Crypt of Terror: Horror from South of the Border Vol. 1 & 2 (DVD)
Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Pedro Fernández (Vacation of Terror), Joaquín Cordero (Vacation of Terror 2), Miguel Ángel Rodríguez (Demon Rat), Charly Valentino (Hell's Trap), Jon Michael Bischof (Don't Panic), Hugo Stiglitz (Cemetery of Terror), Fernando Almada (Grave Robbers)
Directed by René Cardona III (Vacation of Terror), Pedro Galindo III (Vacation of Terror 2), Rubén Galindo Jr. (Demon Rat), Pedro Galindo III (Hell's Trap), Rubén Galindo Jr. (Don't Panic), Rubén Galindo Jr. (Cemetery of Terror), Rubén Galindo Jr. (Grave Robbers)
Both distributed by BCI/Deimos Entertainment
With American cinemas packed to the gills with PG-13 rated tripe, flaccid remakes, pointless sequels, and just plain bad movie after bad movie, sometimes you have to look elsewhere for some quality entertainment. Then again, I guess that depends on what your definition of "quality" is. The films contained in Volume One of the Crypt of Terror: Horror from South of the Border collection are not great movies. Truth be told, they're barely passable by any standards, but the one thing that they are is mindless dumb fun that will have you in stitches.
Things kick off with Vacation of Terror. After buying a summer home in the Mexican countryside, a family gets more than they bargained for when their daughter discovers a mysterious doll apparently left behind by the previous owner. Turns out the doll contains the spirit of a witch who cursed it, and it's not long before said witch takes control of the chica and forces her to try and kill her family. YAY! Thankfully the day is saved because an Indian witch doctor was hungry to trade a protective amulet for a Walkman. I shit you not. Thoughtless, bloodless, and for the most part thoroughly silly, Vacation of Terror only entertains through its absolute absurdity.
But wait ... it's time for Vacation of Terror 2! The witch is back, and she's no longer content with being a doll. Instead she turns into a lizard-like monster that terrorizes folks during a Halloween birthday bash in a closed film studio. This is one of those rare times when the sequel outdoes its source material in every way. In fact, I'd venture to say it is the Godfather II of bad Mexican horror. The ante is upped in atmosphere, schlock, and even some gore! Olé!
Onward to another strange little vehicle that's for whatever reason not listed on the box: 1992's Demon Rat. In a bleak future in which plutonium dumping has been legalized, a giant humanoid rat carves itself a bloody trail while we are the ones feasting upon the cheese. Not bad! It's no Of Unknown Origin, but hey, this is basically a bonus flick so who cares?
From there we enter ... Hell's Trap *cues spooky music*! Viva la Mexican slasher flick! Several campers head out into the woods to find a bear who has been thought to be eating people (lights a tiny candle for Stephen Colbert), but it turns out a big hungry furry is the least of their troubles. There's another evil entity haunting these woods -- ladies and gentleman, glut your soul on the poor man's Michael Myers! While not overly violent, this flick's deaths still pack an interesting punch. Hell's Trap is pure unadulterated grade-B entertainment.
At this point in the seven-film set, I couldn't imagine what was next, but nothing could have prepared me for Don't Panic! Now this ... this is just bad. Sort of entertaining in a "holy shit this is cheesy" way, but still very bad. Basically this follows the same kind of storyline as Vacation of Terror, but you can swap the family for friends and the doll for a Ouija board. And what does said Ouija summon you're wondering? A sort of Mexican Freddy known here only as Virgil. Oh my aching head. Four down, two more to go.
It's time to visit the Cemetery of Terror, and honestly, this was a trip worth taking! After being invited to a thought-to-be-swanky party, three chicks come to find out that their final destination is actually an abandoned house on cemetery grounds. What could go wrong? Well, after dabbling with black magic, the group manages to reanimate not only a psycho killer's body but a throng of hungry zombies. Simply put, this is the gem of the whole collection. The reason to buy and the reason to watch. If you're an Eighties horror fan, this is your nirvana. I wish I were done writing just so I could go watch this again!
Things are finally wrapped up in this set with Grave Robbers, and though it's not as good as Cemetery of Terror, this little slice of Mexican hell still whips a serious amount of ass. A group of graverobbing teens decide to steal from the tomb of a serial killing Satanist who was executed around the time of the Inquisition. Unfortunately for them he rises from the grave, complete with huge battle axe to collect what was stolen from him. I've got to applaud the gore here. Limbs are hacked, heads go flying, and bodies are eviscerated with reckless abandon. I couldn't be happier.
