Mexican Cinema Notes

Salon on Bunuel reissues:

When production funds ran out, Buñuel ended [Simon of the Desert] by having the sexy, female Satan (Silvia Pinal) transport Simon by airplane to a 20th-century New York nightclub. What does that signify? Asked that question in a 1977 interview, Buñuel responded: "I don't know."

I recall the night club ending fondly: Simon sits at a table bored, smoking, while clubgoers are doing a crazy, twitchy '60s dance. Someone asks what the dance is and a clubber replies: "it's called 'Radioactive Flesh.'"

Off and on over the years have searched for a movie that scared me as a kid, a very lurid Gothic horror story with a dead witch being brought back to life in a castle catacomb. Turns out it was The Curse of the Crying Woman, 1963:

Not often seen outside of Mexico in its original language version, during the mid 1960s the film was distributed along with several other Mexican horrors of the era including El Hombre y El Monstruo, El Ataúd del Vampiro and La Momia Azteca Contra el Robot Humano in North America by K. Gordon Murray in a badly dubbed and edited version, losing the impact of the original film.

If you thought Mexican horror was summed up by the kitsch wrestling flicks of El Santo et al, think again! Without a doubt, The Curse of the Crying Woman is a classic slice of gothic horror cinema. Although very slightly flawed in places, it has some of the classic ingredients of the genre: a witch being revived from the dead, a clubbed foot henchman, a deranged and malformed relative kept under lock & key, bats, rats, cobwebs, spooky mist laden set pieces, a crumbling gothic looking family home all set off with an atmospheric score and solid acting from all of the cast involved.

Often overlooked by many genre fans, it should be viewed with as much high regard as the noted classics by Italian gothic masters Mario Bava, Riccardo Freda and Antonio Margheriti, Britain’s Hammer and Amicus Studios or of course America’s early Universal monsters or Roger Corman’s Poe / Price movies.