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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Barbarous Mexico (2014) Horror Anthology

Barbarous Mexico (2014) - "When Warriors felt threatened, they performed a ritual asking for prosperity in exchange for human blood. This was so in the Mexico of the Aztecs, and was so in the Mexico of the Narcos. Rivers of blood were spilled to please the gods." part of the voice over in the beginning of this anthology where a journalist tells us the story of when he got to hear about and see the results of one such Narcos ritual. It sets up the piece we are about to see and I guess the horror is in the visuals because although there is a quiet tension to this first story it always feels like an inevitable build to a gruesome reveal. One of the Narcos an intimidating man (Memo Villegas) tells the reporter (Marco Zapata) of the story of sacrifice where their group takes a bunch of partying students and kills them in the desert as a way to gain prosperity. The visuals are dark and gruesome with the use of a ritualistic stone knife. When the killer speaks during this scene the writer / director (Laurette Flores Bornn) uses a modulator in to make the man sound supernatural as he spews on about satisfying the sun and the god Tlaltecuhtli. ( I am guessing through the context that this is the one they were going for even though the subtitle had a different spelling. It's effective for what it is but the piece lacked something, no real character to grab onto. The journalist is not strong enough even though he is the witness. Titled Tzompantli for the final reveal it is a dark start to a anthology based around Mexican myths and history.
  Story two about desperados who are making an escape after stealing some gold only to pick the wrong place to stay the night. One of the two men shot Martin, (Waldo Facco) during the crime is barely alive so the second man, Jose (Harold Torres) chooses Jaral de Berrios to stop and care for him, a place which is said to be cursed. Shot in the real abandoned hacienda of Jaral de Berrios the piece is heavy on spaghetti western imagery from the first beautiful opening shot to the close up it is really well filmed by writer / director (Edgar Nito). Since the location is so cool we do Nito exercises it with shots and cuts where it is honored. The ghost (Florencioa Rios) is watching the two as they stumble into the building and it does not take long for her to finish off the wounded man. Jose knowing he should leave this place is suddenly in a surreal would where he is seduced by the spirit before meeting his own demise. Strong in its lead up shots and western aesthetic it could have had more ghost but was enjoyable all the same. I could not find a particular ghost myth connected to the location but the "Woman in Black" appears in so many cultures around the world I can see this story being built this way. The final sequence is wonderfully executed with the ghost reveal being a highlight.
  The third story Drena, "Drain" by Aarón Soto we see a woman (Leslie Arce) finding a dead body in a hole. For some unexplained reason she takes the cigarette from his cold dead hand? Sure it is a connecting element and a bit shocking and as you watch this short you realize it is all about the shocking. When she lights the cigarette she is visited by a foul mouthed demon that asks her, no demands that she do something really gross or will face the equally vile consequences of not doing it. The story has such a strange tone and almost no dialog making it interesting if a bit obscure in its intent. The absolutely strange final shots leaves this as one of the strangest tales.
La Cosa Más Preciosa (That Precious Thing) is about a impish demon, an Alux who steals precious things and when a young man brings his virgin girlfriend to the cabins in the area of this creature we get a sick little tale with way too graphic demon junk.  A couple Javier (Rubén Zerecero) and Valeria (Sara Comacho) looking to have sex for the first time take a road trip. They arrive at the cabin and there is a indication from a worker, more a warning that there is something in the woods that steals things. Little do they know that what the creature steals will have horrible consequences for the pair. There were choices made in the making of this story that were odd, shot in a style to make it look like a old seventies film. Dark bits on the film like an old grind house movie that was not cared for very well. It doesn't need it or the reason for it escapes me, maybe when this is on DVD we can interview writer / director (Isaac Ezban) and get an answer.  This short really does get a lot of props for the makeup done on the creature, very well done there. Shocking in its graphic use of violence and rape but showing a closeup of the Valeria's face where she sort of crosses her eyes and the penis in the face shot sort of plays the horrific rape for comedy. I am not a fan of that approach at all. The inevitable final shots of the consequences were very predictable.
Fifth up Lo Que Importa Es Lo De Adentro (It's what's inside that matters) is just a little fucking evil piece of necro-paedophilia based around a Mother (Claudia Goytia) and two children in a city apartment building. She shows kindness to the homeless man Pepe (Ánuar Zúñiga) that her retarded daughter Laura (Dulce Alexa Alfaro) is afraid of calling him the boogyman. We again have a story that quickly becomes tragic as we learn Pepe has a secret and little Laura can't with her communication issues can tell her mother what she sees from the window. Then the story gets really strange as we see how Pepe makes money and what his particular kink is.
 Isla de las Muñecas is a real place and the next film Muñecas by (Jorge Michel Grau) uses the location well creating a story with this tourist oddity becomes a literal tourist trap. Shot in black and white we follow a woman (Patricia Ortiz) who appears to be trying to escape as she hides and then faces off with a large man wearing an apron. It is an effective piece in its simplistic struggle to survive. The turn is sad and the final reveal appropriate for the content with very little dialog it is a wonderful piece of dread.
Siete veces Siete (Seven times Seven) is a really great revenge tale based around a reanimation ritual that I absolutely loved. The sense of place and magic runs through this as the story slowly pieces together not only how the ritual works but what the motivating factor is that drives the scarred man, Rabbit (Ramon Medina) performing it.(I hope I am attributing the actors correctly the character names were not included for the two leads in the credits) Such a well done complete story in a short that uses location and ritual to show what can drive a man to seek revenge over and over. Writer / director (Ulises Guzmán)  gives us the story from when Rabbit steals the body (Agustín Tapia) and takes it to a place of magic. The complex set of rituals bring the body back to life, but it seems the soul is no longer intact so more magic until the being remembers who it is. The turn in this film is wonderful with flashbacks of how this being became important to Rabbit and why he is so driven to have the being remember who it is. The final turn also is very satisfying after we have the full story we know this could just be a beginning for this revenge tale.
Day of the Dead is also a revenge tail about a group of strippers who pay back the bad men that hurt one of their own. Starting with the introduction by the matriarch (Adelita Rockhill) of the place, we see Mexican city Frontera life while she explains how the world is hard and you have to be harder to have any piece of it. Then into the strip club she runs and learn how one of her girls was mistreated by a group of men cut to all the women in make up of the Day of the Dead dancing in the club. Shit goes crazy fast and we experience the chaos of revenge at its finest. There is a bit reminiscent of Salma Hayek in From Dusk to Dawn right before the shit hits the fan. We are suddenly in the mix with special effects and violence to rival that film. Writer Director (Gigi Saul Guerrero) goes all out with the scene making it a viceral gore fest. "Justice can be one of the most gentle lovers, but revenge is a real fucking whore."
  I like more of these stories than I disliked, there is a horrible computer animation between the stories that could have been left out. As anyone who reads this blog I love anthologies and this is one I recommend seeing this one as there are some very well done pieces in it. This particular film collection is full of violence and gore as well as some really decent shock value for people looking for that. If I made attribution mistakes on this film send me a correction, this was a bit incomplete in IMDB.
    As I have done so far this year; I am doing as an experiment my Twitter account @Soresport is dedicated to following and being followed by people in and behind the scenes. Then I am also hoping some of them follow me back.  This film being current and with what I would call some rather popular actors I don't hold much hope for any of them to even notice this review let alone follow back. I do fear that Twitter has become too much of a promotional tool for people in film to actually get those follow backs but hey its an experiment. I am now following over 100 people while the followers is only 15 so as you can see people in the biz do not follow just anyone back. :) 

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