Quite simply one of the weirdest, most confounding movies of all time! The copyright date of MEMORIA is 1974, but it appears to be a product of the late sixties in its fashions (such as the miniskirt and go-go boots ensembles worn by all the women), hairstyles and overtly druggy ambiance. It actually outdoes “Head Film” classics of the era like THE TRIP and EL TOPO in crazed psychedelia, suggesting that the primary reason MEMORIA, a.k.a. LA BESTIAS NO SE MIRAN AL ESPEJO, has been so neglected—as of 2017 the film’s sole availability is via a poor quality VHS dub—was simply that it arrived around five years too late.
In the “future” year 2000 the unhealthily obsessed professor Ulop is performing amoral brain experiments, assisted by the youthful Peter, who happens to be schtupping Ulop’s young wife Helen. Looking to transplant memories from one body to another, Ulop has thus far succeeded with animals but not humans, because “beasts don’t look at themselves in a mirror”—i.e. they lack self-awareness—but humans do, which invariably results in madness and catatonia.
Professor Ulop believes he’s found the solution to his transplant problem in the form of a hallucinogenic drug called B-2. He’s convinced the drug will make his subjects’ brains receptive to the memory transplantation process, but the world organization that regulates scientific activity strictly forbids the use of hallucinogens, effectively discontinuing Ulop’s research. Ulop, however, refuses to be deterred. One night he and Peter break into the professor’s laboratory, where Ulop administers the B-2 on himself and then, in a fit of remorse, destroys the canister containing the substance—but not until after Peter has loaded Ulop’s memories into the head of an severely brain-damaged individual known as Patient 93.
Upon awakening the first thing Patient 93 does is see his reflection in a distorted mirror. He completely freaks out and attacks Helen, leading to a riot of hallucination, madness and death.
Much of MEMORIA, it must be admitted, falls flat. It’s marked by uniformly bad acting and fumbled attempts at commonplace sentimentality (such as a lengthy lament by Ulop about the moral conundrums of his profession, accompanied by mournful music). The aforementioned late 1960s aura is furthered by the very sixties-era “futuristic” décor—flashing lights, high-pitched beeping sounds, etc.
The final half hour, at least, will satisfy any weird movie buff, being a veritable joyride of unhinged psychedelia that freely interweaves animation and footage of brainwaves, pulsing blood vessels, infrared imagery and a truly scary two legged monster, seen advancing slowly toward the camera, that appears to have sprung straight directly out of somebody’s disturbed subconscious. For good measure there are also some gratuitous weirdness-for-weirdness’ sake elements, such as a little girl finding an eyeball on a beach, that have no evident connection to the overall narrative, and pretentious dialogue like “The world appears to be mutating only in the eyes of fools”.
Yet as silly as it all is, there’s no denying that writer-director Francisco Macián had a gift for crafting bizarre imagery. A former animator who died in 1976 at age 46, Macián was the creator of the M-Technofantasy animation system, which was utilized extensively in MEMORIA. Macián’s devotion to the system is evident in the fact that the film has two credited cinematographers, one for live action and the other for “Technofantasy y Efectos Especiales.” It makes for what is almost certainly one of the most potent depictions of pure insanity ever visualized, and a definite stand-out in field of “Holy Fucking Shit!” cinema.
MEMORIA (LA BESTIAS NO SE MIRAN AL ESPEJO/BEASTS DON’T LOOK AT THEMSELVES IN A MIRROR)
Producciones M-Technofantasy S.A.
Director: Francisco Macián
Producer: Esteban Pallarés
Screenplay: Francisco Macián
Cinematography: Luis Cuadrado, Gilberto Soriano
Editing: Ramon Quadreny
Cast: Fernando Sancho, Pedro Diez Del Corral, Pat Johnson, William Layton, Jaime Casals