Based on Arthur Machen’s 1927 short story “The Islington Mystery,” this Rogelio A. González-directed (Chanoc, Dr. Satán y La Magia Negra) film is considered by many to be a classic of Mexican film, not just Mexican horror.
It’s the story of taxidermist Dr. Pablo Morales (Arturo de Córdova, For Whom the Bell Tolls) who is stuck in a dead marriage to the hypochondriacal and ultra-religious Gloria (Amparo Rivelles, The Nail). He’s dreamed of having children or even a moment of affection from his wife, who tells him that he smells of the dead.
Pablo finds another dream. He saves for a camera, but he gives the money to the church, so he must save up again. Despite his wife convincing the community that he’s an abuser and a drunk, he somehow finally gets his camera.
Mrs. Morales responds by breaking it.
That’s when too much is too much, so the kindly man kills his wife, dissects her and displays her skeleton in his storefront.
The priest is convinced that our protagonist is guilty, as is nearly everyone else in town, after Mrs. Morales has painted him as a drunk, a wife-beater and a general ne’er do well. That’s when this movie shifts into a courtroom film.
Well, Mr. Morales escapes the law. But he can’t escape God.
Screenwriter Luis Alcoriza was very influenced by Bunuel, which comes through in this. I love that Mexican cinema of the 1950’s — or at least my experience of it — is monsters and luchadors on one side and mind-bending art films on the other.
You can buy this on blu ray from VCI.