Una Rata en la Oscuridad (1979)

Alfredo Salazar wrote 65 movies (Frankestein el Vampiro y CompañíaDoctor of Doom and The Panther Women to name a few) and directed 11 and none of them prepared me — not even the black magic clown movie Herencia Diabólica for this movie.

Somehow, this movie seems Italian despite being made in Mexico and that’s a supreme compliment in my world. Josefina Hill (Ana Luisa Peluffo) and her sister Sonia (Anaís de Melo) have purchased a run-down mansion for a too good to be true price and you know how that goes in a horror movie.

Josefine is the more level headed of the two, a college professor, while Sonia has had mental powers since she was a child, using her abilities to predict the death of their mother and find lost items. And I say they’re sisters, because the movie tells us so, but they also indulge in topless massages and discuss that they’ve never been married so that they can always be there for one another.

There’s a painting of a mean-looking woman over the fireplace that ends up being the portrait of the madame that once ran this house of the rising sun and if we’ve learned anything from The Nesting, if there’s a bordello being turned into a house, there are ghosts. The madame was killed by a lover she hurt, but she may have also have been the person who sold them the house. Seeing as how the girls have already left their lease, they decide to move into the mansion with no electricity or telephone, because what could go wrong?

The madame begins to visit Sonia and comes between the sisters — psychically — and then the ghost — is it a ghost? — ends up seducing both of them. This movie is completely unconcerned with being incredibly sleazy, so perhaps this ghost is seducing me by knowing exactly the strangeness that I want from my entertainment.

Panties are stolen, rats run wild and the real identity of the madame is probably going to upset a lot of people if they ever see this movie. It doesn’t explain the flying objects, little earthquakes or the fact that the madame’s hands glow blue when she appears. There’s also a lovemaking scene that sends Josefina into the kind of bliss that makes her imagine that she’s dancing around a piano.

Peluffo was one of the first Mexican actresses to appear nude — in 1955’s La fuerza del deseo — and she’s also in a movie that may challenge this for being as weird as it gets, El Violador Infernal, which has her play El Diablo and give a condemned man the chance to live forever as long as he sexually assaults people, kills them and then carves 666 into their bodies. Trust me, Mexican sleaze horror defines the term problematic and then pisses all over the dictionary.

You can watch this on YouTube.

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