Cementerio del Terror
(aka Cemetary of Terror, aka Zombie Apocalypse)
Starring: Hugo Stieglitz (aka Hugo Stiglitz), Usi Velasco, Erika Buenfil, Edna Bolkan, Maria Rebeca, Cervando Manzetti
Directed by: Ruben Galindo, Jr.
Blurb: A group of medical students steal the deceased body of Satanic serial killer Devlon from the morgue to play a Halloween prank. The students perform a Black Mass in an attempt to raise Devlon from the dead with the help of his Satanic book. When nothing happens, but a bad rainstorm, the students flee to a nearby empty house to party. Little do they know the mass worked and Devlon is looking to crash their party. A group of young trick-or-treaters also arrive at the house, but there are no treats at this house.
My Blurb: This is a Mexican production presented with English subtitles. You may catch the dialog in a screen cap or two, depending how high on the screen it sits. Also, consider this my nod toward the Halloween Season. I'm not so good at presenting "themed" reviews, mostly because I'm not that disciplined, so this is the closest you're going to have, and alas, it isn't the best Halloween-flavored horror out there. Spoilers. Some bloody screen caps.
Scene 01: We open with whines, growls, and what sounds like people making dog-howling noises over the simple red-on-black credits.
After the dramatic title shot, with a sudden 'boom', we return to the simple credits... and credits... and more credits....
We finally get through the front-loaded credits and into the movie. Yes, they go on long enough for me to count them as their own scene!
Scene 02: In the movie, we now join a man laying in a reclining chair fast asleep in front of a television that has gone to static. Sounds from outside drift through, including dogs barking and an emergency siren on its way to something unfortunate.
We drift closer and closer to sleeping man, who turns out to be Hugo Stieglitz. Hugo is apparently having a restless time of it, judging by his twitching hand.
We join Hugo through a wavy-screen-of-dream-entering ourselves....
Scene 03: Hugo dreams of heavy breathing and a book with type much too small to actually read. Then we watch a pair of legs wandering down a hallway. The sounds of heavy breathing continue, but they're now joined by a woman making harsh, afraid-gasps, as we follow her. We can see her outfit clearly, and we know she must be punished; it's far too tacky to tolerate.
Judging by her Igor-foot-drag, she's already been injured by us... or she has an injury/deformity. It isn't clear, because we can't actually see anything wrong with her other than the way she's "running" with her limp foot. She stops by each door she comes to, half-heartedly calling for help - but not too loud because we don't want to disturb anyone. None of the doors open and no one seems to be present.
Commentary: And yes, this is a dream sequence so any and all of this is entirely logical in the way dreams work. Unfortunately, it comes across as just a badly acted, suspense-free cliche.
In the meantime, the police arrive and rush toward the apartment building where this dream is taking place. Woman is stuck at the elevators, button pushing.
Police in the stairwells. Woman waiting frantically for elevator.
It finally arrives and Woman gets aboard, only to find out that the killer is already in the elevator which she completely failed to see. He rakes her with his fingernails. She's able to hit the first floor button and the alarm. The police rush to the lobby elevator door. She falls out, raked up by killer fingernails.
Fingernails menaces the three cops there and he's filled full of lead. He takes an inordinate amount of time to fall over. We never see his face.
Scene 04: Hugo wakes up with a start. Obviously, he's had some involvement with the Devlon case and it has left its psychological marks upon him.
Scene 05: Later the following morning, Hugo has made it to his bed. He's woken up by the shrill ring of the telephone. Hugo's name is now Camilo Cardan... Doctor.
His call is in reference to Devlon, and just his name is enough to make Camilo leap up. He tells whoever is on the phone he'll be right in.
Scene 06: We join two medical students at a teaching hospital, discussing the party they're planning for later. They get interrupted by another student who tells them that he spoke with Olivia and invited her to the 'mansion party'. Apparently, Olivia is all the rage.
