Things That Matter

13 Hollywood Movies That Misrepresented Latin America (and why it matters)

There is no way around it: representation matters in popular culture. How a country or a society is portrayed in film and television helps in shaping the audience’s perception in terms of issues such as race, gender, sexual orientation and social class. Representation is particularly important for Latinos in the United States, as everyday life is affected by stereotypes and misconceptions of who we are.

READ: Hollywood Does Latin America: 21 Movies Shot South Of The Border

Hollywood has often been the culprit of showing Latin American countries as either exotic banana republics rife with crime, booze, dictators and Carmen Miranda-looking women, or as picturesque underdeveloped nations. Save from Pixar’s Coco and a few other notable examples, the US film industry needs to do a better job when it comes to portraying its neighbors south of the border.

Here’s 13 infamous examples:

1. Touch of Evil (1958)

Credit: Touch of Evil. Digital image. Film Comment.

For all its cinematic achievements, Orson Welles’ film noir fails in representing the border town of Tijuana as a complex city. In the film, Mexico is basically a playground for Americans, a lawless wasteland populated by crooks, illegal activities and wicked women. Cultural elements such as bullfighting are exaggerated in order to provide audiences with a more exotic flavor. 

Credit: Tijuana B.C. / Quora

2. The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)

Credit: The Serpent and the Rainbow. /  Digital image. Screen Goblin.

Haiti is often forgotten when discussing Latin America, but the Caribbean nation is part of our continent. This horror film directed by Wes Craven shows Haiti as a primitive place where superstition, zombies and black magic are normal in the everyday. This is a highly damaging portrayal that involves an extra layer of racism. We wonder if Craven would have been able to make this film in today’s political climate. 

Credit: The Iron Market, Port-Au-Prince, Haiti /  SMA Inverted

3. Three Amigos (1986)

Credit: Three Amigos. / Digital image. Just Watch.

Let’s be honest: this comedy directed by John Landis is very funny at times… but that doesn’t make it right. Chevy Chase, Steve Martin and Martin Short portray a trio of actors who are mistaken for the saviors of a Mexican village, the insultingly named Santo Poco. Every single stereotype is there: the mariachi suits, El Guapo, the dusty landscape, the tequila and the siestas. Speedy Gonzalez would be proud.

Credit: Mexico City, Mexico / Visit Mexico

4. Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004)

Credit: Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. / Digital image. Daily News. April 18 2017.

This film takes us to pre-revolution Cuba, where an all-American girl meets a poor waiter who happens to be a master salsa dancer. The movie ticks all the boxes when stereotyping the island. Plus, Mexican actor Diego Luna can’t really dance!

Credit: La Havana, Cuba / PandoTrip

5. Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)

Credit: Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Digital Image. PopBuzz.

Every single Latin American city is hot and humid and sensual, right? Well, that is what Doug Liman must have thought when he shot some scenes of the Brangelina extravaganza that are supposedly set in Bogotá. Problem is, the city is depicted as a tropical paradise where sweaty gringos get their latino groove on the dance floor. The Colombian capital is actually super cold, and much more European-looking than what the Liman eye candy fest makes us believe.

Credit: Bogotá, Colombia / Skyticket

6. Turistas (2006)

Credit: Turistas. Digital image. Horror Freak News.

This gory horror film rehashes a constant narrative in Hollywood scripts: innocent white characters visit an “exotic” country and are robbed and killed by the savage locals. In Turistas, a group of gringo backpackers find heaven in the Brazilian coast, but suddenly see themselves dragged into a hellish nightmare. As trashy as it gets.

Credit: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil /  Miramar Hotel by Windsor, TripAdvisor

7. The Heartbreak Kid (2007)

Credit: The Heartbreak Kid. FancyCreativeAnemonecrab-mobile. Digital image. Movieclips.

Besides being incredibly misogynist, this heartless comedy starring Ben Stiller is borderline racist. Stiller is Eddie, a man who proposes to a woman who reveals her true colors (frankly, she is alright, it is Stiller’s character who is a freak) on a trip to Cabo in Mexico. The country is shown as a mariachi-populated resort for gringos, totally devoid of character. Frankly insulting.

