SOUTH OF HEAVEN: SUPERNATURAL WESTERNS

This April, Spectacle is pleased to present a collection of throwbacks on horseback from down Mexico way. Four supernatural westerns covering everything from witches to werewolves, from the devil to Dracula: it may still be chilly in NYC, but here at the Goth Bodega it’s Spring Break.


THE LIVING COFFIN
(aka EL GRITO DE LA MUERTE)
dir. Fernando Mendez, 1959
72 minutes. Mexico.
In Spanish with English subtitles.

FRIDAY, APRIL 7 – 10 PM
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 12 – 10 PM
SUNDAY, APRIL 16 – 5 PM
THURSDAY, APRIL 27 – 10PM

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Lawman Gaston and his partner Crazy Wolf saunter into town to investigate an attempted murder. When they arrive, the family tells a harrowing tale of haunting and mischief that’s been keeping them up at night. Can the duo solve this mystery and release the family from their terrible curse? Are the tombs beneath the residence truly housing the dead? Has the Crying Woman returned to exact a terrible revenge? Will they escape the deadly swamp?

While the legend of The Crying Woman was done many times before and after this film, EL GRITO DE LA MUERTE (the original title, translating to “The Cry of Death”) owes as much to the gothic offerings of Poe as it does to the tropes of Scooby Doo.

Gaston Santos (a well known bullfighter turned actor) teams up once again with director Fernando Mendez, writer Ramón Obón and cinematographer Víctor Herrera who all earlier that same year made the beautiful and shadowy Spectober favorite THE BLACK PIT OF DR. M.

THE RIDER OF THE SKULLS
(aka EL CHARRO DE LAS CALAVERAS)
dir. Alfredo Salazar, 1965
80 minutes. Mexico.
In Spanish with English subtitles.

SUNDAY, APRIL 2 – 5 PM
SATURDAY, APRIL 8 – 10 PM
SATURDAY, APRIL 15 – 10 PM
THURSDAY, APRIL 20 – 10 PM

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A masked rider (not Zorro) arrives in a sleepy Mexican villa in the midst of a slew of vicious werewolf attacks during what seems like a solid month of full moons. The Rider is given lodging by a señorita and her young son – Perico – who appear to be the next targets of the flannel-clad lycanthrope. The Rider, with the help of a local witch dispatches of the monster who turns out to be the boys father. As he rides off into the sunset with Perico by his side one may expect the credits to roll but don’t rise from the opulent comfort of your seat just yet, viewer, this adventure is far from over. The Rider (now taller and with a different mask) along with the help of a new boy and their manservant Cléofas (the films “comic relief”) fight a vampire in some highly unconvincing day for night photography. It’s worth mentioning that the vampire not only has the giant head of a bat but also has the power to change into an equally unconvincing rubber bat and flies off. Finally, The Rider faces his deadliest foe yet when he teams up with a woman in possession of the cabeza of none other than the Headless Horseman and his two robed skeleton henchmen leading to a machete fight at sunset.

Director Alfredo Salazar is best known for his contributions to Mexican horror in the form of many, many Santo/Blue Demon movies as well as penning such psychotronic fare as THE NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES and the should-be classic THE MAN & THE MONSTER (produced by and starring his brother Abel). Star Dagoberto Rodríguez had a 30-or-so year career in Mexican film and television, which is more than likely the reason he removes his mask and reveals his identity in the middle of the film. Due to its “monster of the week” feeling and suspicious change of companions/mask/location/etc the working assumption is that THE RIDER OF THE SKULLS is actually three episodes of a serial stitched together to make it feature length. Nevertheless, Salazar wears his love of classic Universal monsters on his sleeve and creates a film unlike any other.

GHOST TOWN
(aka EL PUEBLO FANTASMA)
dir. Alfredo B. Crevenna, 1965
80 min, Mexico
In Spanish w/ English subtitles

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 5 – 7:30 PM
THURSDAY, APRIL 13 – 10 PM
SATURDAY, APRIL 15 – 7:30 PM
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 26 – 10 PM

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The Rio Kid bursts onto the screen promising to lay waste to anyone claiming to be a faster gunslinger than he! Little do the townsfolk know that the reason The Rio Kid is so quick with the pistolero is because he’s been alive for 200 years and drinks the blood of his victims. Enter El Texano (clearing his family name) and his partner Don Nestor (fresh out of prison) – both vowing revenge!

More black and white genre blending from mid-60’s Mexico: while this film features more singing than the others in our series, it also has one of the more sympathetic antiheroes of the group. While The Rio Kid is in fact a literal monster, he also comes off as somewhat of a folk hero when he stops the assault of a young woman. In the end though, the duo save the town but cannot save the subtitles – that one’s on us.

THE DEVIL HORSE
(aka EL CABALLO DEL DIABLO)
dir. Federico Curiel, 1975
88 min, Mexico
In Spanish w/ English subtitles

SATURDAY, APRIL 1 – 10 PM
SATURDAY, APRIL 22 – MIDNIGHT
WEDNESDAY APRIL 26 – 7:30 PM
SATURDAY, APRIL 29 – 10 PM

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More songs, more comedy, and tons more fistfights and bar brawls than one might expect from a Faustian western but here we are. When a young man dies he makes a deal with the devil in exchange for his soul (classic) and returns to Earth. Despite being considerably more evil and taking it out on animals and family, no one seems to have a problem with him until the aforementioned Devil’s Horse gallops in.

Curiel like Salazar contributed to the seemingly never-ending avalanche of Santo films throughout the the 60’s and 70’s and 1968’s THE EVIL ONES but is most well known for his vampire films including – EMPIRE OF DRACULA and THE VAMPIRE GIRLS.

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