Scene 07: We join, presumably, Olivia on the beach. Olivia joins her two girlfriends to excitedly tell them about the 'jet set' party that she's been invited to in place of the rock concert that she was supposed to have been attending with her friends. She describes a party that we're pretty sure she's going to be deeply disappointed and disillusioned with when it actually arrives. She's under the impression that famous actors, the press, limousines, even the TV cameras will be at this illustrious party. A HUGE LIE.
They're joined by our three medical student guys for fun at the beach.
In which, we'll be watching their every footfall on their way to a skiboat. Every footfall.
Dialog indicates that there was supposed to be two more friends joining them, but they never showed. This is apparently not exactly new for the missing couple.
Commentary: Am I getting across the notion that pacing will be a problem for our feature, today? Because that's what I'm bluntly telling you. This flick is slow.
Scene 08: They load up in the little speedboat of their 3rd male friend and go jetting out into the resort lake.
Commentary: It appears to be raining large heavy drops in this scene, but no. It's just the un-restored film. We'll have to deal with a fair amount of artifacting and film damage. It isn't bad enough to hurt the eyes, but it's not subtle either. I won't discount The Score any for it, but you should know going in that you'll have constant lines running through.
Our boating crew putter across the lake and arrive at another dock that is less crowded, but is occupied by a second group. They all hang out on the dock overlooking the lake.
Scene 09: Michel, a man who likes to be without a shirt, goes waterboarding while one of the friends drives the boat. The others smile and watch and yadda-yadda.
Marianna is asked to that allegedly swank party by Bearded-Happy-Eyes-Guy. Blah, blah --- they're splashed by Michel... moving on.
Scene 10: Doctor Cardan enters an office, presumably connected to his morning phone call. The man behind the desk has called him in because as Devlon's former psychiatrist, he is the closest person to him.
The doctor calls the man 'Captain', so I'm assuming this is the local sheriff. Dr. Cardan has been summoned because Devlon was formerly confined to a mental hospital, until the doctor decided he wasn't mentally ill. With his release, Devlon then went on to kill 17 people, including his parents and the girl in the apartment building. Surely, this explains why Dr. Cardan stays up late until exhaustion steals over him.
With Devlon's shooting, the Captain wants to tie up ends for his reports, I guess. But, since Dr. Cardan is here, he pleads with Captain to contact the Governor and order the body cremated as soon as possible. The Captain refuses, as apparently the Doctor's report is full of references to black magic and satanism which the Doctor is convinced were real in Devlon's life. Camilo has become convinced that Devlon is a demon.
Commentary: Would you like to just call Devlon 'Michael' and Camilo 'Sam'? 'Cause I certainly wouldn't stop you.
Doctor Cardan is escorted out, and I have the impression that maybe Dr. Cardan was the one to call for a meeting with the Captain, who humored him, but is now irritated. Especially when Camilo threatens to go to the judge himself over Captain's head.
Scene 11: That night, our 20-something wonders arrive to a darkened house in which there certainly doesn't appear to be a Party of Awesome. [And, one of our partiers-who-will-be-stalked is Psychic Pop-Princess from our 'Ladrones de Tumbas' review, and the other is the Sheriff's daughter from that movie and again her name happens to be Olivia.]
Former Pop-Princess and Olivia quickly come to the conclusion that they've been scammed.
Scene 12: Meanwhile, Red Neck-kerchief goes in through the basement in the obviously empty house and then makes his way to the front door to let his friends in.
So, we'll be spending our time with:
Former Pop-Princess (who may be referred to as FP-P, soon)
Red Neck-kerchief (a.k.a. RN-k)
Tri-Color Top Girl (a.k.a. T-C)
Beard Guy (a.k.a. Cute Guy)
We also have Captain, Camilo and demonic killer Devlon.
So, as everyone enters, the girls are pissed off at being lied to and cost the chance to go to a concert while the guys can't understand their problem... because their morons.
