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Crypt of Terror :: Horror From South of the Border Vol. 1

September 8th, 2011 by unkle lancifer · 19 Comments

While searching for an image of a possessed doll for a Name That Trauma, I came across the Mexican horror film VACATION OF TERROR. Further investigation led me to Amazon where I was happy to discover that said film was available in a set called CRYPT OF TERROR: HORROR FROM SOUTH OF THE BORDER VOL 1. Although intrigued, I wisely decided that I should not gamble my meager clams on a film I’d never seen before and so I walked away from the computer sad but proud of my will power. Before I could congratulate myself too much, I received an email invoice thanking me for my purchase! What?! I was only window-shopping! I knew I could easily dispute the sale but I decided to just let it go. Fate was clearly at work and it was best not to push against it because that causes adult acne. I imagined that I was meant to see VACATION OF TERROR and it turned out that I imagined right. Let’s hear it for happy mistakes!

VACATION OF TERROR (1989)

Lord do I love haunted house movies. VACATION begins with a witch being burned at the stake cursing revenge. We jump forward a couple hundred years and a family consisting of a ma and pa, two twin boys, a little girl, a babysitting teen niece and her affable beau (PEDRO FERNANDEZ) unleash the witch’s wrath when they seek R&R on her property and discover the doll she left behind in a well. The body count is zero but there is never a dull moment when the walls are bleeding, snakes and tarantulas are being hallucinated, refrigerators are teeming with rats, and folks start flying around and falling through mirrors. Rational sense is thrown to the birds and the special effects resemble a grade school play but, overall, I feel like I’m watching the Mexican version of CATHY’S CURSE and pigs only think they love slop when compared to the euphoria I find myself in. I never want to see a good move again; I know where I belong. V.O.T. is directed by RENE CARDONA III, the son of the guy who did 1978’s BERMUDA TRIANGLE and grandson of the guy who did NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES and ‘59s SANTA CLAUS. Talk about a dynasty! I sure hope there’s a RENE CARDONA IV.


VACATION OF TERROR 2: DIABOLICAL BIRTHDAY

Speaking of sequels, having enjoyed V.O.T. so much, I was beside myself with joy to see that my new DVD set came with its further installment. If it were half as good I’d be content enough, but my expectations were blown completely out of the water. Part 2 finds the niece’s boyfriend from the first film (PEDRO FERNANDEZ) off on his own adventure where he is again confronted by the dreaded witch doll! It gets better! The doll not only transforms from porcelain to felt muppet but it also splits at the seams and a giant lizard demon complete with tail pops out! Better still, the action takes place at a kids’ Halloween/ birthday party and our hero is joined by TATIANA, a Mexican pop star, who brings along her own TIFFANY-style musical number! Is this much fun legal? Lifting heavily from POLTERGEIST and ELM STREET, V.O.T.2 is non-stop, surreal lunacy with special effects that swing from awesome to infantile and back again and frankly, it’s a volcano of entertainment. Allow me to reiterate that it takes place on Halloween.

CEMETERY OF TERROR

Satisfied as I was with the VACATION movies, I had no right to expect my winning streak to continue and then came CEMETERY OF TERROR. It too takes place on Halloween and it too rocked my world. A bunch of teenagers steal a corpse not realizing the body is that of Mexico’s answer to Michael Myers, a bearded goon named Devlon. He’s even got a Loomis type following him around (NIGHTMARE CITY’s HUGO STIGLITZ) and he kills folks to the synth-beats of a faux-HALLOWEEN score! Just when you think things can’t get any more wonderful, a group of children happen upon the cemetery where Devlon was resurrected and are confronted by an army of THRILLER zombies! (One of the kids is even wearing a MICHAEL JACKSON jacket!) Yes, I’ve watched this one twice already and will be spinning it again in October.

