Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 13th, 2006
Theatrical Release Dates: Mexico, 1960
Director: Chano Urueta
Writers: Alfredo Ruanova, Carlos Enrique Taboada
Cast: Rosita Arenas, Armando Calvo, Isabela Corona, Dina De Marco, Carloes Nieto
DVD released: June 27th, 2006
Approximate running time: 75 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33.1 Fullframe
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
DVD Release: Casa Negra/Panik House
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Sara (Isabela Corona) is a witch who has foreseen the death of her god daughter Elena (Dina de Marco) at the hands of her husband Eduardo (Armando Calvo). Sara pleads with the lord of darkness to spare her God daughter and when her request is not granted. Sara vows revenge on Eduardo for and those connected to him killing Elena. Shortly after Elena’s death Eduardo remarries and brings his new bride Deborah (Rosita Arenas) to the home he once shared with Elena.
Today’s horror films with there vivid colors have nothing on horror films that where shot in stark black & white. My earliest memories of watching horror films where via Universal’s classic monster movie’s like Frankenstein and Dracula. These films evoked a certain kind of menace and style no color film could. Also they violence was more subtle on implied instead of splashing blood on the screen for no reason at all.
Chano Urueta’s The Witch’s Mirror is beautifully photographed with stunning precision in glorious black & white. Uruerta’s use of black & white photography is reminiscent of James Whale’s Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. Then there is the mirror in the film which plays an important part in the film which has an odd Mario Bava like quality to it. Uruerta proves that his is a magician in his own right the way he plays with imagery in The Witch’s Mirror.
The film also contains many things that had become staples in the Universal Monster films like a mad scientist who desperately wants to restore the beauty of his new bride. Just like the grave robbing Doctor Frankenstein he likes his corpse recently deceased or better yet still alive. The films superb ending is ironic and poetic. The films special effects are pretty good especially the way the make hands disappear.
The acting while more mind blowing is decent and the stand out performance has to be that of Sara “The Witch” who is played by Isabela Corona. She steals every scene she is in with her enthusiasm and her wicked stare. Actress Rosita Arenas who plays Deborah in The Witch’s Mirror also stars as Amelia in The Curse of the Crying Woman which is also available on DVD from Casa Negra. The film moves along at a break neck pace and it is surprising just how much happens in just a mere seventy five minutes.
Overall is you are looking for classic horror that has moody atmosphere and an abundance of style then The Witch’s Mirror is a film you should check out ASAP.
The Witch’s Mirror is presented in its original 1.37:1 full frame aspect ratio. Casa Negra has sourced their transfer from restored vault elements. The black and white photography looks nearly flawless as details are razor sharp and print damage is no where to be found. There are no problems with compression, artifacts or edge enhancement. One word sums up the transfer breathtaking.
This release comes with two audio options Spanish and English. Both are presented in a Dolby Digital mono. The Spanish audio mix sounds cleaner and fuller then the English audio mix which has noticeable hiss through out. There is also a four minute section during the English audio mix which switches to Spanish since these scenes where not filmed in English. So you will want to get ready at about the twenty minute mark and turn on your subtitles or better yet listen to the Spanish audio mix. English subtitles that are easy to read and follow have been included.
The witch’s Mirror comes with several extras like a bilingual menu where you can choose English or Spanish. The cover art is reversible with the option once again of choosing English or Spanish. Other extras include a Casa Negra Loteria game card, Cast & Crew bios, a Poster & Still Gallery and a text essay titled “Chanovision: The Films of Mexican Cult Moviemaker, Chano Urueta”. This essay on Chano Urueta is well written and informative as it offers plenty of background info on the films of Chano Urueta. The final extra include for this release is an audio commentary with founder of IVTV Frank Coleman. Mr. Coleman does a wonderful job covering not only the original Mexican release of this film. He also covers in detail the K. Gordon Murray U.S. release version of the film.
If The Witch’s Mirror is any indication of the directing talents of Chano Urueta then I can’t wait to see what other films of his Casa Negra has planned for release in the future. Casa Negra with their first releases show that they mean business by releasing high quality special edition DVD’s for some of Mexico’s greatest horror films, highly recommended.
For more information about The Witch’s Mirror visit Casa Negra here.