Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas and New Year Cheers

Hope all readers of this blog are having a wonderful Christmas and holiday time, and that all will have a bountiful and happy New Year!

The coming year looks like a good one for Mexican horror. CasaNegra should be back with the two DVD releases (WORLD OF THE VAMPIRES and THE LIVING HEAD) that were held back due to financial problems, BCI/Deimos is continuing with their Mexican horror packages (we may even see the "lost" Santo film, El vampiro y el sexo, from the company), and, yes, finally the book Vampiros and Monstruos should see publication!

So stay tuned for an informative and entertaining journey into Mexican horror and fantasy!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Return of Mil Mascaras

Folks who have been aware of Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy, which was made what seems like two years ago, have been wondering what has happened to the film. It hasn't turned up in any theater (not that it necessarily would), and there's been no DVD release yet or update info on the official website of the film. For those who don't know, Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy was produced in the United States by University of Missouri professors Jeffrey Uhlmann and Kannappan Palaniappan, using college talent and the services of Mexico's legendary lucha libre star, Mil Mascaras.

My suspicion as to the movie's absence has to do with the Aztec Mummy character, and the possible legal weight put upon the new film because it wasn't squared away with the Calderon film company, which claims rights to the character. And, sure enough, the film has re-emerged under a different title: Mil Mascaras: Resurrection--which isn't that great of a title. According to a poster on the Classic Horror Film Board (possibly Mexican film authority David Wilt under a different screen name), the film, or portions of it, had to be reshot to make it suitable for theatrical play. Another reason may be to rework the "Aztec Mummy" aspects of the film, if not elimiate them completely. (The mummy could now be called something else, for instance.)

At the heels of this production emerged another (!) Mil Mascaras film produced by the same duo--Wrestling Women vs. the Brainiac--which now has also been retitled to: Academy of Doom. One wonders again if the title change is indicative of a rights problem.

Despite these setbacks, I'm looking forward to seeing these films. I've read the script of Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The plot and dialog remind me of the tongue-in-cheek, but sincere spirit of the old Batman TV show. Photos from the film present a well-put-together effort. The poster on the CHFB endorses both films: "I have seen the mummy film and it is spectacular. The other film is also excellent but it is much less mainstream and will find its greatest appeal among the die-hard lucha film connoisseurs - which I am!"

Monday, November 26, 2007


A Mexican DVD company, Alterfilms, has been releasing Mexican horror and lucha libre films for a few years now under the "Vive Mexico" banner. Subtitled "Cine en 35mm," the prints are in far better quality than we've seen before, although, judging by a sampling, these are not sourced from pristine negatives, but rather from prints that show occassional nicks and lines. Besides their fine quality, the initial releases in this series had English subtitles, a policy that, unfortunately, seems not to have been in effect for too long. Below is a list of horror, fantasy, horror-comedy, lucha libre films that Alterfilms has released so far, from the most recent to the earliest:

Las Lobas del Ring
El Castillo de los Monstruos
Santo Vs. el Espectro del Estrangulador
Santo y el Aguila Real
El profeta Mimí
Santo vs Los Asesinos de otros mundos
Asesinos de la Lucha Libre
La casa de los espantos
Santo contra Blue Demon en la Atlántida
Anónimo mortal
Santo y Blue Demon en el mundo de los muertos
Santo vs las lobas

Doña Macabra (English subtitles)
Dos fantasmas y una muchacha (English subtitles)
Macario (English subtitles)
Santo en el Museo de Cera(English subtitles)
Santo y Blue Demon contra los Monstruos (English subtitles)

Where does one purchase these DVDs? Ebay is one place, and also the Alterfilms website, though I have no idea what the shipping cost from Mexico will be.

Here's a nice image of the Frankenstein Monster from Santo en el Museo de Cera:

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Return of CasaNegra

Possibly. Not a done deal yet, but according to posts by Mike Liuzza, honcho of CasaNegra and Panik House, the two names and their acquisitions are in the process of being sold to yet unnamed company, individual or group of individuals. This info appeared at the Cinehound forum, where Liuzza, as "brains99," revealed to posters who he is and a bit of his background. (Work for the Mr. Skin website, formation of Panik House and CasaNegra, etc.) As far as CasaNegra and its on-hold Mexican horror titles, World of the Vampires and The Living Head, are concerned and any future Mexican horror releases, the money quotes are: "I intend to keep helping the new owners locate and acquire films though. That's all I can reveal about it at this time. What I can tell you is Chained Heat, Red Heat and Jungle Warriors WILL be released at some point in 2008, as well as World of the Vampires and The Living Head. Any future titles for both labels beyond that will be up to the new owners, if in fact everything goes as planned. We should know soon."

Thanks to David Wilt for the alert, which initially appeared on the DVD Maniacs forum.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

East West's Mexican Horror and Fantasy Line

Are they legit? Who knows, but East West DVD has been releasing a bunch of Mexican films, including a few in the horror/fantasy/lucha libra genres. These are poverty-row budget DVDs that, if you can find them in your neighborhood ethnic DVD store, sell from $1 to $2. Covers are exploitatively interesting, making these DVDs collectable items despite their rather middling pictorial quality. Pictured above is the cover of Carlos Enrique Taboada's sublime masterpiece, El libro de piedra. Below is the cover to the second Kaliman film, which is subtitled in English! (The transfer must have been taken from a previous, more expensive release of this title on DVD from another company, Vanguard International Cinema. The source for El libro de piedra is probably a Tekila Films DVD issued in 2005.)

Blazed at the bottom of each cover is the website of East West, but, of course, when one goes to the website one finds that it is "under construction." Good luck in finding out anything about this company and the extent of their holdings--as well as the legitimacy of their ownership of these holdings.

Anyway, one way or another, old-time Mexican horror and fantasy lives on!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Deimos' South of the Border Horror Collection

Deimos is introducing a new Mexican horror series in its Crypt of Terror line. All films will be in Spanish audio with English subtitles, except Don't Panic, which will be offered up in an English version and a Spanish, with English subtitles, version. Streeting in December is Volume 1 of HORROR FROM SOUTH OF THE BORDER. Here are the contents of this set:

Vacation of Terror (Vacaciones de terror) A family buys a summer house in the Mexican countryside. but this dream home is not what it seems. The youngest daughter finds a diabolical doll, possessed by a witch, who takes control of her and supernaturally attempts to kill the rest of the family. Not Rated - 90 minutes - 1989

Vacation of Terror 2 (Vacaciones de Terror 2) The diabolical doll and Pedro Fernández return for this sequel to the original film. Julio is invited to a birthday party for a little girl on Halloween in a closed movie studio. At the party, he notices she has a doll that resembles the one that his little sister had. This is one party you'll be dying to leave! Not Rated - 90 minutes - 1989

