Mexico’s film industry started in the late 1800’s when filmmaker Salvador Toscano Barragán made several short films. As the years passed the industry progressed and the first sound film was Santa in 1932. It wasn’t until the 1934 that the first Mexican horror movie hit the screens.
El fantasma del convento aka The Phantom of the Monastery was the first horror film to hit theatres in Mexico and it was quickly followed by three films from director Juan Bustillo Oro who is considered to be the father of Mexican horror movies. It wasn’t until the 1950’s that horror movies really took off in Mexico.
On top of the re-imagining of the Frankenstein myth with such films as El Monstruo resucitado, El vampiro (1957) became the first vampire movie that featured the classic vampire fangs (Universal never showed them) and paved the way for Hammer’s Dracula movie a few months later. The ’60s featured a ton of horror movies, some of them like The Curse of the Crying Woman (1961) (an excellent witch / ghost story), raised the level in horror film quality. Other films like the many Santo the lucha libre masked wrestler monster films lowered the level. But they are fun to watch in a bad movie kind of way.
There wasn’t much in the 1970’s or ’80s until up and coming filmmaker Guillermo del Toro made his creepy vampire feature film Cronos (1993). It messed around with the vampire myth. Instead of actually vampires, the source of vampirism comes from an ancient mechanical scarab that gives eternal life to the user but also a thirst for blood. Since then there has been a resurgence of horror including the excellent 2010 We Are What We Are which is getting the Hollywood remake treatment.
Today’s film is El vampiro. While not a groundbreaking vampire movie, it’s leaps and bounds better than the last few of the Universal Dracula films. A young woman is called home when her aunt is taken sick. Before the aunt passes she had been claiming that the estate had been under a vampire attack. Germán Robles is Count Karol de Lavud, a Hungarian count who is the vampire of the film. The movie is creepy and has some cool, eerie atmosphere added to the standard proceedings. One the victims ghost tries to warn the heroine and the fast editing for the count’s transformations works better than the attempts the old Universal movies made. One of the better non Dracula vampire movies.