Saturday, October 17, 2020

Latin American Horror


This section will be covering most of Central and South America as well as the island nations in the Caribbean and for a grand total of thirty-three countries. Note: The countries listed below are ones who produced some pre-1990 genre films but not in excess of fifty so this is essentially the "Latin American (Other)" category for the less prolific countries. I'm also throwing in Puerto Rico. Though it's technically a U.S. dependency and not a country, it's the only one of the fourteen U.S., UK, French or Dutch dependencies in this region to have any horror productions prior to 1990 and even that was very minor. Film production was either completely nonexistent or at least next to nonexistent in most of these countries until the advent of easier and more affordable digital video technology here in recent years.

Many of these countries will be discounted right away. For starters, three managed to hit our 50 film threshold for their own sidebar button: Mexico (the most prolific film and TV production country in all of Latin America), Brazil (by far the highest-populated country at a population of 212+ million) and Argentina (thanks mainly to TV productions). Of the thirteen Caribbean countries, only one - Cuba - had their hand in pre-1990 genre films, so we can scratch twelve of the others off the list. What's mostly left are countries whose genre presence was limited to perhaps just a few or, in some cases, just one filmmaker carrying the torch for the entire country.

It's worth noting that many regions in Latin America were popular shooting locations for outside film crews. Various production companies, namely British, Italian and American ones, would often go to Jamaica, Haiti and other countries to film and take advantage of the scenery. Often local talent was tapped to work on these films. Italian Joe D'Amato even filmed an entire series of sleazy horror films in Dominican Republic, but these aren't technically Dominican productions even though they're sometimes falsely listed as such online.

Click on one of the flags below to learn more (not all links are currently open but will be soon)...

Angel of the Night (1986)

Directed by:
Richard Mailer

Mysterious temptress Angel (played by Angel aka Jennifer James) runs a bed-and-breakfast type establishment called “Angel's Retreat” where she seduces visitors into “a new way of thinking about sexuality” which is basically the same old way of thinking about sexuality by porn standards. She casts her spell on a married woman (Brittany Stryker), who feels powerless to her charms despite not typically being into women. It has something to do with her slipping on a sheer nightgown as well as Angel possessing some kind of hypnotic, otherworldly power. Three years pass and married couple Stan (Dan T. Mann) and Corky (Buffy Davis) Morgan buy the home and hope to restore it to its original splendor. Late one stormy night, they receive an unexpected visitor in Randolph Forsight (Paul Thomas), who, along with his late wife, used to frequent the retreat before Angel vanished into thin air. His wife died soon after. Her final wish was that he return a painting of Angel that she'd gifted her to the home. Two other unexpected guests arrive: Sleazebag Carlo Rivera (Eddie Marinara) and his cute wife Brenda (“Debbie Berle” / Sheena Horne). She's a distant relative of Angel's which makes Carlo think she may have some kind of legal claim to the home. Upon laying eyes on the portrait of Angel, Brenda passes out, which pretty much forces Stan and Corky into allowing all three visitors to spend the night.

After everyone's asleep, Carlo decides to loot the place. He makes it to the attic where he watches a couple of ghosts (the man is Peter North) have sex. They then transform into scabby-faced demons and kill him (off-screen). Meanwhile, Brenda starts showing signs of possession and her face glows. A possessed deep voice and giggling are heard. A red light glows in a hidden room. Randolph hears the voice calling out his name and finds Brenda lying in bed all dolled up and speaking in both her own and the dead Angel's voice. Despite that, he hops into bed with her but doesn't remember what occurred the next morning.

Corky's bleached-and-crimped "kooky" spiritualist friend Laura ("Lori Levell" / Lorrie Lovett) shows up proclaiming "I've been doing research on your house! Your house is haunted!" The two ladies then encounter the possessed Brenda in her bedroom, who "forces" them to scissor on the bed while she grabs their hair and makes hilarious evil facial expressions. Afterward, Laura suggests they hold a séance to rid the home of the ghosts and explains what occurred there fifty years earlier. It turns out that Angel's mother Angelina (Jeanette Littledove) was murdered by her father (Tony Martino), who suffocated her with a pillow after having sex with her. He, his brother and sister-in-law were then all found suffocated to death soon after. As for how that explains their daughter Angel being some kind of ghost, your guess is as good as mine!

Most of the performers (aside from the experienced Thomas, plus Horne gets some credit for doing a  pretty good job while possessed) can't act to save their lives, flub their lines and stumble their way through awkward dialogue scenes and the plot is full of holes and doesn't really make much sense. Plus it's kind of annoying that this was falsely promoted as a starring vehicle for Angel (an October 1985 Penthouse Pet and one of the best looking adult actresses from this time) yet she's only featured in the two bookmarking scenes. Interestingly, Littledove, who is of Native America / Cherokee lineage, is promoted as the star on the Spanish Angel de la noche tapes instead of Angel, even though she's only in one scene. I guess no one wanted to try to sell this as a Buffy Davis movie.

Still, we can't really expect too much "real movie" from a shot-on-video haunted house porn flick from the 80s, can we? Judging this for what it is and why it was made, it's enjoyable enough. It delivers as it should with seven sex scenes and at least attempts were made to actually create a horror atmosphere with the lighting, fog, camerawork (lots of Dutch angles) and make-up effects by Alan C. Bosshardt, a future Emmy nominee. The score, from eventual directors Christopher Saint Booth and Philip Adrian Booth (who went on to make the headache-inducing Death Tunnel and the laughable paranormal documentary Children of the Grave, among other things) is also pretty good.

This was initially released on VHS by the Intropics Video label but is now easy to find on all of the usual suspect adult websites. Mailer (born Richard Mills in Minnesota) had a very long career in adult films; starting when hardcore first became legal in the 70s and going all the way up to 2005. He committed suicide in 2008.

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