Friday, September 19, 2008

You've Earned It

Y'all have indulged me with my beloved crappy movies, so now I'm going to treat you to a review of a real classic. It's still offbeat in that Rocket Jones way you've come to dread know and love, but it's a classic nonetheless.

I've mentioned how much I love Mexican horror movies, and this time we've got a Mexican horror cowboy movie! Give it a chance, amigos. Hang with me a bit longer.

Casa Negra has released The Living Coffin, aka El Grito de la Muerte. It's got everything a good cowboy movie needs. We've got the young, handsome and hyper-competent law officer, accompanied by his trusty sidekick and his horse. This time around, the sidekick is a pudgy coonskin-cap wearing Indian named Crazy Coyote, more aptly named Dozing Narcoleptic. I don't recall ever hearing the law man's name, very Eastwood-esque. His horse, in the best Roy Rogers tradition, is more a partner than mere transportation, being able to perform tricks and tasks based on whistles from the cowboy. Very handy beast to have around in a tight spot, as you'll discover.

We also have the lovely young lady and her dilemma that the handsome stranger gets involved in. This time it's the undead! Specifically, her aunt who's come back to terrorize the area as the Weeping Woman. This is now the fourth movie I've watched that specifically mentions the Weeping Woman, so I'm guessing that this legend is to Mexico as the Boogie Man is to the US.

Meanwhile, back at the hacienda, you've got your bad guys, a mysterious swamp full of quicksand and all the usual cowboy movie fun to go along with the nicely-done horror aspects of the story. You'll recognize the sets from other classic Casa Negra releases. The living room, the courtyard, the crypts and even the village appear in other movies, dressed up enough to not be obvious, but the architectural details are striking enough to be recognizable. Hell, I'd have used them as often as possible too, they're that good. These films are terrifically atmospheric, in large part thanks to the lighting techniques. The lighting is not subtle like American films tend to be, but it's not amateurish. It's distinctive and works very well.

Once again, Casa Negra has released a beautiful and clear print. The sound quality is a little weak, but since I watch these movies with the subtitles on I'm listening more for the musical score than the words. I'm also wondering about the quality of the translation of the english subtitles, since the sidekick is referred to as "Crazy Coyote", yet the box lists him as "Crazy Wolf". A few of the subtitles seemed a little off, but not enough to detract from the story. They're also printed in white text with a blue outline, which I hated at first. As the story progressed I found that this style was very easy to read, regardless of the background. That's the important thing. For you heathens who cannot deal with subtitles, there's a dubbed english track available, and as usual Casa Negra offers all menus in english or spanish. All in all, another wonderful release from Casa Negra.

Bottom line: I grew up with these movies, I love them. I now own several of these classic Casa Negra releases. Try a rental or toss one on top of your Netflix queue and see if they don't float your boat. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.