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directed by: Rubén Galindo Jr.
starring: Hugo Stiglitz, Usi Velasco, Erika Buenfil, Edna Bolkan, María Rebeca, Servando Manzetti, Eduardo Capetillo, René Cardona III, César Velasco, Andrés García Jr., César Adrian Sanchez, Jacqueline Castro, Raúl Meraz, Leo Villanueva, José Gómez Parcero, Mineko Mori, Bety Robles, Lili Zoto, Leonardo Noriega, Isaac Chavira, José Gómez

choice dialogue:

"He's not a man like you and me - he's a demon!"

- Dr Cardan paging Dr Loomis

slash with panache?

[review by Justin Kerswell]

Why limit yourself to just one horror subgenre when you can feature 'em all was clearly Rubén Galindo Jr's plan when he conceived this mid-80s monster mash. Stick horny teens with mullets and bubble perms, satanism, zombies, Halloween, an unstoppable killer and a tiny kid in a Michael Jackson tour jacket through the blender and you have a cheesy - but satisfyingly thirst quenching - cocktail called CEMETERY OF TERROR.

It's almost like Galindo thought he would have just one shot at making a movie and so gleefully ripped off as many horror and slasher flicks as he could. Although, presumably this was a big enough hit domestically to secure financing for two other supernatural slasher flicks, the more polished DON'T PANIC (1987) and the equally enjoyable GRAVE ROBBERS (1990) (the latter of which is included on the Region 1 double sided DVD).

Part of the fun of watching CEMETERY OF TERROR is to spot which movies Galindo is, ahem, paying homage to. It all kicks off with a large lady in tight peddle-pushers being chased around an office block before being slashed to death by an unseen assailant (who must be in dire need of a manicure as he's able to lacerate bare flesh with just his finger nails!). Sadly, no more cream buns for her. Just as she's slumps to the floor with a wallop the police turn up with impeccable timing and gun down the killer in a hail of bullets.

Meanwhile, it's Halloween night (uh-uh) and the streets are filled with small children carrying jack'-o-lanterns and bothering passersby for candy. It's also the night that a group of six horny teens decide to party in an abandoned house next to the city cemetery. The girls think that they are actually going to a swanky soiree, and one enthuses, "Who wants to go to a rock concert when you can go to a jet set party!". Once they reach the house they soon realise they've been duped and are so unimpressed by this they put a halt to any heavy petting the boys might have had in mind. The crestfallen boys moan, "They've been fussy all night!". What to do to get the ladies in the mood for love? Well, how about suggesting breaking into the local mortuary and stealing a body?! Incredibly the girls are up for it, even after a dusty tome full of Satanic incantations is found in the loft and one of the boys suggests it would be a jolly jape to try and resurrect the cadaver through the power of Beelzebub. Quite some aphrodisiac I'm sure you'll agree.

Breaking into the mortuary is surprisingly easy, despite two security guards on duty. The boys move throughout the trolleys like they're on some kind of ghoulish IKEA trip. "Find the ugliest one!", pipes up one of them - and, sure enough, the ugliest dead guy in the morgue also happens to be the recently deceased serial killer seen at the beginning who had just butchered 17 people including his parents. Little do they know, as they wheel him out the back door, that his name is Devlon (satanic mascara anyone?) - and his name adorns the front of the dusty tome they found in the attic. Now, what are the chances of that happening, eh?!

Little do our stonewashed denim wearing heroes know, but hurtling through the night is one Dr Loomis, er, I mean Dr Cardan (Hugo Stiglitz - who you might remember also battling the undead in Umberto Lenzi's NIGHTMARE CITY (1980)), who won't rest until he sees Devlon consumed by flames at the city crematorium. The police are not convinced, even when Dr Cardan rolls his eyes are gnashes his teeth, "He's not a man like you and me - he's a demon!". Dr Cardan's case is somewhat bolstered by the fact that Devlon appears to have got up and walked out of the morgue.

Back at the cemetery the night's mood setting is in full swing, as the teens lay out Devlon's body on a grave. One of them begins to boom out the incantation, which only seems to result in a sudden rainstorm. For fear of flat hair they scarper sharpish back to the house before finishing, but not before one of them claims to have seen Devlon's hand twitch. The rest of them ignore him, and the corpse stealing seems to have done the trick as they pair off for vodka, snogging and bad disco music.

Meanwhile (!), a group of young kids led by Tony () arrive at the cemetery gates. Rather than the usual trick or treating, the group hitchhike out to the remote graveyard to do some nocturnal exploring - armed only with jack'-o-lanterns and the afore-mentioned Michael Jackson jacket to ward off evil. It isn't long before they discover more than they bargained for, as they soon find that Devlon has gate-crashed the teenage party and disemboweled, slashed and whacked the kids with axes. Not only that, Devlon has found time in his busy schedule to raise the dead and soon the cemetery is overrun with a legion of hungry ghouls!

Galindo's melting pot of horror subgenres shouldn't really work, but it all adds up to a pleasingly daft slasher / zombie hybrid. Unmistakenly taking its cue from HALLOWEEN (1978), CEMETERY OF TERROR is a heady and cheesy brew. Bon-bons to savour include, Dr Cardan being trapped under a tree that just happens to fall on him; a girl who won't use the bathroom, "It's full of bats!"; and some seriously orthondontically challenged zombies! Even the switch from the teenage cast to the younger kids doesn't really break the flow of the movie, and there's lots of fun SCOOBY DOO'ish running about and hiding behind gravestones. However, the bearded Devlon is a little bit of a let down, coming over like a cross between the preacher in TROLL 2 and Demis Roussos (actually, that does sound terrifying!). At least the wise cracking Freddy'isms hadn't made it south of the border by the time this went before the cameras (he saved all that for the next in the cycle DON'T PANIC). Like most Mexican horror I've seen, it's gleefully gory - and there's enough of the red stuff splashed around to please even the most jaded of gorehounds.

As an introduction to Latin American slasher flicks, CEMETERY OF TERROR is hard to beat. If you get a taste for it, Galindo's later slasher flicks are equally garish and fun. Also, check out Pedro Galindo III's (cheesy horror must run in the family!) TRAMPA INFERNAL (1990), which is like a Mexican version of THE ZERO BOYS (1986). And, for the truly dedicated is the insanely obscure Brazilian slasher from the golden age, SHOCK - EVIL ENTERTAINMENT (1982) - where a psycho in shiny black boots stalks a group of rock musicians and their girlfriends at a lakeside recording studio. I have a copy, but it's in the wrong format for my VCR (so plays black and white) and is in Portuguese with no subs! I'm sure there's more gems out there - so get searching.


BODYCOUNT 8  bodycount!   female:4 / male:4

       1) Female slashed to death with killer's hands
       2) Female found with throat ripped out
       3) Male slashed and disemboweled
       4) Male has neck crushed
       5) Female disemboweled
       6) Female slashed to death
       7) Male whacked in the head with axe
       8) Male slashed to death