These Latino-Directed Movies Prove That Latinos Have Some Of The Most Imaginative Minds
Let me clarify: this list will make you laugh, cry and half of it will make you scream en horror latino. Put on your sweatpants, grab the popcorn and your boo, because we threw in some rom-coms as well. And not just for straight people.
Here goes your weekend:
1. “Mosquita Y Mari” (2012)
This is a must-see: Two “young Chicanas [who] contemplate life when they stir unexpected desires in each other.” Aurora Guerrero, the writer and director, crafted something truly incredible and special, touching on what it’s like to be a queer woman of color.
2. “Confissões de Adolescente” (2014)
If you’ve never had a sister (ME), get your fill of the alternate reality with this movie. This 2014 film is based off the diaries of Maria Mariana, who also stars in the film!
3. “Wild Tales” (Relatos Salvajes) (2014)
This incredible film is actually a collection of six short films connected by themes of violence and revenge. Oh and it’s beautifully shot in Argentina.
4. “The Witch’s Mirror” (El espejo de la bruja) (1962)
Pro tip: Never murder your wife in front of a witch’s mirror. Pro trip, part II: Stay away from witch’s mirrors altogether. Because then your dead wife might come back, and she’s going to be pretty pissed. Exciting, witchy story aside, this black and white film features some pretty gorgeous use of lighting and cinematography, as well as one of the most iconic uses of bandages ever.
5. Sin Nombre (2009)
“Sin Nombre” is a 2009 Mexican thriller produced by Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna that tells us a story of immigration that will rock your soul. It follows Sayra, a Honduran teenager migrating to the U.S. with her father and uncle, as well as Casper, a Mexican gang member.
6. Real Women Have Curves (2002)
In 2002, this was a pioneering movie for us Latinas who don’t fit the stereotypes that Sofia Vergara and Jennifer Lopez helped pave for us. Not that I would ever talk smack about them, but thank you, America Ferrera, for this gift for the rest of us.
7. The Book of Stone (El libro de piedra) (1969)
The Book of Stone tells the story we all feel as kids: adults don’t understand us or listen to us. Oh except, the ending will leave you delightfully creeped out.
8. “The Devil’s Backbone” (2001)
After 12-year-old Carlos arrives at a boys’ orphanage, he discovers the school is haunted and has many dark secrets that he must uncover. Talk about a creep fest.
9. “Desierto” (2015)
“Desierto,” starring Gael García Bernal, is a 2015 film that is essentially a political horror. While a group of immigrants journey through the desert in an attempt to make it to the U.S., a gun-toting man driving his truck along the border, is about to hunt them.
10. “From Dusk Till Dawn” (1996)
Vampires, as it turns out, can take on all sorts of day jobs, like dancing at the infamous “Titty Twister” strip club. Robert Rodriguez’s pulpy take on vampires takes place in a small town in Mexico and includes plenty of bikers, truck drivers, fugitives, and the site of an ancient Aztec temple. Also, obviously and famously, Salma Hayek dancing with a snake.
11. “The Perez Family” (1995)
This is an oldie but a goodie, following two Cubans who meet in Miami and discover they have the same last name and pretend to be married to make their entrance easier.
P.S. this is a comedy turned romantic.
12. “Esteros (2016)
Here’s another recent LGBT classic brought to us by Argentinian Director Papu Curotto. This follows the story about two teenage boys who grew up together, and discover their attraction to each other. But not without facing homophobia from Matías’ family.
13. “The Mansion of Madness” (Dr. Tarr’s Torture Dungeon) (1973)
This film, also by Juan López Moctezuma, is a personal favorite of mine. As in, I own it on DVD and watch it over and over. Very loosely based on Edgar Allen Poe’s “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether,” the story shows what happens when lunatics take over the asylum. It also happens to be a GORGEOUS movie, with every shot, costume, look and line carefully staged for maximum impact and weirdness. Take the scene, for instance, where two characters are walking down a long path as some of the asylum’s inhabitants playfully, and somewhat unnervingly, weave in and out of shot. You can take a look at it, and enjoy an in-depth synopsis, at Cinema de Merde.
