Hey, I’m not dead, just doing my stuff on other platforms. But occasionally, there's an urge to share something here and see if people still read blogs. So, here’s a compilation of my past night on Letterboxd, AN EVENING WITH EMILIO VIERYA!
So quickly putting this into context. Emilio Vieraya, Argentinian low budget filmmaker with most digressions into action, thrillers and horror during the sixties and eighties, with lesser output as the nineties progressed. Started off as an actor, and eventually graduated to directing movies. Perhaps mostly known for The Curious Dr Humpp,1971 which was a US reedit of his La venganza del sexo, 1969. Not long after he retired from filmmaking in the mid 00’s, Vierya passed away at the age of 89 in 2010. The Curious Dr Humpp, recently released in a stellar remastered release in a collaboration between AGFA and Something Weird, ended up sitting on my shelf (because I pick up all those releases) and ignited a desire to check out a couple of selected titles further in Vieraya’s filmography.
Ok, Let’s go.
An Evening with Emilio Vieyra #1
LA VENGANZA DEL SEXO, 1969
Now let me be clear that off the bat, I opted to watch the original Spanish language version of La venganza del sexo as I wanted to see it as Emilio Vieyra intended it. Not the American distributors, re-edited version with sexploitation inserts. Not that there's anything wrong with a nice bit of sexploitation, and I did indeed watch the American version known as The Curious Dr. Humpp back to back with this binge watch.
Youngsters are being kidnapped by what is said to be a hideous monster stashing its victims in a black hearse. Journalist Horacio (Ricardo Bauleo) sets about investigating he mystery. In a secret lair, Dr Zoidas (Aldo Barbero), with the aid of his assistant Enfermera is conducting sinister experiments on how to control the human sex drive, if you resist he'll turn you into one of his many henchmen automatons. Whilst staking out a drugstore, Horiacio spots a man placing a large order of drugs, unbeknownst to him it's Dr Zoidas, but he follows him anyway as he drives away in his hearse. Sneaking around an old house, Horacis is captured by strange looking men, and held captive. At this institute, Dr Zoidas conducts an experiment where Horacio and his roommate Raquel (Gloria Prat) are eternally bonded through their libido. But Horacio is planning his counteract whilst Dr Zoidas is just on the brink of taking his experiment globally. Did I mention that he has a 200-year-old pickled brain that acts as Dr Zoidas mentor, and that the hideous monster also has a crush on Raquel? Eerie love triangles, automatons and ancient ones, oh my.
Right out of the gate, where the American has a new credit sequence giving the actors more American sounding names, the Argentine original has an excellent Saul Bass-ish opening credit that's worth watching in itself. The original also has a phenomenal backlight fog sequence where the monster carries Raquel to the institute... missing from the American cut in favour of more nudity. But more on that later.
Before The Curious Dr Humpp, there was Placer sangriento (literally Bloody Pleasure), shot with basically the same cast, and...
A young couple making out on the beach notice a man in a mask dumping something on the beach. On closer investigation, they realize that it's a dead woman. Inspector Lauria (Mauricio De Ferraris) reveals that two other women have gone missing as he starts investigating the case of the latest heroin ridden body. A lead from a bar pianist gives him the name of Silvio Valverde (Ricardo Bauleo, later lead in Venganza/Dr Humpp). Whilst following up his leads, Lauria hears a woman screaming on the beach, almost voyeuristic, he watches until the last possible moment before stepping to interrupt the man assaulting Bebe Villegas (Gloria Prat). Bebe, a young flirt who quickly has Lauria wrapped around her slender figure. Frustration grows within the investigation as they realize that the killer always is one step ahead and seems to know every move they are going to make. But when Bebe goes missing, Lauria steps up his game. Has the killer kidnapped his final victim, or is Bebe going to become another number in the body count?
Something of a cautionary tale where teenage lust is punished by the basically proto stalker antagonist masked killer/organ grinder who supplies his young female victims with heroin in exchange for a quick snog. However, once given a high from the masked man, the women become almost zombie like, responding to the weird music he plays on his organ, summoning them for more smack and soft petting. The music loop becomes something of a red thread as the killer plays it, the girls play it and it's the only real clue the police investigation has, as it was heard when the girls who "wander off as summoned" mysteriously wander off.
...I'd say that Placer sangriento has more action than La venganza del sexo, a better plot, and in all fairness, I find it to be a better film. Kind of like a mix of beach party The Phantom of the Opera, Carnival of Souls wrapped up in an investigation plot. Masked killer, police investigators and young damsels in distress. An appealing sixties horror/thriller hybrid signed Emilio Vieyra.
An Evening with Emilio Vieyra #3
SANGRE DE VIRGINES (Blood of the Virgins), 1967.
Here we find Vierya doing gothic horror, and with a title like Blood of the Virgins there's really not much more that the film could be but gothic horror.
Sometime in the 18th century Ofelia (Susana Beltrán) marries Eduardo, despite the looming presence of Gustavo (Walter Kliche) outside the chapel window. Later that night Ofelia bleeds, but only because Gustavo skewers her husband in the throat with a knife, then proceed to bite and drink her blood. As the yet again excellent opening credit animations play, Gustavo, complete with cape and fangs summons Ofelia as she rises from her grave in true Hammer horror style!
Post credits and we're introduced to a bunch of mates who end up spending the night in a remote lodge where creepy manservant TIto (Ricardo Bauleo) greets them after their van has broken down. Candlelight, cobwebs and the curious painting of Ofelia we saw in the wedding sequence play right into the EuroGoth tropes. As soon as the ladies go to bed, it's tits out and Gustavo wavers above them with his fangs out ready to draw blood. As Raul (Rolo Puente) wanders the hallways, he encounters Ofelia, and they end up in bed together. As dawn creeps in, Ofelia is gone and Raul is all alone, without a clue to her whereabouts. But Ofelia isn't the only one missing, they can't find Laura (Gloria Prat), Gloria or Eva either...
Although the period piece opening is a mere six minutes I can't see anything else than hammer and the European Gothic horror films of the time period. As we slip into the contemporary, it's like watching those Italian pieces that mix modern with the old, or later Hammer films where Gothic meets swinging London, although this is Swinging Argentina lifted out of Buenos Aires and dropped in the rural landscape. Stoker's Dracula and all its adaptations are clearly an influence with Kliche playing the clichés, Puente as a version of Harker, while Prat clearly is a Mina/Lucy composite.
A novelty with Sangue de Virgenes is the use of color film and with color film comes a reason for colorful special effects. Not that the piece is riddled with them, they are sparse and far apart, but a gooey stabbing, some bloody bites and a crescendo with some obligatory gory stakes in the heart get the job done.
Vierya's ensemble of stock actors, Gloria Prat, Ricardo Bauleo, Susana Beltrán are all present, however, they don't really get much to do here. Even though she holds the female lead, Beltrán is only on screen for a total of a like fifteen minutes. Clearly this is a vehicle for Rolo Puente, an Argentine comedian, possibly trying to break out of his typecast as a funny guy.
All in all, an entertaining piece, I do enjoy EuroGoth, even if this was a tad too much on the cozy side.
THE CURIOUS DR HUMPP, 1970
Closing the evening spent with the films of Emilio Vieyra, or rather early morning seen as my new meds kept me awake all night, I’m back where we started off.
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