by Fidel Martinez
Halloween and Dia De Los Muertos—The Day Of The Dead– are around the corner. Some of you might go out and revel like costumed, trick-or-treating children. The more introverted of you will probably stay in. If you’re the latter, it’s cool, I got you covered. To ensure that you have a great spookfest, and in honor of the DVD release of REC 2, the much-acclaimed sequel to the instantaneous horror classic, below is a list of Spanish-language horror flicks that will paralyze you with fear.
Thematically —and in one case, stylistically—speaking, the films listed serve as progenitors to REC 2. Horror through suspense, creating a visceral feeling of claustrophobia by restricting where the film’s setting to a singular location, and invoking the paranormal to scare the living crap out of you are all elements found in the movies below as well as in REC 2. Check out the trailer and then read up on what we consider to be some of the best Spanish-language horror ever filmed:
The 1950 Mexican film El Hombre Sin Rostro (Man Without A Face, dir. Juan Bustillo Oro), on a personal level, is one of the most haunting films I’ve ever seen. That’s largely because, to the best of my recollection, it’s the first horror-like film I watched. Curious to see if it would stand the test of time, and my memory, I re-viewed it. While no longer terrified by the faceless man, the same existential dread still lingered:
El Hombre Sin Rostro is the story of Juan Carlos Lozano (Arturo de Cordova), a police detective on the hunt of a unidentified serial killer who appears in his dreams as a faceless man. The music and the scenery (lots of fog) draw parallels to film noir and the story’s psychological horror comes from a well-written screenplay
Hasta El Viento Tiene Miedo (Even The Wind Is Afraid, dir. Carlos Enrique Taboada)—side note, what a great title for a horror film, no?– takes place at an all-female private school. A group of girls are forced to stay at the school during the summer as punishment. In their time there, they discover the school’s dark past.
Hasta El Viento Tiene Miedo is easily the best cult horror film to come out of Mexico (it’s often screened on the Day of the Dead). Unsurprisingly, it was remade in 2007 with Martha Higareda as the lead. As gorgeous as Higadera is, avoid seeing the remake and stick with the original.
The first of the Blind Dead series, La Noche Del Terror Ciego (Tombs Of The Blind Dead) is in my opinion the best film the famed Spanish horror director Amando de Ossorio ever made. The film centers around a man and a woman investigating the death of their shared lover. Lesbionics, you say? Yep, and a slasher element that comes courtesy of undead blind Knight Templars! The blind dead villains are so scary, they make the Knights Templar drug cartel look like chumps.
A quick note: the best known version of this film is the English-dubbed version. Find the Spanish one. Trust me, it’s better (ie, gorier and less edited).
To talk of horror films made by Spanish-speaking directors and not mention Guillermo Del Toro would not only be a huge oversight, but would also illegitimize this list. And so we have El Espinazo Del Diablo (The Devil’s Backbone), a film about a young boy living in an orphanage during the end of the Spanish Civil War. It’d be a bit difficult to explain the plot of the film in a couple of sentences, so I’m not even going to try. I will tell you this, however: a boy ghost is instrumental to the film. Personally, I’ve always thought that the ghosts of children are scarier than adult ghosts (which is why a movie like The Sixth Sense worked so well). If you liked Pan’s Labyrinth (and seriously, who didn’t?), you’ll love El Espinazo Del Diablo.
It sounds dubious that the predecessor of this post’s sponsor made the cut, but what can I say? REC is amongst the most unique and terrifying films to come out of Iberoamerica in the last 20 years. That’s no small feat.
REC centers around a group of firefighters and a television reporter who attend to a distressed call that probably should have gone unanswered. That’s all you need to know. Fact: I pissed my pants when I saw it [ed. note: that's a lie].
The singular location makes the viewer feel claustrophobic and tense as the movie progresses, something that its American remake Quarantine struggled to recreate despite the fact that it was remade almost shot for shot.
Fidel Martinez is Managing Editor of Tu Vez.