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17 Perfectly Creepy Horror Movies By Latinos To Watch Before You Die

If you love movies in general and scary movies in particular, you would do well to recognize that Latinos have given the world many dazzling cinematic gems, particularly in the horror genre (probably because we’re just so damn goth). Here are 17 creepy, gross, chilling, terrifying and wonderfully bizarre movies by Latinos that you need to check out before a crying, eyeless woman greets you in a fog-filled field. For the purposes of this list, “Latino” refers both to U.S.-born Latinos and Latinos born in Latin America, and horror can include slasher, torture porn, particularly frightening thrillers, and your mom’s home movies. OK, let’s do this:

1. The Devil’s Backbone (El espinazo del diablo)

Director: Guillermo del Toro

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Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

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.

2. Cronos

Director: Guillermo del Toro

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Credit: October Films

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.

3. Santa Sangre

Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky

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Credit: Mainline Pictures / Expanded Entertainment

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.”

4. The Book of Stone (El libro de piedra)

Director: Carlos Enrique Taboada

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Credit:  Producciones AGSA

Because the only thing more frightening that creepy children are creepy statues of children. The Book of Stone deals with a near-universal story–the alienation children feel when adults don’t listen to them–but how it unravels will leave you delightfully creeped out.

5. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Director: George Romero

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Credit: The Walter Reade Organizatio / Continental Distributing

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.

6. Martin

Director: George Romero

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Credit: Libra Films International

So while Romero is best known for his zombie movies, he also added a little something to the vampire genre with Martin, a film about a weird young man (#NotAllWeirdYoungMen) who has a unique way of procuring his victims’ blood–it involves a syringe, and quite a lot of mess. And, because this is Romero, there’s not only a lot (like, a lot a lot) of blood, but also a good dose of satire and commentary on who we are, who we think we are, and how society views us.

7. At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (À meia-noite levarei sua alma)

Director:  José Mojica Marins

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Credit: N.T.M.

You can’t talk about great horror villains without mentioning Brazil’s wholly unique, fantastically evil contribution to the genre: Coffin Joe (Zé do Caixão). Joe is an utterly depraved maniac set on finding himself a nice lady to settle down with, as one does, and sometimes that means murdering a whole bunch of people. He’s the star of Mojica Marins’ fantastically depraved  “Coffin Joe trilogy,” which includes the equally wonderfully-titled This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse (1967), and the somewhat less wonderfully-titled Embodiment of Evil (2008). Watch out, literally, for Joe’s long, curled fingernails, as they’re liable to poke an eye out.

8. The Curse of the Crying Woman (La maldición de la llorona)

Director: Rafael Baledón

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Credit: Cinematográfica ABSA

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!

9. The Witch’s Mirror (El espejo de la bruja)

Director: Chano Urueta

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Credit:  Cinematográfica S.A., Producciones ABSA, Studios Azteca

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.

10. Alucarda

Director: Juan López Moctezuma

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Credit: Yuma Films

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!

11. The Mansion of Madness (Dr. Tarr’s Torture Dungeon)

Director: Juan López Moctezuma

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Credit: Yuma Films

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.

12. We What We Are (Somos lo que hay)

Director:  Jorge Michel Grau

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Credit: Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica

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.

13. From Dusk Till Dawn

Director: Robert Rodriguez

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Credit: Miramax Films

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.

14. Mama

Director:  Andrés Muschietti

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Credit: Universal Pictures

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: He’s at the helm for a new adaptation of Stephen King’s It.

15. Sangre Eterna (Eternal blood)

Director: Jorge Olguín

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Credit:  Angel Films Producciones

Our second reference to Carmilla on this list, Sangre Eterna deals with a teen girl named (You guessed it!) Carmilla, a group of gloriously goth Chilean vampires, and the ancient ritual that makes ’em that way. The makeup and special effects in this film are low-key but effective, especially in how it uses color for maximum impact. Just check out the image above and try to tell me those milky-blue eyes and red, red blood don’t compliment each other nicely.

16. Magic, Magic

Director: Sebastián Silva

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Credit: Killer Films

OK, fine, you can argue that this more of a psychological thriller than a true horror film, but Michael Cera’s truly frightening performance as a disturbing weirdo seals its place on this list. The film deals with the idea of being an outsider–to a group of friends, to a culture, to a way of thinking–in the most dramatic and uncomfortable way possible.

17. Cold Sweat

Director:  Adrián García Bogliano

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Credit: Pampa Films

There is a whole lot of torture–both physical and mental, on the protagonists and viewers alike–in this Argentine film about, well. About torture. And Argentina. It includes several homages to films within the horror genre, which is always a nice little extra for horror fans.


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Lawmakers Want To Include ‘Selena’ In The National Film Registry

Entertainment

Lawmakers Want To Include ‘Selena’ In The National Film Registry

RICCO TORRES/AFP via Getty Images

“Selena” is one of the most influential and impactful movies of our generation. We all remember watching Jennifer Lopez embody the Tejana queen of music. The 1997 biopic is a classic and there is finally talk of including it in the National Film Registry.

