Sunday, 5 May 2013

5 Mexican Horror Movies

**Please note that there may be spoilers throughout the blog**

Mexico has been noted for many things over the years, amazing food, wonderful beaches and resorts and a vibrant history but very little is heard of their incredible cinema.  Unfortunately, with the exception of a few directors like Guillermo del Torro, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and a handful of others, I haven't heard of that many Mexican films, especially horror films, outside of the insane B-movies that Gordon K. Murray brought back and the wrestling films with Santo, the Blue Demon.  So, I thought I'd start to explore Mexican Horror cinema and see what I could come up with. 

Here are 5 Mexican Horror Movies

5. El Baron del Terror (aka Brainiac) (1962) - It's 1661 and Baron Vitelius of Astara is on trial for a laundry list of offenses that the church will not stand for.  His only friend, Marcos Miranda tries to sway the inquisition, but their minds are made up already and want to burn the Baron.  Just as the inquisitors set the flame to the bound Baron, a comet passes by overhead and the Baron screams that he will return, like the comet in 300 years and kill the ancestors of all who have judged him.
  300 years later, Reinaldo Miranda and his lady, Vicky are off to the observatory to see Professor Milan about finding a star.  When they get there, Milan is looking for a comet that is suppose to pass over them again like it did 300 years ago.  Eventually, Vicky finds the comet on the telescope and Reinaldo sees something break loose from it and come crashing down to Earth.  He convinces Vicky to go with him and off they go searching for comet debris.  How fun!
  Unfortunately, the comet debris ends up being the Baron, who has returned to get his vengeance on the people who have judged him. However, 300 years on a comet makes a Demon/Sorcerer/Man peckish, so he changes into a weird demon with a long tongue form and starts sucking the brains out of a young policeman.  When he finishes, the Baron runs into Reinaldo and Vicky, then tells them he didn't see any debris over there and that they shouldn't go look, so Reinaldo and Vicky beleive him and go home.  The Baron spends no time waiting and invites all the ancestors to a party at his masion(?) and begins planning his revenge!  He starts with the ancestor of the head inquisitor and his daughter.  He eats their brains then sets them on fire. Payback's a bitch, yo, and then continues through his list of unsuspecting victims.  After a number of murders that obviously tie back to the Baron's party, the police are stumped and little does Reinaldo know is that Vicky may be next on his new friend's list.  Can anyone stop him?
  This movie is hilarious!  If you enjoy Mystery Science Theatre, Ed Wood films or absurd 50's films then you'll love this.  You have to hand it to producer and distributor, Gordon K. Murray because he found to real treasure trove of these films down in Mexico, like the Santa Claus film (1959) and the Aztec Mummy series.  The script is over written, especially in the first scene, the acting is terrible and the mask for the monster is so crazy!  I love it!  This movie is weird, fun and only clocks in over an hour, so it's definitely worth having a watch.

4. La Tía Alejandra (aka Aunt Alejandra) (1979) - After Rodolfo's grandmother dies, Aunt Alejandra comes to live with him and his family.  At first his wife, Lucia is very excited because Aunt Alejandra is wealthy and their bills are piling up but Rodolfo doesn't want anything to do with her money.  Two of the children, Andres and Marta are happy about Aunt Alejandra moving in but Malena, the oldest is suspicious and becomes more concerned when she walks in on Alejandra performing a some sort of black mass ritual.You really should knock first.
  Things start to go really bad, when Andres leaves a roller skate on the stairs and Aunt Alejandra trips on it and hurts her hip.  It's not to long after Andres dies from a similar incident, his neck breaks when he falls down the stairs on his skates.  With the family in grieving, Malena thinks she is the one that must stop the evil old woman, but how can she prove that her aunt is a witch and save her family?
  This was good but pretty straight forward.  Isabela Corona is fantastic Aunt Alejandra, she plays it to the tee.  She doesn't want to be a bother, wants to help financial and gets her feathers ruffled pretty quickly if she doesn't get what she wants.  There are so graphic scenes but really it just kind of plods along and nothing really gets settled until it's too late.  Not a great film but a better witch film than I've seen in a while. Also at one point puppets attack people, so it does get points for that.  Sorry, I can't find a trailer but the complete film isn't hard to find.

3. Hasta el Viento Tiene Miedo (aka Even The Wind is Afraid) (1968) - Claudia has a terrible nightmare.  She dreams about hearing her name being called in the darkness and when she gets up to search out the voice, she finds a girl hung by her neck beside her bed.  Then she wakes up in her bed in the all girls school and starts screaming in terror.  The doctor finally calms her down and tells the Bernarda, the Principal that Claudia should stay in bed and rest for the day but the evil old bruja sends her to class within the hour.
  Claudia goes to class and with her gaggle of friends, when they come across a tower that is usually locked.  One of the girls convinces the rest that they should go inside and look around but when they do Claudia recognizes the inside of the tower from her dream!  She tells the girls that there is a door at the top of the stairs and it's painted red.  Her friends call bullshit on her and they all go up the never ending stairs to prove her wrong.  When the get to the top, the door is red but Principal Bernarda catches the girls in the abandonded tower.  Bernarda revokes their week vacation pass and forces them to do school work during the vacation time.
  Over vacation week, Claudia is still having nightmares and other girls think they may be seeing things in the dark as well.  Eventually, Lucia, the Vice Principal tells the girls that one of her favourite students hung herself in the tower.  Is Claudia and her friends seeing the ghost of this girl and what does it want from her?
  This was pretty good, reminded me a lot about giallo picture from Italy but without all the blood.  The story is good but I think it could be trimmed a little.  There is a lot of unnecessary scenes in the school about boyfriends and at times looks more like a teen soap, then a horror movie.  Not a lot violence and but there there are some creepy scenes for sure.  If you like your horrors with a little mystery than you may enjoy this one. 

