381-384 Mexico Macabre

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Finch
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 5:09 pm
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Re: 381-384 Mexico Macabre

#51 Post by Finch » Sat Jun 24, 2023 11:01 am

This is currently my favorite 2023 release. Black Pit is an all-timer as is The Witch's Mirror. Curse of the Crying Woman is not quite as good as those two but it is certainly the film with the most impressive production design. About to watch The Brainiac. Really wanting more Mexican genre sets. Volume 2 could include The Vampire, The Vampire's Coffin, The Body Snatcher and one more Urueta if you guys are staying exclusively with Alameda Films for another set. It'd be one of my fastest pre-orders. And that's not even touching on the Taboada films which I'd double dip on if there's an overlap with Vinegar Syndrome's release from Feb/March which I also loved.

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reaky
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Re: 381-384 Mexico Macabre

#52 Post by reaky » Sat Jun 24, 2023 3:20 pm

It probably wouldn’t belong in a box, but I’d love to see Indicator release ALUCARDA, too.

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Matt
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Re: 381-384 Mexico Macabre

#53 Post by Matt » Fri Jun 30, 2023 12:24 am

I had forgotten what a literally incredible film The Witch’s Mirror is. The gothic setting, the Scooby-Doo-style underscore, the witchcraft,
SpoilerShow
the ghosts/undead, the Satanism, the vengeful housekeeper, the poisoning, the grave robbing, the Hands of Orlac bit, the Eyes Without a Face bit, the scissors stabbing, the cops busting in at the last minute, the cheap but extremely effective effects, the stuffed toucan in the witch’s chamber, the inexplicable owl in the mad scientist’s lab, the skull with a wig on it, the headless and handless bodies,
there’s nothing more you could ask for out of a horror film. None of it is exactly original, but it’s one head-spinning shot or surprise alter another! It’s short and brisk and ends exactly when it should, not after some silly epilogue. A perfect movie.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: 381-384 Mexico Macabre

#54 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Jun 30, 2023 12:35 am

I wasn't as taken with its progression in the back half as I hoped I'd be (and not as much as I was during Black Pit of Dr. M, which offered sharper turns, with seemingly random vehicles thrown in the soup to complicate/sew fate), but that's partially because the first act is so strong. I love films like this that deliberately throw out an acclimating first act, dropping us into this world of dark magic without prompts, showing us what's going to happen, and delivering it all at the pace of lightning.

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Matt
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Re: 381-384 Mexico Macabre

#55 Post by Matt » Fri Jun 30, 2023 2:05 pm

I remember feeling exactly that way the first time I watched it (when the Casa Negra DVD came out ages ago). Like, “where did the witch’s mirror go? What a rip!” But now I loved it when it suddenly becomes a different movie entirely.

I pretty much only enjoy movies now when they throw surprises at me, and these Mexican horror films almost always deliver on that count.

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Finch
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Re: 381-384 Mexico Macabre

#56 Post by Finch » Fri Jun 30, 2023 4:20 pm

I was lukewarm on The Brainiac. The inquisitors drone on forever in the opening and there's a couple of cutaways to Salazar too many. It does pick up as they move on to the stake sequence. Throughout the film, I felt like there was too much of a gap between what Salazar and Urueta had in mind and what they were able to accomplish within their budget limitations. There are so many "sets" that turn out to be still photographs blown up to a giant size (one giveaway are completely static candles in a scene set in a church) and practical effects even more unconvincing than the severed hands in The Witch's Mirror. The performances feel a little broader, too. This is definitely a "your mileage may vary" type of movie and definitely the one film in the set I'm least likely to revisit regularly.

And yet, this is a marvelous set. All the on-disc extras are fun and informative, the writing in the book is great (except for the concluding piece), the first two films are brilliant, the third is at least a sort-of-charming oddity and the fourth is very solid. We're halfway through 2023, and Mexico Macabre will at the very least make my Top 3.

