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).

Continue reading

Beware of Japanese Cats

The avenging cat witch ghost is the star of Nobuo Nakagawa’s Black Cat Mansion aka Borei Kaibyo Yashiki (1958).

Every national cinema has their own homegrown subgenres and mythology when it comes to horror films and I think Japan has some of the most unique and bizarre creatures of all such as the hopping Umbrella ghost from Yokai hyaku monogatari (1968, aka The Hundred Monsters) or the rampaging stone idol of the Majin trilogy which began in 1966. Yet, in terms of eerie beauty and supernatural creepiness, I’m drawn to the bakeneko-mono stories from Japanese folklore with their shape-shifting cat demons and one of my favorites is Borei Kaibayo Yashiki (1958, aka Black Cat Mansion aka Mansion of the Ghost Cat).     Continue reading

There’s No Business like Zombie Business……

Poster - Zombies on Broadway_02In 1941, the unexpected success of Buck Privates – a whopping $10 million dollar B-movie blockbuster – officially launched the comedy team of Abbott and Costello who became Universal Studios’ most profitable film franchise for more than a decade (The duo made their debut in One Night in the Tropics (1940) in supporting roles but the musical comedy with top billed Allan Jones and Nancy Kelly was not a boxoffice hit). Naturally, it inspired other studios to follow suit but it wasn’t as easy as it looked. Case in point – Wally Brown and Alan Carney (no relation to Art Carney), two former nightclub comedians recruited by RKO for a series of low-budget farces beginning with The Adventures of a Rookie (1943), a blatant attempt to ape the formula of Buck Privates. For critics who thought the humor of Abbott and Costello was déclassé, Zombies on Broadway (194) was a further step down but perfect for eight year old boys who enjoyed the simple concept of two nitwits with one (Brown) assuming superiority over his dim bulb pal (Carney).   Continue reading