The Forgotten Dawn of Horror: A B-Masters' Roundtable

So… if your country’s film industry has just retooled itself for sound, and you find yourself wanting to make a brand new horror movie, what better subject than a local legend about a ghost that wails? I’m sure it sounded like a good idea at the time. But La Llorona (1933), the first Mexican horror film, gets in its own way a few too many times to really succeed. An uneasy combination of local folklore and Hollywood cliché, it’s certainly noteworthy for its place in history… but judged on its own merits, it’s entertaining but undistinguished.

Only a year later, though, Mexico put out its second horror film (previously reviewed by me here), which was far, far better; and the writer of that film, Juan Bustillo Oro, went on to make what could be considered the third Mexican horror film, and one of the very finest: Dos Monjes (1934). Unusual for its time, its country, and its director, Dos Monjes may or may not fit everyone’s definition of a “horror movie”. But it’s certainly a forgotten classic, without which an understanding of the development of Mexican horror cinema is incomplete.

(I’m currently at work on a couple more entries on early Mexican horror for this Roundtable. Unfortunately, I seem to have run out of February! Keep watching this space…)

Will Laughlin is the Braineater.

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