To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, and to crossover with Haelloween, we’re bringing you a list of 22 Hispanic Horror movies (and a couple thrillers) to keep your heart rate up and celebrate the quality genre cinema coming out all over the world. You’ll note a distinct absence of GDT here. Not because we don’t celebrate him here at AE, but because he tends to dominate a lot of these lists and we wanted to lift up some gems you may not have seen. Check it out, and let us know what your favourite Hispanic horror movies are!
Penumbra (2011, Argentina)
Directed by: Adrián García Bogliano, Ramiro García Bogliano
The world of real estate is cutthroat – only the sharpest and shrewdest survive. Penumbra is a slice of apartment horror out of Argentina that holds a spooky lunar twist. If you stepped outside with your special glasses to view the last total solar eclipse, you might be interested in this story of a real estate agent who sells an apartment to a strange man who’s involved in something truly bizarre having to do with the upcoming eclipse. Every actor in this one is going hard, and the ending doesn’t pull any punches – it leaves a lasting mark even if it only has you asking, “What was that movie where…?” six years later. It happened to me.
The Similars (2016, Mexico)
Directed by: Isaac Ezban
Featured in our first Nightmother’s Unholy Matrimony post, The Similars is a zany, sometimes funny, sometimes disturbing story of a group of people trapped in a train station on a particularly blustery evening. As time goes on their identities become unclear and paranoia hits a truly bizarre peak. Sit back and enjoy the Twilight Zone tone of this Mexican horror flick by Isaac Ezban. Ezban consistently puts forth unique and captivating premises, from The Incident to The Parallel, currently in post-production but sounding just as promising as the rest.
Who Can Kill a Child (1976, Spain)
Directed by: Narciso Ibáñez Serrador
Evil kids. Who doesn’t love evil kids? This gem from 1976 tells the story of a happy couple, two English tourists who decide to vacation on a secluded island in the Mediterranean. There they discover – almost too late- that the island has been taken over by a group of murderous children. Will they escape? What about their unborn baby? Besides having that distinctive ’70s feel (it feels so good) it’s just cheesy enough to balance out the shock from some of the more gruesome killings by children. At least, that scene with the corpse pinata isn’t going to be soon forgotten.
The House at the End of Time (2013, Venezuela)
Directed by: Alejandro Hidalgo
The House at the End of Time is a crowd-pleaser. Not only is it Venezuela’s highest-grossing horror film, it’s also the most distributed film from the country. This is a supernatural story about Dulce (Ruddy Rodríguez) a woman who served 30 years in prison for a murder she didn’t commit. But who did? Still grieving the loss of her family, she returns to the home where it all took place to prove that they were never alone there after all. A phenomenal balance of time travel, ghosts, and drama makes this one a must-see. The House at the End of Time is getting an (unnecessary) remake, but Hidalgo is still at the wheel so its chances of success are high. Either way, I’ll be seeing it in theatres the moment it’s available.
Here Comes the Devil (2012, Mexico)
Directed by: Adrián García Bogliano
One of the sexier picks on this list, and the second directed by Adrián García Bogliano, is Here Comes the Devil. During a family vacation, a couple’s two children briefly disappear into a vaginal cave. Panic ensues, guilt rises, and when the kids return there’s something… different about them. At first assuming their strange behaviour is a result of a terrible assault, the couple begin to fear something even worse when they begin to pay attention to local legends. Mexico has the best local legends.
Still Life (2014, Argentina)
Directed by: Gabriel Grieco
One of the things Argentina is best known for is its BBQ. This slasher takes place in a small cattle town where people in the industry have begun to go missing. A journalist aims to find out the truth for her big break, but what she’ll find is a perfectly grungy slasher of epic proportions. Still Life features disturbing animal footage, and is not for the faint of heart. But you’re not faint of heart, are you? You’re here. With Nightmother.
We Are What We Are (2010, Mexico)
Directed by: Jorge Michel Grau
We Are What We Are is on every global horror list with good reason. There aren’t enough well-told stories about cannibalism that find the perfect balance between the consumption of ripe human flesh and the narrative of its effect on the family. In this case, the death of a father leaves a family to decide who will lead them on their bloody rampage in time for “the ritual”. Bonus: the 2013 remake is pretty good, too.
