Thursday, March 30, 2023

Vadillo's Forbidden Beach.

The beach was an obvious setting for the films of Enrique Gomez Vadillo. Vadillo’s first movie set in a beach was Verano Salvaje—filmed in South Padre Island, TX (city scenes shot in Brownsville). Vadillo later on had gained access to properties in Acapulco to film at and in one luxurious house he filmed both Muerte En La Playa and La Tentacion. Vadillo’s first “epic” Muerte Ciega was also shot in another luxurious Acapulco house and his most well-known telenovela La Casa En La Playa was also Acapulco-set. Now the first Acapulco-set movie of Vadillo’s wasn’t somewhere very glamorous & big—if anything, it was shot somewhere very modest and perhaps even hidden away from it all, thus given the title Playa Prohibida ("Forbidden Beach"). The title also derives from its very peculiar & perverse subject matter.

The widow’d Elena (Sasha Montenegro) and her two sons Michel & Armando are spending the summer in their secluded bungalow in Acapulco. Since the passing of his father, Michel has taken role of being “the man of the house”—he cares for his little brother Armando and his mother Elena very heavily. Michel’s role as “the man of the house” is threatened when his mother meets the charismatic architect Carlos (Jose Alonso) and they immediately begin a serious relationship. Michel doesn’t want Carlos hanging around and feels entitled to having his mother & little brother solely to himself—this then leads Michel acting erratically and going as far as trying to harm Carlos. The only man that Michel seems to “trust” & look up to is the local fisherman Andres (Jaime Garza), who’s longing to have his way with Elena. The relationship between Andres & Michel is fairly innocent since they speak of their interests & growing up, but it’s fair to say that Andres is not really a good person since he longs to have his way with Elena & gets drunk every day. Not a good role model for a boy whatsoever. 

Filmed in 1983 & released until 1985, Playa Prohibida is an intriguingly moody & perverse coming of age tale. Playa Prohibida eerily portrays the young antagonist Michel going through puberty & having an oedipus complex. Michel is at the age where he wonders about what sex is supposed to be like and him feeling like the man of the house, he assumes the role of being the only man for his mother—Mentally & physically. Seeing this all play out is fairly interesting, but also can be quite uncomfortable. As uncomfortable as it is, it is however a reality. An exaggeration of reality? Maybe so, but still a reality. 

If you’re familiar with the filmography of Enrique Gomez Vadillo, then you’ll be familiar with the usual gay overtones that his movies tend to have and in some cases the movies are just flat about being gay. In the case of Playa Prohibida, there’s really none of that. If anything, the only time the movie ever shows some sort of gay overtone is when Andres and Michel both go swimming naked in the beach. It is a very weird scene, but it didn’t come off gay at all. If anything, this was more than likely a scene improvised by Vadillo for his own sick pleasures. As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews of his movies, Vadillo was very open about liking his male actors and he always had to show them off with little to no clothing. This scene with Andres & Michel naked is an example of that. 

Aside from its dark & perverse subject matter, Playa Prohibida also has plenty of tasteful eroticism with showing Sasha Montenegro in a bikini at all times & various scenes of her and Jose Alonso being very intimate. One scene I admire is when they’re eating breakfast and they just stare at each other with so much lust in their eyes. And before you even ask or wonder—yes, Sasha does get naked in the movie. There’s a shower scene with her that is quite amusing up until we realize that the young Michel is eerily watching her. Speaking of Michel, the young actor who portrays him is very innocent looking, but also very creepy. Oscar Alejandro played the role of the twisted young boy Michel perfectly.  

The exaggerations & Vadillo’s perverseness in Playa Prohibida are rather obvious & maybe even uncomfortable to see (depending how you feel about the subject matter), but overall the movie is an intriguing watch. It is a great little follow-up of sorts to Verano Salvaje. So if you like that movie, then for sure you’ll enjoy this one.