A lost Spanish horror film reminiscent of “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Omen”, nothing can prepare you for the horror of “Secta Siniestra”.
When fans think of Spanish horror, less than a handful of names spring to mind, with Paul Naschy and Jess Franco perhaps the best known among them.
Spanish horror is much like Italian horror used to be some time ago, with most people thinking of just three names: Argento, Bava, and Fulci. However, thanks to labels like Vinegar Syndrome releasing previously hard to find and little seen Italian movies, the horizons have broadened for many.
Hopefully, with the release of Secta Siniestra (aka Bloody Sect), more people will also discover the deep treasure trove that is Spanish horror.
Frederic is a former mercenary who keeps his insanely violent wife, Elizabeth, locked in the attic of their marital home. With the help of his housekeeper, Ana, Elizabeth is fed and cared for. But Elizabeth has an animal-like need to be with her husband, and when she escapes her attic prison and catches him sleeping with his mistress, Helen, she does the only thing a wronged, jealous wife can do. She finds a double-pronged tool and stabs his eyes out, so he can never again look upon his beautiful mistress.
Elizabeth is locked away for her crime, while Frederic moves on with Helen in his life. The bad news doesn’t end for the newly blind Frederic though, as he learns from a doctor that he has an irreversible congenital condition that has rendered him sterile.
Frederic and Helen decide to have an in-utero fertilization procedure, and Frederic assures his new wife that he will love the child as his own. Unbeknownst to the happy couple, a priest of the Eternal Angel (Satanists) has impregnated Helen with the child of Satan.
Thus begins a wild pregnancy of horror that includes nods to multiple horror movies including The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, Poltergeist, The Omen, The Shining.
The film also contains more than a passing homage to Italian giallo movies and Dario Argento’s Suspiria. Director Ignacio Iquino’s (credited as Steve McCoy) truly throws the horror movie kitchen sink into the only horror movie he ever directed.
Beyond the pregnancy of Lucifer’s child, there’s an unholy priest who appears to have his own personal red lighting that follows him around. Sister Margaret is a Satanic nun who enjoys killing anyone who would get in the way of the Satanic birth. She torments Frederic by locking him in the attic that once held his wife and replaces a dead pet parrot with a bird cage full of bats.
The crazed wife Elizabeth, who blinded her husband in the opening scene, fakes a suicide attempt to escape jail. She then returns to her marital home to seduce her husband.
When Helen gets pregnant, the movie introduces two other couples around Europe who were also selected to carry the seed of Satan. One couple visits an abortion clinic because of the painful and frightening pregnancy. This brings a visit from the red-lit priest, who dispatches them without mercy in a Suspiria-inspired murder scene.
Inexplicably, the movie moves to Germany where another woman attempts to end her pregnancy but loses her life in the process. The priest is none too happy and raises the woman, zombified, to deal with the unrepentant husband.
Secta Siniestra is a mixing pot of horror and giallo influences that somehow, some way, fits together.
It doesn’t always make sense, and sometimes it’s unintentionally funny, but it’s always engaging and keeps you guessing on what will happen next.
I can’t say this is the best Spanish horror movie ever made, but this is an important restoration and release by Vinegar Syndrome and deserves to be discovered by horror fans.
As one would expect from a movie that was not distributed outside of a Spanish VHS release, there are not many special features. The key feature is commentary from film historian and author Kat Ellinger.
Kat has done several audio commentaries for Vinegar Syndrome and other label releases. When Kat does an audio commentary for a movie, it’s always entertaining and incredibly informative. With little background on Secta Siniestra to rely on, Kat still fills her commentary with information on Spanish horror, the post-Franco film era, and where Spanish films fit within other Euro-horror releases.
The disc does include English language dubbing, as one does not appear to have been recorded for distribution outside of Spain.
Secta Siniestra is, hopefully, the start of additional “lost” Spanish horror films being restored and released by Vinegar Syndrome.
In this era of digital streaming, it’s more important than ever that boutique labels like Vinegar Syndrome find and restore movies like Secta Siniestra. If you’re one of the multitude of voices that bemoans the lack of Hollywood originality when it comes to horror, turn your attention to movies like Secta Siniestra.
Like NBC used to say when promoting their series repeats, if you haven’t seen it before it’s new to you.
Movie Review Disc Review
THE SPECIAL FEATURES
- Newly scanned and restored in 2K from its 35mm original camera negative
- Audio commentary with film historian and author Kat Ellinger
- Promotional stills gallery
- Reversible cover artwork
- Original Spanish language soundtrack
- Newly translated English subtitles
- Region free DVD/Blu-ray combo
For more information and to purchase Secta Siniestra, visit Vinegar Syndrome here.