The Baby’s Room (2006, Spain)
Directed by: Álex de la Iglesia, James Phillips
The Baby’s Room is one film featured on Six Films to Keep You Awake at Night, and is easily the most impressive and memorable of the bunch. A new family renovates and moves into a grand old house. Nervous first-time mom installs a baby monitor but hears mysterious sounds on the other side. Once they install a high-tech video baby monitor, what they see chills them to the bone. Its twisted story line is sure to stick in your memory and make you think twice about what you’d do for your family and how you might negotiate with a strange being.
Cronicas (2004, Ecuador)
Directed by: Sebastián Cordero
Forgive the bad trailer you’re sure to come across. One of several picks featuring journalists uncovering way too much information, Cronicas stars John Leguizamo investigating a serial killer in Ecuador. Said killer happens to go by the very cool name of “The Monster of Babahoyo” but commits the most heinous of crimes: the sexual assault and murder of children. During his investigation, Manolo meets a man who has insider information on the killer, maybe a little too much information. Cronicas was produced by Guillermo del Toro (the man needs no introduction) and Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men) and was both a Cannes and TIFF favourite. Check it out, it might be your next one, too.
Sleep Tight (2011, Spain)
Directed by: Jaume Balagueró
Sleep Tight is an absolutely chilling twist on the home invasion idea – the kind that happens right under your nose without your knowledge, repeatedly, every night, with the perpetrator greeting you with a smile every morning. This is an unmissable story about a man seeking happiness by ripping it away from others. The creep factor is out of control with this one thanks to the surprisingly competent performance of Luis Tosar who plays both sides of the coin with equal dedication and earnestness. Don’t sleep on this pick.
Alucarda (1977, Mexico)
Directed by: Juan López Moctezuma
Alucarda is classic nunsploitation and a must-see for fans of the subgenre. The film revels in dramatic possession, lesbianism, and supreme teen angst combining for an indulgent watch just in time for Halloween. Nobody does witches in horror like Mexico, a combination of local folklore and an earthy, mystical aesthetic bring them to life in a fresh and foreboding way. At least for 1977. Did I mention the melodrama?
El Vientre (2014, Peru)
Directed by: Daniel Rodríguez Risco
Pregnancy is crazy. It changes everything, and affects the way people relate to one another. One of the best (worst?) ways this is examined in the genre is when a pregnant woman is stalked/tormented/murdered by another woman who really, really wants her baby. I don’t get it, but here we are. Peru put its stake in the claim with El Vientre, the story of a beautiful widow who really, really wants a baby and ignores all sane and reasonable means to obtain one.
We Are the Flesh (2016, Mexico)
Directed by: Emiliano Rocha Minter
It’s rare to find films as beautifully disturbing as We Are the Flesh. It’s absolutely swimming in atmosphere, but its content will turn a lot of people off. The setup is vague: a strange, poetic vagrant is living in an abandoned building where he makes gasoline and does some interesting interior decorating. A brother and sister stumble upon his sanctuary and quickly become part of his demented, perverted game in exchange for food and shelter. I personally can’t stop talking and thinking about this one. Interested? Check out our first shocked and confused review, and then check out our better, more thoughtful review here.
To Kill a Man (2014, Chile)
Directed by: Alejandro Fernández Almendras
Revenge thrillers are generally accessible because of their ability to get the audience to ultimately accept whatever horrific acts of violence are sure to follow. To Kill a Man is a quiet and stylish revenge thriller of the highest calibre from Chile. When a family is threatened and assaulted by a local gang, a docile family man decides to take matters into his own hands. But killing a man is easier said than done, and watching a family slowly break down around tragedy is surprisingly compelling. To Kill a Man boasts an all-around strong cast and some truly tense scenes to hold your breath to. As a bonus, it looks really, really good.
Timecrimes (2007, Spain)
Directed by: Nacho Vigalondo
Vigalondo has a tidy number of successful and beloved films under his belt. One of these, that deserves much more conversation than it gets, is Timecrimes. What if you could step outside of your life and view it as an observer? This is what happens to Héctor when he stumbles into a time machine that takes him back only one hour. This minuscule difference is enough to wreak havoc on his entire life and cause a chain reaction of personal disasters. Sufficiently tense and creepy, Timecrimes keeps you guessing while using the best aspects of multiple genres. Check out our full review here.