Hell's Trap (Trampa Infernal) A group of hunters are searching for a bear. But what they find is a maniacal Vietnam vet defending his land by planting deadly booby traps for the group. The hunters become the hunted. NR - 90 minutes - 1990

Cemetery of Terror (Cementerio Del Terror) A group of medical students steal the deceased boy of Satanic serial killer Devlon from the morgue to play a Halloween prank. The students perform a Black Mass in an attempt to raise Devlon from the dead with the help of his Satanic book. When nothing happens, but a bad rainstorm, the students flee to a nearby empty house to party. Little do they know the mass worked and Devlon is looking to crash their party. A group of young trick-or-treaters also arrive at the house, but there are no treats at this house. Not Rated. 88 Min - 1985

Grave Robbers (Ladrones de Tumbas) Four teenagers on a camping trip decide to rob a nearby graveyard. They stumble across an ornate grave and tomb housing the corpse of an executed Satanist from the days of the Inquisition. The tomb was used for Satanic rituals and inquisition torture and it's full of gold and jewelry. Our teens believe they have struck it rich or so they think. Soon the deceased Satanist zombie, armed with a massive battle-axe, rises from the grave to claim his treasure. Not Rated - 87 Minutes - 1990

The Demon Rat (La Rata Malidita) In the near future, environmental pollution has increased to the point that people must wear dark glasses and breathing masks just to walk the streets. However, science teacher Axel and his colleague Irina discover an even darker side of the crisis: toxic chemicals dumped by Irina's estranged husband Roberto have resulted in the creation of monstruously mutated animals and insects. And one of these, a man-sized mutant rat, has taken up residence in Irina's house! A tense, four-way showdown between Roberto, Axel, Irina, and the man-rat concludes with only two survivors. Not Rated - 90 Minutes - 1991 Produced by Raúl Galindo - Directed by Rubén Galindo Jr. - Screenplay by Raúl Galindo Jr., José Mobellán - Story by Rubén Galindo Jr. In Spanish with English Subtitles

Don't Panic (Dimensiones Ocultas) (ENGLISH VERSION) On his 17th birthday, Michael is given a Ouija board as a gift from his best friend Tony. During their first attempt to use the board, they unlock an evil force within the board, an evil spirit named Virgil. Soon, there is a wave of violent deaths around town and Michael appears to be the suspect having been a witness to the killings via premonitions. Not Rated - 90 Minutes - 1989 - Color Disc 4 Side B Don't Panic (Dimensiones Ocultas) (SPANISH VERSION)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Silence from Your Host

I've been terribly busy doing work-for-a-living chores this past month, in another city, which has prevented me from updating this blog, but soon these overtime duties will come to an end and regular updates on Mexican horror will continue.

A bit of good news was announced by Fangoria recently. BCI will be releasing a "South of the Border" collection (Volume 1!!!) containing the following films: VACATION OF TERROR (VACACIONES DE TERROR), VACATION OF TERROR 2 (VACACIONES DE TERROR 2), HELL’S TRAP (TRAMPA INFERNAL), CEMETERY OF TERROR (CEMENTERIO DEL TERROR), GRAVE ROBBERS (LADRONES DE TUMBAS), THE DEMON RAT (LA RATA MALDITA) and DON’T PANIC (DIMENSIONES OCULTAS). More on this set soon.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Silence from Mexican Horror DVD Land

Nada (that's Spanish for "nothing") from my request three weeks ago to Rebel Crew Films for an interview with someone, anyone, who can shed light on the company's past and current Mexican horror offerings. Neither has anyone heard anything recent from CasaNegra, despite a claim from Michael Liuzza that the company is not kaput. With rumors rampant that CasaNegra is no more and a request by Liuzza to spread the word that the company is alive, wouldn't it be wise for someone at CasaNegra to update its website or My Space presence? But mystery is good for the soul. It keeps us on our toes and keeps us guessing.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Backstreet DVD Companies of Mexican Horror

What do I mean by "backstreet"? Well, these are small companies and distributors of "urban," latino, children, animation and other lower budget films whose websites (if they have them) frequently do not give up-to-date information about all their product. Their Mexican holdings have been apparently acquired through package deals with other companies, and it's dubious that the original rights holders in Mexico, if they exist, are aware of the DVD production of their films in the United States. Still, as far as is known, everything is perfectly legal, despite the fact that it's hard, if not impossible, to contact a higher up in such a company who will answer questions about the company's Mexican releases. It's almost as if these companies wish to remain underground, being content to distribute their product to several online retailers and big city neighborhood stores that cater to Hispanic customers.

Today, I came across in a DVD store on West 14th Street in Manhattan two Mexican horror DVDs from a company called Phoenix Entertainment Group, distributed by Allumination FilmWorks. Each was priced at $4.99. (That's another thing about these mysterious releases--they tend to be cheaply priced.) The films were La bruja (1954) and La Llorona (1959), two classics from Mexico's golden age of horror. The front and back covers look almost identical to the previous releases of these films from Ground Zero, which had made a deal with the Agrasanchez Group over two years ago for a sizable group of Mexican horror and lucha-libre films. (Phoenix's CEO is Anthony Perez, who used to run--surprise, surprise--Ground Zero. From the ashes of Ground Zero comes Phoenix rising?)

According to a press release on their site, Allumination will be distributing Phoenix product, though so far, in the Mexican horror department, only La bruja and La Llorona are mentioned.

While we wait for an American DVD company to release Mexican horror with English subtitles, we have to do with these non-subtitled releases, which generally have a pleasing picture quality. If you can't find them at your big city neighborhood store, you can probably get them for a cheap price on eBay. Just make sure they are the original DVDs, and not DVD-R copies.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

CasaNegra--The Comeback?

As reported by David Wilt on the Latarnia forums, CasaNegra appears to still be in business and hopeful of releasing new titles in the near future!

Wilt posted an e-mail received by Darryl Mayeski of Screem magazine from Michael Liuzza that stated:

"Thanks very much for your interest. PLEASE spread the word, CasaNegra is still around and we are hoping the future looks bright. We just need a bit more time to work out some details. If your fans are wondering... please tell them to hang tight a little while longer. We are hoping to be back with new releases very soon."

So spread the good word!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Mexican Horror and the Latin Market

In an informative and thorough old interview on, Michael Liuzza, one of the persons behind CasaNegra, responded to the question of how many Spanish speaking households have acquired CasaNegra's DVDs.

