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El Grito de la Muerte (1958); The Living Coffin
Topic Started: Oct 9 2017, 05:37 PM (135 Views)
Laughing Gravy
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El Grito de la Muerte (a/k/a The Living Coffin) (1958) Dir. Fernando Méndez

Alameda Films
72 min. / Color / 1.37:1

On DVD from CasaNegra (with English Dubbed version or English Subtitles)

ITB Shock Theatre #213

Well, HERE'S somethin' ya don't see everyday, pardner.

A cowboy rides into town with his fat, comic sidekick only the cowboy is REALLY a secret government marshal lookin' for some desperadoes who've holed up in their secret gold mine. (Okay, THIS kinda thing we've seen before.) Only get this: the town is under the Curse of the Crying Woman, the terrifying Mexican legend about a lady who died of a broken heart mourning her two drowned children and then returns in the night, looking and crying out for them. Sure enough, there's a VERY scary Crying Woman out in the darkness terrorizing and killing, but our marshal fella has a crazy idea that just mebbe she's in the employ of his desperadoes, who are tryin' to keep folks from findin' their mine. A few saloon brawls, comic bits from the sidekick, and extremely creepy moments later, we'll find out for sure.

I enjoyed this a lot, but then, I've liked all the Mexican horror films I've watched over the past several years. It's different because it's a western and because it's the first one I've seen in color; had it come a few years later, I'd have accused 'em of rippin' off Corman's Poe pictures: there's even a lady so afraid of death she has an alarm buried with her so she can ring it if she "wakes up"!

Gastón Santos is our star, and he wears a buckskin outfit with matchin' shoes and hat and I'm a-wonderin' if'n he didn't make other westerns, inasmuch as he uses his real name as his character name, just like Roy and Gene and Wild Bill (and Shemp, for that matter). His horse (who receives second billing, and rightly so - one could argue, based on the heroics he performs during the course of the film, if he shouldn't have been top billed) is called Raya de Plata, and I'll save you the trouble: it means "Silver Streak", and sure enough, the darn horse sure comes across as silvery in the color film. Gastón is good enough in the film, kinda has an Alan Ladd aura about him, and I'll be honest: I'm glad he didn't sing. Pedro de Aguillón is the fat, kinda funny sidekick, called (get this) "Coyote Loco"; he wears what appears to be a Davy Crockett hat made out of either coyote or grey squirrel (hard to tell up there). María Duval is our lovely heroine, whose name must be and is "María Elena García" (who were you expecting, Gladys Schwartenheimer?).

Million-dollar Dialog:
Coyote Loco to Maria Elena, eight seconds after the Crying Woman has just strangled somebody: "Why do you scream like that? Old ladies are harmless!"

The CasaNegra DVD is very good, the colors are rather closer to the old 2-strip Technicolor than the vibrancy we'd hope for, but hey, it was Mexico in the mid-1950s. Lay off. Includes a photo gallery and a text history of Mexican cowboy/horror films (yes, apparently, there were others). As with all the CasaNegra films, we watched part in English (K. Gordon Murray dub-job) but then started over with Spanish and English subtitles.

A fun movie as part of our 31 Halloween Horrors festival.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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