Mexico is a ripe country with centuries of rich history and urban legends. So it’s no surprise that some of the best horror movies have come from the brilliant minds of Mexico’s most talented filmmakers. Often less appreciated than J-horror, Mexican horror offers its own unique cultural perspective, exploring just how terrifying it is to be human. From horror stories rooted in fantastical realism to terrifyingly dark glimpses of the worst aspects of reality, this list of films aims to introduce you to the glorious and terrifying world of Mexican terror. And these are just the tip of the iceberg.
1 ‘The Curse of the Crying Woman’ (1963)
‘The Curse of La Llorona’
directed this classic film rafael baledon Inspired by the popular Mexican legend about La Llorona, who is said to have drowned her children in a fit of rage. As legend has it, her spirit wanders near bodies of water, and those who hear her screams will find themselves in incredible danger. However, the film has little to do with the specific details of the actual legend. Instead, it follows a young woman named Amelia (rosa arenas) when she visited her Aunt Selma (rita macedo) who lives in a huge mansion. Due to her cursed lineage, Amelia soon learns that her aunt intends to use her in an ancient ritual to revive La Llorona, so that the women of the family can attain ultimate power. At its core, the film is concerned with the question of whether women can be empowered if the men in their lives are still in the picture. The Gothic atmosphere of this film is very beautiful and the make-up soaks into the audience’s skin even after decades.
2 ‘Even the Wind Is Afraid’ (1968)
‘Even the wind is afraid’
The original king of Mexican terror, carlos enrique taboada, it is widely credited with revolutionizing the landscape away from traditional Gothic elements and towards a more modern one. The film tells the story of an all-girls college, which is haunted by a former student who committed suicide due to the malicious negligence of the school headmaster. Although it’s not cinematically experimental, it’s still incredibly thought-provoking Dario Argento‘S lamentation Despite it being nearly 10 years ago. Taboada uses both lighting and space within the film effectively to create a sense of claustrophobic uneasiness. However, what makes the film stand out is the sound design. The effects are felt all the way down to the roots of your teeth and what you hear is often worse than what you can see.
3 ‘The Book of Stone’ (1969)
‘The Stone Book’
The kids at the center of horror movies always manage to make them even scarier. This is especially true when one of the children in question is a stone statue located in the family’s vast estate. The second Carlos Enrique Taboada film on this list centers on a governess who is hired by a wealthy family to care for their young daughter. It is soon revealed that the young girl has an imaginary friend named Hugo. The audience and the governess discover that Hugo is actually the statue of the little boy in the courtyard who smiles with an open book in his hands. Over the course of the film, things get weirder and more sinister until it finally reaches its devastating conclusion.
4 ‘Poison for the Fairies’ (1984)
‘Poison for Fairies’
Carlos Enrique Taboada’s final film on this list is another film focused on children. However, instead of a creepy imaginary friend, it tells the story of a friendship between two young girls that goes horribly wrong. A young and lonely girl named Veronica gets a taste of horror after hearing her grandmother’s stories. She later meets another young girl named Flavia at school and later manages to convince her classmate that she is a witch. Over the course of the film, several events lead Flavia to believe that Veronica is actually very powerful. Veronica uses her newfound influence over Flavia to encourage her to help him gather ingredients to make poison for the fairies (the supposed natural enemies of witches), which ends up having disastrous results. The film throughout maintains a whimsical fairy-tale-like mood that helps further convey the horrors inherent in childhood imaginations.
5 ‘Holy Blood’ (1989)
alejandro jodorowsky‘S This film is a cult classic for a very good reason. The film itself revolves around the main character Fenix (axel jodorowsky) The story of a life full of revenge. Its level of artistic surrealism makes it psychologically disturbing and unexpectedly emotional. Features Jodorowsky’s previous films such as wart And Holy mountains, holy blood This is truly a film where experience is valued more than coherence of the plot. In many ways, the best way to describe this masterpiece is john waters And Dario Argento took acid and decided to make a movie together.
