Saturday, September 25, 2021

The Poor Illegals.

Mexican movies about Mexican immigrants in the USA were thriving during the 1970’s & 1980’s. These movies often portrayed the struggles of crossing over to the USA, the struggle of fitting into the country while dealing with bigotry around them and ultimately working very hard to send money back home to Mexico. The migrant worker life was a struggle then and continues to be the same even now and these movies are accurate portrayals of the life & struggles of these people and this is why I admire them so very much. True stories about true people. 


During the 1970’s, Yolanda De Rio was making a name for herself in the ranchera/mariachi music scene. Hit after hit, she was dominating the charts with songs such as “La Hija De Nadie”, a song about the struggle of growing up without a father and in the song with its very-detailed lyrics you can hear the pain Yolanda is feeling towards this. Yolanda sang the hell out of that sad song and with it becoming so popular; producer Arnulfo Delgado took her under his wing and had her star in a movie portrayal of La Hija De Nadie, a follow-up movie very soon after and then other movies mostly based on her hit songs. One movie in particular was a whole lot different & “muy fuerte” than the others since it dealt with deep issues such as sexual abuse and murder. That movie is titled Las Pobres Ilegales ("The Poor Illegals")



Juanita (Yolanda Del Rio) lives in small town in Guerrero where the sea is beautiful, but all around her is lots of agony and mostly caused by her stepfather who doesn’t stop sexually abusing her and all while her own mother ignores what’s going on. Fed up with it all; Juanita and her good friend Petra (Carmen Salinas) decide to head out to California for a fresh new start and while both ladies are short on cash to get a coyote from Tijuana; Petra becomes a call girl for a single night & secures the cash for the both of them. Naturally, crossing over is a struggle since they’re bunched up & hidden in a truck, the truck is then stopped by the Border Patrol, but luckily Juanita manages to get away and lands a job at a ranch that consists of women migrant workers. Gumaro (Mario Almada) is in charge of the workers of the ranch and all the ladies adore him since he is a gentlemen and always making sure everyone is okay. This catches the attention of Juanita, but she hesitates to get closer to Gumaro. Gumaro’s boss & owner of the ranch is an older German man (Victor Junco) who always keeps an eye on his ranch and picks out one lady worker to help him exclusively at his home. As it turns out, he takes the single ranch worker back home to torture them since the old man used to be a nazi soldier who has a strong hatred for women. On the night the ranch is raided by the border patrol; Juanita catches the older man dumping a body and he manages to frame Gumaro for the murders! 



According to David Wilt’s The Mexican Film Bulletin Vol. 23 No. 1, Las Pobres Ilegales appears to be inspired by the Juan Corona murders and I definitely agree with this considering the similarities to the real crime and the movie’s setting being close to where it happened. An obvious inspiration for sure. Is it exploitive? Not exactly, but close enough. Still though, Las Pobres Ilegales isn’t all about murder, but also a story of Mexican immigrants crossing over for the “better life” to not only escape poverty, but to also get away from other issues that linger back home. In this case, it is sexual abuse & a male-dominated environment. 


Las Pobres Ilegales is Yolanda Del Río’s 8th movie and it’s amazing how she starred in many movies in the span of just a few years or even less since it seems most of these movies were all filmed one after the other (but sporadically released). Out of all her movies, Las Pobres Ilegales and La Hija De Nadie are her most memorable ones and for me I favor Las Pobres Ilegales mostly since it deals with real-life tragedies amongst Mexican immigrants in the USA, then the whole Juan Corona-inspired sub-plot is all the more tragically intriguing. 


Yolanda Del Río naturally sings in the movie and she sings a couple of great songs which are “Un Campesino Lloro” which is performed on the eve of a Dia De La Independencia celebration. And in an earlier scene, Yolanda sings “Necesito Un Corazon” which impresses all the ladies in the ranch before bedtime. Yolanda is an amazing singer and here she sings beautifully and very fitting songs for the movie. 


Las Pobres Ilegales features an amazing cast which consists of Carmen Salinas, Antonio Raxel (in a small, but memorable part), Tito Novaro and the great Mario Almada where he plays a gentlemen who works hard & cares for all; then ultimately betrayed by his fucked up-superior who’s played by the Tito Junco. Tito was starring in some pretty intense stuff near the end of his career and this is one of them. 


Las Pobres Ilegales is a movie I can’t get enough of and I always recommend it to anyone wanting to see a Mexican film about immigration and its much sadness all-around. Las Pobres Ilegales was released on DVD in the past, but it seems to be hard to come by now. Still though, it is worth looking out for because you must see it and you will definitely enjoy the heck out of it. One of my highest recommendations is for this little gem with big entertainment value. 




























Sunday, September 12, 2021

Una Noche En Boyle Heights. “Recuerdos De Cine Mexicano De Culto!” highlights.

Last night was the opening of what was the first ever Trash-Mex event/exhibit entitled “Recuerdos De Cine Mexicano De Culto!” at Re/Arte Centro Litario in Boyle Heights. In this exhibit I presented some of my mass-collection of the most craziest, weirdest, trashiest and wonderful Mexican movies from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s & 90’s. This collection has been building up in the span of 10+ years and never did I imagine I'd have them displayed somewhere other than at home, but here we are now. The posters & lobby cards have settled somewhere nicely for a week. 

The exhibit will be on view till the 18th, so please check Re/Arte's website for business hours.

photo by La Cosecha Internacional

Me and Re/Arte owner Viva Padilla put together the exhibit on Friday night and really put our heart & soul and even some sweat into this since summer is still around & burning all of us hard. Viva did an amazing job of picking out what posters & lobby cards will truly capture the eyes of the viewers and she even knew where to display them perfectly in her exhibit wall and her shop all-around. We basically stayed up all night making sure we had it all up & ready for the following day’s opening.


front door display on the night before of the opening.


