With the Sacred Idol Comes… – The Curse of the Doll People (1961)

Originally known as Muñecos infernales when released in Mexico, it was soon imported into the United States and dubbed in English as The Curse of the Doll People. The title of the film immediately lets the viewer know that some form of creepy dolls are going to be involved and director Benito Alazraki does not disappoint. In this particular movie, the dolls in question are quite frightening in appearance and just as deadly as they go about killing a number of men who stole a sacred idol from a temple and it is up to a woman named Karina to stop them.

While the film is a horror movie at heart, it is also packed with melodrama which makes it all that much better, most of it coming from voodoo expert Karina. Elvira Quintana does a great job as the occultist and makes the picture far more enjoyable than it would have been otherwise without her. Quintin Bulnes is like a poor man’s Christopher Lee, but at least he hams it up in the best possible way, making his role not so much scary, as it is ridiculous. Despite the sometimes silliness of it all, the film managed to be quite compelling, with the performances one of the few things to make it such.

Watching this movie, one can easily tell that there was little to no money available for the making of it. A good example occurs during the beginning of the movie as the audience is told of the expedition to recover the sacred idol everything revolves around. The keyword is ‘told,’ as there are no flashback scenes and not only does it hamper the impact of it all, the person telling the story is not convincing enough to give it any gravitas. Budget or not, showing the audience what happened during that trip would have gone a long way to furthering the story and lending some importance to it. Overall, it was still entertaining and the creepy doll-people were exceptional. The cheapness of their look really added to the horror, offsetting any deficiencies found elsewhere.

With a perfectly moody atmosphere, a superbly, cheesy villain and his followers which included not only the horrific-looking dolls but a zombie as well and not to mention a beautiful heroine to center it all around, The Curse of the Doll People is a great example of what Mexican horror is all about and what it can deliver even with little to no resources.

3.5 out of 5

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