A Double Dose of Santo and Blue Demon

For American moviegoers weaned on comic books and superheroes like Superman, Batman and The Hulk, the names El Santo and Blue Demon might not be as familiar. But in Mexico, they are major cultural icons. They were the main attractions in a popular film genre known as the lucho libre (wrestling hero movies) but had first established themselves as bona-fide professional wrestlers. In real life, Santo and Blue Demon were often rivals in the ring but they teamed up on the screen nine times and two of their most representative features together are Santo y Blue Demon vs. Dracula y el Hombre Lobo (Santo and Blue Demon vs. Dracula and the Wolf Man, 1973) and Santo y Blue Demon contra el Doctor Frankenstein (Santo and Blue Demon vs. Dr. Frankenstein, 1974), which are good entry points for beginners.

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Carlos Enrique Taboada’s Poison for the Fairies

The film poster for the Mexican supernatural chiller POISON FOR THE FAIRIES (1986).

Most film historians point to a timeline between 1957 through 1967 as the Golden Age of Mexican horror cinema. This was a period that produced such iconic titles as El Vampiro (1957), The Black Pit of Dr. M (1959), The Brainiac (1962) and Dr. Satan (1966). The country’s film industry continued to make horror and fantasy films through the seventies and beyond, of course, but the majority of them tended to be cheaper productions in which masked wrestlers like Santo and Blue Demon battled a variety of monsters. A welcome exception to this popular but overworked formula are the horror films of Carlos Enrique Taboada, which were more subtle and suggestive in comparison like the atmospheric chillers Val Lewton produced for RKO Pictures in the forties. An outstanding example of Taboada’s original approach to the genre is Veneno para las hadas (English title: Poison for the Fairies, 1986), which is less of a supernatural thriller and more of an exploration of evil in the tradition of The Bad Seed (1956) and The Other (1972).

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