Saturday, August 5, 2017

Movies Every Day 5: The Black Pit of Dr. M / Misterios de ultratumba (1959)

"Since time immemorial, mankind has been concerned with a question.  The answer to that question is not yet known. What lies beyond death?"

Why I'm Watching

  • It's a good day to enjoy some classic Mexican horror.

The Gist

Dr. Masali badgers Dr. Jacinto Aldama, as he's dying in bed, to remember they promised each other that whoever died first would find a way to help the other visit the afterlife without dying. Dr. Aldama keeps his promise, and Masali agrees to suffer a horrible fate as payment for the knowledge of what lies beyond death.

Things I Like

  • The creepy organ music and the way it cuts off suddenly with the sound of a doorbell or appearance of a character.
  • Beautifully filmed.
  • The shadowy, moody atmosphere.
  • Elmer's acid ravaged face reveal.
  • The fantastic, wonderfully lit gallows scene.
  • Aldama's unexpected, ludicrous, convoluted plan from beyond the grave to keep his promise to Masali.
  • Crazy people waving crazy arms through their barred doors at the asylum. 

Things I Don't Like

  • The romantic melody that plays whenever Dr. Jiménez and Patricia are together.
  • The way the doctor is convicted on pretty lame evidence, as well as Elmer's hasty burial, to serve the plot. 
  • Patricia and Dr. Jiménez saying they've dreamed about each other though it's not clear why.

Interesting Moments

  • The nightclub where Dr. Jiménez first sees Patricia performing something like a ballet dance with long, flowing fabrics has a dreamlike quality, which is appropriate, since the good doctor claimed he'd been having dreams about her.
  • Dr. Masali convinces Patricia to stay at his home after she was sent by the apparition of her dead father, yet somehow she acquires a lovely new dress to wear the following day when Dr. Masali accompanies her to visit her father's grave. Even stranger is the way the graves are oddly situated on the hill, looking as though they could easily topple. 
  • Elmer clawing his way out of his fresh grave. Good thing he made it known he didn't want to be buried in a coffin. 

Notable Quotes

Dr. González: So what is there beyond death, Dr. Masali?
Dr. Masali: I still can not control this brain. The ideas are very slow, it is sluggish in the thinking process. That is what happened with the body. In the beginnning the movements were rigid, now I have more freedom of motion. But I know it, Doctor, I know it, my spirit knows it. It would be imposible to explain what I am telling you. The brain can not interpret it with words yet, but it will. The truth is in me. I know it. Little by little it will become more clear and I will finally transmit it.

Dr. Masali (to Patricia): Do not pay attention to my face. True beauty is in the soul.

Narrator: What is there, then, beyond death? Saint Luke warns in his Gospels that there is nothing covered that should not be uncovered nor anything hidden that should not be known. Why, then, tear up the mystical enigma, if you, me and everyone, sooner or later, will inexorably know it?

Memorable Moments

Love It or Leave It

Love it!!! It was a plot worthy of the Twilight Zone, with a warning not to seek the answer to life after death prematurely since you'll find out soon enough. Despite some of the plot weaknesses, Dr. Masili's payment for knowledge of the afterlife was pretty awesome. This will be a fun film to watch again during the Halloween season.

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