The Witch’s Mirror (1962, Mexico)
Directed by: Chano Urueta
The oldest flick featured on this list, The Witch’s Mirror is beloved black and white classic that tells the spooky tale of an ethereal being emerging from a mirror to exact revenge. This Mexican favourite presents some of the most strikingly beautiful imagery but it is a product of its time, so its effects leave you wanting. Still, the story of a man getting his comeuppance is never dull, and you’ll find yourself cheering at its melodrama and black magic.
Thesis (1996, Spain)
Directed by: Alejandro Amenábar
Another gem featured in our monthly Unholy Matrimony post, Thesis is the type of horror film that confronts you with your complicity in violence simply by watching. Angela is doing her thesis on the effect of violence in the media when she discovers a snuff film. This discovery leads her down a dark path where she must confront her greatest fears and question everybody around her. Amenábar is a recognized name on this list for such films as The Sea Inside and Regression, and he’s shown he has a knack for horror with this and The Others. Hopefully he makes more like that soon.
Olalla (2015, Bolivia)
Directed by: Amy Hesketh
This one’s for all you vamp fans out there – Olalla is a provocative Bolivian vampire film with a twist. As if needing to feast on human blood isn’t enough, this bizarre family discovers the only way to continue their lineage is through incest. The family enjoys decadence and desire in equal measure, only mixing with the outside world with disastrous consequences. Olalla examines ideas not for the squeamish. Hesketh snubs genre staples in this brightly-lit gothic story that’s sure to find outlier indie fans. I’m not gonna lie – it’s really weird.
Witching and Bitching (2013, Spain)
Directed by: Álex de la Iglesia
If you can excuse some questionable CGI in the third act, you can have a blast with Witching and Bitching. It starts off high-octane with a robbery and never stops, keeping you laughing during any lulls in horror. When criminals on the run (with a child in tow) seek shelter in the village Zugarramurdi, they find more than they bargained for with a motley crew of modern-day witches. Witching and Bitching is a ton of fun that doesn’t shy away from complex female roles, delighting in evil and the feminine divine.
Wekufe: The Origin of Evil (2016, Chile)
Directed by: Javier Attridge
Found footage isn’t dead! Matius and Paula are traveling to a small Patagonian island to investigate the origin of the rise in sex crimes and what the local legends might have to do with it. They’re sort of working together, at least in the way people who take advantage of compromise do. She’s working on a news report for University, he wants to make a horror movie. Both of their dreams will come true when they encounter more than they bargained for. Delicious occult imagery makes Wekufe a must-see for especially curious and adventurous viewers.
In a Glass Cage (1986, Spain)
Directed by: Agustí Villaronga
As disturbing as We Are the Flesh ends up being, it is nothing compared to the moral ambiguity and horror found in In a Glass Cage. It’s not fair to compare them, but the feelings they illicit are remarkably similar and each brought the other to mind. The story of the latter is a harder sell: a retired nazi doctor who specialized in experimenting on children in concentration camps – and finding sexual fulfillment in the torture of them – is confined to an iron lung after a botched suicide attempt. A strange and sinister boy appears to assist in his care and rehabilitation with mysterious motives. John Waters’ famous quote about this movie says it all: “In a Glass Cage is a great film, but I’m scared to show it to my friends.” The film is shot with an incredible, artistic eye and its message is powerful, somehow never being obscured by the deeply uncomfortable scenes throughout. But you might want to watch it alone.
At the End of the Spectra (2006, Colombia)
Directed by: Juan Felipe Orozco
Yes! Another apartment horror story! At the End of the Spectra stars a young woman Vega (Noëlle Schönwald) who has become agoraphobic due to a traumatic incident. holed up in her apartment, she begins to suffer from hallucinations, paranoia and an obsessive neighbour. These are all the best ingredients for a tightly-shot and memorable horror movie that relies on its cast and writing to make the limited location work. And believe me, it does. This one has a Mexican remake called Devil Inside, and there were once rumours about an American remake starring Nicole Kidman, but it seems it was never meant to be. Thankfully we still have this original out of Colombia.
Featured Image: Film Factory Entertainment (Witching and Bitching)