"We have not been able to fully assess that yet mainly because we have not yet fully targeted the Latin and or Mexican American consumer directly. You really have to know what you are doing with that. Marketing to that demographic is a bit different then marketing to the other consumers. While the Latin consumer in America is slowly getting in the with the rest of the mix they still shop at their own stores and stick closely to their own culture so a grass roots effort is extremely important here. We do have plans to market directly but it takes some time to put together the right plan for the right venues and since we are not Latin ourselves it's a bit of a learning process for us. But again, we are confident there is a substantial number of Latin consumers who will appreciate what we are doing."

According to a USA Today online article:

• The U.S. Hispanic market, some 50 million people, is the second-largest in the world, trailing only Mexico.

• Hispanic consumers have one of the largest disposable incomes of any minority group, and the U.S. Census Bureau predicts 29% growth in the Hispanic population in the next eight years, vs. 9% generally.

The tapping of the Hispanic market may be crucial to the success of Mexican horror on DVD. It's clear from the Liuzza interview that CasaNegra did not actively go after this market. Would it have mattered in the final tally?

Difficult to say, because I'm convinced that most of the U.S. Hispanic market is not that interested in old horror films from Mexico, but (depending on how much was spent beforehand) it only takes about 5000 DVD units sold to make a DVD successful. Of course, budget dollars would be necessary to invest in advertising to the Hispanic market, and the advertising would have to catchy and have the power to create a healthy consumer base. In all likelihood someone with a thorough knowledge of the Hispanic market would have to be hired to craft such an advertising campaign. As stated on

With Hispanics rapidly becoming the largest minority group in this country and increasingly wielding buying clout, everyone from Fortune 500 corporations to television stations to sports stadiums are waking up to this growing consumer market. But business owners whose roots are in places like Mexico or Latin America or Puerto Rico are discovering a new-found advantage: With deep knowledge of Latin culture and united by the Spanish language, they inherently know best how to reach Hispanic customers.

Whenever I go to a NYC DVD store that has a substantial Latin section for Spanish customers, I see tons of cartel, ranchero and India Maria films. Is there no room for Mexican horror films? With English subtitles, please.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Dynamics of the CasaNegra Failure

The failure of CasaNegra to succeed in a line of classic Mexican horror films gives rise to speculation about what, if anything, the company did wrong, but chiefly (in my mind) about the viability of Mexican horror in the American and even international market.

Regarding CasaNegra itself, the company did get the attention of many horror fans and nutured a positive and in many cases enthusiastic response to its releases, consistently receiving high marks for the quality and presentation of its films. The company even won a Rondo Award for best DVD company of 2006. While I can complain about the commentaries that were included on its initial releases (needless commentaries because of the lack of familiarity and knowledge of Mexican horror and its filmmakers) and that one awful cover for The Man and the Monster (a cover that in itself pointed to a desperate, last ditch attempt to gain a greater consumer response), I can't point to any one thing that CasaNegra did wrong that would have effected its releases negatively in the marketplace.

Which leads to the critical issue: Is Mexican horror sellable here in the United States?

I believe that it's not. At least not sellable enough to justify significant expenditure on the acquisition of prime prints and the production of sterling Criterion-like releases. At it's not just CasaNegra that has met a depressing fate when releasing Mexican films to the American market. A few years ago Kit Parker tried to establish a DVD line of Mexican classics for VCI, including a series of Santo films, that petered out after a couple of releases. More recently BCI tried to interest consumers with an Aztec Mummy box set and several Mexican horrors, an endeavor that also didn't produce notable financial results.

The bottom line is that the general horror audience in America, let alone the American public, is not really that interested in Mexican horror films, old or new, in black-and-white or in color, unless a Mexican horror film makes it big in theaters, such as some of the films coming from Guillermo del Toro. The sadder fact is that even in Mexico, Mexican horror films are not hot or lukewarm items. As in the United States, they tend to be ignored by the masses, as they are ignored in the rest of the world. (A DVD company in France, Bach Films, introduced a line of Mexican horror classics, almost the same one released by CasaNegra here in the States, to disappointing results.)

Despite our affection for these films, we must realize that they are niche product at this time, far distant from the days (in many cases almost fifty years ago!) when they were popular, either in theaters or on TV. Time moves forward, and the attention of newer generations is focused on so many other things and not, obviously, on Mexican horror films.

What is to be done to rectify this situation? And are we, the fans of these films, doomed to view Mexican horror films through murky bootlegs that lack the English subtitles so many of us desperately need?

Regarding the first question, the most that can be done is to continue what we've been doing--watching these films, talking about them, spreading the good word and supporting endeavors that further promote Mexican horror.

Regarding authorized releases of Mexican horror in the United States, with English subtitles, it still is possible for some company to take an admitted risk to acquire rights to release Mexican horror films, but such a company can't give in to exorbitant demands on the part of the Mexican rights owners, nor should they be too concerned about making sure that the elements are in sterling condition. Cutting unnecessary financial costs would be crucial. A US DVD company could also make attempts to work with Mexican DVD companies, so that both can produce and market DVDs that do have a passionate, albeit small audience. Mexican DVD companies that do on occasion release a Mexican horror film (usually with lucha libre legends) could be solicited to make sure those releases have optional English subtitles, and then those releases could be exported to the United States.

Something may just click, and Mexican horror could become reasonably popular, enough so as to justify the expenditure and time spent on producing such DVDs. Perhaps a patron or patrons can be found--a person or persons with ready capital, for whom being in the red on such releases wouldn't matter much, and who could get satisfaction at the promotion and archiving of an important and fascinating catalog of films, films that we'll never see the likes of again and which addressed a country's entertainment and spiritual needs, as well as our own.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The End of CasaNegra

The first word came on the DVD Maniacs message board on August 12. Poster Thomas Hart informed the board that he heard from Synapse honcho Don May Jr at the Horrorfind Convention that Panik House and its sub-label CasaNegra Entertainment were out of business. News spread quickly to other message boards, and the news was confirmed on the Classic Horror Film Board, where Monsters From the Vault publisher Jim Clatterbaugh, who is preparing a special Mexican horror-themed issue of his magazine, admitted that he knew about CasaNegra's troubles for a while, but needed to keep silent.

I saw this coming for several months--first when I saw this in a NY Times article on niche DVD companies:

As independent retailers dwindle, larger chains focused more on mainstream titles seem to “control and set the arbitrary taste for the entire market,” said Matt Kennedy, former president of Panik House Entertainment, which specializes in international genre movies like “The Curse of the Crying Woman” and “The Pinky Violence Collection. Not getting a title into one of these stores can be the death of a small label, but so can getting one in. If you get an order for 40,000 titles and only sell 4,000 because it was left boxed in the back, misfiled by category or never entered into inventory, it can mean bankruptcy.”

Aside from the despairing information, I noted that Matt Kennedy was now the "former president" of Panik House. Something clearly was up.

