Your Tour Guide Through Cinema Trash (and Treasures)

Jun 9, 2021

Maleficarum (2011)


A Bolivian film featuring the Spanish Inquisition doing what they do best. Amy Hesketh is naked and mistreated for nearly the entirety of the film, and it's so extreme I found myself wondering, why would anyone go through this for a movie? 

"Between 1480 and 1813, more than 100,000 women - Catholics and Protestants alike, were accused of witchcraft, tortured, condemned and executed in what is known as the Christians world. This movie is the story of two of those women."

Much of the story is recounted by Brother Rodrigo de Palomares (Alejandro Loayza) who served as the assistant to the priest involved in this story.

The problems started when Father Francisco Verdugo (Roberto Lopez) visited the home of a girl whose rich parents had just died.  When the girl refused to give a huge portion of her wealth to the church, Fr. Verdugo immediately presumed she must be in league with the devil.

Fr. Verdugo is able to capitalize on an altercation that occurred on the street as a means to get the orphan out of the picture.

The two girls involved in the altercation are Mariana de Castro (Amy Hesketh) who they call "the Lutheran" and Maria Francisca de la Cruz (Mila Joya) the orphan and heir to a fortune.

Fr. Verdugo accuses the girls of witchcraft and satan worship. He tells Francisca, "How lucky they are to have died so as to not witness how low their daughter has fallen."

Mariana de Castro (Amy Hesketh) is a Lutheran (which a strike against her) and a widow.  Her husband, an apothecary, died under suspicious circumstances.  There is rumor that she poisoned him.

Fr. Verdugo listens to various witnesses who describe the altercation in the alley, as well as those that can attest to the girls performing the satanic arts.

Each testimony about the alleyway altercation brings a little more color to the story... and often contradicts previous testimony.  Basically, Mariana was being bullied and Francisca stepped in to protect her.

We also get a little background into the girls' relationship.  When recently widowed Mariana came to stay with Francisca  they became close.. perhaps too close.

Francisca and Mariana are chained up naked in the dungeon.

Mariana watches with horror as her friend is tortured...

Francisca is tied up and whipped.

Josefa Maria Flores (Maria Esther Arteaga), the caretaker of the Cruz estate, testifies that it is Mariana who is a witch.  She claims Francisca is just a victim of her evil spells.

Specifically, she describes a time when Mariana tempted Francisca into lesbianism.

Fr. Verdugo watches Mariana get whipped.

Francisca is put on the rack.

Isabel Petrona Arteaga (Vanessa Calvimontes) testifies to the incident in the alley. She claims that demonic forces were at work in the girls.

I nice to get a break from the sadism and darkness, but these flashbacks to the alley altercation get quite old.  How many times can we hear this boring story?

Francisca is brought back from the rack.  Now it's Mariana's turn.

With each round of torture the girls are asked if they will admit their guilt and accept their condemnation.  Each time, they refuse, clinging to their innocence.

Mariana is tortured on the rack to the point of unconsciousness.  She has to be carried back to her dungeon cell.

Since no confessions seem to be forthcoming, the Inquisition decides to step up their game.

After a relentless whipping, Mariana is taken down from the ropes and put on an infamous torturing device...

The Spanish Horse

A quick pause to take a look at Amy Hesketh.  I was curious about this woman who allows herself to be so tortured and degraded on film.  She's done a number of films, all requiring nudity and often torture.  So, that's evidently a thing with her. She's written and directed a lot of the films she's been in.  Interestingly, although she's known as a controversial Bolivian director, she actually is originally from rural Maine!

And you have to say, she's a very compelling actress. Amy definitely does not phone it in.

Even the Spanish Horse doesn't get a confession. So, it's on to another form of torture.

Mariane is taken outside and tied to a fucking rotisserie. 

The rotisserie is cranked and Mariana is spun over hot coals.

Unconscious, the torturers untie her.

Francisca admits defeat.  She can't watch Mariana be tortured any longer. 

Francisca finally provides an admission of guilt which means condemnation for the both of them; but at least the torture will be over.

Back in the dungeon, Francisca tells her friend she's put an end to this and confessed.

Fr. Verdugo leads the girls away from the village.

Mariana is stripped then tied up.

This little scene goes on for a while.  Like I actually learned how to tie a new knot from this scene, they show the whole process.  

So, Francisca is tied to a cross, and Mariana burned at the stake.

But it's not over.  There's an epilogue:  Fr. Verdugo is killed by a mysterious assassin. 

Villagers claim the assassins resembled Francisca and a scarred Mariana.  Could it be? THE END

I have to say, this Bolivian from Maine, Amy Hesketh, kinda rocked my world.  We've watched well over two thousand exploitation films on VZ1, so it's really hard to get shocked or surprised.  But holy shit.  This chick got put through the ringer; I've never seen an actress subject herself to something like this before. (Okay, I'm sure there are fetish films which are worse, but we're talking legit movies here.)  I must say, it's pretty damn uncomfortable to watch. And one last observation about Hesketh: the only other movie I can't think of where the female protagonist gets abused and degraded so badly is I Spit on Your Grave... and tell me I'm wrong, doesn't Hesketh look a lot like Camille Keaton? Weird.

But the film's biggest downfall are those goddamn interviews and flashbacks.  I get it.  We have to take breaks from the torture.  We need some light and color after being in that dark dungeon.  However, there has to be a better way.  Those testimonials got unbearable. 

Despite this being a hard watch, and not something I can see myself ever viewing again, I am curious about Amy Hesketh's other work; so, I'll probably give another film of her's a try soon.


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