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Horror for the Discerning Fan

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5 Mexican Horror Movies for Cinco De Mayo!

Happy Cinco de Mayo! In honor of Cinco de Mayo and Mexico’s unique artistic contributions to horror films, I’ve compiled a list of five awesome Mexican horror movies!

But before I get into the horror movies, let’s talk about the history behind Cinco de May. In case you didn’t know, May 5, 2018, is the 156th anniversary of the Mexican Army’s defeat of the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Long story short, Napoleon III wanted to take advantage of Mexico’s financially weakened position at the time and force Mexico to be a “dependent empire” to benefit French interests. Of course, Mexico was not having it, and they put up a fight. After France gained the early advantage, Mexico rallied and secured a massive victory, both strategically and morally, since the French soldiers were vastly better equipped and outnumbered the Mexicans 2 to 1.

So, just remember that when you’re throwing back margaritas and watching horror movies. These Mexican horror movies are scary, intense, and creative, combining elements of ghost stories, exploitation, and the magical realism for which Mexican horror is known.

Cheers!

mexican horror

El Espejo de la Bruja (1962) (The Witch’s Mirror)

In El Espejo de la Bruja, a witch schemes to avenge the murder of goddaughter at the hands of her husband, who then wastes no time in remarrying a clueless woman. And it doesn’t stop with the death of one woman—this film trades in dead women, which is interesting considering who the murderer is. The film creates a successful mix of classic gothic tropes, borrowing everything from Rebecca to Edgar Allan Poe to Eyes Without a Face. As a result, El Espejo de la Bruja is a moody, atmospheric horror film with sinister visuals, schlocky plot developments, and scares of varying effectiveness.

mexican horror

Alucarda (1977)

Alucarda, directed by Mexican horror director Juan Lopez Moctezuma, is a retelling of the classic gothic horror novella Carmilla. Alucarda (say it backward), an orphaned teenage girl with frightening powers who lives at a convent, strikes up a very close relationship with the new girl at the convent. Eventually, they form a blood pact with each other and start practicing black magic and get into all sorts of bloody, nude trouble. Alucarda tackles issues of sexual repression and Catholicism, but the film is focused on creating a crazy viewing experience with a ton of gore and nudity.

mexican horror

Santa Sangre (1989)

Alejandro Jodorowsky is a pioneer of avant-garde and surreal film. This Chilean-French director is particularly known for films like El Topo, The Holy Mountain, and his failed attempt to film a 14-hour film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune. He also directed the Mexican surrealist horror film Santa Sangre.

Santa Sangre is…a lot to take in. It’s the somber story of a woman who, horrifically abused and mutilated as a young woman, perpetuates psychological and emotion control over her son. This woman, Concha, though armless, can control her son’s hands and force him to murder the women who compete for his attention. It’s surreal and violent and archetypal and horrifying, overflowing with images that will haunt you for a long time.

mexican horror

Cronos (really, any of Guillermo del Toro’s Spanish language films) (1993)

Guillermo del Toro has achieved massive success in the United States, culminating with his recent Oscar win for Best Director for The Shape of Water. Before he was raking in the accolades for his English language films, del Toro was a talented young director writing and directing Spanish-Language films.

His very first Mexican feature film, Cronos, was released in 1993 and has all the elements that would become part of his signature brand of storytelling. In Cronos, del Toro breathed new life into vampire mythology with the story of an elderly antique dealer who stumbles upon an otherworldly device that bestows eternal life on its owners for one small price—becoming a blood-sucking vampire. Little does he know the significance of the object and what other more powerful men want with it. Del Toro combines the classic tropes of vampire tales with his own affinities for Mexican magical realism, dark fairy tales, and the religious questions we dare not ask ourselves.

mexican horror

We Are What We Are (2010)

Did you know that 2013’s critically acclaimed We Are What We Are is a remake of a Mexican horror film? The plot is the same—the patriarch of a cannibal family dies unexpectedly and leaves his family struggling to continue their, um, lifestyle. It’s a very gruesome, disturbing film, one that explores suppressed sexualities, stifled anger, shared shame, dysfunctional family dynamics, corruption of officials, and socio-economic hierarchies. It’s a compelling family drama and grisly horror film rolled up together.

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May Horror – The Calm Before the Summer Blockbuster Storm

Well damn y’all, May horror isn’t what I thought it would be–low key and full of indie releases.

Not that it’s a bad thing. Some of the best horror movies are small indies and foreign films that don’t secure wide theatrical releases in America. I’m willing to bet that festival darlings like Beast and Revenge are more than worth a watch. Bad Samaritan and Family Blood are very intriguing, and It Came from the Desert looks horrendous, like, I-need-a-couple-of-drinks-to-get-through-it-but-that-could-be-fun-horrendous.

Check out the May horror movies below!

Enjoy!

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Crack Open a Shiner and Settle In – It’s Time for SXSW Horror Movies!

Festival season continues with the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas, which means there are new (and, hopefully, fresh) horror movies for us to peruse!

2018 marks the 25th year of the SXSW film festival. Just think of it–25 years of a fearless and unflinching commitment to emerging voices, diverse viewpoints, and plain crazy schemes that translate into memorable films! SXSW is known for its commitment to pushing the envelope of the film industry, and the horror industry knows this.