Orlac
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Re: 381-384 Mexico Macabre

#57 Post by Orlac » Sun Jul 02, 2023 7:57 pm

I hope there's another set or two - I never managed to get all the Casa Negra DVDs.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: 381-384 Mexico Macabre

#58 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Jul 03, 2023 4:06 pm

Finch wrote:
Fri Jun 30, 2023 4:20 pm
I was lukewarm on The Brainiac. The inquisitors drone on forever in the opening and there's a couple of cutaways to Salazar too many. It does pick up as they move on to the stake sequence. Throughout the film, I felt like there was too much of a gap between what Salazar and Urueta had in mind and what they were able to accomplish within their budget limitations.
With only one to go, The Brainiac is easily my favorite in the set so far. The inquisition prelude is pretty short, but because it isn't audience-inclusive via character establishment etc., I can understand why it might feel longer. However, this strategy foreshadows the film's greatest strength: a refusal to acclimate us to the internal logic of its shenanigans - an alien-style narrative process that's only inclusive if we forfeit the need for insight and surrender to the schlock-y 'throw-everything-at-the-wall'-ness. And I don't just mean the internal logic of the louder elements of the plot or the monster's garb, but small details like the schematic relationship between people and comets... how it's just accepted that one can run to 'follow' a comet(?) that's far-off in the sky one moment and then in the scope of your backyard the next(??), and shoots off sparks, which should mean something maybe but doesn't and is hilarious for serving as a nonchalant 'interpretation' for ejecting a passenger, discarded by the scientists as soon as it's uttered(???). There are so many of these double-takes, and it's a brilliant wielding of those "budget-limitations" you speak of. The filmmaker capitalizes on that dissonance by making explanations less sensical, or eliding them altogether, and causing an alienating effect in film grammar, but one so full of creativity and amusement that we would never disengage. The film slows down later as the same rote process repeats itself, but I continued to find pleasure in the way bodies were disposed of, how characters were hypnotized and then sobered to their fates without being afforded acclimated comprehension as to why, the various archaic receptacles used to keep brain food, etc. I imagine that a second viewing would only emphasize these fun variations in the recycled sci-fi-slasher narrative checkpoints, now that I know the film ruminates there 'til the absurd weaponry comes out for disposal!

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Matt
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Re: 381-384 Mexico Macabre

#59 Post by Matt » Mon Jul 03, 2023 5:52 pm

Fun that everyone seems to have their own favorite in the set. That means the box is an all-around crowd-pleaser and everyone should buy it so we get at least one additional volume.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: 381-384 Mexico Macabre

#60 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Jul 04, 2023 3:04 pm

Finch wrote:
Sat Jun 24, 2023 11:01 am
Curse of the Crying Woman is not quite as good as those two but it is certainly the film with the most impressive production design.
While arguably the weak point of the set, that's only because Curse of the Crying Woman doesn't have the overarching narrative unpredictability of the other three films. Though this is the first iteration of La Llorona that I've found stimulating, and it works like an above-average Hammer production. The art direction, enunciated performances, and various tweaks to the skeleton to include wild set pieces, horror imagery, and story detours, all imbue this known tale with a sense of unpredictability along the way - emulating the erraticism of the histrionic energy found in every crevice of the assembly. The filmmaking is top-notch, and you can tell everyone involved -from actors to behind-the-scenes crew- gave it their all. Very impressive entry in the personal-categorization of simmering genre films to put on when sick or tired.. This is a blissfully digestible comfort-food flick, and also perhaps the most "macabre" film in the pack! The last half is just an unflinching escalation into the possibilities of gothic madness. With a bit of time, I could see myself loving this this for being the best of a familiar product. Bring on set numero dos

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Matt
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Re: 381-384 Mexico Macabre

#61 Post by Matt » Tue Jul 04, 2023 6:52 pm

This one is my favorite of the set for all the reasons you just stated above. I also feel like it has an emotional resonance or a sadness the others don’t have. This quality is even more evident in Rafael Baledon’s film from a few years earlier, The Man and the Monster (El hombre y el monstruo), another former Casa Negra release.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: 381-384 Mexico Macabre

#62 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Jul 04, 2023 7:46 pm

Yeah, I was blown away by the opening, then it settled into its story and I wasn’t sure, but as it kept going I suddenly realized it was maybe the most impressive in the set. As it sat for the day, I’ve come to the conclusion that I wouldn’t make the argument it’s the weakest of the set, but those looking for a skeleton of complete unpredictability might not jive with it as much. It’s insane though.

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What A Disgrace
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Re: 381-384 Mexico Macabre

#63 Post by What A Disgrace » Fri Jul 07, 2023 5:24 pm

I really liked Black Pit of Dr. M, but had to bump my appreciation of it *up* a notch because I assumed it was made after its obvious chief influences - Black Sunday, the Corman-Poe films, the William Castle gothics - but it predates those films entirely.

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reaky
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Re: 381-384 Mexico Macabre

#64 Post by reaky » Tue Jul 11, 2023 2:07 pm

CURSE OF THE CRYING WOMAN: House of Usher, with a vampire curse stirred in. Rita Macedo is fantastic in this. It’s a more conventional gothic horror than the others in the set, but handsomely mounted and shot, and heavy on the saw in its score.

