Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Black Pit of Dr M |
Misterios de Ultratumba
Actors: Gaston Santos, Rafael Bertrand, Mapita Cortés, Carlos Ancira, Carolina Barret
Director: Fernando Méndez
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
AKA Misterios de Ultratumba. By day, Dr. Mazali (Rafael Bertrand) runs an insane asylum. By night, he lashes out at the veil between this life and the next, desperate to contact his former partner, Dr. Harrison Aldeman (Ja... more »
An Unexpected Gem.
Chip Kaufmann | Asheville, N.C. United States | 09/19/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Back in the 1960s I can remember reading reviews of Mexican horror films in Stephen H. Scheuer's TV KEY MOVIE GUIDE (this was before Leonard Maltin) and they were always given really terrible reviews. They played on our local TV station's SHOCK THEATRE but I never saw one in its entirety. What I do remember about the snippets I saw was the really awful dubbing which really destroyed any sense of fear or dread that the films were trying to inspire. Now 40 years later a handful of these movies have been restored and released on DVD by a small company called Casanegra. They feature the uncut versions in the original Spanish with subtitles and the impact it makes is astonishing but not surprising.
The dubbed soundtracks by American schlockmeister K. Gordon Murray are also available so that you can hear the difference for yourself. But not in the case of this film because the dubbed version has been lost. In addition to the atrocious dubbing Murray also changed the titles to ones which often had little to do with the actual story. This is especially true of THE BLACK PIT OF DR M which in Spanish was called MISTERIOS DE ULTRATUMBA (Mysteries From Beyond The Grave). There is no pit, there are no scenes like the one depicted on the cover artwork but there is a Dr M. He is Dr Masali and it is his attempt to use a dying colleague to find out what lies beyond death that propels this unexpected gem of a movie along. Set early in the last century, MISTERIOS (I prefer the original title) is wonderfully atmospheric with beautifully composed black and white photography that recalls the great German silent films of the 1920s, first rate performances from everyone especially Rafael Bertrand as the title character, and a story of inexorable retribution for meddling with the unknown which is shockingly brutal especially for 1958.
This film predates Mario Bava's BLACK SUNDAY by 2 years and it's clear that he was influenced by the settings of this and other Mexican films of the period. If you appreciate old style atmospheric horror and don't mind reading subtitles then MISTERIOS DE ULTRATUMBA is definitely for you. It is one of only a handful of films of this type (Italy's BLACK SUNDAY and Britain's CITY OF THE DEAD aka HORROR HOTEL are two others) that made an indelible impression on me after only one viewing. Others in the Casanegra series THE WITCH'S MIRROR and THE CURSE OF THE CRYING WOMAN while not quite as good are definitely worth checking out."
"A Masterpiece! Plain and simple..."
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 10/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Anyone who prefers an intelligent horror/supernatural film without the excessive modern-day special effects, shocks and gruesome, gory bits should be very pleased with this 1958 B&W classic restored to its original quality on this excellent DVD. The film has a particularly appealing and suitable atmosphere due to its quaint, old Spanish style setting and very good use of light and shadow. The highlight, however, which makes this "a masterpiece, plain and simple" as one critic stated, is the brilliant story-telling. From the very first scene the viewer is pulled into the fascinating and irresistible world of the mysteries of life and death, posing the perpetual question: what lies beyond death? Two asylum doctors make a pact to carry out a scientific experiment to find the answer, and when one of them dies, the surviving doctor waits for a sign from beyond. His quest is to `go to the other side and return without dying', and his deceased partner carries out his wish from the other side, but not quite as expected. In fact, the viewer is caught up in suspense just as much as the doctor, waiting to see how a medium's prophecy of `a closing door' at 9pm on November 15 will fulfil the doctor's quest, and how each person and event prior to this date plays an interactive role. A series of events, destined, foreseen or manoeuvred from `beyond', moves irresistibly forward to its inevitable climax, and I simply had to marvel at this clever plot and effective storytelling. Although the film demands attention to following the story, it is easy and pleasant to do so, with good English subtitles (if you can't understand Spanish) and unpredictable twists and turns which become quite satisfying when everything falls into place at the end. Not only that, but the whole story makes you start to think and ponder, and the supernatural aspects are subtle and so well done that they are quite believable - which in fact makes it scarier than today's standard horror movie with its emphasis purely on frights and shocking scenes. Some interesting and informative bonus material on this disc, such as a Rock music video made with scenes from "The Black Pit.." make this DVD even more highly recommendable.
Gorgeous monochrome cinematography
R. Rosener | St. Louis, MO United States | 12/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film was indeed a surprise. Made around the same time as many of England's Hammer Studio Gothic horror films and AIP's Edgar Allen Poe films, Misterios de Ultratumba borrows from both studios. But make no mistake; the film transcends imitation and achieves classic status in its own right via a distinctive visual and aural atmosphere.
The thing which sets Ultratumba apart is the stunning black and white photography. At a time when most studios and directors were using color for horror films, this film looks more like classic Universal Golden Age horror in lumninous silver hues. The other major asset is the soundtrack, which is in perfect counterpoint to the atmospheric scenes. It maintains a distinctive Latin Gothic feel while using contemporary rythyms to punch up the action at appropriate moments.
Kudos to La Casa Negra for releasing this and other Golden Age Mexican horror films on DVD. THis has to be one of the finest film to DVD transfers of a monochrome horror film I've ever seen. At times it feels like you can almost put your fingers into the dark, brooding mist of the doctor's creepy hacienda. daylight scenes are not neglected either. In particular, watch the scene of the Doctor and his lady friend walking along the beach. The daylight scene was shot with a deep red filter, making the cobalt Mexican sky nearly black. The actor's pallor takes on an a subtle, eerie glow which looks more like a dream than stark daylight."
EXCELLENT HORROR FILM.....
Mark Norvell | HOUSTON | 09/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"An insane asylum, a rampaging madwoman, a ghost, a love triangle, a man scarred by acid (who goes insane and also runs amok) and a doctor seeking supernatural knowledge of the beyond all figure into a wild plot about a bizarre deathbed promise. Set around the 1800's, the b&w film is laden with Mexican Gothic atmosphere and features above average acting in telling how that promise unfolds and the horrifying consequences of meddling with the unknown. CasaNegra has again presented a fine horror film given superlative DVD treatment with a print that is crisp and sharp and excellent sound. All DVD prints of any film should look and sound this good. As juicy and atmospheric as any film by Mario Bava, the only thing missing here is Barbara Steele. Definitely check this one out and enjoy. With the lights off."