It’s the most wonderful time of the year! There’s a chill in the air, your cafecito has never felt more comforting, and Halloween is just around the corner. Fall is the perfect time to get into the spooky spirit, and what better way to dive in than with some Latine horror films? Here, I’ll recommend some titles, from classics to contemporary works guaranteed to shake you up at least a little.
Cronos (1992), d. Guillermo del Toro
If you read LatinaMedia.Co, you’ll know Cronos has a special place in my heart. Guillermo del Toro’s first full-length feature takes place in Mexico City and follows an antique shop owner as he unwittingly becomes a vampire. It has everything that would become hallmarks of del Toro’s work: humanity in the monstrous, Ron Perlman, and arcane magic. Plus, it’s a truly great addition to the Vampire sub-genre in horror with a distinctly Latine take.
Dracula (Spanish) (1931), d. George Melford
Shot at the same time as the iconic original film, the Spanish language version of Dracula is iconic in its own right, a hallmark of resourcefulness and experimentation. It’s worth seeking out for its historical significance and the joys of seeing a classic through a new lens.
Huesera (2022), d. Michelle Garza Cervera
Body horror is a well-respected subgenre of horror, and rightfully so. What’s more terrifying than your body betraying you? Huesera takes this question and adds a dimension of chilling reality by making the body horror something plausible: pregnancy. What unfolds is a distinct, urgent, and beautifully made movie about the pressures Latine society puts on women to fit a gendered ideal and the horror that comes when that’s the last thing you want.
Satanic Hispanics (2022), ds. Alejandro Brugués, Mike Mendez, Gigi Saul Guerrero & more
This anthology film takes a host of Latine filmmakers and lets their voices shine through several stories. From vampires to furious gods, the five segments that makeup Satantic Hispanics open up new takes on Latine folklore and familiar horror tropes alike. It’s worth seeking out for its refreshing take on the anthology horror film.
Veneno Para las Hadas (1984), d. Carlos Enrique Taboada
Girlhood is full of tumultuous, tenuous things. Sometimes that includes friendships. Flavia (Elsa María Gutiérrez) and Veronica (Ana Patricia Rojo) are an unlikely pair – Veronica is an aspiring witch who’s manipulated Flavia into becoming her assistant. Together, the two girls forge a parasitic friendship, with Veronica taking most of Flavia’s prized possessions. They also dabble in magic that takes a turn for the worst in Veneno Para las Hadas.
Tigers Are Not Afraid (2017), d. Issa López
The story of children trying to survive their daily lives while navigating cartel violence in Mexico, Tigers Are Not Afraid is a horror film that isn’t easy to categorize. Combining elements of crime genre and magical, the stark subject matter at the heart of the film is heightened, creating a story that will linger after watching.
The Old Ways (2020), d. Christopher Alender
Chicana journalist Cristina returns to Veracruz, her ancestral home, for a story on witchcraft. She gets more than she bargained for when she’s captured by a group of locals, including a bruja, who thinks she’s possessed by a demon. What unfolds in The Old Ways is a thrilling, potent possession film that’s bound to get under your skin.
1974: La Posesión de Altair (2016), d. Victor Dryere
Found footage movies can be hit or miss, but 1974: La Posesión de Altair doesn’t disappoint. What starts as a standard found footage document of one woman’s possession in 1970s Mexico turns into something much weirder and scarier. La Posesión de Altair has an ending that’ll pull the rug out from under you and might leave you with more questions than answers.
La Llorona (2019), d. Jayro Bustamante
How do you re-tell the timeless tale of La Llorona, the iconic weeping woman of Latine folklore? Jayro Bustamante’s 2019 film about the timeless ghost leans into La Llorona’s folkloric roots, using her to punish an aging former dictator. Horror has always been a way for filmmakers to comment on the real horrors of our world, and La Llorona digs in and doesn’t let go.
Alucarda (1977), d. Juan López Moctezuma
Using the 1872 novel Carmilla as a starting point, Alucarda takes that novel’s vampirism and gay romance and adds in demonic possession for good measure. The story of Alucarda and Justine, two teenage girls in a convent who work together to summon demons, is a visual whirlwind worth seeking out.