Then, the remaining head of the company, Michael Liuzza, posted a message on the Latarnia boards stating that CasaNegra should not be thought of as just a company releasing Mexican horror films, that it's aims were wider, and hinting that future product would reflect this.

I knew what that signified: Despite all the acclaim, CasaNegra's Mexican horror releases had not been as successful in the marketplace as hoped. They were, in fact, money losers when taking into account how much they cost to acquire from their rights owner, Alameda Films. Michael's statement about the label expanding had a feeling of a prospectus to me, and I easily pictured such a thing being planned out to save a small DVD company in trouble.

I have heard recently that Michael was indeed trying to find investors to breathe life back into CasaNegra. It seems that effort has failed.

This leaves two films waiting in the wings--The World of the Vampires and The Living Head. While one shouldn't cry about not seeing the latter film actualized as a definitive DVD, the former is one of the wildest and most entertaining rides in the Mexican horror filmography.

I think there is still a possibility, however slim, that CasaNegra may rise again. One shouldn't give up hope. And, unless CasaNegra never acquired the elements for Vampires and Living Head, it still could be possible for the company to sell the films to another company (taking a loss, of course), who could then issue them on DVD.

Various questions arise out of the failure of CasaNegra. I'll try to address these in my next post.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Leyendas macabras de la Colonia (1973)

My initial aim was to just show the entrancing primitive cover for an old Mexican video release of Leyendas macabras de la Colonia (shown above), but then I decided make a DVD-R of the video and subsequently started to watch the film, which I had already seen some time ago, but forgotten much about.

The film is, in a word, bad, but with that exquisite badness of certain Mexican fantastique that qualifies it as a low-grade mescaline trip or a dazed tequila dream (not potent enough to be a nightmare) of an incomprehensible walk among the weird and the strange. The Rogelio Agrasanchez production stars three lucha libre heroes--Mil Mascaras, Tinieblas, and El Fantasma Blanco, and the high-cheekboned actress, Lorena Velazquez, best known to Mexican horror fans for her role as Queen Thorina in El Santo contra las mujeres vampiro (Santo vs. the Vampire Women, 1962). The story has Tinieblas buying a haunted painting, which later in the evening transports him and his wrestling buddies and two girlfriends back to Mexico's colonial times. This fivesome is mostly kept out of the action and the action takes place all in one night, as a sorceresses, played by Velazquez, takes vengeance on those who tortured and executed her mother, now a mummy who looks like the Aztec Mummy's better half. The characters of La Llorona and El Monje Loco make embarrassing appearances.

The plot is good for a half-hour TV show, but it's padded out with one of the longest lucha libra matches committed to film (nearly twenty minutes long), a couple of uninspired sword fights, and a slowed-down pace that surprisingly isn't boring, but mind-tripping instead. A mind-trip that induces a honeyed languor and an understanding that life makes no sense, but it's okay, because sleep will come again and then another dream will take over.

You can well imagine movie patrons in Spanish theaters going to see this film in the early 1970s with high expectations and then being trapped into watching something so awful, yet so insightful as to the human condition. I've been in theaters in Central America where I've had such other-worldly, yet equally earthy, experiences, and they humanize one and give one a calmness of the body, mind and spirit. Perhaps it is only through a certain type of bad film that we look at ourselves and realize the co-existent duality that we and life are unreal, as well as real. Good films never present this type of learning. Not even close.

The ending of Leyendas macabras is amusing, however, even naively ridiculous, so the film does leave a viewer on a relative high note, which is always a good note to leave on after you've been through the ringer in primal philosophy and dumbfounding meditations. You can actually leave this film feeling satisfied, which is remarkable considering it is not a satisfactory film.

The print I saw seemed to have the murkiness and color bleed of 16mm, which just made everything more captivating.

The title is flavorful a la español (I believe there was a Mexican horror comic with the same title), and the poster artwork wonderfully evocative. The film was completely shot in Antigua Guatemala, one of the best persevered cities from Spain's colonial past in the New World, so your trip will be in actual historically heady locales.

The film is available on American DVD from BCI's Brentwood, double-billed with El robo de las momias de Guanajuato, another picture produced by Rogelio Agrasanchez and filmed in Guatemala. Spanish language only.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Bela Lugosi in Mexico

It never happened. Bela Lugosi never made a film in Mexico, but it could very well have happened had Lugosi lived past 1956. Indeed, it's highly probable that Lugosi would have been easily seduced to make horror films in Mexico just as several of his compatriots in American horror films had been. Lon Chaney Jr. was the first American horror legend to make a Mexican film, La casa del terror (1959). In that film he played not only a mummy, but a werewolf, with make-up similar to his famous portrayal of Lawrence Talbot in Universal's classic horror series of films in the 1940s. Lugosi's "rival", Boris Karloff, made four films for Mexican producer Luis Enrique Vergera during the spring of 1968, though because of his emphysema, he had to film his scenes in Los Angeles. Basil Rathbone, Lugosi's co-star in Son of Frankenstein (1939) and The Black Sleep (1956), succumbed to the need for money with Autopsia de un fantasma, (1967) a lighter touch Mexican fantasy. The American horror star with the most credits in Mexican fantastique is, no surprise, John Carradine, who reprised his Dracula role in Las vampiras (1968) and made four more Mexican films, Autopsia de un fantasma, La Senora Muerte (1967), Pacto diabolico (1968), and Enigma de muerte (1968).

Lugosi's death came right before the explosion of Mexican horror in 1957 when El vampiro became such a success, with German Robles in the role of the vampiric Count Lavud. One wonders if Lugosi himself would have been solicited for this role by producer Abel Salazar, but even if he had not been, the upswing in horror film production in Mexico would have meant that Mexican film producers would have sought the original Dracula actor and horror king to star in their films. Undoubtedly, someone would have had the predictable, but certainly thrilling thought of having Lugosi appear as the legendary fright character, Dracula himself. Given how many of the Mexican horror films of the 1950s imitated a Universal feeling (even going beyond the Universal films in atmosphere in several films), any appearance by Lugosi in a Mexican horror film would have pleased many horror fans and reinvigorated Lugosi and his career. Had Lugosi lived into the 1960s, it's probable that a Mexican horror film in color, with Lugosi as Dracula, would have been made. This would have been a realization of one of his latter day goals--an appearance in a color film as his most famous character.

Monday, July 02, 2007

El monstruo resucitado (1953)

An investigative reporter, Nora (Miroslava Stern), is sent by her editor to find out if ads in personal columns hold any kind of interesting story element. At an arranged meeting in the dock area of the city, she meets the writer of an intriguing advert--a mysterious man, dressed in black, his face covered by what looks like a black surgical mask and his eyes hidden by dark glasses. Determined to stick to her assignment, despite the man's peculiar, if not frightening, appearance, she accepts to ride back to his house. In the car, he introduces himself as Herman Ling (Jose Maria Linares-Riva).