GRAVE ROBBERS

Can I even take anymore? A hulking Satanist is put to death during the inquisition and held quiet by a hatchet removed hundreds of years later by group of grave robbing teens. This one appears to be inspired heavily by THE EVIL DEAD and FRIDAY THE 13TH (particularly JASON LIVES) and it really delivers the gore. I’ve always wondered what happened to the spirit of American horror films in the late eighties and now I believe that it obviously just jumped on over to Mexico. GRAVE ROBBERS is directed by the same guy who did CEMETERY OF TERROR (RUBEN GALIDO JR.) and it not only makes for a perfect companion piece, but it also shares some of the same cast. The killer with his trademark axe and hooded robe is highly memorable and what a shame he was not awarded a sequel!

HELL’S TRAP

This time a group of kids venture into the woods to compete in a bear hunt but instead find themselves being hunted by a crazed Vietnam vet. I wasn’t sure if I was going to dig the less supernatural set up of this one, but I was appeased to see my pal PEDRO from the V.O.T. films playing the lead role. HELL’S TRAP borrows a bit from RAMBO and PREDATOR; however, the killer is certainly slasher-inspired with his Freddy-style knife glove and the pale expressionless HALLOWEEN mask covering his scarred face. When utilizing home made traps a’la THE FINAL TERROR fails, he’s not afraid of disposing of multiple characters via sub machine gun and hand grenade. I usually prefer my horror gun-free but having disposed of several characters with his Freddy glove, I guess this guy has earned the right to bare arms. This one is directed by PEDRO GALINA JR., the gentleman responsible for V.O.T.’s wild sequel.

AND THE REST

This set may claim “3 Discs… Six films!” but it’s just being modest, there are actually 4 discs and 8 films. You also get DEMON RAT, which I’ll save for a rainy day, and two versions of DON’T PANIC which, for some strange reason, I didn’t care for but will give another try in the future. What a great find, especially if you can purchase them used. My beloved set cost me less than ten bucks!

If you believe enthusiasm trumps technique, if you don’t mind subtitles and can look past and/or adore makeshift effects and bombardments of hokiness, this is your dream ticket especially with Halloween fast approaching. If you are a fan of eighties horror, and feel as if you’ve been scrapping the barrel lately looking for new finds, it’s like striking oil and dancing under black rain.

Thank God I didn’t go back on this accidental purchase; oh what I would have missed.

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Tags: Caution: I break for geniuses! · Halloween · South of the Border Horrors




19 responses so far ↓

  • 1 TaylorNo Gravatar // Sep 8, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    I want these movies in my life.

  • 2 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Sep 8, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Taylor,

    To tell ya the truth, I think I undersold them. I tried not to go overboard because I know they’re not for everybody but for me personally we’re talking serious heaven. The Vacation movies are incredible fun but I’m head over heals with CEMETERY OF THE DEAD. It’s brilliant and I never want to see a blu ray or remaster of it ever. The way the film grain gets lost in the rain of the movie is too awesome. It looks like an old polaroid come to life. The ending is totally lifted from THE FOG too and the atmosphere you could eat with a spoon.

    I found out too late to include in the piece that the lead in three of these flicks Pedro Fernandez is a big star in Mexico and has had a music career since he was a kid and is still singing. Back in the eighties he had the coolest perm mullet ever!

    Buy this set while you can because I don’t think it’s still in print and I predict eventually everybody will realize that these films are genius and they’ll go up in price!

  • 3 Erin LashleyNo Gravatar // Sep 8, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    Did the movies have subtitles? I actually wanted to see Cemetery of Terror but the version I found previously was in Spanish. I’m always up for a horror DVD set purchase.

  • 4 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Sep 8, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    EL,

    They do have subtitles! You choose them as an option before the movie starts. Most of the dialogue consists of screaming though so there’s not a lot of reading!

  • 5 Amanda By NightNo Gravatar // Sep 8, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    You had me at Hugo Stiglitz.

    I’ll be honest, I kind of wish they were dubbed, as I’ve grown a fondness for all those Italian horror films with the crazy dubbing. I’m fine with subtitles though… I grew up on Bravo.

    These look completely amazing. I love the stills. Especially the one of that crazy looking bearded guy. That alone makes the discs worth their price.

  • 6 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Sep 8, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    ABN,

    I usually love me some dubbing too (I am particularly fond of the dubbing in HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY). This set includes both a dubbed and subtitled version of DON’T PANIC and I watched the dubbed one and it’s the only movie in the batch that I wasn’t crazy about so now I don’t know what to think. Maybe I should have watched it subtitled. Hmmm.