“Selena” is one of the most impactful movies of our childhoods.

The 1997 movie was something that we watched over and over when we were younger. We sang the songs and basically learned all of the lines of this movie. It is arguably one of the first times we saw our culture and one of our icons’ stories told for the masses.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is pushing for “Selena” to officially be recognized.

Movies are a crucial part of telling the full story of American life. The National Film Registry is a list of movies that are honored for their cultural impact. “Real Women Have Curves,” “West Side Story,” and “Zoot Suit” are all part of the National Film Registry. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, is the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and wrote a letter asking for the consideration of “Selena.”

“As a next step, we also wish to formally nominate the 1997 film ‘Selena’ for inclusion in the National Film Registry in 2021,” reads the letter. “Directed by Gregory Nava and starring Jennifer Lopez and Edward James Olmos, the film depicts the life, remarkable rise, and tragic death of Tejana music star Selena Quintanilla.”

There is a lot of hope that the Library of Congress will make this happen.

Selena represents that first major and successful jumps from the Latino market to the mainstream that many of us can remember. We finally had someone who looked like us and understood our cultural struggles in a real way. Our story was being told and the film about the music icon was so important in guiding some of us through our own cultural struggles.

“The film also touches on important themes of cultural identity and assimilation faced by Mexican American communities as they navigate their personal connections to two cultures and languages,” the letter continues to explain. “The film has become a beloved icon of Latino culture and has found widespread mainstream success, proving once and for all that Latino stories are American stories.”

Selena is the kind of cultural phenomenon that comes once in a lifetime.

The singer was able to build an impressive legacy that has endured for longer than she was alive. We were raised with her music and told her story over and over to keep us all tuned in to the fact that we could do anything. If Selena could break into the mainstream audience, we could all be that successful.

“Given its importance as a work of Latino cinema, we believe it is deserving of preservation at the Library of Congress. We trust you will give ‘Selena’ careful consideration, and hope to see it included in the titles added to the National Film Registry in 2021,” Rep. Castro further explains in the letter. “We also expect to identify other films which feature the American Latino experience and urge you to devote careful consideration to Latino films when considering films for the registry as well.”

Here’s hoping that “Selena” gets the official recognition it clearly deserves.

We all have our fingers crossed that this movie will earn its place in the National Film Registry because it deserves that kind of praise.

READ: Part 2 Of “Selena: The Series” Has Already Finished Filming And Here’s Everything We Know About The Next Season

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These Christmas Movies Will Make Your Season Festive And Bright

Entertainment

These Christmas Movies Will Make Your Season Festive And Bright

overturefilms / YouTube

Christmas is here and it is time to get super festive, y’all. One of the best ways to get into the holiday spirit is by watching the movies that will take you to that place. Here are some Latino Christmas movies that will get you feeling all Christmas-y.

“Christmas Bounty”

WWE brings you this love story that follows a woman and her secret. The school teacher (Francia Raisa) is hiding her past as a bounty hunter when she gets pulled back in. Raisa’s character goes back to her hometown and has to work with her ex-boyfriend to catch a bounty that got away.

“This Christmas”

“This Christmas” is a family holiday movie with serious issues. A family’s matriarch assembles her family for the first time in four years. The holiday gathering is filled with stress and drama as strains show within the family. It is a real look at what happens when some families with secrets come together and confrontations happen.

“Holiday In Handcuffs”

This one is so wild it is worth a watch. Melissa Joan Hart plays a woman who is desperate to show her family that she is finally in love. How? Well, she kidnaps a man played by Mario Lopez and takes him to her family’s house for Christmas. We are talking felony kidnapping but it’s all cool because, as you would expect at Christmas, they fall in love.

“Happiest Season”

Hulu’s original movie “Happiest Season” is a lesbian Christmas love song that will melt your heart. Kristen Stewart plays a woman suckered into going to her girlfriend’s parents’ home for Christmas. But the catch is that her girlfriend isn’t out. Aubrey Plaza plays a woman jilted by Stewart’s girlfriend and helps the young woman navigate her way through this family.

“A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas”

Pulse pounding and hilarious. “A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas” is exactly what you would expect from the franchise. Danny Trejo plays Harold’s father-in-law who wants a perfect Christmas, something Harold is determined to make happen. When Kumar gets involved, things go sideways fast and the two friends are left figuring out how to save the holiday.

“Nothing Like The Holidays”

A Puerto Rican family gathers for what might be their last Christmas together. The family tries to make the most of the time together and, as you would expect, lessons are learned and familial bonds are made stronger. There is something so powerful about gathering during the holidays.

READ: We Sit Down With José Feliciano To Discuss the 50th Anniversary of His Christmas Masterpiece, ‘Feliz Navidad’

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