They arrive at a cemetery and get out. Ling's country hilltop residence is reached through this spooky graveyard of gnarled trees and tombstones jutting up at odd angles, as if the dead under the earth were attempting to push through the ground to seek revenge or succor in the land of the living. As the horrors begin to mount, Nora stifles her fear in pursuit of the story. Ling's house is filled with sculpted figures of women in various tragic poses; at his employ is a peculiar servant who appears either half-idiotic or half-mad. The mirrors of the house are covered in black cloth. Soon, horrid noises and screams will be heard. We have fully entered the land of nightmare....

Trapped by her own desire to complete her assignment, Nora must brace herself for these horrors and more to come. Ling, who is a plastic surgeon, begins to reveal his past to Nora, telling her of his rejection by society and his peers. Nora responds with sympathy in order to elicit more from Dr. Ling--until finally he takes the traumatic step of removing his mask in front of her. The scene and what follows contain the most raw and emotionally uncompromising moments of any such "Phantom of the Opera" moments in cinematic history. At this time, El monstruo resucitado reaches its most impacting, if not shattering point. Soon after, however, another plot element is introduced which quickly turns the film in another direction. Back in a restaurant in the city, Nora relates to her editor the horrors of the night. Unbeknownst to her, Dr. Ling, wishing to make sure if Nora's sympathetic feelings have been real, has hidden himself behind a partition in the restaurant, and he overhears her conversation with her editor. Now there will be revenge. To that end, Dr. Ling restores life to a suicide victim, Serguei Rostov (Carlos Navarro), turning him into Ariel, who will be his automaton of vengeance. The resuscitated "monster" is handsome, while his maker, Dr. Herman Ling, is the repulsive monster. The good-looking and charming Ariel introduces himself to Nora at her favorite restaurant. A relationship begins, while Dr. Ling plots to have Nora kidnapped and disfigured....

Miroslava Stern, who professionally went by her first name alone, received top billing in El monstruo resucitado. Stern was a Czech émigré, who escaped with her father and mother from the Nazi takeover of her country. Her stardom began solidified when she appeared on the cover of LIFE magazine in 1950, for her role in The Brave Bulls. Her suicide in 1957 would give her a future appellation of being "The Mexican Marylin Monroe." Considering her credits in La muerte enamorada (1950), Monstruo resucitado, and Luis Bunuel’s Ensayo de un crimen (1957), one may want to add another appellation--"Mexico’s first scream queen," a descriptive that's admittedly of some tenuous reasoning, but fun, nevertheless.

Carlos Navarro received second billing, to be followed by Jose Maria Linares-Rivas, who as Dr. Herman Ling, is the undisputed star of the film, traveling expertly from stately controlled evil to pathos, then to hysterics and mad laughter, and back again. The Spanish-born Linares-Rivas had already an impressive acting resume before appearing in El monstruo resucitado, with two nominations for the Silver Ariel award for Best Supporting Actor. He died a couple of years after the making of El monstruo resucitado, at the age of fifty-four.

The man behind the mask:
Jose Maria Linares-Rivas

With El monstruo resucitado, director Chano Urueta was on his way to confirming his place as one of Mexico's premier exponents of fantasy and horror. A year later he would helm the classic La bruja (The Witch, 1954), in which a woman this time was the disfigured one. Abel Salazar would employ him for his productions of El Baron del terror (The Brainiac), El espejo de la bruja (The Witch's Mirror) and La cabeza vivente (The Living Head), which would garner Urueta, or at least his films, the attention of many horror fans in the United States.

Arduino Maiuri was responsible for the film's story and part of the screenplay. Born in Italy in 1916, Maiuri spent the 1950s in Mexico, writing many scripts, before returning to Italy in the 1960s, where he became involved in such films as Mario Bava's Diabolik (1968), Sergio Sollima's Citta violenta (1970) and Sergio Corbucci's Vamos a matar, companeros (1970).

For producer Sergio Kogan, El monstruo resucitado was his first horror film. He would follow-up with the aforementioned La bruja, then the pivotal Ladron de cadaveres (1956) and finish off his horror production with Misterios de la magia negra (1958). Though his name as a producer of horror films has been completely overshadowed by Abel Salazar (no doubt due in large part to absence of English-dubbed versions of his films), Kogan is critically important in the development of the genre in Mexico and can, with some debate, be considered the true father of the golden age of Mexican horror.

El monstruo resucitado embraces all the essential components that make a traditional horror film memorable--crescendoing terror, captivatingly weird visuals, plot surprises, and a heartfelt sympathy for the monster (in this case, two monsters--the doctor and the revived killer). There are moments in its latter half when it becomes nearly too outrageous, and the film's lackadaisical back screen projection work is unfortunate, but clearly El monstruo resucitado is just brimming for a major discovery by classic horror fans throughout the world, who should be both astounded by and delighted with the film.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

German Robles at the Bash

Don German Robles in front of two posters for the films that made him a legend in Mexican fantastique (photo: Jim Clatterbaugh)

One of the most luminescent and important of actors in Mexican fantasy and horror, German Robles, was honored at the Monster Bash over the weekend, and received his Monster Kid Hall of Fame Award at the Lugosiphilia Room on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, I couldn't make it (perhaps Don Robles will stop over one day in New York for some tapas!), but from all accounts the 78 year-old Robles was delightful at the Bash and everyone came away with splendid memories of the actor, his talk and the award presentation. Below are photos graciously provided to this blog.

Jim Clatterbaugh, publisher/editor of Monsters From the Vault, and Don Robles (photo courtesy Jim Clatterbaugh)

Richard Sheffield, German Robles, and Marian and Jim Clatterbaugh. In Sheffield's hand is the cover of the next Monsters from the Vault, which features a stunning painting of "El Vampiro" (photo courtesy Jim Clatterbaugh)

Thanks to Jim Clatterbaugh, Marian Clatterbaugh, and the Classic Horror Film Board

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Before the Deluge: The Early and Mid-1950s

Though assuredly the success of El vampiro (1957) stimulated Mexico's golden age of horror, the country had produced a good number of fantastique films before that time, from the 1930s onward, many of them of considerable interest, and a few even classics of the genre. The early and mid-1950s are of particular interest, as it was during this period that Mexican fantastique began to unequivocally mature and foreshadow what was to come.

