*review originally posted on 7/16/2010. Revised on 9/25/2022*
In 1999, I was fresh into the 4th grade and killer dolls & clowns scared the living crap out of me and despite being so afraid of them, but I was also quite intrigued by them.
I got home from school one day and joined my mom in her room to watch TV. She put something on KRCA 62 (now known as Estrella TV) and afterwards one of the movies that started it all for me played. Watching this killer clown doll movie in its entirety truly terrified me. I mean, a killer doll movie alone would big-time scare me, but for the doll to be a clown as well? That's just pure horror for me! How could both terrifying worlds combine and do this to me?! Once the movie was over, I was pretty much scared and didn't even want to leave my mom's room. When my mom requested me to go outside and get the mail, I ran outside & back inside so quick because I figured maybe the clown doll from the movie would come after me. I know that sounds really dumb, but I was only 9 years old though.
As scared as I was over this movie, I was also very fascinated by it. This movie was entertaining from start to finish & I loved every minute of it and the terrifying feeling I got from it was also a feeling of ecstasy. I wanted to see it again. A couple of years later, my cousin was over at my house and we were flipping through channels on the TV and what do we see on channel 62? A promo for the killer clown doll movie I’ve been wanting to see again! However, we only watched maybe half of the movie since we ended up doing something else at his house. Bummer. Then last April, I randomly remembered the killer clown doll movie, but I couldn’t recall knowing the title which then lead me to ask around about it. I asked my mom first to see if she remembered the title and her humorous response was "I don't know what that movie was called. Weird ass movie though." After many unsuccessful google searches & old TV listings I came across, I then asked around on the AV Maniacs forum if anyone knew a title for a Mexican killer clown doll movie and to my surprise someone actually responded with the title of the killer clown movie that scared me & intrigued me for many years beforehand. The title of killer clown doll movie is "Herencia Diabolica" aka "Diabolical Inheritance". Shortly after finding out the title of this killer clown doll movie, I was lucky enough to find a VHS copy of it. Amazing.
Herencia Diabolica begins with an old woman dying and holding a clown doll in her arms. It turns out the clown doll was her best friend since she was a little girl and it remained close to her all through life. A distant relative of hers named Tony (Roberto Guinar) inherits the mansion she lived in and he decides to live there with his pregnant wife Annie (Holda Ramirez). Annie finds the clown doll called "Payasito" (Spanish word for Little Clown) in a trunk full of unusual things and decides to keep it for the upcoming baby. Annie at first enjoys the doll, but then things get very weird when the doll is somehow appearing in other parts of the house even though it was never moved around by Annie or Tony.
One night, Annie decides to lock up Payasito in a closet downstairs since it is clearly moving around by itself and is scaring her. Later in the night, Annie hears noises coming from downstairs and realizes it’s coming from the closet where Payasito is at! Payasito, now of the closet—creepily chases Annie up the stairs. Annie reaches the top almost, but is then confronted by Payasito where he creepily smiles at her and makes her fall down the stairs very, very slowly. Annie dies from falling down the stairs, but luckily the baby (who's named Roy) she was carrying survived the “accident” and is now being solely raised by his father Tony.
Several years later, Roy (Alan Fernando) is now 7 years old and he loves Payasito to death. Roy takes Payasito everywhere he goes and plays with him always. Roy's father Tony marries his attractive secretary Doris (Lorena Herrera) after a long period of being single. Doris longs for Payasito to be rid of because it creeps her out & also annoys her, but Tony reassures her the doll is a favorable toy that Roy is attached to and she should not be bitter towards it. Doris not standing it anymore—tries to get rid of Payasito in various ways, but he always come back and haunts her each time. On a cold dreary night, Payasito haunts Doris in her dreams and also gets extremely perverse with her. A lot of caressing & groaning from him. After Payasito kills the maid by having her fall down the mansion balcony—Doris tears up Payasito with scissors and from there she assumes the dreadful clown doll is long gone and will not kill & haunt again. Doris of course was very wrong when Payasito re-appears in Roy's room and this time he chases after her very, very slowly with a large kitchen knife on hand.
Herencia Diabolica was written & directed by legendary Mexican horror filmmaker Alfredo Salazar alongside leading actor/producer Roberto Guinar and these 2 men together made something so unusual, so ridiculous, so cheap & so damn creepy too and I truly admire them for it. Alfredo Salazar by this time had already left his mark on Mexican Horror Cinema because in all of his career he made many admirable horror titles (mostly in writing) and here with Herencia Diabolica—this felt like a farewell to it all. Perhaps the vision didn't come out as intended due to the budget being so low, but damn did Mr. Salazar somehow still managed to make something so weird & so creepy. Well, that's what I think anyway.
Iconic small Mexican entertainer Margarito Esparza portrays Payasito and it is truly remarkable. The facial expressions, the body movements, and that very creepy little laugh was done so perfectly by Margarito. Perhaps if the movie had a higher budget, we would've gotten animatronic puppets & professional small doubles portraying the clown doll, but the experience & aesthetic just wouldn't be the same. It would just feel & look like a hollow Chucky copycat and that wouldn't be any fun honestly. Sure, Herencia Diabolica is a sort of copy of Child's Play, but it doesn't try to be like it at all. Fuck no. It just got inspired by it is all.
Herencia Diabolica was an eye-opener for me as a kid and it eventually lead me into this particular world of forgotten & discarded Mexican film oddities. Herencia Diabolica is one of the greats and one of the main defining Trash-Mex titles. Payasito truly scared the fuck out of me as kid, but it was done for the best.
Please watch Herencia Diabolica when given the opportunity to. You will not regret it.