical piece you will be disappointed.

This film has much more in common with a slightly costlier version of the deliberately paced, weird and bizarrely clever independent US horror of the 70s. Neither Mary the film nor Mary the character are in much of a rush to reach any goal or plot point directly, instead a large part of the movie consists of building mood through potent nature shots and Cristina Ferrare's weird sort of charisma and being quite circumspect about anything else. Which turns out to be not a bad directorial decision, since what little plot is there is, isn't as Interesting as Ferrare or nature.

Now (and stop me if you've heard this song from me before), I wouldn't call Ferrare a great actress, not even a great bad actress, but she has the strange, zoned out kind of allure you can often find in actresses and actors in films of this type. Her weaknesses don't come into play much. The rest of the actors is just somehow there - nobody's doing a bad job, yet nobody else is truly memorable.

Moctezuma as a director is pretty good at this mood building thing and pretty bad at a well-paced plot. Of course, you shouldn't go into 70s low budget horror with expectations of the latter, so I was not disappointed by the lack of narrative flow.

There's more than enough to keep one interested here. A slightly detached mood, some fine things to look at, two or three suspenseful scenes, a handful of neat ideas, John Carradine being an evil action hero and a classically 70s horror ending are really more than I'd need to recommend a movie.


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