Yambao (1957)

YAMBAO (1957)
Article 2008 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-13-2006
Posting Date: 2-10-2007
Directed by Alfredo B. Crevenna
Featuring Ninon Sevilla, Ramon Gay, Rosa Elena Durgel

A young native woman in Cuba in 1850 finds herself attracted to a the owner of a sugar plantation, and she is tempted into using voodoo to win him from his wife.

The plot above is a bit of an approximation, as this is another Mexican movie, undubbed and unsubtitled. This one is somewhat reminiscent of those all-black horror movies of the thirties, such as THE DEVIL’S DAUGHTER. It’s a compendium of voodoo and soap opera, and horror fans may be disappointed that the soap opera seems to dominate for most of the movie. However, the movie is also a musical, and it is here that the movie really gains its power; the native music, singing and dancing is simply enthralling, and it permeates the movie in much the same way that music drives BLACK ORPHEUS. It was the music that finally won me over here, and I was somewhat surprised to see the movie sitting with a lowly 1.8 rating on IMDB, but that’s with only six votes, and two of those gave it the highest rating. This makes me wonder if there is a dubbed version around, and if in the dubbed version, the music was redubbed as well; if so, such an act most likely would have destroyed the movie’s greatest appeal. I’m glad I saw this one in its original language, and it makes me glad that we’re just starting to see some of these Mexican movies released subtitled and dubbed; the more I see of them, the more I’m convinced that some very strong movies came from there.


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