Judge Paul Corupe thinks this double feature has enough zombies in it to reincarnate Michael Jackson's career.
Cementerio del terror / Ladrones de tumbas
Get ready for another avalanche of pure Mexi-madness! BCI Eclipse's Cemetery of Terror / Grave Robbers is the latest and greatest south-of-the-border horror release to hit stores, a spicy slasher team-up for undiscriminating connoisseurs of worldwide cult cinema. BCI Eclipse, formerly the unloved public domain house Brentwood, seem set on redeeming themselves in style with some impressive reissues of these almost-forgotten flicks. Cemetery of Terror / Grave Robbers, hopefully, is a bloody taste of what's to come.
Facts of the Case
• Cemetery of Terror
• Grave Robbers
Director Rubén Galindo may have ladled a sticky, gooey layer of cheese onto both Cemetery of Terror and Grave Robbers, but that's what makes these Mexican snacks so undeniably tasty. Galindo got his start in the early 1970s, helming western, war and action films, even directing a couple Mexican wrestling films starring local hero Santo, but in the mid-1980s, he obviously came under the spell of American slasher flicks like Halloween and Friday the 13th, directing a handful of horrors throughout the latter half of the decade.
Cemetery of Terror was his first foray into the genre, and it's a doozy. Though obviously modeled on Halloween and Friday the 13th, there are still enough original twists and buckets of gore to make this schlocky effort a fun ride. After a slow beginning spent getting to know the teens, the story picks up considerably when the burly, bearded Devlon arises and starts slicing and dicing everything in his path with razor-sharp fingernails. Intestines visibly stream out of stomachs and kayo syrup dribbles everywhere. Though the plot trajectory is pretty predictable up to this point, Galindo surprises the audience by skewering all the partying teens within the first hour, and then turning his camera on the trick-or-treaters. Once the kids arrive to test their nerves in the graveyard, the film turns into a Night of the Living Dead-inspired zombie rave-up with dozens of corpses springing from the ground while the plucky youngsters try to toss the offending book in the fireplace. While this shift in focus is usually enough to sour die-hard slasher fans on the film's kill-potential, it's nonetheless an effective and spontaneous plot twist that makes it stand out as more than just your average cookie-cutter rip-off.
Shot five years later, Galindo's Grave Robbers is a far more conventional slasher. As with Cemetery of Terror, this film stars Erika Buenfil, Edna Bolkan, and María Rebeca, a mostly talentless trio that appears to have been picked solely to cover the entire spectrum of hair colors. This time, they've traded their boyfriends with mullets for a new set decked out in headbands and Hugo Boss t-shirts. The hooded monk, at least, is an improvement over Devlon. This guy not only acts like Michael Myers, but many of his death scenes are also filmed in P.O.V. shots, framed with a cowl outline. As the body count grows, we're even treated to a few satisfactory death scenes-multiple amputations, a face shoved into a metal railing, and a hand bursting through a terrified grave robber's stomach, but overall it's less joyfully gory than Galindo's earlier work. The slasher story ends rather predictably, as the mad monk chains up one of the modern gals the same way as he did to a girl in the film's prologue, prompting the male lead to rush in with dynamite(!) to save her.
Blood and guts aside, what's most impressive about these films is that they really revel in their their gothic trappings. Unlike many American 80s horror films—which moved the slasher into unspooky modern settings like suburban tract neighborhoods, camp cabins, malls, and gyms—these gory slasher films retain the cobwebs, old abandoned houses, and crumbling tombs that featured so prominently in Mexican horror films since the late 1950s. They're all the more effective for it.
Both films are presented in full frame, apparently unmatted transfers, but the quality varies wildly. Cemetery of Terror is really scratched up, with a dancing pattern of little white marks appearing almost throughout the entire running time. Grave Robbers is considerably better, exhibiting some nice colors and solid detail. The mono Spanish audio tracks are passable, and feature some seemingly accurate English subtitles marred only by occasional misspellings. There are no extras.
These more or less unseen flicks are a unique treat for fans bored with the standard American slash 'n' stalk bluster, especially when for BCI Eclipse's incredibly appealing $10 price tag.
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Scales of Justice, Cemetery Of Terror
Perp Profile, Cemetery Of Terror
Studio: BCI Eclipse
Distinguishing Marks, Cemetery Of Terror
Scales of Justice, Grave Robbers
Perp Profile, Grave Robbers
Studio: BCI Eclipse
Distinguishing Marks, Grave Robbers
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