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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

El Vampiro

From Bollywood to Mexico.

I love Mexican vampire movies of the Gothic era. Why?
  • Almost all of these movies are in black and white, which has an ability to make sets that would appear slightly slapdash in color instead appear sumptuous. And some of the sets really are sumptuous, especially in El Vampiro (which you can get on DVD), starring German Robles as the vampire Duval.
  • In El Vampiro, young Marta makes a trip back to the family ranch (called "the Sycamores") for the reading of the will. But the great ranch is under the sway of a curse that has sickened the generations, and the neighbor, Count Lavud, may have something to do with it. The movie is stylish and creepy.
  • Mexican vampire movies are very, very Catholic in a way that American vampire movies never could be. The sense of horror at the power of Satan and awe of the healing power of the cross are stronger here than in Hollywood, London, or strangely even Italy. If you want Rome, watch an Italian movie-- but if you want Catholic, you want Mexico, or maybe Spain. Don't ask me why.
  • When I was a kid, these movies were available on TV in packages that played on early Saturdays on local UHF stations and cable networks like USA. Many of them were badly dubbed, but the effect was a strange one for a child-- the non-matching voices, the black and white film, and the alien sets and customs, all combined to create an amazing dream world of women in gossamer and vampires in courtyards
  • I would love to see a moody, creepy remake of El Vampiro, but it would be like trying to remake Horror of Dracula. Why bother? They're right there.

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