2. Santa Sarge (1989) - Fenix is a feral young man who lives in a sanitarium.  Inside his padded cell, he has a fake tree to climb on and a basket to sleep in.  During an interview with the sanitarium doctors, Fenix flashes back to when he was a young boy and lived with the circus.  He remembers that his father was a drunk, womanizing, knife thrower and his mother, Concha is a religious zealot who's temple was going to be destroyed.  He remembers, her and her flock stood outside and blocked the bulldozers from crushing the building while waiting for a priest to come and give them a reprise.  But when the priest arrives, it's no church like he's ever seen and Fenix's mother is worshiping a saint that she created.  The saint is a girl who had both her arms cut off and was raped and now Fenix's mother believes that her blood fills the swimming pool in the temple.  The priest shakes his head and Fenix watches the bulldozer destroy his mother's temple, which almost her kill inside it.  Back at the circus, Fenix hangs out with his only friends, Alma, a girl his age but who is deaf and dumb and Aladin, a little person.  Alma's caregiver is the tattooed lady, who has peaked the interest in Fenix's father.  During a performance, Concha sees her husband and the tattooed lady sneak away out of the tent.  She stops her performance and storms off looking for vengeance and locks Fenix up in the trailer.  She finds them in the back being intimate and attacks them but the tattooed lady escapes with a few cuts and hits the road with Alma.  Thinking that her husband has been fixed, literally, Concha leaves but he attacks her and cuts her arms off before he stumbles out and dies in front of Fenix.
  We come out of the flashback, we're back at the sanitarium and it's movie night.  A doctor leaves a group of inmates, including Fenix into the capable hands of a movie usher and takes off for the evening with his mom or date.  Once the doctor has left, the usher decides to give the group of mental patiants cocaine and takes them to a prostitute for some fun.  Fenix falls behind and sees the tattooed lady, who is also a prostitute now and follows her back to her house.  Fenix wakes up the next morning and hears his mother calling him outside.  He climbs his tree and looks out the window to see his mother, armless and calling him over.  He opens the window and escapes with his mother.  Now that they're together, Concha uses Fenix's arms to bring back her career and to get deadly revenge on anyone who comes between her and her son.  Can anyone save Fenix before it's too late?
   This movie is so insane, visually breathtaking and has some many great twists, it's not funny.  Director Alejandro Jodorowsky (El Topo, Holy Mountain) puts together these incredible surreal, twisted stories and makes them hauntingly gorgeous with his cinematographer.  More structured and cohesive than El Topo, this complex story is brilliant in capturing madness and bringing it to the forefront of horror.  There are some very violent and interesting scenes in this that shouldn't be passed up.  This is a strange enjoyable film that should be savored and not rushed through, so take your time.

1. The Devil's Backbone - In 1939, during the final year of the Spanish Civil War, a young boy named Carlos is brought to an all boys home because unbeknownst to him, his father has died in the war.  He is left with Dr. Casares and Carmen, who take care of the children in the orphanage.  They also have a large amount of gold hidden in their safe to fund the Republican Loyalist's who are fighting Franco.  Unfortunately, former orphan and now groundskeeper, Jacinto has been trying to steal this gold for a long time.
  Anyway, Carlos makes some friends and some enemies too.  Apparently, the resident bully, Jaime doesn't like Carlos and will do anything to get him in trouble.  One evening, after being woken up from ghostly noises, Carlos witnesses a poltergeist that knocks over a few water jugs and leaves a wet footprint.  This wakes the other boys up and Jaime is angry about his water and dares Carlos to get more water.  Carlos says he'll only go if Jaime goes with him, so they both head out and creep across the grounds to the kitchen.  Once inside the kitchen, Carlos tries to get his water but the ghost messes with him again, creating a racket that brings Jacinto to come and investigate.  Luckily, Jacinto doesn't find him but the ghost spooks the shit out of Carlos and he high tails it.  Can Carlos find out the mystery of the ghost and help the ghost find peace, so it can move on?
  I think this is one of my favourite Del Torro pictures, I remember seeing it in the theatre and enjoying it as much back then as I did seeing it now.  They do a nice job with the special effects on the ghost and I like they keep him back throughout the story, until he comes out in full force.  The story is really good and has some nice coming of age stuff going on for the young characters.  It'sa great ghost tale that will definitely spook you.  

These films have a lot of similarities to the Italian styles of films.  There is a lot of mystery but there doesn't seem to be a lot of gore, with the exception of Santa Sangre.  However, these were only a few of the films that I looked into and this is only the first step into a long journey of horror from across the border.  Pass me a bloody mojito, I may be here for a while.


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