Former Pop-Princess insists that White Shirt take her home, as she doesn't like the place - so maybe she has psychic powers here too. Anyway, he berates her for being afraid, so she folds.
With this resolved, they explore the downstairs, using candles the guys had the girls bring because there isn't any electricity.
Commentary: Except for those lights just off camera. Hollywood Darkness is in full effect here, by which I mean, it isn't dark.
The girls remain singularly unimpressed with the guys' plan for a 'party'. RN-k insists they relax and have fun.
Scene 13: As this is happening, Camilo Cardan is at his home again practicing his signature forging skills... a whole twice, before he has it down perfectly so that he can sign a document, presumably to get Devlon's corpse. I do believe the doctor has a past that hasn't been detailed for us.
Commentary: Also, I'll have you note that I am using 'presumably' too much. Yeah. There is a lot of assuming and 'reading between the lines' to this movie. Also, Cardan's forged signature isn't even close... Hello, the capital 'G' in the last name is completely different! Why didn't they just have him sign the official document so he could later sign it again to represent his forging the signature? Or... just not show it. It isn't like we need this close up of the signatures.
He also apparently has an official notary stamp, too and is very pleased with his handiwork.
Scene 14: We now join Captain, who is home with his family. His kids are carving a pumpkin and readying for Halloween. He is distracted by thoughts of Devlon and the Doctor's earlier visit.
Scene 15: Meanwhile, back at the lame party, the party is being lame.
Beard Guy and Tri-Color Top Girl are making out. White Shirt is pouring himself a drink. The radio is playing generic-pop. At least until FP-P turns it off. White Shirt tries to get some play from her, but she's all "uh-uh, I told you I don't like this place" and storms away from him.
Commentary: I'm not gonna lie. This movie could have used an orgy. Especially later. Oh, man... later....
Scene 16: In a bedroom, RN-k tries to put the movies on Olivia. He's bombing out as well because she had that concert she could have been going to, rather than being dragged to this pretense at a party which was really about drinking and having sex.
He has the gall to ask what her problem is, which causes her to storm away to the living room and plop down to Former Pop-Princess. Red Neck-kerchief reads the riot act to everyone for not having fun, although Beard Guy and Tri-Color Top Girl were putting in an effort... in front of everyone... which y'know, could have livened things up a bit.
Olivia mentions there was supposed to be a party and all they have right now is a dirty house. Beard Guy takes RN-k's side, which makes T-C put a stop to the necking to join her sisters in their angry disgust.
Commentary: I'm bored. We're 20-minutes in. We need the killer demon-guy.
Well, this sends Red Neck-kerchief off in a huff, while everyone else is sitting around bored, except for White Shirt who is standing around bored. And the guys are frustrated, too, I suppose.
Scene 17: Red Neck-kerchief decides to explore the house and wanders upstairs. He takes an interminable amount of time about it.
When he reaches the second floor, he casually strolls down the hallway, opening doors, looking under sheets and such. He finds... dust. Lots of it.
Commentary: I suppose his tight jeans might provide some sort of mild entertainment, if you'd like. I'd rather see a killer slashing through somebody, but maybe that's just cause this is supposed to be a supernatural horror flick. Silly me.
Scene 18: So, RN-k then finds stairs to the attic and wanders up there next... again, taking his ever-lovin' time about it.
Commentary: Oh, and for being a house with no power, both floors are shockingly well lit. This isn't even Hollywood Darkness - it's... practically daylight.
Red Neck-kerchief takes another interminable amount of time to cross the f* floor and get to the Magic Book of Doohickeyness. The Magic Book appears to be radiating its own light on his face. Which could have been cool, except the director chose to give us a reverse view, so we can see that no -- it's just the way too bright off camera lighting again. *sigh*
Over this is played an Angelic Choral Voice, which then turns into an electronica "buuuuhhhhhhh" when we closes it and the cover has "Devlon" on it. SUSPENSE!!
