Emma, puertas oscuras (1974)

Emma (Susanna East, PermissiveCaptain Kronos: Vampire Hunter) has been in an accident in London — we’re already two for two on the list of José Ramón Larraz’s favorite things in put in movies — and must be confined to the home of her Sylvia (Perla Cristal). As she recovers, her brain has changed, leaving her prone to moments of extreme rage, propelled by the thought that everyone is against her, like the maid who keeps putting frogs under her pillow.

Made shortly before Symptoms, this feels like a trial run for that movie.

Emma (Susanna East) had been living in the psychiatric hospital in the care of Dr. Donovan (George Rigaud), but Sylvia’s guilt — she’s the one who hit her — is why she moves in, which worries Steve (Ángel Menéndez), as he isn’t too excited about having a mentally deranged young girl who already survived getting hit by his wife’s car. So he plans a trip to Bermuda to get away, but Emma kills him first and Sylvia does everything but outright thank her, even getting rid of the body.

Emma soon kills the woman and makes her way to an abandoned hotel in the woods — Larraz trademark! — and when two hippie hitchhikers with bad intentions with the names of Cleo and Woody (Marina Ferri and Andrew Grant) show up, as does Emma’s friend Lupe (Hélène Françoise). Things don’t go well for anyone who gets in the way of our young lady with a razor.

Conceived while Larraz made La muerte incierta and based on a story by Carlo Reali, who was the editor of Larraz’s Deviation, this was made in England as Larraz was still afraid to make his movies in the still Fascist Spain, although parts of this were made in Barcelona.

Director of Photography Antonio Millán and camera crew Juan Prous and Ricardo González — Millán and Prous were vets of working with Jess Franco — make sure that this looks gorgeous, even though it makes no sense and doesn’t need to explain itself. Yet who cares? Larraz wasn’t interested in making anything other than these absolute movies that you need to figure out for yourself.

Also: we have entered the post-Manson era when nearly all hippies in horror are deranged maniacs out to do harm. Act accordingly.

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