Film

From del Toro to Jodorowsky: 10 Mexican Horror Movies Hitting the Big Screen for Halloween

Lead Photo: 'El Vampiro' courtesy of BAM
'El Vampiro' courtesy of BAM

Few other cities do Halloween quite like New York City. But if you’re not quite eager to brave the streets to head to its West Village parade or take in one of the many costumed parties in the Big Apple – maybe you’re more of a popcorn and a movie kind of person? – BAM has you covered. Their Holy Blood: Mexican Horror Cinema series is a truly a gift to any self-respecting horror aficionado.

Featuring black and white classic films about everyone’s favorite bloodsucker (starring Lupita Tovar), another about Satanic possessions, a big screen rendition of the La Llorona myth, and even creepy flicks from Guillermo del Toro, Arturo Ripstein and Alejandro Jodorowsky, the perfectly curated program may well be the best way to spend your Hallow’s Eve. Not only will you get silver screen chills courtesy of some truly frightening stories and images (looking at you Cronos), but you’ll get a crash course in what horror looks like south of the border. In case you want to check these out or go out hunting for them for home viewing, we’ve compiled the full list of films screening at the famed Brooklyn venue below. Check them out.

Holy Blood: Mexican Horror Cinema runs October 27 – November 2, 2017.

1

Santa Sangre

Alejandro Jodorowsky

Imagine a colorized mashup of Todd Browning’s classic Freaks, Hitchcock’s Psycho, and a litany of Fellini’s circus-inspired scenes from various films, but push through, and you’ll have a filmically-influenced yet completely unique cinematic universe in Santa Sangre. Jodorowsky tells the warped Freudian tale of extreme filial devotion as a son grows up to literally do everything for his armless mother. Not a wild enough sounding story for you? Don’t worry, you’ll get the full, gory, Freudian/mythic back story of how his mother became armless and if you still yearn for more bizarreness, bonus, it’s all set amongst circus performers. Trust me, you and your desires for the disturbing will be waited on, hand and foot…er, maybe just foot.

Synopsis By: Maria-Christina Villaseñor
Mexico
1989

2

La tía Alejandra

Arturo Ripstein

Witchy aunt Alejandra (Corona) moves in with her nephew’s ordinary family and promptly sets about introducing the kiddies to the dark arts. Then, one by one, anyone who crosses her dies… This shockingly subversive psychodrama from Buñuel protégé Arturo Ripstein is laced with lurid touches: heightened, giallo-style atmosphere; black magic rituals; and an astoundingly perverse climax.

Mexico
Horror
Delfina Careaga, Sabina Berman
1979
98

3

Cronos

Guillermo del Toro

When an aging antiques dealer (Luppi) comes into possession of an ancient scarab, the device imparts to him the seemingly enviable gift of everlasting life—but also awakens a newfound thirst for blood. Heavily indebted to the traditions of Mexican horror cinema, Guillermo del Toro’s darkly stylish feature debut uses the vampire myth as a springboard to explore complex ideas of human weakness, religion, and immortality.

Mexico
Horror
Guillermo del Toro
Arthur Gorson, Bertha Navarro
1993
94

4

Alucarda

Juan López Moctezuma

This bloody, berserk occult classic is a relentless excursion into hysterical excess. Two orphan girls living in a Catholic convent swear their love for one another in a blood ritual, then unleash a demonic tidal wave of sex, sadism, and Satanic possession. Influenced by Antonin Artaud’s Theater of Cruelty, director Moctezuma (who also produced Jodorowsky’s El Topo) delivers a shock-to-the-senses barrage of searing sound and images.

Mexico
Horror
Alexis Arroyo, Juan López Moctezuma
Max Guefen, Juan López Moctezuma, Eduardo Moreno
1977
75

5

Veneno para las hadas

Carlos Enrique Taboada

Two young girls are drawn into a dark fantasy world of witchcraft and evil spirits—but what begins as make believe soon turns sinister. Winner of the Golden Ariel (the Mexican Oscar) for Best Picture and a favorite of Guillermo del Toro for its creepily poetic, child’s-eye imagery (with adults kept conspicuously out of frame), this slow-burn study in psychological suspense explores the most disturbing realms of childhood imagination.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glut1X6tgjo

Mexico
Horror
Carlos Enrique Taboada
Héctor López
1984
90

6

Canoa

Felipe Cazals

A group of young men on a hiking trip are shockingly and brutally besieged by the residents of a rural village when a local priest accuses them of being communist subversives. This true-life tale of terror is a landmark of Mexican political cinema, standing as a tragically relevant exposé of how xenophobia and ignorance can be marshaled into unthinkable violence.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZ3AMxdvLTA

Mexico
Horror
Tomás Pérez Turrent
1976
115

7

El espejo de la bruja

Chano Urueta

Undead witches, severed hands, plastic surgery horrors… Something like a Mexican Eyes Without a Face, this surrealist chiller is a wild spiral into no-holds-barred delirium. The story—about a witch who is murdered by her husband and returns to take gruesome revenge upon his new wife—unfolds in a torrent of searing, floridly expressionistic images.

Mexico
Horror
Carlos Enrique Taboada, Alfredo Ruanova
Abel Salazar
1962
75

8

El Vampiro

Fernando Méndez

The film that inaugurated Mexico’s wave of classic horror relocates the Dracula legend to a Mexican village. A young woman visiting her aunt finds herself ensnared by the creepy, fanged Count Lavud (Robles). Working on a shoestring budget, director Fernando Méndez crafts a masterful concoction of moody atmosphere and macabre imagination—features that would become hallmarks of Mexican horror cinema.

Mexico
Horror
Ramon Rodriguez
Abel Salazar
1957
95

9

La maldición de la llorona

Rafael Baledón

In this stylishly photographed slice of cine-fantastique, a murderous, black-magic-practicing villainess (Macedo) lures her young niece (Arenas) to her creepy, cobwebbed mansion as part of a plot to resurrect the mummified corpse of their witch ancestor. Awash in foggy, moonlit atmosphere, The Curse of the Crying Woman contains shades of Mario Bava and Hammer Horror while remaining its own thrillingly strange beast.

Mexico
Horror
Rafael Baledón
Abel Salazar
1963
80

10

El barón del terror

Chano Urueta

This gonzo pulp oddity (also known as The Brainiac) is one of the wildest and weirdest films to emerge from Mexico’s horror golden age—or from anywhere ever. Mexico, 1661: the Baron Vitelius (Salazar) is burned at the stake by the Inquisition for practicing the dark arts. Three-hundred years later, he returns, this time as a hairy, long-tongued monster with hypnotic powers and a taste for human brains…

Mexico
Horror
Adolfo López Portillo, Federico Curiel
Abel Salazar
1962
77