by V. Castro
Halloween will always be my favorite holiday. It gives you something to look forward to once the school year begins, but is not as far away as Christmas. Growing up in Texas, October was also the beginning of a break from the sweltering summer temperatures. The crisp air and dark nights shifted my thoughts from syrupy raspas to the caramel covered apples I would make with my mother over a stove top. We didn’t have a lot of money, so costumes were simple and at times made by hand. As long as I returned home with a pillowcase filled with candy, I was happy.
But Halloween is not complete without a good scare in the form of a horror film. Netflix and Amazon have made horror more accessible than the good ole Blockbuster days or waiting for October for the networks to begin their Halloween film marathons. Yes, I am a woman THAT age. I remember breaking from my mother’s hand to wander to the aisle where the film covers both intrigued and frightened me. Like the delights in my heavy pillowcase, I devoured the artwork with my eyes and read the back covers of each and every one. My imagination would run wild thinking about the stories behind the creatures, killers or things from outer space. Unfortunately, they had to be tame enough for my mother to allow me to choose any of them. Nothing stopped me from watching all sorts of horror when no one was around, including Elvira’s Up All Night.
If you are like me, you might have seen the classics multiple times and immediately watch anything new as it premieres. This Halloween, why not check out Latinx horror? Is there anything more exciting than a fresh twist on an old trope? Every culture has its own set of ideas of good vs evil, urban legends, ghost stories, and as a Latina I grew up with my fair share of tales that kept me up at night, yet I never saw them in the books or films I consumed. This is one of my greatest motivations in my own writing. Now, I have a choice and it is important for me to support diversity in all art forms.
In no specific order, here are a few Spanish and one English language Latinx horror film recommendations you might not have heard of to help you get through leftover candy or a bottomless bowl of popcorn. I will mention there are a few that push the limits with sex and violence. If you want more information visit www.scifiandscary.com for full reviews. Enter at your own risk and Enjoy!
Spain: Teenage girls decide to use a Ouija board in the basement of their Catholic school during a solar eclipse. What is supposed to be a little fun turns out to be something more sinister and tragic. You will love Sister Death. She deserves her own film and is hella more interesting than The Nun.
Here Comes The Devil (Ahí va el diablo)
Mexico: You will be slightly shocked when the film starts. Scratch that, you will be kinda shocked throughout the entire film. With a late 70s-80s vibe, this film is horror, sex and taboo explored through a happy Mexican family until the children disappear in a mountainous region.
Brazil: Stylish film that lives up to the title. Lots of blood and sex, but brilliant story. Eat the poor, screw the rich….
Mexico: An atmospheric art house film that is as creepy as the cinematography is beautiful. Set in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico, an ex-priest finds a feral child in the forest near his home and takes it upon himself to introduce the child to civilization. This will restore your faith in found footage as the writer and director uses this trope masterfully.
Inquilinos (The Tenants)
Mexico: A film out of Guadalajara, Mexico that explores witchcraft and haunting through Santeria. That. First. Scene. From the opening credits, you know you are in for dark terror.
USA: Finally a horror film featuring a Mexican American family! They are your average Americans living their lives until the deceased grandmother’s belongings are stored in their garage. The religious teenage son finds a hidden box in a wardrobe which is sealed from the inside. Some things are better left in the past.
Spain: A possession film from Spain using Mesoamerican mythology. It was a slow start that gave me the feeling I was watching the same old exorcism trope, but hold out until the end. The twist is worth the wait.
Argentina: If this was a book it would be a bizarro, cosmic horror hybrid. That is the only way I can describe this strange story that hits the floor with the horror. I will mention there is child death so if you are sensitive to this subject, maybe give it a pass. For everyone else, it is terrifying and a must see!