Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mexican Monster Party

Mexican Monster Party
December 2011

Aaayyy, mis hijos, is it Deciembre already? Indeed it is, so it's time for another Mexican Monster Party, to celebrate both Christmas and the new book getting sent in (The Films of Caroline Munro, First Lady of Fantasy), and to get the party started, we'll take a look at a movie that features the first Mexican horror character that was based on an actual Mexican legend, that of "La Llorona", or "The Crying Woman", LA MALDICION DE LA LLORONA - THE CURSE OF THE CRYING WOMAN.

As previously stated, the legend of the Crying Woman is an old one: a woman of the lower classes bears the children of a rich man, only to have him marry a woman from his social and economic strata, a story that unfortunately still resonates in the present day. Driven mad, she kills the children and commits suicide. She becomes the spectral being known as "The Crying Woman", because her wailing for her lost children ("AAAYYY, MIS HIJOS!") can be heard on the wind. The legend first became a film in 1933, simply titled LA LLORONA. The film was remade in 1960, and LA MALDICION DE LA LLORONA (CURSE OF THE CRYING WOMAN for the US title)  followed the next year, although it was not a sequel; in fact, it was a completly different take on the character.

By 1961, the Mexican horror genre, although still rather young, had already shown a predilection for pushing the envelope and featuring bizarre juxtapositions of characters and situations, not content to tell a linear story, but mixing influences at will, creating unique takes on not only classic monsters but ancient legends. This time, The Crying Woman was due for a makeover; there's no story of murdered children or betrayal, she's just very, very evil; in fact, in LA MALDICION DE LA LLORONA she's most like a vampire, and observes many vampiric conventions, such as casting no reflection in a mirror. Beatriz Bustamante plays the title character, who waits, waits, waits for her niece Emily (Rosita Arenas, heroine of the Neutron and Aztec Mummy series) to inherit the curse - which she must activate by forcing the girl to remove the lance which pins the corpse of the original Crying Woman to a wheel in the cellar! (So what, they built the house around this thing? 'Hey, could you go down in the cellar and get me a jar of preserves? They're right behind that corpse on the wheel' Or was it part of the sales pitch? "Beautiful ranch-style villa; ten acres, courtyard and Crying Woman's corpse in cellar, lance included.") Our old friend Abel Salazar (The Brainiac himself) plays Emily's bumbling husband, Herbert - LA MALDICION DE LA LLORONA was an ABSA film, which of course was Senor Salazar's own company, so since he was the big cheese, he took a twisted delight in playing a boob. The influence of the Crying Woman is strong, but in the end, Emily refuses to remove the lance; the curse is broken, and the whole enterprise literally crumbles. Salazar and Arenas were actually husband and wife in real life, and she fully assumed that role after this film, her last in the genre.

So that's it for another year; see you in January with more South-of-the-Border supernatural; we here at Chez Cotter wish everyone the very happiest holidays, and please don't forget to click at the Animal Rescue Site and help provide a shelter pet with a Christams meal! Vaya con Dios and FELIZ NAVIDAD!

Uncle Roberto, Cousin Lucky and Cher
Get THE CRYING WOMAN (1933) and CURSE OF THE CRYING WOMAN in our "Mexican Monsters Department" here at Creepy Classics!

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