Then opening day came and when I arrived, my good friend Alberto (ebay seller midnightrambler37) was at Re/Arte ready to setup his table outside where he was going to sell some Mexican VHS tapes and other Mexican materials as well. I set up my tiny table of tapes for sale outside as well and the better & cooler tapes were displayed inside the shop in a wooden shelf Viva normally puts important books on there. 


some tapes for sale on table. Picture by Eduardo aka El Sapo.

Top of the shelf I set up 6 wonderful books for people to view and the first 3 books are the famous Rogelio Agrasanchez Jr Mexican movie poster books: “Cine Mexicano: Poster Art from the Golden Age”, “Mas! Cine Mexicano: Sensational Mexican Movie Posters” and “Mexican Horror Cinema: posters from Mexican Fantasy Films”. Then there’s “Taboada” which is a book about the career of Mexican horror master Carlos Enrique Taboada. That particular book was put together by JUS, Conaculta (IMCINE) and Morbido. 4th book is “La India María: Mexploitation and the Films of María Elena Velasco” by Seraina Rohrer and the last book that’s very dear to me “Narco Cinema: Sex, Drugs, and Banda Music in Mexico’s B-Filmography” by Ryan Rashotte. I did however lend this book to my good pal Monica Serrano who came by and definitely took an interest in the book when she saw it on display. I told her I’m somewhat in that book since I helped the author get in contact with El Rey De Los Videohomes Christian Gonzalez and that peaked her interest even more so. 


a fragment of the wooden shelf inside. Picture by Monica Serrano.

posters hanging above the wooden shelf. "Hot Summer Enrique Gomez Vadillo Days y mas".

6:00 pm came and while everything was ready, I ran to the nearest liquor store and bought a 24-pack of modelos for anyone craving a drink while viewing the exhibit. After all, we had to serve Mexican beer for a Mexican movie poster exhibit while Mexican music was being played by DJ La Cosecha Internacional (Andres Freyre) & his young son who he has dubbed “DJ Misterio” since he picks a vinyl by random, but it always turns out to be a good one. A really good one.


 

Another DJ also had a set and it was “El Sapo” aka Eduardo Camacho who also just happens to be in one of the coolest bands ever: Healing Gems


El Sapo in action. Picture by La Cosecha Internacional

As the exhibit was coming along, one of the early guests was an Instagram follower @nosferatu1334 who shares an interest in horror, VHS tapes & Mexican films and it was amazing to see him and his family taking a gander around Re/Arte. His enthusiasm in the exhibit really made me feel good; so I pulled out all the posters & lobby cards that didn’t get displayed up and he went through it all & loved every piece. He then bought some movies and I gifted him a lobby card of "La Banda De Los Panchitos" since I truly felt he had to own it and he wanted to share it with his mother who is quite familiar with the real-life panchitos. Amazing, isn’t it? 

La Banda De Los Panchitos lobby card before it went to its new owner.

The night was continually going well and I was there observing/attending to the guests looking at the exhibit. There was a nice couple who came through and the young lady who happened to be from Australia was very intrigued by what she saw and asking questions about whatever actor or title she saw on display. It was a good feeling to tell someone about these movies and for them to say they really want to check out these movies was so damn grand. I hope this young lady watches “Don’t Panic” since I told her it is a must see for her since she’s very into horror & cult films from other countries. She and her partner were also telling me I must screen these movies in theaters because they would gladly go to them and they felt it was something others should experience as well.


Don't Panic/Dimensiones Ocultas Mexican one-sheet poster before its framing.

Afterwards, I attended to a nice gentlemen by the name of Martin Avelar who brought his young son along and explained to him about these kinds of movies and their poster arts. His son was quite impressed by what he saw. It is a good feeling to see the younger generations take an interest in things of the past because it keeps them alive & remembered. Martin wanted a picture with me and to make the picture memorable; I picked out my one-sheet of Ruben Galindo's "357 Magnum" for us to hold, the camera then clicked and the hardest & coolest picture that night was taken. 


the hardest picture taken that night. Many thanks to Martin for sending over the picture.


A group picture of me, Viva, Alberto, Andres & Eduardo was then taken and the specially-made Chiquidracula standee was right in front of us. A fitting moment for all of us contributors.



As the night was coming to an end, I sat outside and felt some cool, relaxing breeze. I thought about what I saw earlier on and I felt happy and not just for myself, but to be able to see people interact with the posters & lobby cards was amazing. They remembered watching those Mexican movies growing up and others began to take an interest in wanting to watch them since it’s something they never really have done before. For someone to say “I gotta check out Ratas De La Ciudad and “Pedro Navaja” was a good feeling because they are going to see 2 amazing Mexican movies from the 1980's and definitely love them as much as I do.

photo by @sandeeclaws


I was telling the couple from earlier on how the Million Dollar Theater in downtown LA would be the perfect spot for Mexican film screenings because that is where they used to exclusively screen them and even premiere them. They said that would definitely be the best experience for that and that I must do it. With Mexican movie posters & lobby cards displayed all over the theater. 

Will I ever get to do such a thing? Will people really come and experience something that was done before in the past? I’m gonna say “yes” because if I managed to get this done, other things can be done as well. That’s a must do in my list. But for now, I hope the week of the exhibit goes by wonderfully and I’m already planning how a 2nd exhibit will be like when I get the chance to do this again. It will be bigger, louder, more pieces up on display and have some live action & suspense going. The sequel to “Recuerdos De Cine Mexicano De Culto!” Will be titled “Cine Mexicano De Culto: La Venganza”. Maybe. Sequels always get different titles after all.