Credit: Cabo San Lucas, México / Hilton Hotels

8. Love in the Time of Cholera (2007)

Credit: Love in the Time of Cholera. Digital image. Alchetron.

British filmmaker Mike Newell, fresh from directing Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire just two years prior, adapted the beloved novel by Gabriel García Márquez using every possible stereotype of Colombia. Colorful, busy and festive, Colombia is presented like a caricature that feels fake in every frame. The worst bit: Spanish-speaking actors like Javier Bardem… do their dialogue in English! 

Credit: Medellín, Colombia / Alcaldía de Medellín

9. Quantum of Solace (2008)

Credit: Quantum of Solace. Digital image. Little White Lies.

It is common practice in Hollywood to use a location outside of the country where the action is supposedly taking place. Sometimes, as is in the case in this James Bond adventure, this decision had grave political implications. The story is supposed to take place in the Bolivian desert, but the producers decided to shoot in Northern Chile due to budget issues. Problem is that region was annexed from Bolivia, so the filming of the 007 adventure brought back grudged between the nations.  

Credit: Baquedano Station and Railway Museum, Antofagasta, Chile / Digital Journal.

10. Fast Five (2011)

Credit: Fast Five. Digital image. The Sapphire Report.

Most of the plot of the fifth installment in the high-speed Fast & Furious franchise is supposed to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. However, only some key scenes were actually shot in the country. The rest was shot… in Puerto Rico! Well, well, well… it seems that for Hollywood producers any Latino-looking country will do. Mal hecho, Hollywood. 

Credit: Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil / Metropolis

11. The Expendables (2010)

Credit: The Expendables. Digital image. CineSnob.

The first movie in the Sylvester Stallone hypermasculine saga follows a group of American mercenaries to an unnamed South American country. Once there, the white saviors try to free the locals from the iron fist rule of a dictator. Of course, this dictator is modeled after the late Hugo Chavez. This essentialist view of a whole continent is harmful.  

Credit: Hugo Chávez / La Prensa

12. Runner Runner (2013) 

Credit: Runner Runner. Preview shot. Digital image. YouTube.

This movie deals with the rise of the online casino industry in Costa Rica. Ben Affleck portrays a casino mogul who rules over the Central American country, which is shown as basically a cantina full of thugs, where women are only secondary characters. Costa Rica is rarely shown in Hollywood movies, and it is a shame that its 15 minutes of fame presented it as a cesspool of corruption and not as the peaceful and beautiful country that it is.

Credit: Rio Celeste, Costa Rica / The Costa Rica Star

13. Spectre (2015)

Credit: Spectre. Digital image. YouTube. April 7 2016.

This action flick follows Bond, James Bond in an international pursuit of criminal mastermind Ernst Stavro Blofeld. The film opens in Mexico City during a Disney-like extravagant Day of the Death parade, full of ordinary people dressed as calacas. Problem is, Mexico City had never organized a parade like that, which was the Hollywood treatment of a tradition engrained in the Mexican psyche. Since then, city authorities decided to hold their own 007-like parade

Credit: All Souls Procession, Tucson, Mexico / VisitTucson

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Even The Biggest ‘Scream’ Movie Fans Probably Don’t Know These Crazy Facts About The Film Franchise


Even The Biggest ‘Scream’ Movie Fans Probably Don’t Know These Crazy Facts About The Film Franchise

Scream / Dimension Films

This year seems like the year of scary movies. Pretty much all Halloween events and parties have been cancelled thanks to the pandemic so what’s better than staying home and watching a scary movie?

One of our favorites is definitely Scream. Sure, the franchise may have lost its way in the third and fourth installments, but they’ve cemented themselves as not just iconic pieces of Halloween entertainment but also memorable movies in general.

You can’t honestly say Ghostface doesn’t creep you out a little bit! Helmed by horror icon Wes Craven, the Scream series launched in 1996 and saw four films — and will have a fifth in 2022. The movies, starring Neve Campbell, are exactly what we reach for every spooky season, but we bet you didn’t know some of these fun facts about the franchise.

The movie was originally called Scary Movie.