Volume One of the Crypt of Terror: Horror from South of the Border is a bountiful collection of flicks from the Eighties (three are from Nineties) that are sure to entertain and please horror fans the world over. Good cheesy stuff! Though there are no extras to speak of, you cannot beat the value of this set. Invite some friends over and bust out the beers!
Starring José Elías Moreno (Night of the Bloody Apes), Elvira Quintana (Curse of the Doll People), Beatriz Aguirre (Spiritism), Arturo de Córdova (New Invisible Man), Lorena Velázquez (Wrestling Women vs. The Aztec Mummy), Armando Silvestre (Doctor of Doom)
Directed by René Cardona (Night of the Bloody Apes), Benito Alazraki (Curse of the Doll People), Benito Alazraki (Spiritism), Alfredo B. Crevenna (New Invisible Man), René Cardona (Wrestling Women vs. The Aztec Mummy), René Cardona (Doctor of Doom)
Volume Two of the Crypt of Terror: Horror from South of the Border collection goes in a completely different direction than the last box set. Instead of several films from the Eighties, here we celebrate classic Mexican horror at its goofy finest! Strap in, folks; we're in for a long night of luche libre and silly monsters! Arríba!
Prepare yourself, dearest viewer, for The Night of the Bloody Apes. Honestly, do movie titles get better than that? It makes me think of meat cleavers and Chuck Heston screaming about a madhouse. While we don't get anything nearly as colorful as that, we do get an interesting little movie about a dude who turns into an ape-like killer after his dad gives him an ape-to-human heart transplant. You just can't make this shit up. Oh wait ... anyways ... back in its day The Night of the Bloody Apes caused a bit of a stir because it featured footage of an actual heart transplant. That and a copious amount of boobs and of course -- wrestling! It just doesn't get much more fun or ridiculous than this!
That is, of course, unless you take Curse of the Doll People into account. After four men are cursed by a voodoo priest for stealing a sacred doll from his house of worship, an army of murderous little doll people who are hopped up on habaneros are sent after our sticky-fingered quartet to kill and become their victims. Without giving away too much, this little flick has an ending you really have to see to believe. Really, I just can't put it into words! Your laughter alone will be loud enough to wake the dead.
Spiritism, the third feature in this set, is a Mexican take on the famous tale The Monkey's Paw and turns out to be a just passable effort. Available for the first time on DVD, Spiritism relies too much on talky dialogue and Ouija board based hokum to capture the attention of the viewer. While not without a few redeeming qualities, some of the ghost stuff is truly creepy, this little flick comes close to delivering the goose-bumpy goods but ultimately misses its mark. Pity.
Next up is the New Invisible Man, which for all intents and purposes is a Mexican remake of the 1940 sequel to Universal's original see-through shocker, The Invisible Man Returns. You know the drill: A serum is invented that turns its user invisible so that he may escape being charged for a crime didn't commit, but then insanity (invisibility's most famous side effect) creeps in, and before you know it, Mr. Innocent is terrorizing the countryside. I have to admit the New Invisible Man is far from a knock-off. It's packed with some amazing effects for its time and stands as a worthy addition to the franchise. I can almost feel the sour taste of Spiritism fading from my mouth!
The fifth feature found here is without question my favorite! Hold on to your asses, kids, it's time for Wrestling Women vs. The Aztec Mummy! Behold chicken fried cinema gold! This 1964 classic tells the story of a ladies tag team who are out to thwart the sinister plans of an evil Asian who indulges in mind control and murder to try and find the treasures of the Aztecs. Of course along the way one of my absolute favorite looking Mummies (who possesses the vampiric ability to turn into a bat) pops onto the scene to indulge in a three-way dance of murder, mayhem, and laughter. This flick and the next define this set.
Doctor of Doom closes out this must-have collection with a bang! Mad scientsists! Brain transplants! Superhuman wrestlers! A gorilla monster! Doctor of Doom has it all and then some. This should be at the top of your list when it comes to Mexican B-movie greatness.
The bottom line is this: These two DVD collections may be light on supplemental material, but they're heavy on everything else. At their bargain prices there's no reason not to own either or both of them. This is one cinema history lesson you're not going to mind taking, and it goes great with a side of chips and salsa!
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