These are some of the notable films during these years:

El hombre sin rostro (The Man Without a Face, 1950)
El monstruo resucitado (The Revived Monster, 1953)
Retorno a la juventud (Return to Youth, 1953)
La bruja (The Witch, 1954)
Ladron de cadaveres (The Grave Robber, 1956)

This blog will take a brief look at each film in the next couple of weeks.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Curse of the Doll People (1960)

While CasaNegra Entertainment has been getting a lot of very good publicity for its Mexican horror DVDs (and rightfully so), BCI has been mining Mexican horror territory, too, with several releases from the Cinematografica Calderon catalog. Thus far, seven Mexican horror films have been released by BCI, a three-film set of the Aztec Mummy trilogy and two double-disc sets: Night of the Bloody Apes/Curse of the Doll People and Cemetery of Terror/Grave Robbers. The latter sets are part of BCI's CRYPT OF TERROR series.

Of the CRYPT OF TERROR sets, The Curse of the Doll People (Munecos infernales, 1960) is the only film that's part of Mexico's Golden Age of Horror. It is a splendid example of the outre nature of the fantastique emerging from Mexico at this time--wild and nearly ridiculous, but hypnotic and chilling at the same time.

Inspired by Tod Browning's The Devil Doll (1936) and the profanation-revenge motif of many mummy films, The Curse of the Doll People relates the fate of group of visitors to Haiti, who steal a sacred figure from a voodoo sect and bring it back to Mexico. Naturally, there's a curse attached to stealing this idol, so very shortly members of the expedition are being mysteriously killed off, one by one.

We soon find out that the killers are dolls--mobile, mute little assassins with transfixing paper-mache like faces--who employ long needles to strike at and murder their victims. At each murder they also pick up a strange hair thread knotted in nine places. This we learn later is "the sorcerer's ladder"--actually more commonly known as "the witch's ladder," an item crafted by a sorcerer or a witch that carries with it the omen of a fatal death. These machinations are the work of Zandor, a high priest of the cult from whom the religious object has been stolen. Zandor has made the journey to Mexico, along with his prune-faced, zombie helper, Staloon, who plays a wind instrument that guides and helps the killer dolls come back to safety, much like Bela Lugosi's Ygor did for the monster in two Frankenstein pictures.

Atypically for the time, the strongest and most intelligent protagonist of the film is a woman, Karina (Elvira Quintana), a doctor who has an impressive knowledge of archeology, medicine and voodoo traditions. She even takes it upon herself to courageously visit, on her own, the evil den from where the murders arise. Nowadays, when strong females are fashionably prevalent in horror films, the choice of actress would probably be some anemic waif who doesn't look suitably rigorous for the part or some gym-muscled knockout who goes overboard in Tomb Raider-like capacities and needs to knock out a few male characters to prove her strong female traits. Elvira Quintana, however, looks both feminine in that robust "I am a woman" European way (she was born in Spain) and assertive enough to hold her own in a company of men, which her character does all the time in this film.

Though not the lead male character, Molinar (Roberto G. Rivera) is also a unique presence in Mexican film. He appears to be some crime boss, with his "muscle" always around to help him, yet he is a congenial part of the gathering of friends that includes those who have been cursed. This sympathetic portrayal of a criminal and an acceptance of his lifestyle among the "good" characters in the film is unusual and oddly refreshing, as it takes into account the natural and easy cohabitation of the criminal in society. It is Molinar who finally decides to take the law into his own hands in dealing with the murders of his friends, though it will be up to Dr. Karina to find the most effective means of doing so.

What's instructive about this film, and other Mexican horror films as well, is that the performances are generally top-notch. Despite the outre subject matter of much of Mexican horror, it's difficult during this time to come across bad acting in the main principles that falls into an amateurish Ed Wood zone. (Any Woodisms are typically sourced to the risible English-language dubbing familiar to most American fans.) Mexican fantastique, at least up to the end of its golden period, was crafted by professionals, even if the films were frequently of low budget. The resumes of the artists involved are usually always impressive and involve other genres, to include serious art or drama films. While the United States had its plethora of amateurish horror films with amateurish acting, Mexico remained relatively free of these impulses, undoubtedly because of the limited options for making truly independent films. Even the masked wrestlers in luche libre films were given a veneer of acting skills, as their voices were dubbed by professional actors.

From an American perspective, the only area in which Mexico seemed deficient was in the make-up department. Mexico never produced a Jack Pierce, for instance, or a Paul Blaisdell. That said, the monsters arising from Mexican cinema are certainly unique and, in their own way, impacting. Delicacy was not a strong suit here; a powerful, immediate impression was the intent and perhaps a need to outdo the visual weirdness being manufactured in the horror cinema of Mexico's northern neighbor. As it is, The Curse of the Doll People has some of the best make-up of Mexican horror cinema. Simply and ingeniously done, the adult-faced masks of those little devils are memorable and searingly impacting to anyone who may have seen this film as a kid. Even now, from an adult's perspective, these guys are damn creepy looking, though kinda cute, too.

A member of that impressive list of exiles from the Spanish Civil War, Elvira Quintana's career in Mexico took off when she got a nose job and purportedly added more measurement to her breasts with silicon. (With her upturned nose, Quintana bears a remarkable resemblance to euro-cult actress Edwidge Fenech.) Unfortunately, in those early days silicone injections were problematic, health-wise, Elvira may have been aversely affected by them. A multitude of serious health issues began to imped her in 1967, including acute pancreatitus, and she died a year later at the age of thirty-two.

At least she outlasted her co-star Roman Gay. Gay, a popular romantic actor of the time, appeared to have been a ladies' man on and off the stage. He was shot dead by a jealous ex-husband in May of 1960. Both Quitana and Gay played with each other before, in Bolero immortal (1958), a seminal film for Quintana, and El vestido de novia (1959), so The Curse of the Doll People became a sad send-off to their brief partnership, considering that Gay would not outlive the film's premiere.

Quintin Bulnes is suitably austere and commanding in his role as Zandor, the voodoo high priest. A noteworthy character actor with a long list of credits in Mexican cinema, many in the western genre, Bulnes is a familiar face from other Mexican fantastique. He appeared in two of Boris Karloff's Mexican quartet of horrors, Dance of Death (Macabre serenade, 1968) and Isle of the Snake People (La muerte viviente, 1968) and played a vampire in Frankenstein, the Vampire and Company (Frankenstein, el vampiro y compania, 1962) and Little Red Riding Hood and the Monsters (Caperucita y Pulgarcito contra los monstruos, 1962) He's also seen in a couple of Gaston Santos westerns, as well, including the horror-tinged The Living Coffin (El grito de la muerte, 1959), which has been recently released on DVD by CasaNegra.

The director, Benito Alazraki, had a varied career in cinema that included not only genre films like Santo vs. the Zombies (Santo contra los zombies, 1961) and Spiritism (Espiritismo, 1961), but a string of well-received documentaries made during the 1950s for his own production company, Teleproducciones. He spent ten years in Spain, beginning in 1962, directing and writing television programs, and directing two co-productions with Mexico, Los jovenes amantes (1970) and Las tres perfectas casadas (1971). After returning to Mexico, Alazraki became heavily involved in managing positions in television, and kept his hand active with the occasional directing assignment.