Before being called Scream, the project was called Scary Movie, not to be confused with the parody movie that came out later. The movie’s new name was inspired by Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson’s song “Scream,” released the year prior.

The use of caller ID systems more than tripled after the release of the film.

Drew Barrymore says that caller ID use in the U.S. tripled after “Scream” was released in 1996 — and she would know, because her character might’ve survived past 10 minutes if she had it.

Speaking of phone calls: Drew Barrymore kept calling the real 911 while filming the movie.

Credit: Scream / Dimension Films

While filming the opening scene of the first movie, Drew Barrymore, who plays Casey, kept accidentally dialing the real 911 because someone on the props team actually forgot to unplug the phone before filming. Who would of thought they’d actually be using real phones to begin with?

The naive yet beloved Dewey character was actually supposed to die in the first film.

In a tweet, Arquette says that he has behind the scenes footage of the final scene in the movie and that he was actually supposed to be killed in the original script. But we all know that isn’t what happened and we’ve come to love him appearing in each of the films.

As a result, Arquette has now reprised his role of Dewey Riley across four Scream films and will do so again in the fifth that’s filming now. What’s worse, he says people to this day still refer to him as “Doofy,” or his character from the Scream parodies Scary Movie.

Many other actresses were considered for the lead role of Sidney.

Although we’ve all come to love Neve Campbell in the Scream series – in fact, it wouldn’t be the same without her – she wasn’t the only actress up for the role. There were several big-name actors being considered, including everyone from Melissa Joan Hart and Brittany Murphy to Tori Spelling and Drew Barrymore. The latter actually landed the role but due to scheduling conflicts decided to pull out and was offered the smaller role of Casey.

Most of the actors in the film were told to wear black boots as part of their character’s costume.

Credit: Scream 3 / Dimension Films

David Arquette said in a tweet that director Craven paid such close attention to details that he asks many of the people in the cast to wear black boots to lend to the suspicion that any character could be the killer.

In Scream 2, Jada Pinkett Smith is killed in a very gruesome way and it was all her idea.

Credit: Scream 2 / Dimension FIlms

Jada Pinkett Smith met her untimely end early on in Scream 2 — and she asked for it. “I remember saying to the director at the time, ‘I want to die the most horrific death that has ever happened in a horror film,'” she told People. Director Wes Craven delivered, and Pinkett Smith was grandly offed.

If you’re a huge scream fan then you’re probably counting down the days until Scream 5. Here’s what we know so far:

Sadly, Scream 5 will be the first in the series not directed by Wes Craven, the mastermind behind A Nightmare on Elm Street and others, as he passed away in 2015 due to brain cancer. However, there is reason to celebrate his successors, Matthew Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (collectively referred to as Radio Silence). The filmmakers earned attention from genre fans for their segments in anthologies V/H/Sand Southbound, but more recently turned a lot of heads directing their sophomore feature-length effort, 2019’s horror-comedy hit Ready or Not.

However, David Arquette, Neve Campbell, and Courtney Cox are all set to return to Woodsboro in their original roles.

Filming has already started but it looks like we’ll have to wait until January 2022 to be able to actually see the movie.

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13 Spooky Movies To Watch That Are Guaranteed To Make Your Skin Crawl


13 Spooky Movies To Watch That Are Guaranteed To Make Your Skin Crawl

RgStudio / Getty Images

With Halloween fast approaching, we’re getting ready to cue up those scary movies for the best quarantine fright- fest yet. Horror movies are the one thing that seals the deal on making spooky season official. Time to butter up that popcorn, sip on that chocolatito, and snuggle up in front of the TV.

So, are you looking to kick back to some great horror films but don’t know where to start? We’ve got you covered with a list of our top 13 scary movies just in time for spooky season. These films range from classic horror to psychological thrillers. This list is the perfect way to get you into the spirit. Are you ready for the best scare yet?

The Devil’s Backbone (2001)

Let’s start off with a Guillermo Del Torro classic. After 10-year-old Carlos becomes orphaned after the death of his father, he soon discovers the secrets of the haunted school that shelters him. Set during the Spanish Civil War and filled with ghosts, defused bombs, and a whole lot of mystery, this movie is one that will definitely keep heads turning.