6 ‘Chronos’ (1993)
Of course, no list of the quintessential Mexican horror films would be complete without this Guillermo del Toro, His first feature film tells the story of an antiques dealer named Jesus (federico luppi) who finds a scarab beetle-like mechanical object that latches onto him and miraculously begins to restore his youth. However, the price of this miracle reveals the insatiable taste of blood. Over the course of the film, Jesus must confront not only his own terrible fate, but also the ways in which other people are revealed to be violently desperate to obtain the device’s power for themselves. This unique take on the vampire story marks the beginning of del Toro’s horror legacy and sets the precedent for his fantastical perspective of horror.
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7 ‘The Devil’s Backbone’ (2001)
devil’s spine Another del Toro classic that is arguably his scariest film. It takes place in a boy’s orphanage in Spain during the Civil War, where a vengeful ghost haunts its seemingly endless halls. Although it tells the story of an exorcism, the film also deals with the ways in which exorcisms are often symbolic manifestations of the consequences of war, murder, greed, and general human selfishness. just like Cronus, The film re-imagines typical Gothic tropes by relocating them right into the middle of war-torn Spain (a theme he would later build upon). pan’s Labyrinth, In many ways, it wouldn’t be wrong at all to claim that the current ruler of Mexican horror is heavily influenced by the legacy of his predecessor, Carlos Enrique Taboada. devil’s spine, In particular, the child-centric fairy tale highlights the same recurring themes of horror that attracted Tabodha decades ago.
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8 ‘Under the Salt’ (2008)
‘Under the Salt’
This slow-paced procedural film follows a detective who travels to a small town near a salt mine to investigate a series of murders. After getting dozens of fingers pointed by the townspeople, he soon meets the town’s outcasts. In true “whodunit” fashion, the rest of the film is concerned with uncovering the mystery of who is responsible for the gruesome murders. director mario munoz, the film boasts spectacular stop-motion sequences in which the murder is re-enacted through the use of Barbie and Ken dolls. The highlight of this film is undoubtedly its eerie cinematography which emphasizes the vast emptiness of the salt mines. Then, these salt mines become a presence in the film that is both equally scary and gorgeous.
9 ‘We Are What We Are’ (2010)
‘What are we doing?’
It is considered somewhat of a sequel to Guillermo del Toro’s Cronus, George Michel GrauThe film follows the events that occur after the head of a family unexpectedly dies. After his death, the family must come to terms with continuing their cannibalistic ways without the guidance of his oppressive presence. The film is moody, aimless and nihilistic; However, it does offer a refreshingly unique take on the tradition of cannibalistic families within horror. Of course, it’s positioned as a proper sequel. chronos That’s pretty loose considering the only obvious connection between the two films is Daniel Gimenez Cacho Tito reprising his role as The Coroner. Somehow, the sheer brutality of this film stays with you even after the credits roll.
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10 ‘The Similar’ (2015)
directed this film isaac ezban, sounds like something out of your worst nightmare. It is a period horror film that takes place at a bus station in the 1960s where a group of people slowly realize that all of their faces are transforming into the faces of the same man. This premise looks like some ridiculous lost draft Twilight Zone episode, but it unfolds in an extremely terrible and fantastically acted movie. fans of david lynch Will probably enjoy the surreal dream-like quality of the film.
11 ‘The Untamed’ (2016)
Another doozy of a film, Amat Escalante‘S indomitable It can be described as psychosexual art house horror Andrzej Zulawski 1981 film capture, A couple whose relationship is failing encounter a creature in the woods which results in their world being turned upside down. The film is an emotional rollercoaster with great acting and incredible imagery. It’s best to go into this movie with an open mind and no detailed knowledge of the plot. You are in for a wild ride.
12 ‘Tigers Are Not Afraid’ (2017)
they came back
Issa Lopez’ The film tells the story of a group of children whose respective families were torn apart by the damage resulting from the violence of a Mexican drug cartel. The rest of the film follows the crew as they dream of taking revenge on those whose greed has destroyed their town. Following the traditions of fantastical Mexican fairy tale horror present in other films on this list, tigers are not afraid It offers an unflinching look at the consequences of cartel violence through the perspective of the children who are left behind to suffer the consequences. Despite the film’s dark subject matter, its effective use of magical realism and the optimism of the children provides brief glimpses of hope in an otherwise bleak world. You will be crying a lot by the end of this movie… quite possibly.
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