Aweird turn-of-the-century romance, “The Midnight Bride” was reconstructed by helmer Antonio Simon from a ’40s script co-written by Luis Bunuel that, according to Bunuel’s biographer, “aroused no interest” at the time. Any interest nowadays in this defiantly old-fashioned madwoman-in-the-attic meller is likely to come solely from the Bunuel connection, with fests its likeliest destination.
Wenceslao Corredoira (vet Francisco Rabal) is visiting Galicia, in northern Spain, to negotiate the future of some property. He is accompanied by Oscar Marsal (Nancho Novo), an engineer employed to fix the value of the land, and Oscar’s cute puppy, which has about 70 minutes left to live.
At the center of the estate is a superb Gothic mansion, with all the usual fixtures and fittings: an embittered old widow (Esperanza Roy), who is Wenceslao’s sister; a surly servant (Roberto Vidal Bolano); a creepy doctor (Juan Diego); a beautiful but shy daughter (Clara Sanchis); a hatchet-faced housemaid (Rosa Alvarez); and a strange pair of arms that releases birds from upper windows in long shot. A harp sounds mysteriously at night, rain falls, and sometimes rooms are lit up by lightning. The sea and cliffs of Galicia provide a suitably dramatic backdrop.
Wenceslao repeatedly catches the daughter’s eye at the dinner table and shortly afterward has sex with her in the stables. A ladder then falls and nearly kills him, the complex history of his sister is revealed through flashback, and Oscar takes it upon himself to solve the mystery of the house.
Pic is pleasant enough in a Hammer Films–like way, though without any redeeming touches of self-parody or, more important, much horror. Over-the-top perfs, particularly from Diego as the doctor, keep things watchably kitsch, and technically the film is solid.