Carrie (1976)

Carrie White seems to think the world is against her and I mean: she’s not wrong. Who wouldn’t get upset and lash out with their mother and peers constantly antagonizing her? Little do we know, Carrie reveals her telekinetic powers that eventually leads to some problematic outcomes as she starts to seek out intense revenge on those who’ve wronged her.

Poltergeist (1982)

A classic tale of ghosts and exorcisms all combined in one. When the California-based Freelings’s family encounters that ghosts are communing in their television set, they are seemingly terrified. The parents have no choice but to hire an exorcist to help as soon as they discover their 5-year-old daughter is now missing. But the question is: will this help or hurt them?  

Mama (2012)

When two twin sisters mysteriously vanish on the same day of their parent’s death, their uncle and his girlfriend go on a thrilling search for their bodies. The twins are found in a decaying cabin in the woods after searching. This is when it becomes clear that their escape will not be as easy as it seems. A short by Argentinian director Andrés Muschietti, it’s no wonder why the film won the ASCAP award for the best Top Box Office Films. 

BirdBox (2018)

A mysterious force has wiped out humanity and everyone knows that if you see this thing you die. Everyone is now strategizing the best way to overcome this and stay safe. One woman desperately tries everything in her power to keep her children safe and away from sight. The best and safest way to seek this shelter ultimately results in them figuring it out blindfolded. This Netflix original sent chills down my spine, and I promise as soon as you watch it, you’ll get them too. 

Us (2019)

The protagonist Adelaide revisits her childhood town with her family and has a gutted feeling that the past may now take over the present. The movie recount a terrifying incident of her childhood when she was traumatized in a carnival fun house. The family soon encounters four strangers who look exactly like each one of them. This Jordan Peele creation leaves viewers the opportunity to piece together the puzzle pieces slowly but surely, and journeys you through a horrifying storyline that will leave you glued to your television screen. 

A Quiet Place (2018)

You’ve probably heard the phrase “Actions speak louder than words,” right? Well in this thriller it’s certainly the truth. A horror film that essentially has only a few pages of real dialogue, the premise is that if “they” hear you, “they” find you. The family of four must be the quietest they’ve ever been so that a breath or even a footstep won’t reveal their presence. You’ll be jumping out of your seat so maybe don’t watch this alone in the dark.

Vampires vs The Bronx (2020)

Sometimes the best films are the ones that scare you but also make you laugh. This coming-of-age horror comedy recently made its Netflix debut earlier this month and fans are non-stop raving about it. It follows a group of teens from the Bronx who are forced to save their neighborhood from an incoming vampire invasion. The concept incorporates prevalent societal issues with a lighthearted twist and is a perfect treat for all audiences to enjoy.

Hereditary (2018)

A family in mourning finds ways to cope with the loss of a loved one while experiencing supernatural phenomena. The encounters with the supernatural begin to grow more and more disturbing. The family is left with these moments linking to a grand unveiling of family history and secrets. It’s so haunting that this movie will stay with you forever.

Veronica (2017)

“Veronica” tells the tale of a girl and her friends summoning the spirit of her dead father during a solar eclipse using a Ouija board. However, there are more undesirable spirits that have come through. She’s quickly surrounded by evil spirits and presences that are now known to pose a threat to her family. Sandra Escacena was nominated for the Goya Award for Best New Actress in 2018 for her work.

The Cabin In The Woods (2011)

Basically, a college cabin vacation gone wrong. A camping trip with five friends takes a turn when they are attacked by a family of zombies. The camping trip turns into a fight for their lives as the zombies are part of a ritualistic sacrifice. A Rotten Tomatoes reviewer even said “Would you like your head thoroughly messed with? Then check straight into ‘The Cabin in the The Woods.’” So that sums that up pretty nicely.

The Witches (2020)

Witches in the U.K. are plotting to rid the island of children by turning them into mice. Fortunately for all of the children, one young boy and his grandmother catch wind of the plan. The movie is all about the boy and his grandmother working together to make sure the witches fail in their dastardly plans.

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

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