Saturday, October 17, 2009


A newly married couple (Simon Andreu and Maribel Martin) go to a hotel for their honeymoon, but she has a scary vision of a man leaping out of a closet and raping her, so she talks her husband into going straight to his family’s estate. She's a virgin, and his deflowering of her is enacted rather like the dream rape; the next morning, they seem happy but she is clearly not up to his 2 or 3-times-a-day appetite. Meanwhile, Martin is disturbed to find that all the portraits of the family's women have been relegated to the basement, particularly one with its face cut out of the notorious Mircalla (the title figure) who stabbed her husband to death on their wedding night because he wanted her to do "unnatural things." A ghostly vision of Mircalla starts appearing to Martin, and she has a dream that Mircalla forces her to stab her husband repeatedly, rip out his heart, and castrate him (though this last act is referred to rather vaguely). The next day, Andreu finds a naked woman buried in the sand on the beach; she’s a dead ringer for the Mircalla figure—and, go figure, her name is Carmilla, an anagram of Mircalla. If you know Sheridan Le Fanu's story "Carmilla," on which this film is loosely based, you know that lesbian vampirism is right around the corner. This winds up being a fairly interesting variation on the Le Fanu story. The film is moody but not terribly gory (though there is some blood-spattering now and again, and the dream-killing of the husband is rather rough) and a little kinky, with an outdoor oral sex scene and a climax involving the two women, naked, inside a coffin, followed soon by the gushing of gallons of blood. Thematically, the movie is misogynistic, though I'd hate to try and cipher out any kind of coherent message about sex and gender, aside from, "If you don’t have sex with your husband whenever he wants it, you’re fated to become an undead lesbian." This Spanish movie appears to have been shot with actors speaking both English and Spanish, with everyone ultimately dubbed in English, probably by different actors, so the acting is difficult to critique. Both Martin and Alexandra Bastedo as Carmilla (both pictured above) are lovely and all three leads are adequate if not much more. [DVD]

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