Las visitaciones del diablo
[The Visitations of the Devil]
(Masari Films-César Santos Galindo, 1967) Prod: Alfredo Ripstein Jr., Antonio Matouk; Dir/Scr: Alberto Isaac; Orig. Novel: Emilio Carballido; Photo: Agustín Jiménez; Music: Joaquín Gutiérrez Heras; Prod Chief: Jorge Cardeña; Asst Dir: Manuel Muñoz; Film Ed: Carlos Savage; Art Dir: Manuel Fontanals; Camera Op: Cirilo Rodríguez; Lighting: Miguel Arana; Makeup: Román Juárez; Sound Supv: James L. Fields; Music/Rerec: Galdino Samperio; Dialog Rec: Enrique Rodríguez; Sound Ed: Sigfrido García; Union: STPC
CAST: Ignacio López Tarso (Félix Estrella), Gloria Marín (Arminda), Enrique Lizalde (Lisardo), Pilar Pellicer (Paloma), Daniela Rosen (Angela), Emma Roldán (Toña), Angelina Peláez (Egas Ramírez), Juan Ibañez (Juan, servant), Sergio Jiménez (Padre Mario), Marianela Peña (Lala), Graciela Enríquez, Abel Quezada (General), Vlady, José Luis Cuevas, Claudio Isaac (acolyte), Víctor Posado, Emilio García Riera, Salomón Laiter, Carl Hillos, Estela Matute, Carlos Monsiváis, Hugo Velázquez, Manuel Michel, Maka Strauss (Señora Werner), Luis M. Rueda, Aurora Suárez, Mario Castillón Bracho
NOTES: This was the first "commercial" film directed by Alberto Isaac. It is a very stylish and well-made film that somewhat resembles a Gothic novel (except that the visitor who becomes involved in a mystery in an old house is male rather than female). A number of films made by the "new wave" of Mexican filmmakers of the late '60s are additionally interesting because they feature cameo appearances by other filmmakers, intellectuals, and so forth. Las visitaciones del diablo features Juan Ibáñez (who directed the 4 Boris Karloff Mexican features), cartoonist Abel Quezada, painter José Luis Cuevas, journalist and critic Carlos Monsiváis, film historian Emilio García Riera, and director Manuel Michel (Patsy, mi amor), among others. Claudio Isaac, the director's son, makes a brief appearance: he later became a feature film director himself.
The film is set in Veracruz at the turn of the century. Lisardo comes to stay at the estate of his uncle Félix, after earning his architecture degree in Paris. The household also includes the religiously-inclined wife of Félix, Arminda, their daughter Angela (who can't walk as the result of an accident several years earlier), and Paloma, an embittered "poor relative" who is scarcely better than a servant.
Various mysterious events begin to occur. A mysterious woman enters Lisardo's room one night and attacks him; another night, he sees and hears a woman in white singing in the garden, but she disappears when he approaches. Angela is found at the bottom of a staircase, and claims that an unseen attacker pushed her. Félix, Arminda, and Lisardo go to a fancy party; Lisardo brings Angela a piece of cake, but she insists that it has been poisoned, by the devil.
Félix--the ruthless owner of a textile factory who asks the army to crush the unionizing of his disgruntled workers--wants Lisardo to marry Angela, and Lisardo is at first attracted to the beautiful invalid. However, Angela's hysterics begin to get on his nerves; he also discovers that a "religious" book that Juan--a servant--has been reading aloud to Angela is actually pornography. No one knows--although Paloma suspects it--that Angela actually can walk (with difficulty), although she pretends she cannot. In the meantime, Lisardo gets to know Paloma (although he doesn't learn that she's been sleeping with Félix).
Fed up with the strange occurrences at the old house, Lisardo announces his intention to leave. However, he sees Arminda and Paloma fighting in the garden, and intervenes just in time to save Paloma from drowning. The repressed Arminda has been behind the mysterious happenings. The next day, Lisardo and Paloma leave to begin a new life. "We won't have much money," Lisardo tells her. However, Paloma shows him a wad of bills she stole from Félix to repay him for the years of maltreatment she suffered. They board a train and leave Veracruz behind.
Las visitaciones del diablo is an entertaining, well-crafted film. Given the general international neglect of Mexican films, it is not surprising that Isaac is largely unknown--however, he certainly deserves more recognition as a director who combines technical ability, a definite personality and aesthetic, and a social conscience.
Back to the Alberto Isaac Page. This review completed 12 May 2001 by firstname.lastname@example.org.