Directed by Isaac Ezban, Laurette Flores Bornn, Jorge Michel Grau, Ulises Guzman, Edgar Nito, Lex Ortega, Gigi Saul Guerrero, Aaron Soto
There’s a line in Mexico Barbaro that goes something like, “Drain the blood from your sister’s vagina or I’ll suck your soul out of your anus.” And that’s not the most outrageous thing that happens in this horror anthology that pulls from Mexican folklore, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and From Dusk Till Dawn, among others.
Mexico Barbaro is proudly off the wall, and it boasts horror tales that range from the modern (Tzompantli) to the Hitchcockian (Lo que importa es lo de adentro), to the Troma-like (La cosa mas preciada). That’s an advantage: the entirety of Mexico Barbaro is likely not for anyone, but there’s bound to be at least one entry in here that plays to any horror fan’s tastes.
The strongest entries in the anthology are the ones whose immediate sources are most difficult to identify. Ulises Guzman’s cleverly structured tale of post-mortem revenge, Siete veces siete, and Edgar Nito’s atmospheric, old-school Jaral de Berrios both fit that category. Though Nito’s film does have a broad sense of familiar creeping dread, its gorgeous photography, moody pacing, and relentless sound design make it unique.
Not without their scares, both films feature strong character relationships alongside the gore, and have payoffs that are simultaneously satisfying and brutal.
Then there are films like Drena, by Aaron Soto, from which the aforementioned quote is attributable, and La cosa mas preciada, by Isaac Ezban: the most absurd parts of the whole. Drena could be an anti-smoking ad. Know what happens when you pull the cigarette from a dead man’s fingers? Well, obviously, you’ll end up emptying your sister of her blood via her genitals when a stop motion figure of death tells you to do so. It’s better than lung cancer.
La cosa mas preciada uses the “young people alone in the woods to have sex” trope and combines it with something like The [Horny] Creature from the Black Lagoon. There’s lots of body fluid. Lots of screaming and stupid character decisions. And lots of creature sex. It’s maybe what you’d get if Roman Polanski had decided that Rosemary’s Baby should mostly consist of an elongated sex scene between Mia Farrow and the devil, and that said scene should be graphic and gross.
There’s a low budget quality to the gore in both (actually, in all) of these shorts. Soto’s and Ezban’s films revel in that, wholly unafraid to show off any budget limitations. Their films reach a hysterical sort of comedy – via similar climaxes – that work in a trashy horror kind of way.
It’d be pointless to call Mexico Barbaro uneven. It is, but it doesn’t matter. No film is really meant to build off the other and there’s a palpable sense of one-upmanship, though not necessarily in the order in which the films are shown.