Thursday, February 10, 2022

Wagon Of Death.

As a Mexican-American, I grew up listening to many stories of our families & friends crossing over to the USA from Mexico. Some of these stories were at times humorous, intense and all-around unbelievable, depressing & disturbing. During the 1970’s & 1980’s, border-crossing movie portrayals were of the same nature as the stories I've heard growing up and perhaps the most serious, disturbing & depressing ones I’ve seen are Tres Veces Mojado, Arizona, Pasaporte A La Muerte and El Vagon De La Muerte. El Vagon De La Muerte has to be the most depressing & most disturbing of all these border-crossing dramas from that era because what was supposed to be a journey for “the better life” turns into a journey of misery & death. 

A man named Pedro tries to convince his good friend Rafael (Juan Valentin) to join him on crossing over to the United States to make big money out there. Rafael at first hesitates, but ultimately sees it as a good opportunity for his family. At the moment when Rafael tells his family that he plans to leave Mexico to the United States—his wife succumbs to a heart attack & dies. Rafael again feels he shouldn’t leave Mexico after what’s happened, but Pedro again convinces him that he should go to the US for the sake of his kids and thus Rafael takes his son & daughter (played by Ulises Aguirre Jr & Andrea Aguirre) with him for the opportunity of a better life. Once they pay off the coyote—Pedro, Rafael & his kids, and two older men are all put in a wagon of a freight train heading to the United States. Their journey at first seems to be tolerable & very hopeful, but once the train keeps on going, everyone inside that wagon ends up suffering. Rafael's son Carlos is the first we see to suffer as he reveals that he was bitten by a rabid dog and is now coming down with rabies and this then leads to a huge conflict amongst Rafael, Pedro & the 2 other men. The other 2 men we find out are running away from horrible crimes they’ve committed—one being a burglar and the other a murdering rapist.

When I first watched El Vagon De La Muerte, I was feeling uneasy about it because I expected the worst to happen to everyone and sure enough that’s exactly what happens in the movie and then some. It begins with the little boy Carlos getting rabies and the scenes with him foaming out the mouth is truly disturbing to see and his screams of agony make it even more disturbing. Then afterwards just seeing everyone in the wagon arguing, fighting & suffering was just all uneasy to see as well. When we are introduced to the 2 criminals, we learn that these men are not good people at all and you’re immediately disgusted by them. The first is a man who kills his employer just to rob her and the other man is a drunk who rapes & murders his young niece. We’re already seeing good people succumb to agony & death and to be introduced to scumbags just made the viewing uneasy 100%! 

Producer Ulises P. Aguirre & legendary director Fernando Duran Rojas together made one hell of a movie that is quite tragic & disturbing. Both men clearly wanted to shock audiences with the all too familiar scary stories of people trying to cross over to the USA. Some may say Aguirre & Duran Rojas were just simply being exploitive about the subject matter, but this felt more real than any exploitation film of the same nature. This truly felt real and of course introduced us to characters we’re all too familiar with & sympathize for. El Vagon De La Muerte deserves a chance to be seen and to be taken serious as well. 

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Deliberately Bloodthirsty.

 A sleazy gang are out & about riding in their Kawasaki Ninja & Honda Hurricane motorcycles looking for people to mess with. They begin with a couple who’s car breaks down and thus proceed to rape the woman and murder her boyfriend. In just several miles down, a group of friends are to spend a weekend at a cabin in the woods and a blonde chick named Ana (Consuelo Duval) is hoping to get closer to her friend Braulio (Juan Valentin), but Braulio has made it clear he’s in love with Tanya (Socorro Albarran) since they’ve been kissing non-stop & Braulio has even gone as far as to sing love songs to her. Ana is heartbroken by this, but by chance another male friend there named Raul (Jorge Ortin) confesses his love to Ana and just when you think a romance is to blossom—all hell breaks loose when that sleazy gang arrive at the cabin and torments the shit out of everyone inside!

Los Sanguinarios is yet another movie about a biker gang messing with a group of innocent people and a male adversary from the innocent group is out for revenge on the biker gang. What’s funny about this movie though is that while it feels really cheap and fairly short (71 minutes to be exact), it still brings in a fair amount of entertainment & sleaze. Muscle-man actor Agustin Bernal plays the sleazy leader of the sleazy biker gang and his face makeup is supposed to make him look scary— but really he just looks silly all around. He’s also the only character who rapes women in the entire movie all while the rest of the leather & studded-attired gang watches in excitement, except the obvious gay member who for whatever reason is just there looking underwhelmed. Flamboyant as well. Juan Valentin is of course the main man in the movie and he’s the one who of course is out to kill the gang and just right before all the horrors happen, Juan sings 2 love songs “Deliberadamente” & “Perdóname Cariño” while sporting a Puma sports t-shirt. Incredible, right? 

As entertaining as Los Sanguinarios is, it’s also incredibly fucking weird and that mostly consists of the unrequited romance sub-plot. It feels so forced in & so unnecessary as well since why do we have to care if so & so isn’t love with what’s her face?  But other than that, Los Sanguinarios is quite the entertaining & sleazy movie. Maybe put this movie on while cleaning or waiting for an ubereats order. Whatever the occasion, you'll be amused for sure.