These 11 Terrifying Latino Horror Films Need To Be Added To Your October Watch List
If you’re a horror fan, and you haven’t seen these, then you know nothing about real fear. As a child, I would binge-watch every single horror movie I could find. They creeped the hell out of me, but I loved the adrenaline rush. Name any classic you want, I’ve seen them all; the more I watched, the less they scared me. Later, I discovered that most of these mainstream films relied on what is known as “boo horror,” which basically means that what scares the audience is thanks to good editing rather than the story.
And well, let me tell you that, just when I was starting to get bored of this particular type of horror: enter Latino cinema. The thing about Latin American horror movies is that they don’t rely on jump scares or outdated clichés. The reason why they’re scary is the plot and the themes they explore. So, if you’re ready to be really scared, I dare you to watch these 11 films.
Night Of The Living Dead
Did you know George Romero’s dad was Cuban? (I did, because like all Cubans, I keep a running list.) Well, he is! And so Romero is on this here list. Now, you’ve very likely already seen his opus, Night of the Living Dead, and know its contributions to the zombie genre, effectively changing the pop culture perception of zombies from corpses controlled by others through ritual means, to undead jerkwads lumbering slowly towards you while you take shelter in a shack or perhaps, later, in a shopping mall. But that doesn’t mean you can’t watch it again. And again and again.
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.”
This one is secretly about La Llorona. I have to admit, I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending but the rest of the film was amazing. The production value was on par with a Hollywood horror film. This one is about the power of twins. One has an accident that leaves her in a coma. The conscious twin tries to figure out what happened to her sister and winds up in the tangles of a curse on the highway’s Kilometro 31.
Mas Negro Que La Noche
Hot girl inherits creepy old house and is forced to watch after a black cat. What can go wrong? They used to play this on Univision back in the day when they used to have old Mexican movie marathons on Sundays. This flick is filled with famous 70s & 80s Mexican telenovela stars: Lucia Mendez, Claudia Islas, Elena Rojo, and Susana Dosamantes (aka Paulina Rubio’s mom).
The Devil’s Backbone
I originally had four (4) del Toro movies on this list and had to narrow it down to two, which was like picking from among one’s children. (I assume picking a favorite child is equally difficult as picking a favorite movie, yes? I knew it.)
But here’s the thing: You’ve already seen The Devil’s Backbone. You already know the deal: Spanish Civil War, orphanage, defused bomb, mysterious ghost-boy. So I’ll use this space to share this link to the story of why del Toro often distances himself from a movie taken off the list: Mimic. Because there’s always a place for classic ghost stories, but never enough for giant mutant insects.
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.
Spain is at it again with this cinéma vérité (aka mock documentary aka found footage) style zombie flick. Scary as hell! Don’t let the crappy American version, Quarantine, fool you. This one will make you check behind the shower curtain when you pee.
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.
Somos Lo Que Hay
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.
From Dusk Til Dawn
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.
Argentine director Andrés Muschietti based his feature film about a spooky-but-maternal ghosts, Mama, on his own 2008, Spanish-language short, Mamá. You can watch the whole thing here, but make sure to keep the lights on. Muschietti is definitely one to watch