Several members of the cast of The Curse of the Doll People (Elvira Quintana, Roberto G. Rivera, Quintin Bulnes) already appeared together for director Benito Alazraki in La ley de las pistolas (1959), likewise scripted by Doll People's screenwriter Alfredo Salazar and produced by Cinematografica Calderon (and Roberto G. Rivera). Excepting for Bulnes, the same team made an earlier western, Pistolas invencibles (1959). These were artists familiar with each other, moving smoothly from genre to genre.

BCI's The Curse of the Doll People is presented in the original Spanish version, as well as the K. Gordon Murray English-dub on the flip side of the disc. The source material appears to be from a video master provided by Cinematografica Calderon, the original producers of the film, so the quality on the Spanish version is not up to the finer Mexican horror emerging from CasaNegra. The right side of the credits are slightly cut off, obviously indicating that we are not seeing all of the picture, and scenes end with the picture getting temporarily brighter before the next scene takes over. Inexplicably, at 3:42 into the film, a second of an exterior pan scene intrudes itself into the film. Having the K. Gordon Murray dub available was a commendable idea that went wrong when a cut version of the Murray dub was mistakenly used. The Spanish version clocks in at 1:21:57, while the Murray version present here is only 1:10:00. Despite these rough edges, the BCI presentation is the best that this film has seen in any format in any version, and this one has the considerable benefit of being the original Spanish version with English subtitles. When coupled with two versions of Night of the Bloody Apes and David Wilt's excellent liners (housed in an eight-page booklet), the price is superbly right for acquiring the DVD set and making it part of anyone's Mexican horror collection.

The BCI set of The Curse of the Doll People and The Night of the Bloody Apes is available at for $12.99.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Meet German Robles at the Bash!

The legendary actor German Robles is scheduled to appear at this year's Monster Bash, June 22 to 24, at the Airport Four Points Hotel in Pittsburgh, PA. This is a rare appearance by Robles in the United States, certainly in the eastern states, so those who can make it, should definitely be there for this notable and, yes, historic event. Call for info at (724) 238-4317, and also check the Monster Bash page at Creepy Classics (

If you will be at the Bash and taking photos of Don Robles, please feel free to send a couple to me at, so that I can post them on this blog. Many thanks!

And don't forget that "German" is not pronounced like the word for a person from Germany, but it's pronounced more like "Herman," as the "G" has an "H" sound in Spanish.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

El hombre y el monstruo (1958)

El hombre y el monstruo (The Man and the Monster), producer/actor Abel Salazar’s follow-up to his two successful "El vampiro" films (El vampiro, 1957, and El ataud del vampiro, 1957) moved away from vampire myths to seep itself in a delirious combination of Faustian legend and Robert Louis Stevenson's classic Jekyll & Hyde tale. Shooting on the ABSA production began on June 23, 1958 at the Churubusco Azteca Studios, and if some of the sets are recognizable to the Mexican horror initiate, it is because the filming followed the helming of another horror film, Misterios de ultratumba (English title: The Black Pit of Dr. M), and employed some of the same sets and decorations. Interesting enough, though undoubtedly coincidental, both films share an underlying warning for man against desiring more than is meted out to a human in life.

The film starts with a bang--almost literally, as the first image in the wonderful prologue is a car heading at furious speed down a night road to almost immediately smash into a tree. (Why the woman driver is driving so furiously is never made known--it's almost as if she is escaping from a horror that precedes the one she will face in a few minutes.) The woman driver gets out and seeks help at a nearby hacienda mansion--a foreboding, run-down dwelling, from inside which a piano is heard. The heavy courtyard door is open, but the door to the hacienda is locked. When the woman knocks on the hacienda door, the pianist stops his playing. As the woman moves away in trepidation, the pianist pleads with her to open the door and set him free. Curiously, a set of keys are lying not far from the foot of the door. The woman hesitates, but, compelled by the begging voice and her human duty toward suffering, she picks up the keys and opens the door. The title of the film is played over her screaming face. (In the K. Gordon Murray American edit, not present on the DVD except for an English audio track, the English title of a film is seen against a black background, while we hear the audio of the woman’s scream.)

This exceptional and atmospheric beginning, almost European in nature with its blonde female, sleek modern car and sophisticated camerawork, heralds a genuine classic of Mexican horror cinema. The moralistic story tells of a famed pianist, Samuel Magno, who has nowadays retreated from the world to focus his time on developing the talents of his protegee, Laura, a woman who is the exact image of Alejandra, a female pianist whom Magno had killed in fit of envy and after making his Faustian deal with the Devil. ("Magno" is derived from the Latin "magna," meaning "the great," so the character is slyly named, in code, "Samuel the Great.")

Faustian tales have been around for ages, both in legend and artistic works. The great violinist Paganini was thought by some to have sold his soul to the devil in return for being such a virtuoso on the violin. So much was this taken to heart that for five years after his death the Church refused his body’s burial in consecrated ground! 19th century musical works such as Franz Liszt’s Faust Symphony (1854) and Charles Gounod’s opera Faust (1859) dealt with the fable, underlying how effective and entertaining a combination music and damnation can make. It is to the credit to the man responsible for the story, Raul Zenteno, that he chose to develop his plot from this folktale that has spread to many cultures through the years. Music is the link throughout the entire film, with the suspenseful climax taking place in a concert hall, where Laura performs with an orchestra under the direction of Samuel Magno. The final scene is operatically emotional (by far the most emotional of all of Salazar's horror films) and ends on a perfect note, much like a classical piece of music.

Aside from its many strengths, what makes the El hombre y el monstruo particularly intriguing is that Samuel only kills his rival, Alejandra, after she plays in a concert a “strange melody” from sheet music that is, sinisterly, white notes on black paper. As she tells Samuel in a later scene, she has no idea where the sheet music came from and it bears no composer’s name. We realize at this point that the Devil has set up a trap and Samuel will fall into it. The hand of cruel fate is evoked here, much as in the aforementioned Misterios de ultratumba, though the ABSA film refrains from highlighting any religious message.

Rafael Baledon, one of Mexico’s notable craftsmen of genre cinema, directs with a superb eye for framing, making each scene count aesthetically, despite the quick shooting schedule of the film. It is quite an impressive directorial outing, reaching beyond just an ordinary journeyman's work for a paycheck, a criticism that could be applied to another ABSA horror director, the notorious Chano Urueta.

