Cauldron of Horror – Rediscovering ‘Poison for the Fairies’ (Mexico 1984 – 90 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - September 07, 2015
Cauldron of Horror – Rediscovering ‘Poison for the Fairies’ (Mexico 1984 – 90 mins)

A unique entry into the killer-kiddie genre (even if it turns out not to strictly be one!), ‘Poison for the Fairies’ is a highly engaging drama about an imaginative child’s innocent game that finally gets out of hand.

Set among a Catholic school in the 1960’s, 10 year old Verónica (Ana Patricia Rojo) befriends lonely new pupil Flavia (Elsa María Gutiérrez), telling her that she is a witch and that she wants Flavia to be her helper. What starts out as an innocent child’s fantasy, soon takes a darker turn as the girls set about finding the correct ingredients for their magic potion, which will kill the fairies who they believe to be the witches true enemies. Everything goes Veronica’s way until she wants to use Flavia’s beloved pet dog as the final ingredient in her brew.

Using both folklore and the Disney-style of portraying witches, ‘Poison for the Fairies’ incorporates many of the usual motifs, such as frogs, cauldrons, candles and fire. Apart from the unsettling opening scene, the picture is not one that revels in violent horror, thankfully. The fiery finale is certainly memorable though, with a wonderful Disney-like silhouette of an old hag mixing her cauldron, and ending with a memorable freeze-frame. This powerful role-reversal ending is haunting and unexpected, leaving much to ponder. A particularly neat idea was that, although there are adult characters in the movie, including parents, teachers and nanny’s, we never see their faces, and are usually shot from behind or to the edge of the screen, reinforcing that this is a movie seen from the children’s perspective.

10 year old Ana Patricia Rojo is excellent as Verónica, serious yet retaining her childlike persona. Surprisingly, in her only role to date, Elsa María Gutiérrez is equally good as the put-upon Flavia, who ultimately gets the upper hand. Writer and Director Carlos Enrique Taboada was Mexico’s beloved horror filmmaker who was quite the genius at creating the right mood and atmosphere for his films. This was most evident in his earlier school-set chiller, the superb ‘Even the Wind is Afraid’ (’68). These two movies make a great late-night double bill, and you can see why both are regarded as classics in Mexican cinema. The photography by Lupe García is nice and colourful, though dark and shadowy when called for.

Another excellent genre picture from Mexico, ‘Poison for the Fairies’ is an intelligent psychological horror with atmosphere in abundance. A diverting hour and a half, it’s a dreamlike picture that has much to recommend it, both to older children and also adults who have retained their youthful imaginations.

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