Thursday, May 28, 2009

Qarqacha - El Demonio Del Incesto (2000? 2002?)

also known as Jarjacha - El Demonio Del Incesto

Please blame any errors and mistakes in the following on the lack of information about the film on the 'net and my doubtful Spanish.

A trio of scientists - Yvonne, Sebastien and Nielo - (they're anthropologists or ethnologists, I suppose) traipse through the Andes to study the culture of the people living in the poor mountain villages there. It's not the most pleasant of expeditions, it has to be said. Strange groaning noises in the night make the city people more than a little nervous, and when they have reached the village they're bound to study, nobody wants to open their doors at night to give them shelter. After meeting a rather panicked looking countryman holding a mirror up into their faces, they finally stumble into an unlocked building. Inside is a woman who cries over the body her dead son. Well, at least it's shelter from whatever may stalk the night here.

The next morning, the intrepid explorers meet Don Maximo, who I suppose is something like the mayor of the village (although he looks about twenty years to young for a position like this). He's very shouty and rather unhelpful, but at least he agrees to let the scientists stay in his house for the duration of their research.

His daughter - looking about five years younger than her father - is not too impressed by him anymore, it seems, and has started a rather unhealthy relationship with a relative (known to me as "the guy in the red shirt"), with beautiful highpoints of romance like red shirt guy breaking into her home while she sleeps and staring at her naked legs. Oh, and sex, I suppose.

Some time later, the three scientists see the older woman they met earlier, dragging the coffin of her dead son through the village, every villager pointedly ignoring her and closing their door. The three decide to help her carry the load to the local cemetery and bury her son. After he is put under, a man in a monk's robe appears, makes a few hasty gestures of blessing over the grave and runs away again. Which does not sound too friendly, but is still quite a bit nicer than the horde of screaming, sling-swinging villagers that now appears and wants to lynch the mourning woman for being an evil witch (who had sexual relations with her son?). The scientists give her the opportunity to flee, which the villagers seem to accept relatively peacefully, but when they return to the village, their baggage lies in front of Don Maximo's house. To no one's surprise, the other villagers don't want to take them in either, and they have to take shelter in an abandoned and ruined house, while they again hear the groans of something all around them in the night.

The next morning, the villagers find one of their own dead outside - it is obvious to Don Maximo that the man has been killed by a Qarqacha (or Jarjacha), a type of brain-eating demon that is half man, half alpaca people who have incestual relationships turn into, even after their death. It seems as if Qarqachas are also able to turn themselves into alpacas at night, and so a screaming horde of villagers descends on some rather unimpressed looking alpacas, ties them up and throws them into a barn. The next morning, the animals have transformed into two very naked people (red shirt guy and daughter, I think), who are stoned and beaten to death by the villagers.

This still isn't the end of the whole strange affair, though. A third monster is roaming the surroundings and attacks again the next night, spitting in its victims faces to paralyze them and then nibbling their brains. It also finally attacks one of the three scientists (while he is guarding Yvonne following the call of nature), whose inclusion in the whole affair never seemed all that necessary.

Fortunately, we learn, the Qarqacha is afraid of its own mirror image, giving the villagers a fine possibility to beat it to death.

Who knew that Peru had its own backyard film industry? As far as I could find out, this type of ultra cheap regional horror movie based on myth and urban legend is quite popular in the country and mostly sold on video tapes in the markets of Lima.

Much of Qarqacha speaks the international language of no-budget horror film we all know so well. It's shot on video (I don't think digital video, but I could be wrong), looks in parts as if it has been edited with scissors, is badly acted even when viewed by someone without the necessary language skills, not really directed in the sense you'd usually want to use the word, and based on a meandering script that mostly consists of scenes of people walking.

What makes the film worth watching apart from its obscurity and the opportunity it gives the non-Peruvian viewer to triumphantly scream: "I have seen a shot on video horror film from Peru, and you haven't!" is its strict regionalism. The film follows the old no-budget rule of "shoot what's there" and lucks into the fact that what is there in the Andes does look a lot more interesting and has been a lot less used in the past than the assortment of sub-urban houses and empty factory buildings its US-American and European cousins take place in. At times, the film takes on the feeling of a weird vacation tape, made in the places tourists usually don't visit, because they are poor and rather unpleasant.

What's also helpful for the non-Peruvian viewer here is that the myth the film is based on isn't too well known or documented outside the country, making its rules somewhat new and exciting for a certain type of person (me). And call me easily impressed, but I found a few of the scenes - especially the the monster hunting techniques pf the villagers - rather creepy in their rawness.

So, probably not a good movie, but an interesting one.


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