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The Living Coffin (1959)

El grito de la muerte (original title)
A cowboy and his sidekick meet a ranching family that is haunted by spirits and vampires.



(story and adaptation)
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Cast overview:
Gastón Santos ...
Gastón / Cowboy
María Duval ...
María Elena García
Coyote Loco
Hortensia Santoveña ...
Doña María
Carolina Barret ...
Antonio Raxel ...
Doctor (as Antonio S. Raxel)
Carlos Ancira ...
Quintín Bulnes ...


A cowboy and his sidekick meet a ranching family that is haunted by spirits and vampires.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



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Release Date:

3 December 1959 (Mexico)  »

Also Known As:

Scream of Death  »

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Referenced in Fear, Panic & Censorship (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

THE LIVING COFFIN (Fernando Mendez, 1958) **1/2
25 June 2007 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

This is a weird amalgam of Gothic horror elements with the Western genre, also interesting for being shot in color. The 71-minute film emerges to be a generally likable curiosity that, with an engaging (even complex) plot, evokes affectionate memories of American 'B' serials from the previous decade – though, ultimately, it's marred by a lethargic pace and, when finally exposed, a trio of uninteresting villains.

Gaston Santos, a famous bullfighter, plays the hero; he's flanked by his resourceful steed and a chubby, perennially sleepy sidekick (initially amusing, he soon becomes overbearing – especially when his antics are accompanied by incongruous 'comic' sound effects!). Unfortunately, too, the star is engaged throughout in some extremely fake fistfights! The main 'ghost' of the narrative actually ties the film with a long-running horror series revolving around a legendary character known as "La Llorona" (The Crying Woman); I've only watched one such film, the fine Mexi-horror THE CURSE OF THE CRYING WOMAN (1961) – which, incidentally, has also been released on DVD by Casanegra.

The typical atmosphere of the horror films originating from Mexico – steeped in family secrets, shadows and superstition (by way of Edgar Allan Poe and Agatha Christie) – is further boosted in this case by the muted but pleasant color scheme. Finally, I much prefer the original title of this film – EL GRITO DE LA MUERTE, which roughly translates to SCREAM OF DEATH – to its American moniker, the rather meaningless THE LIVING COFFIN (which is actually a reference to its being armored with an alarm system in case of body snatching, or in the event the coffin's occupant has been buried alive!).

The most substantial extra on the disc is a very interesting essay by David Wilt about this characteristically Mexican hybrid genre (incidentally, the potential camp entertainment promised by the wealth of titles mentioned here – the absolute majority of which have yet to see the light of day on any digital format – is proof once again that this particular cinematic well is far from exhausted!). However, given its considerable length, the inordinately tiny font used (also for the accompanying cast biographies) is a real strain on the eyes!; besides, the audio for the main feature is a bit low.

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