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Matt
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Re: 381-384 Mexico Macabre

#65 Post by Matt » Wed Jul 12, 2023 12:08 am

I watched it tonight (finishing up the features in the set) and it still remains my undisputed favorite. The old dramatic unities of action, time, and place and the brisk pace are in its favor, as are the brilliant low-budget effects (miniatures, projections. superimpositions, skeletons and rubber bats on wires) and feverish performances.

See my characteristically overcooked appreciation of the film from 17 (Image) years ago for more gushing.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: 381-384 Mexico Macabre

#66 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Jul 12, 2023 1:24 am

Woah, OG fan - Strong review, thanks for sharing! It's always wonderful when a film remains fixed in high esteem across decades of time, since they so often waver as we evolve

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Matt
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Re: 381-384 Mexico Macabre

#67 Post by Matt » Wed Jul 12, 2023 1:24 pm

If that review acted as enthusiastic boosterism for Casa Negra, a new label at the time releasing titles no one had had previously considered, my review for their release of The Man and the Monster acted as a eulogy for the label which had recently gone out of business—and as a snapshot of the indie/cult DVD market at the time. Blu-ray was just getting started as a format at the time and I could never have imagined we’d now be, in 2023, in such a time of indie/cult riches again thanks to Vinegar Syndrome and their partner labels, Arrow, Radiance, Indicator, and others.

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reaky
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Re: 381-384 Mexico Macabre

#68 Post by reaky » Thu Jul 20, 2023 3:43 pm

SILVER NITRATE, a recent novel by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, sounds like the most apposite read imaginable for fans of this set. It even features a director called Urueta:

“Montserrat has always been overlooked. She’s a talented sound editor, but she’s left out of the boys’ club running the film industry in ’90s Mexico City. And she’s all but invisible to her best friend, Tristán, a charming if faded soap opera star, though she’s been in love with him since childhood.

“Then Tristán discovers his new neighbor is the cult horror director Abel Urueta, and the legendary auteur claims he can change their lives—even if his tale of a Nazi occultist imbuing magic into highly volatile silver nitrate stock sounds like sheer fantasy. The magic film was never finished, which is why, Urueta swears, his career vanished overnight. He is cursed.

“Now the director wants Montserrat and Tristán to help him shoot the missing scene and lift the curse . . .”

https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/63249718

everygrainofsand
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Re: 381-384 Mexico Macabre

#69 Post by everygrainofsand » Thu Aug 24, 2023 6:43 am

The effusive praise on this thread - together with terrific feedback I was given by a guy on blu-ray.com - has convinced me to take a punt and buy Mexico Macabre. It will be my first foray into Mexican horror - at least pre-90s Mexican horror/fantasy - and I'm really quite excited at the prospect. Plus, I missed out on Indicator's terrific limited edition of Night of the Demon - which looked to be a real swell set - and I don't want to regret missing out on this one too!

I love classic B-movie horror, be it the old Lewtons or the British stuff like Night of the Demon (albeit I'm sure it was an UK-US co-production). There's a decidedly cosy chill unique to the oldies that goes down a treat on a dark Sunday night. I most recently thrilled at The Leopard Man, and afterwards noted it's a real shame there's no organised blu-ray set for the Lewton films. The old Warner DVD box was utterly sublime, right down to Mr Scorsese's excellent documentary "The Man In The Shadows". The lack of a blu-ray equivalent is glaringly felt.

So again, thanks to everyone for their contributions on this thread. They really helped a newbie like me make up his mind to try this new (to me) flavour in classic horror!

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Matt
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Re: 381-384 Mexico Macabre

#70 Post by Matt » Thu Aug 24, 2023 10:29 am

You will not be disappointed!

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MichaelB
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Re: 381-384 Mexico Macabre

#71 Post by MichaelB » Fri Aug 25, 2023 4:29 pm

Given your tastes, I’d be astounded if you didn’t love this set.

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Finch
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Re: 381-384 Mexico Macabre

#72 Post by Finch » Thu Sep 21, 2023 9:52 am

The US set is apparently now OOP because MifuneFan at BR has seen listings for individual releases for October 24.

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swo17
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Re: 381-384 Mexico Macabre

#73 Post by swo17 » Thu Sep 21, 2023 10:20 am

For now, the US edition is still available both from Amazon and direct from Powerhouse

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