    I guess I just have a soft spot for the Spanish language. Unlike with Italian I feel as if I almost understand it. I may have even learned a few words! For example, I know bruja means witch now. That may help me if I am ever trapped in a Spanish haunted house with a bruja.

    Btw, you have to see the Halloween birthday cake in VOT 2: DIABOLICAL BIRTHDAY (best title ever)! It is incredible! Hopefully John’s going to make a video of it to post .

  • 7 cmcmcmcmNo Gravatar // Sep 8, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    wow. these look great! and, as usual, your review makes me want to watch them RIGHT NOW!

    i know i saw a clip of VOT on youtube – (i think you posted it in the comments of that doll name that trauma) – so i’ll check for the whole movie there to start.

  • 8 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Sep 9, 2011 at 12:16 am

    Cmcmcm, sadly the stuff on youtube is not subtitled and the picture is kinda rough but you just gave me an idea! I can show you the birthday cake in VOT:2…

    It is shown right after Tatiana finishes her song….

  • 9 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Sep 9, 2011 at 12:24 am

    Tatiana went on to host a kids show..

  • 10 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Sep 9, 2011 at 12:50 am

    Here is a live version of “chicos”…

  • 11 cmcmcmcmNo Gravatar // Sep 9, 2011 at 1:07 am

    oh man that cake is freaking amazing!

  • 12 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Sep 9, 2011 at 1:15 am

    I think it is the ultimate Halloween cake. The pop up ghost kills me and it’s got some kind of HI-C waterfall too. Also, (Spoiler alert!) The doll is hiding in the cake!!!

  • 13 EshbaalNo Gravatar // Sep 9, 2011 at 4:19 am

    That’s a CAKE!?

    Well, I am gonna have to get my hands on these now. I’ve seen screenshots of that guy from Hell’s Trap before, and he just looks so ridicilously cool!

  • 14 lee w.No Gravatar // Sep 9, 2011 at 10:42 am

    While not available for streaming, I am very happy to find that this whole set is available from Netflix! You better believe these are now in my queue!

  • 15 DarkstalkerNo Gravatar // Sep 9, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Hi, I loved your article about Vacaciones de Terror. Indeed that freaking doll was one of my first and deep kinder traumas ( along with Un Chien Andalou already posted here )
    Also this got so deep in my psyche because my mom kept her old beloved childhood doll in my closet. That doll still gives me the creeps, its face is all wax white and seems to have bruises all over it and a pair of grey deep eyes. Perfect for childhood nightamares after watching that movie when I was less than 7 years old.

  • 16 DarkstalkerNo Gravatar // Sep 9, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Also you may even look for some El Santo movies that ranged from the 1940´s to the 1960´s. They are cult movies even in Europe and they fall in a the Wrestler Movie subgenere.
    Some of those movies includes El Santo Vs Las Momias de Guanajuato, o El Santo VS Las Mujeres Vampiro among others.

  • 17 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Sep 9, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Thanks for the tips Darkstalker! Santo is cool! I’m so jealous that you got to see VOT as a kid! That doll would have freaked me out!

    Another Mexican horror flick I give high praises to is “Curse of the crying Woman” I love the la Llorona story!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Llorona

    In fact, I even did a painting of her…

    http://lancevaughan.com/images/paintings/large/cryinglady.jpg

  • 18 Edgar A. RamosNo Gravatar // Feb 17, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Oh man! You need to search for more Mexican horror such as “Mas Negro Que La Noche” (Darker Than Night”) and “Hasta el Viento Tiene Miedo” original version not the new version (Even The Wind is Scared) Those movies really freaked me out as a kid. Cementerio del Terror was released around the time when Thriller was at its best that’s why it didn’t scare me that much.

  • 19 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Feb 20, 2012 at 10:22 am

    Thanks for the tip Edgar! Mas Negro Que La Noche looks amazing!!! I must find that one!Hasta el Viento Tiene looks cool too. They are on youtube but I have to find subtitled versions! Thanks for telling me about these!

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