At the risk of descending into unimaginative hyperbole, Gigi Saul Guerrero and the reprobates of Luchagore Productions have made their most depraved film yet. Given that their back catalogue includes a bone-crunching battle with a cannibalistic wrestler, a blood-soaked mashup of Halloween and Battle Royale, a serial-killing matador who sews bull masks over the heads of his victims and a luckless mechanic being crucified and castrated by a trio of sexy witches, this is no idle declaration. In fact, a club full of badass strippers breaking out automatic weaponry on abusive clientele like a lapdancing army of lingerie-clad Punishers is as close to standard as this demented crew of Mexicans and Canadians has ever come.
In Madre de Dios, current horror darling and High Priestess of Perpetual Awesomeness Tristan Risk takes centre stage as a nameless victim being prepared by an elderly warlock couple for a dark ceremony to transform her into a Santa Muerte statue of flesh and blood and become a vessel for the antichrist. Although containing less than six minutes of action, the film is rich in dark vibrancy, with blood, sweat and grime ground into every moment. The level of detail on display is apparent in every shot, be it markings on the wall, icons dangling from the ceiling or a spell component of genuine tarantula skins (personally provided by no less than Sylvia Soska), each aspect of the decor adding to the disturbing and unsettling atmosphere. And that’s before you’ve even begun the elegantly staged and intimately framed suffering.
The dank constriction of the ritual chamber sets the scene, with a snake hissing hypnotically as though Lucifer in Eden while the crescendoing buzzing of flies herald the entrance of the warlocks like the clarion of Beelzebub. Candles flicker dimly, illuminating the oppressive gloom just enough for us to bear witness to the unholy rite. The brujería, their leathery skin gouged with ritual scarring, are devoid of empathy and empty of compassion, and as the power of the ugly blood magic intensifies, so does their almost reptilian inhumanity.
While visceral, bloody and agonising, the shadowed precision of Madre de Dios defies the crass inelegance of torture porn, instead creating a phantasmagorical body horror as mesmerising as it is repellent. You can’t help but admire the savage beauty of the primal sacrament being unleashed before your eyes, which culminates in a final image that will haunt your dreams and fuel your nightmares.
Look out for an Independents Day interview with Guerrero in a future issue.
MADRE DE DIOS / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: GIGI SAUL GUERRERO / SCREENPLAY: SHANE MCKENZIE, GIGI SAUL GUERRERO, LUKE BRAMLEY / STARRING: TRISTAN RISK, LUIS JAVIER GUITERREZ, GABRIELA REYNOSE CERECERO / RELEASE DATE: TBC
And just to give you a glimpse of what to expect from Guerrero's wondrously twisted Madre de Dios, be sure to check out the trailer below: