Thursday, October 1, 2015

Halloween Havoc: FOREST OF DEATH (1993)

Ah Mexico. Land of cowboy hats, pistoleros, masked wrestlers and crazed slashers. Wait, what? Slashers? Yes indeed, while Mexican horror cinema has a long and glorious past, the FRIDAY THE 13TH bug never got as deeply infused into their pop-culture as it did in say Canada or Germany. So it's twice as much fun to see someone with a few pesos head out to a remote area to do a latino EL VIERNES 13!

Deep in a secluded forest some illegal tree poachers have found themselves in the sights of a Ranger Emilo (the prolific Jorge Reynoso) nicknamed Jaguar. He takes his forest very seriously, as we see later when he talks to his plants and calls the trees "my babies".

A group of twenty-somethings on a trip to a remote cabin in those very same woods has a breakdown at an abandoned rest stop. While the girls moan that they want quesadillas con papas (good luck with that), the guys run into Jaguar who is handing over what is left of the poachers to the police. All of them are in bad shape, but the leader has had his leg shot off which causes Ceasar (Andrés Bonfiglio of GRAVE ROBBERS fame) to freak out and run to his girlfriend Sylvia (Alejandra Espejo). Si, muy macho.

As it turns out the "cabin" is more of a "ranchito", complete with a grim-faced caretaker named Jacinto (the super-prolific Alfredo Gutiérrez) who speaks in a monotone and imparts cryptic warnings of imminent danger at in opportune times. Sort of a Loco Rafael, if you will. Of course, there is a dark past associated with the place, which quickly comes to light after the group settles in. Sylvia grew up in this house and her mother had drowned in the lake, but her body was never found. Sylvia's abusive father left Sylvia on her own after that and was never seen again, though he has sent her money over the years.

Our Ranger, Jaguar, was Sylvia's first love when she was like 10, we know this because Sylvia finds a tree in which she carved a heart with their initials in it. Oh and because the 35 year old ranger sits in his tiny cabin and stares at a picture of her... when she was like 10. No, no, that's not creepy at all.

After a rough night in which Caesar has nightmares of an axe-weilding maniac breaking into the house, Adolpho (Andrés García Jr. who appeared in a few notable horror flicks before going on to 1992s LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE) decides to put on snorkel gear and goof off in the lake. As we all know, snorkel gear is like a red flag to a deranged slasher. When nobody can find him, they naturally are upset that something may have happened to him in the very same lake that Sylvia's mother drowned in. It's got a maldicion de muerte! Jaguar shows up on the scene after the kids try to light up the fireplace with the flue closed (apparently that bundle of kindling produced enough smoke to be seen across the entire forest). Jaguar calmly smooths over the situation by telling the kids "if he drowned, he drowned."

Now, unable to find Adolpho, the weather turns dark and violent and one by one people start turning up dead, but who is the killer? Cue ominous music.

As much as there are slews of low-rent, generic films floating around in a sea of slasher clones, it is fun to see the tropes trotted out en espanol, even the axe-wielding killer wears a yellow rainslicker. The acting isn't abysmal, but it's definitely not great, but it's shot on film and while it feels a bit like a slasher film that the MPAA got ahold of in the '80s (only one death is on screen), it still hits that soft spot in my head for these kinds of films. Or, to put it another way, it may not be anywhere near the level of THE PROWLER (1981) or MY BLOODY VALENTINE (1981), it still kicks the crap out of FINAL EXAM (1981) and GRADUATION DAY (1981).

3 Reactions:

  1. Does "31 noches de terror" mean that there will be 31 mexican horror films reviewed in October?

    I have a Blob theme going this October and plan on breaking my Mexican horror cherry with Santo contra los asesinos de otros mundos (Santo vs. The Killers from Other Worlds) (1973) or Santos vs. The Blob. That will be my first Santos film as well.

    Ever since the redesign I don't see where it says if a post is from William or Tom.

    I'm thrilled you guys are doing something for October.

  2. Err... Well, it sounded like a good number at the time. They won't all be Mexican, in previous years we've devoted a large portion of space to a particular theme, but we have to throw other stuff into the mix or we'd get bored.

    Unfortunately there are a few things that are broken in the redesign and can't seem to get fixed. Editing Blogger code is such a massive pain in the ass, we kind of just left it for now. Hopefully at some point it will get squared away.

    I don't know if I would really call the Santo films horror as such, but they are fun. A great starting point would be NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES, if you have access to it. Also, CURSE OF THE CRYING WOMAN has an almost Mario Bava kind of feel to it.

    Thanks for the support, glad to hear you are looking forward to this years Havoc!

  3. Glad you're mixing it up. I'll be happy to read whatever you put up.

    I was expecting the Santo films to be light and silly but I caught the first ten minutes and its pretty dark so far. It starts with at least four different kills. We don't know who they are and sure one guy is trying not to laugh, but the tone is dark. The Blob monster appears to be two guys inside a bean-bag chair but it's not as silly as I expected. Of course that could change any second.

    NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES has been high on my list. I need to squeeze that in this year.


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