14. “The Curse of the Crying Woman” (La maldición de la llorona) (1961)
We’re all familiar with the legend of La Llorona, right? It’s a classic horror story, replete with loss, gut-churning guilt, and the need for sweet, sweet vengeance. It’s a wonder there haven’t been more (and, you know, better) movies based on the mother of all ghosts. This film, for instance, isn’t so much about La Llorona herself (although her scenes are truly, gorgeously frightening), but about a family grappling with witchcraft and curses. Relatable!
15. “Santa Sangre” (1989)
No one does avant-garde psychedelic weirdness like Jodorowsky. Santa Sangre is no exception, following the story of Fenix, a former circus performer, and his relationship to his parents, particularly to the mother who keeps a literal and figurative hold on him through much of his development. Roger Ebert praised Jodorowsky for expanding the horror genre by reminding viewers that “true psychic horror is possible on the screen–horror, poetry, surrealism, psychological pain and wicked humor, all at once.”
16. “Under the Same Moon” (2007)
We grew up crying to this. Released in 2007, “Under The Same Moon (Bajo La Misma Luna)” stars Mexican actors Kate del Castillo and Eugenio Derbez. It follows a mother in the U.S. whose young son lives in Mexico with his grandmother and the journey the young boy has to endure to make it from Mexico across the border to be reunited with his mother.
17. “Martin” (1978)
Director George Romero is known for his zombie movies, but introduces a strange one for the vampire genre. This would be the last time you see him drink blood without a syringe. Lots of syringes.
18. “Night of the Living Dead” (1968)
That’s more like it! This is Director Romero’s zombie movie that changes everything. This is how we know that zombies aren’t just corpses controlled by spells, but are real undead people that walk jerkishly and slowly to you.
19. “We Are What We Are” (Somos lo que hay) (2010)
The family that eats together, stays together, for better or for worse. In this film, which was remade for U.S. audiences in 2013, follows a family struggling with maintaining an ancient, bloody ritual and the impact it has both on their bodies and souls. You’ll never look at family dinners the same way again.
20. “At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul” (À meia-noite levarei sua alma) (1964)
Meet Coffin Joe (Zé do Caixão). Joe is the definition of girl-crazy. More like an utterly depraved maniac set on settling down with whichever girl survives his mass murders.
21. “Alucarda” (1978)
Being a teen girl is hard enough, never mind being an orphan in a Catholic convent. Add demonic possession into the mix and you have a recipe for disaster / a truly fantastic horror movie with stunning visuals (just take a look at the nuns’ super stylized and highly evocative habits and robes, for instance). The film’s emphasis on a close emotional and physical relationship between two young girls has drawn comparisons to the classic vampire tale, Carmilla, made all the more apparent when you notice that “Alucarda” is simply “Dracula” with the letters rearranged. SpoooOoOooky!
22. “Cronos” (1993)
Here’s our other del Toro entry: Cronos! Because who doesn’t love a good, inventive twist on a vampire story that also serves as a metaphor for society’s obsession with youth and virility? Cronos beat out Crimson Peak because, while the latter is truly a beautiful, visually stunning work, Cronos‘ story of love, loss and sacrifice simply holds up better throughout the film.
23. “Entre nos” (2009)
True story alert! This is about a woman, longing to be reunited with her husband, by making the trek from Colombia to Queens with her two children in tow. Spoiler alert: the guy abandons the family with absolutely nothing. Spoiler (2) alert: this film will make you think twice about denying refugees safety.
24. “The Way He Looks” (2014)
You guys need to watch this. This is about a blind teenager from São Paulo who breaks out from his overbearing mother bind as he studies abroad. And then, he begins to develop feelings for Gabriel.