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Disappointing Film Review–The Strangers: Prey at Night

Early this week, I was invited to an advanced screening of The Strangers: Prey at Night. I was excited, mainly because I enjoyed 2008’s home invasion horror thriller The Strangers, back before I knew I was a horror fan. In fact, The Strangers was one of the movies that made me realize I did like horror movies after all, so it’s always had a special place in my cold, black heart.

However, The Strangers is far from a perfect movie. Upon watching it for the second time, I have wondered what it would have been like with better writing, among other things.

The news of a sequel ten years after the fact was exciting, if for no other reason than home invasion movies scare the crap out of me. There was a part of me that was curious to see if the sequel would improve upon the original’s shortcomings…or merely rehash the same old stuff.

Oh, but it was worse than that. The Strangers: Prey at Night was disappointing. I was not looking for a socially-conscious horror movie going into The Strangers, but dammit, I wanted an entertaining and skilled effort. And I don’t think that is too much to ask!

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A Survey of Foreign Horror Films – Oceania

I’m making solid progress on my global tour of foreign horror movies! Next stop: Oceania!

I’ve devoted my last few posts to educate myself (and my readers) about foreign horror, of which I now realize I knew *almost* nothing about. Not all the foreign horror is confined to countries like Great Britain, France, Japan, Canada, or Mexico, right?

Luckily for me, the ongoing Winter Olympics inspired me to research foreign horror the world over.

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A Survey of Foreign Horror Films – Asia

I’ll admit, I’m not as informed about foreign horror films as I should be. For all my talk about seeing the horror genre as a window into the anxieties and fears of a culture, I’m dreadfully ignorant of many foreign horror traditions.

I felt even worse about my lack of awareness for horror films because of the Olympics. All these unique countries coming together in the spirit of peaceful competition, all those athletes sharing their gifts with the world? It’s beautiful and moving. We learn so much about each other from this magnificent event and put aside our differences to exalt the best of us together.

I freaking love the Olympics!

Consequently, with the 2018 Winter Olympics taking over television and the internet, I thought this was a perfect time for me to do some research about foreign horror films across the globe. And I found a lot of cool stuff.

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15 Horror Novels for Your 2018 Reading List

A new year means a whole new year of fresh and creepy horror novels!

As a horror fan, it’s for me easy to focus on horror movies. Horror movies are relatively quick to consume instead of a horror novel, just as a movie is sometimes more immediately entertaining than a novel.

But there is a great deal of original, well-made horror fiction out there, crafted by authors from diverse backgrounds, points of view, and traditions. Stephen King may still rule horror fiction, but there’s plenty of room for all of the unique and unsettling tales offered by authors like Ania Ahlborn, Alma Katsu, Josh Malerman, and Paul Tremblay (King has a book out this year too, don’t worry!).

So, in keeping with my goals to raise awareness of exciting new horror fiction, I’ve put together a list of fifteen horror novels to be published in 2018. I can’t wait to read them, which is good for my New Year’s resolution to read more, but really bad for my book buying addiction. (If you’re interested in last year’s list of horror, check that out here.

Enjoy!

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Get Excited! Here Are My Most Anticipated 2018 Horror Movies

After the intense year of horror movies that was 2017, I’m confident that the 2018 horror calendar will be just as full of solid and groundbreaking films.

True, there are lousy horror movies every year, but there is an undeniable upward trend of quality, well-made horror movies. This year, the 2018 horror release calendar has a bevy of goodies for us, like from horror novel adaptions Annihilation and Birdbox, the latest entry in horror franchises such as The Purge: The Island and The Nun, and brand new stories like A Quiet Place and Slaughterhouse Rulez. There’s so much I don’t really know what to be more excited for, but the new Suspiria reimagining (don’t call it a remake!) is probably the 2018 horror movie I’m most anxious for.

Enjoy!

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Horror Movies at The 2018 Sundance Film Festival

Tomorrow is the official kick-off of the Sundance Film Festival! That means you should get ready for a fresh round of groundbreaking, artistic, and unsettling indie horror films.

Sundance is the largest independent film festival in the United States and one of the beacons for upcoming independent horror films. Among the slate of prestigious arthouse flicks and top-tier foreign films, Sundance makes room for imaginative and innovative horror and genre films. Being the largest independent film festival in America and one of the most important film festivals in the world, Sundance provides invaluable exposure for horror films that buck the studio system and push the envelope.

All of which is great news for horror fans of all stripes.

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My Faves, Surprises, Disappointments – 2017 Horror Movies

2017 may have sucked in a lot of ways, but 2017 was a great year for horror. From clear standouts like Get Out to darkhorse surprises like Split, I enjoyed a great deal of 2017 horror. Even the not-so-great horror films failed to make me want to claw my face off.

Admittedly, I avoided tragic and terrible movies like Rings and Wish Upon because I didn’t need to pay to know they sucked. And I didn’t see every single horror 2017 film because, as I mentioned, 2017 was a difficult year.

At any rate, I’ve identified five movies in three categories—Favorites, Surprises, and Disappointments. Do my ratings match up with yours?
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