Discovery of the Black Vampire, the Argentinian M the Cursed

Les films du Camélia are releasing three Argentine thrillers from the 1950s, including a fantastic remake of Fritz Lang's masterpiece.

We already knew that M the Accursed by Fritz Lang (1931) had a little brother (the tense M by Joseph Losey, 1951), not that there was an Argentinian cousin. A not so distant cousin in whom the same black blood flows. In 1953, Román Viñoly Barreto, a filmmaker of Uruguayan origin but based in Buenos Aires, signed, in fact, The black vampire taking up the same argument from Lang and Thea Von Harbou's screenplay, the hunt for a child killer in an overheating city.

M the Cursed, the greatest serial killer film of all time

Where the German broke with its expressionist flights for a foggy realism and documented a population ready to fall to the dark side (Hitler came to power in 1933), Barreto uses the codes of film noir to shift the plot somewhat. The political significance, however, hovers above heads. All you have to do is look at this credits shot where a shadow painfully climbs the stairs of a courthouse and ends up losing its balance as if drawn towards the abyss. Everything then starts from a double perspective, that of a charming singer (the very fatal Olga Zubarry) who is an eyewitness to the flight of a man whose crimes she is unaware of. On the other side of the window, the bulging, frightened eyes of the psychopath (exceptional Nathán Pinzón, the Argentinian Peter Lorre!) stare at her. The man is about to throw the corpse of a girl into a manhole.

From then on, a complex story begins where the smell of the underbelly of Buenos Aires contaminates sidewalks that have become undisturbed. Disturbing black and white, endless night, tortuous ramifications where our woman in distress, a mafia nightclub boss, helpless cops, anonymous victims and therefore an assassin who could carry within himself the weight of all the faults of 'a society sick of itself (the Argentina of the omnipotent Perón is on the verge of faltering)

The Camélia Films

The black vampire seduced above all by the great fluidity of its staging and its constant inventiveness (cf. the bursts of formal fever preceding the crimes) A ​​work of goldsmith's work which contrasts with that of the wiser Let the beast die (1952), another title by the same Barreto on the program of this mini-retro of Argentinian film noirs, inspired by the novel which Chabrol used for his cult film of the same name.

In his presentation text which accompanies this Dark Vampirer, the critic and film historian Charles Tesson points out in particular this iconic sequence with the little girl in front of a store window which responds to that of M the Accursedexcept that here the plan “ turns out to be a set-up by the police to trap the killer. » Lang played more directly with the circulation of desire between bodies and the merchandise on display.

A Murder for Nothing by Fernando Ayala (1956)
The Camélia Films

The third film proposed by The Camélia films is signed Fernando Ayala and dates from 1956. Its title is a bit of a spoiler, A murder for nothing, is a peak of paranoid tension where again the staging is a feast for the senses and the eyes. The music by Astor Piazzolla is used wonderfully, particularly during a crazy double-sequence in a restaurant. In short, we cannot recommend enough that you discover its Argentinian gems.

A murder for nothing, Let the beast die And The black vampire, in restored version. Dist. The Camélia Films. In theaters June 19.


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