Argentina has always had a strong and historic presence in the world of cinema over the years. Now, thanks to the DVD rental market, one can enter into this macabre and strange world of Latin horror in Argentina.
Walter Kliche and Susana Beltran star in the Argentine vampire film, “Blood of the Virgins”
Argentine filmmaker, Emilio Vieyra, was one of the earliest pioneers of horror in the southern hemisphere. His last exploration into the horror genre was his film, “Blood of the Virgins” (1967). It is a wild 1960's exploitation film that combines horror, go-go dancing, and a distinct Latin flavor. While on vacation, a group of young swingers experiences car trouble. They seek shelter at an abandoned mountain lodge, only to fall victim to a very lonely pair of vampires. It is still the only vampire film that Argentina has ever been produced as of this date.
In more recent years, many of these small budgeted horror gems from Argentina can now be rented through Netflix and purchased at Amazon. Daniel De La Vega, Demian Rugna, and Sergio Esquenazi are some of the Argentine filmmakers who continue to make their films despite the difficulties they have faced with small budgets and tight production schedules.
Gina Philips and Faye Dunaway star in the Argentine horror film, “Jennifer’s Shadow” (Chronicle of the Raven)
Daniel de la Vega has made some of the most interesting horror films over the past few years. His work as a director includes “Jennifer’s Shadow” (Chronicle of the Raven) (2004). American actress Jennifer Cassi (Gina Philips) travels to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to claim inheritance of her recently deceased twin sister’s house, only to find herself in conflict against her grandmother Mary Ellen (Faye Dunaway). Jennifer soon realizes she has an illness that has taken the lives of her family, painfully caused by ravens coming into her dreams and stealing her organs. Convinced it is her grandmother’s doing, she must try to stay alive and destroy the evil consuming her. This film brings the audience into another world by combining both horror and haunting Buenos Aires locations which concludes with a shocking ending.
Rodrigo Aragon star in the Argentine horror film, “Death Knows Your Name”
His follow-up film, “Death Knows Your Name” (2007) tells the tale of a psychiatrist, Bruce Taylor (Rodrigo Aragon) who finds a skull that has been buried deep within the tunnels of an insane asylum … only to discover that it is his own. Hitchcockian camera angles and special effects make this one worth watching. Daniel is currently working on a documentary called, “Bathory: A Cruelty Portrait” which detail the life of a bloody countess.
Rodrigo Aragon and Salome Boustani star in the Argentine horror film, “The Last Gateway”
Demian Rugna made his directorial feature debut in the horror film, “The Last Gateway” (2007). Michael (Rodrigo Aragon) and Marianne (Salome Boustani), recently married, come to discover that their peaceful lives are about to be turned upside down. Michael discovers he has a gateway to hell … hidden deep within his stomach. There are those who are not only after the gateway, but want to escape from hell, through the same doorway. And so the nightmare begins. Shot on a very small budget, this film has good production values and interesting special effects. Demian is currently working on a new project called, “Maltidos Sean”!
Santiago Pedero and Sandra Ballesteros star in the Argentine horror film, "Winter Visitor"
Sergio Esquenazi has also made a number of horror films including “Interference” (2005), “Número 8” (2007), and “Winter Visitor” (Visitante de Invierno) (2007). In the film, “Winter Visitor”, Ariel Lambert (Santiago Predero), a twenty year old, who is advised to rest in a quiet place after a psychiatric episode. He travels with his mother and sister to Villa Mar, small seaside resort, which is practically deserted at that time of the year. Slowly, Ariel discovers that children go into a house nearby, and they never come out again. Is this happening for real? Or is it only a figment of Ariel's sick mind? There will be only one way to find out: Ariel will have to go into the house himself. This film will make you want to jump out of your seats but you’ll remain to the very last frame. Sergio has just recently completed a new horror film called, “They Want My Eyes” (2009).
A few other notable Argentine filmmakers to mention … Adrian Garcia Bogliano’s “36 Pasos” (2007) as well as Sergio Mazurek’s “Lo Sienestro” (2009).
A number of these filmmakers are part of an underground movement whose work can be discovered at the Buenos Aires Rojo Sangre Film Festival which takes place every November. There you will see films made in both English and Spanish that delve into the horror, fantastic, and the bizarre.
Many of these young directors have begun to make the leap into bigger productions that are designed for a worldwide theatrical release. Besides Argentina, a new movement of Latin American horror films has come out of Chile, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain and other places. And this movement is gaining attention from distribution companies around the world.
Some of these Argentine films may be hard to find. However, if one loves mystery, suspense, horror and thrills … perhaps a trip to a local DVD store in Buenos Aires might allow you to discover horror films that are both interesting and shocking.
There will be blood!
Joseph D. Peters is a filmmaker who writes, produces and directs. His recent feature film projects have brought him to explore his South American roots in Colombia as well as his interest in shooting in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Uruguay. You can visit his website at … www.josephdpeters.com