La Noche de los Brujos - A Spanish Cult Classic
Bumbasa, 1910. Some Bokors or sorcerers, kidnapped a missionary woman to perform a demonic sacrifice. The group of natives whipped her, they rape her and finally decapitated her. Before the ceremony end, various colonial soldiers arrived and kill the natives, but not before a Shedim took possession of the unfortunate woman and the head became alive, armed with sharp fangs. An interesting opening, right? Well, to be honest, the movie is not the best, it’s bad fotostaged , bad developed and even bad performed, but out of doubts is an absolutely entertaining B-classic movie from Spain. The mastermind (or maybe the insane mind) behind this miserable but strange movie is the infamous Amando de Ossorio, his masterful creation of sadistic erotic horror scenes make him a legend among euro-cultists, and “La Noche de los Brujos” has enough of this scenes. Ossorio is not shy in show us a parade of sexual mayhem, mutilations, torture and nude girls. “La Noche de los Brujos” has voodoo, women that are leopards during the day and vampires during the night, dead people who came back to life during the night, sacrifices, blood and boobs. As most 70‘s horror movies from Spain, “La Noche de los Brujos” is a social critique to the oppressor government of that period. Spain was under the dictatorship of Generalisimo Ferdinan Franco from 1939 to 1975. The mutilation, rape, and death of “white” women in the movie for a superior and evil forces could be a mirror image of the suffering lived by the Spanish people under the rule of Franco.
After the opening scene, the storyline moved to a present time (the earliest 70’s, the movie was filmed in the beginning of the 70’s) when an expedition leaded by Professor Grant is investigating the disappearance of elephants. They found the sacrifice altar of the Bokors, after a quick inspection they returned to their camp, but at night, Carol, one of the three girls of the expedition decides to go back to the sacrifice place to take some photographs. The missionary girl from the opening scene emerged from the forest dressed in leopard skins and having feline-like fangs that she uses to bite in the neck of their victims. She and the long-dead Bokors who came back to “life” captured Carol. The evil group recreated the demonic ceremony, whipping and decapitating Carol who eventually transformed herself into another leopard-vampire creature.
Ossorio honored the term B movies creating this cult classic. The whole movie, including the opening scene, take place between two places, the ceremonial grounds and the camping grounds. Ossorio used a very limited characters, where even the Bokors were exchange college students, and he filmed in "Aldea del Fresno" that is part of Madrid Safari Park. Adding some African tribal music and some documental shots, Ossorio recreated a bad impression of Africa. Nothing is credible in the movie but the decent direction (not excellent, probably not even good) of Osorio, the blood and of course, the nude girls elevated the movie to the level of a cult classic.
Released to theater in several foreign countries and making its north America debut via the AVCO/Embassy “Nightmare Theater” the film find an extended life via home video, but thanks to various censorships policies in the various countries it was distributed, now we can find several version of the film. The “complete and Uncut” version from the special edition DVD probably is the more accurate version but this don’t save it from some sours reviews, Fangoria online posted “one of de Ossorio’s more outrageous films”, DVD Maniacs posted “The cinematography is slick and the cast of buxom lovelies goes a long way towards ensuring that there is certainly no shortage of eye candy”, and DVD Drive-In “an absolute gem of European trash horror cinema.”
Even that the film not was a success during its original run, the film became a blockbuster when reissued nearly 30 years later. For any fan of Ossorio, this film could be a little disappointing at some point, but not a complete lost, and too any new Ossorio’s fan, or just to anyone with a little curiosity about his work, this is a good start, because for someone who like the nude girls and the grotesque scenes of the 70‘s B movies cinema, his other works are going to be more interesting with a better representation of his sadistic erotic horror label, and of course, the rare vision of the leopard-vampire-women, made this film a most for any cult vampire movie fan.