Hellish Flesh (1977)

Inferno Carnal (1977)

Hellish Flesh is one of Jose Mojica Marins’ more down-to-earth films, it’s a departure from his typical gothic, artistic horror style witnessed in Awakening Of the Beast and This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse. In Hellish Flesh, Jose Mojica Marins plays Jorge, a chemist who experiments with various acids, who is attacked by his uncaring wife with his own experimental acid in order for her to inherit his money and spend it all with her illicit lover, Jorge’s friend. Jorge lives through the acid attack, however, he is incredibly deformed and plots his revenge against his ex-wife and ex-friend. It’s a very simple plot that feels inspired by other popular films around the 1970’s such as The Abominable Dr. Phibes.

Although Hellish Flesh has a very different premise when compared to to Jose Mojica Marins’ usual gothic horror affair, the film still contains a lot of his trademark elements: the film contains copious amounts of cheap nudity, cheap gore, and most disturbingly, real footage of eye-surgery (possibly Jose Mojica Marins’ own eye surgery that was performed in the 1970’s). Despite this, however, Hellish Flesh does contain a lot more experimental elements that tie in to classic horror movies: in Hellish Flesh, Jose Mojica Marins pays close attention to shadows and lighting to crate a tense atmosphere whilst the disfigured Jorge is on-screen, and it’s incredibly effective, keeping an audience unsure as to what the disfigured Jorge actually looks like (and to hide the fact his disfigured face looks like a cheap mask). There’s a sub-plot in Hellish Flesh where Jorge starts a new relationship with a young woman, and whenever he appears in the same room as her, the viewer only sees Jorge’s shadow as it glides across the room and over her young body, a la Nosferatu. Hellish Flesh shows a lot more influences from classic horror movies than Jose Mojica Marins other films, and it definitely makes Hellish Flesh stand out against Mojica Marins’ other low-budget exploitation films that aren’t part of his Coffin Joe trilogy of films.

However, Hellish Flesh, like many other Jose Mojica Marins’ films, is deeply flawed. The film is very slow paced, too slow paced for what’s happening onscreen, as a result, Hellish Flesh is one of Mojica Marins most tedious films. The film is incredibly boring as one just waits for something to happen. The plot is very shallow and the film just repeats plot points ad nauseam. There are too many filler scenes of the illicit lover, the scientists experiments, the worrying wife, and scenes with Jorge’s new lover. These scenes feel like they only exist to certify the film’s 85 minute running time. The surprising final twist ending does make up for a lot of the uninteresting story because no-one escapes punishment in a Jose Mojica Marins’ film, but in my opinion, it’s just too little, too late after sitting through an hour and 20 minutes of tedious film-making.

Like The Strange Hostel Of Naked Pleasures, Hellish Flesh isn’t a film that’s wholly memorable or even relatively enjoyable. Jose Mojica Marins has made better films in his career and, all in all, Hellish Flesh is an underwhelming experiment into toned down horror cinema, and a failed experiment at that. In my opinion, Hellish Flesh isn’t worth sitting through despite the reasonably entertaining ending, and can be easily passed as there are much better films out there, even ones about disfigured scientists seeking revenge. If you want to watch that type of film, ignore Hellish Flesh and go watch The Abominable Dr. Phibes, you’ll have a much better time.

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