LA BRUJA (1954)
aka THE WITCH
Article 1962 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-29-2006
Posting Date: 12-26-2006
Directed by Chano Urueta
Featuring Lilia del Valle, Ramon Gay, Julio Villarreal
The daughter of a scientist is killed when hoodlums break into his laboratory to steal a formula. The scientist then devises a formula to turn an incredibly ugly woman beautiful, and then uses the woman in a scheme to get revenge on those responsible for his daughter’s death.
My copy of this Mexican horror movie is unsubtitled and undubbed, but I was able to figure out the plot with the help of some plot descriptions elsewhere. Not that this one was particularly difficult to sort out; it’s a fairly common horror-type story, and, except for a few details, it manages to come through in the visuals. One advantage of watching a movie like this in a language you can’t understand is that it puts you in a position to concentrate on the visuals, and that plays to this movie’s strengths. It’s full of wonderfully moody horror images; for example, there are several memorable shots of the scientist as seen through or around his lab equipment that are quite fun. In fact, this whole movie feels like one of the better Mexican efforts, and it really leaves me wondering just how much damage bad dubbing has done to these movies. Had this one been poorly dubbed (as most of the Mexican horror movies were), would I have dismissed it because the dubbing would have made the movie seem cheap and stupid? I don’t really know. I am glad, however, that I’ve taken the chance on watching some of these movies even when saddled with the difficulty of not understanding the dialogue; it makes you appreciate how much can be lost in translation.