It's No "Dr. M," And It's No "Crying Woman," But It Still Ain't Bad!
"The Living Coffin" (1958) is, I would imagine, a fine example of that most curious of subgenres: the Mexican cowboy/horror movie. Reuniting director Fernando Mendez, actor Gaston Santos and cinematographer Victor Herrera after that same year's "The Black Pit of Dr. M," the film is, I regret to say, a far lesser achievement. Whereas "Dr. M" is a beautifully shot B&W masterpiece, this picture is--though surprisingly filmed in color--a much more pedestrian affair. In it, lawman Gaston, his bumbling compadre Coyote Loco, and Rayito, the smartest horse you'll ever encounter this side of Trigger, Silver and Mr. Ed, come to the aid of a hacienda in which corpses are being stolen from their tomb and the legendary Crying Woman is heard to wail at night. What horror elements there are chiefly consist of eerie close-ups of the Crying Woman's attractive but corroded face as she flits through the darkened corridors, but the picture also features a nifty bar fight, a good quicksand sequence, a few shoot-outs and some lame comedy (but certainly not enough to torpedo the film). Santos himself, sans mustache and in color, is practically unrecognizable from the role he essayed in "Dr. M," and Herrera's talents are much more obvious in that earlier picture. Still, "The Living Coffin" makes for a reasonably entertaining 70 minutes, and might even be appropriate to watch with the kiddies, especially when the film's "Scooby Doo" aspects come into play. However, viewers interested in seeing a real Mexican masterpiece dealing with the Crying Woman of legend should check out 1963's, uh, "The Curse of the Crying Woman," a film that I just love. And oh...this Casa Negra DVD looks just fine, as always, but what's the deal with the microprint on the essay extras? You'll need one of those 102" TV screens to read these, I'm afraid!
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