The major leads--Enrique Rambal, Abel Salazar, Martha Roth and Ofelia Guilmain--all perform superbly. Roth does a heroic job of keeping still in the scenes in which she plays the corpse of Alejandra, but I do believe several nearly unnoticeable tricks were used, including a photographic cut-out of the actress when the camera is looking over her character's shoulder. The most amusing performance, intentional or not, must go to a black cat, who jets out of the hands of Magno's mother whenever Magno or trouble approaches.

The highly regarded pianist Maria Teresa Rodriguez played the classic compositions in the film and probably the wilder, non-classical compositions as well. Born in Hidalgo on February 18th, 1923, Teresa Rodriguez was a child prodigy who performed Beethoven’s First Concerto with an orchestra at age eight and graduated as a concertista at fourteen. Her participation in the film, noted in the credits, shows the classiness that Salazar was attempting to give his production.

Much has been made, negatively, of the make-up used for the monster. I think it's intentionally a conflicting mixture of repulsive-horrid and pug-ugly lovable, as we are meant to not just be frightened by the monster, but alternately also be sympathetic to it. The gross largeness of the features is also in keeping with the horror make-up of several earlier Mexican horrors, including the classic El monstruo resucitado (1953), though the inspiration here seems to be the Hyde make-up used on Frederic March for the 1931 filming of the classic Robert Louis Stevenson tale. Just add a lot more hair and some facial elephantiasis that balloons up nose and lips.

The DVD from CasaNegra is up to the usual high-standards the company has consistently attained with its previous Mexican horror releases. The print quality, for a film this old, is as good as it gets, and CasaNegra has done a nice job of subtitling the Spanish audio, rendering the lettering in a pleasing and easily readable bluish font that just about glows. The K. Gordon Murray English dub is available as an audio option. Special features include a Mexican horror movie poster "slideshow," a US radio spot (when the film was paired with El vampiro sangriento/The Bloody Vampire), and cast bios by an uncredited David Wilt. The only negative in the entirety is the ugly color photo that graces the cover. The photo has nothing to do with film, but was placed there in a misguided effort to attract the casual buyer. It is one of the most misleading and unnecessary of DVD covers and, thankfully, as evidenced by the advance cover art for CasaNegra's next two Mexican horrors, it's a mistake the company won't make again.

It cannot be stressed enough that fans of Mexican horror need to support this release, and CasaNegra's other Mexican horror ventures, in order for the company to keep on investing in the genre. While no official word has emerged from CasaNegra concerning the sales of its DVDs, the logical surmise, based on the financial troubles that all niche DVD companies are going through these days, is that the plethora of sterling and authorized presentations of foreign horror may be coming to an end. The market will determine this, and it's up to us who love and respect these films to make sure these releases are as successful as possible.

CasaNegra's The Man and the Monster is available at for $17.99.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Abel Salazar's Horror Eight

Even those who are not novices to Mexican horror cinema, may be unfamiliar with all the horror titles that emerged from Abel Salazar's Cinematografica ABSA productions. There were eight films in number, and here's the list, with director credit, production and premiere dates:

1 - El vampiro/The Vampire, D: Fernando Mendez (May 1957; premiered 10/4/57)
2 - El ataud del vampiro/The Vampire's Coffin, D: Fernando Mendez (start date: November 14, 1957; premiered 8/28/58)
3 - El hombre y el monstruo/The Man and the Monster, D: Rafael Baledon (start date: Junes 23, 1958; premiered 10/8/59)
4 - El mundo de los vampiros/The World of the Vampires, D: Alfonso Corona Blake (start date: August 17, 1960; premiered 11/2/61)
5 - El espejo de la bruja/The Witch's Mirror, D: Chano Urueta (November 14, 1960; premiered 7/12/62)
6 - El baron del terror/The Brainiac, D: Chano Urueta (February, 1961; premiered 11/9/62)
7 - La cabeza vivente/The Living Head, D: Chano Urueta (March, 1961; premiered 3/1/63)
8 - La maldicion de la Llorona/The Curse of the Crying Woman, D: Rafael Baledon (November/December, 1961; premiered 8/15/63)

With the September releases of The World of the Vampires and The Living Head, CasaNegra Entertainment will have issued on DVD all eight films from the finest elements available. One's ABSA Horror Library will be complete.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Forthcoming Mexican Horror DVDs

Considered a lost film for a long time, El vampiro y el sexo, the nude variant of Santo en el tesoro de Drácula (Santo in the Treasure of Dracula), will finally emerge on DVD from BCI's Deimos Entertainment. Pictured above is a rare promotional still from the film. No word yet on a release date, but the transfer is being currently done in Mexico. An English audio track has been found also, though it's missing for one reel, so that portion will be subtitled. I'm assuming a Spanish audio track will be present as well.

Meanwhile, CasaNegra maintains its classic Mexican horror course with the September releases of El mundo de los vampiros (The World of the Vampires) and La Cabeza Viviente (The Living Head). Both films are Abel Salazar productions. El mundo de los vampiros is particularly outre and mesmerizing.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

German Robles Audio Commentary for EL VAMPIRO

Yes, it's true. "El Vampiro" himself, German Robles has recorded an audio commentary for El vampiro, the Mexican horror classic that celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Unfortunately, at this point in time, the commentary will only surface on a special edition Mexican DVD due for release in October. The DVD is being produced by Daniel Birman Ripstein of Alameda Films. Considering that CasaNegra Entertainment has inroads with Alameda Films (CasaNegra's Mexican horror DVDs are from Alameda's film holdings), it's possible that this important commentary will see a subtitled release here in the United States sometime in the future. CasaNegra already has a "Special Edition" DVD, released last year, of El vampiro and its sequel, El ataud del vampiro, but unless it's too late for a 50th Anniversary Edition of El vampiro, a "Special, Special Edition" may be warranted if sales of the first DVD proved satisfactory.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Another Big Night for PAN'S LABYRINTH

On March 20th, Mexico City's Palace Of Fine Arts held a ceremony for the Ariel, Mexico's version of the Oscar. The big winner of the night was Guillermo del Toro's El laberinto del fauno (Pan's Labyrinth) with nine wins:

Best Film - El laberinto del fauno
Best Director - Guillermo del Toro
Best Actress - Maribel Verdu
Best Cinematography - Guillermo Navarro
Best Score - Javier Navarrete
Best Production Design Eugenio Caballero, Ramon Moya, Pilar Revuelta
Best Costume Design - Lala Huete
Best Makeup & Hair - Jose Quetglas, Blanca Sanchez
Best Special Effects - Edward Irastorza, Everett Burrell, David Marti, Montse Ribe

Will the amazing worldwide success of Guillermo del Toro's film inspire other Mexican filmmakers to make films in the fantasy and horror genres? Will audiences take an interest in the rich history of Mexican fantastique that predated and led up to Guillermo del Toro? Questions to which we will know the answers in the near future.