English Title: The Devil Qeen
Original Title: A Rainha Diaba
Genre: Drama, Crime
Director/Writer: Antonio Carlos da Fontoura
based on the story of Plínio Marcos
Music: Guilherme Magalhães Vaz
Cinematography: José Medeiros
Haroldo de Oliveira
A curio from Brazil, ostensibly THE DEVIL QUEEN is a rinky-dink internecine power usurpation within a drug kingpin’s clique, set in the seedy Lapa neighborhood of Rio de Janiero, but it is its plucky and colorful depiction of the less-shown counterculture which sustains its cult renown.
More tallying with camp aesthetics than a homoerotic tantalizer, the film’s title is a sobriquet of the drug lord (Gonçalves), who is black and queer, sentimental and merciless. In order to protect one of his pretty-face underlings, who sells drugs to students, he requests Catitu (Xavier) to look for a whipping boy to take the blame, and Catitu lays his eyes on Bereco (Nercessian), a small-time pimp of Isa Gonzalez (Lara, paired with Nercessian who is only half of her age, gives the best impression of a good-hearted working girl).
Bereco is hot-blooded, credulous and reckless, he is oblivious of Catitu’s ulterior motive and wallows in the fast money from their dangerous escapade, when finally the police force knocks on his front door, Bereco barely escapes and goes into hiding, leaving Isa wounded and heartbroken. But Catitu has his own plan to eradicate the Devil Queen once and for all and subsequently convinces all other underlings, but no one has the guts to be the executioner, so Catitu needs Bereco to do one last job for him, rubbing out the Queen. His plan almost works as he plans, but one can never know who is harboring a bigger ambition to gobble up the entire cake for one’s own pleasure, the ending is as ludicrous as the wantonly spewed fake blood.
However, there is a jovial kindred spirit in the scenes where the Queen organizing a drag party in his residence, a miscellany of kaleidoscopic characters slinking amid each other and blatantly vaunts their unification to help the beleaguered Queen, whereas in a less salubrious front, it is a cheap move poking fun at the sadist torture inflicted on a shrieking Ida. For all the film’s tongue-in-cheek temerity, Milton Gonçalves emotes with a staggering impression jumping from an authoritarian maniac to a chirpy, cutesy maiden and Nelson Xavier is really in his elements when it comes to duplicity and wheedling.
In a nutshell, laced with a psychedelic soundscape and a garish palette, Antonio Carlos da Fontoura’s THE DEVIL QUEEN is an antiquated mish-mash of queer grandstanding and gangster subterfuge, with high voltage of panache and mischief in its trashy artery.
referential point: Bruno Barreto’s DONA FLOR AND HER TWO HUSBANDS (1976, 6.8/10).