Having found this detritus of the former occupant, he gets a small smile and then slowly and awkwardly turns away and walks slowly and awkwardly back toward the staircase so we can see his dramatic shadow on the wall.
Commentary: Oh, really. Must I point out to you that this is neither suspenseful or dramatic? I'm more on pins and needles waiting to see if one of our brain trust will suddenly suffer an asthma attack or a sneezing fit. I cannot imagine doing ANYTHING in this house that might stir up the dust storm that would surely result, even if the guys were going to get lucky.
Scene 19: Downstairs, the girls are sitting bored out of their skulls on the sofa. I sympathize. I also would have been on my sixth Jack & Coke by now.
Olivia complains about missing her rock concert again. Beard Guy huffs in frustration at the girls' attitude to White Shirt. RN-k finally comes in with the journal.
Commentary: Now, you may have thought that the reason he moved so weird in the attic was because he was in some sort of possessed trance. No. No, he is not. It was just a really bad director choice to stretch out the running time on a half-baked script. Aren't you so very happy that this is our Halloween Movie? This is WAY better than the cliche 'Halloween' or 'Friday the 13th' or some other good horror movie! Wait....
RN-k opens up the journal and starts to read, as we get, uh-a suspense chord? Sure, let's say that we're in suspense. Devlon wrote some pseudo-crapola about the devil existing in blah-blah-who-cares. This upsets Olivia who storms off -- AGAIN -- trailing her girlfriends. The guys remain too effing dense to notice that their party isn't, they aren't going to get laid, and they're just making things worse by not simply leaving and taking the girls out to dinner and a movie instead.
Commentary: And, worse than that, these clods are boring me! I'm bored, and all of the guys are relatively cute and wearing jeans a size too small. What is wrong with this movie? Well, other than nothing happening and being repetitive about it, I mean.
So, with Olivia apparently frightened by even the mention of The Devil, Red Neck-kerchief decides that if they scare the girls just a little bit more, then they'll just fall right into their arms and the night will be salvaged.
Because his friends are as mindless as he is, they think this is a swell plan.
Scene 20: In order to make this plan even worse, RN-c decides that they'll summon the devil's power and steal a corpse to resurrect. Because, even if you accept that they're assuming it will all be just a lark at the girls' expense, being corpse-stealers is exactly the thing to make the girls want to resume a group makeout session. Now, this hasn't been my experience at the wild black mass/resurrection rituals that I've attended with straight guys trying to get some play, but maybe things just work differently in Mexico when it comes to these pranks.
Olivia is freaked and the Tri-Color Top Girl agrees that this is a stupid plan... especially the part about going to the morgue and stealing a body. White Shirt insists this sounds 'interesting'. The boys troop out to the car. The girls have no choice but to go with them... or y'know, insist that if they don't drop this stupid, criminal plan of theirs, they'll never speak to them again -- but nevermind logical choices.
Commentary: I should also mention we're at 25 1/2 minutes in now. No monsterous killer.
Scene 21: At anony-characters' home, a boy sits at a counter being frustrated as a pan on the stove catches on fire. He shouts for Vicki in an impatient way to come and deal with the pan. Vicki does so. She then rinses a plate (very barely - I doubt she's gotten the soap off of it from the sink) and places it in front of her brother. She complains to him that he has two hours to collect candy and he can wait to join his friends until after he eats.
As he yells at her for ruining his evening plans, she gets a pan out of the oven that is smoking with burnt.
Commentary: We laugh. No, we don't. We want to cry, but we just kind of sit here in stunned disbelief at how such a long period of nothing can be happening, while we suppress a yawn. You start hating me for choosing this movie. Now, I laugh.
He chooses not to eat. Then he grabs an apple. Then he promises to be back by 10. Then he leaves. It's all as scinitilating as you may be imagining.
Scene 22: Next, we jump to yet another f*-ing random scene. This one is the Captain's kids, which our dark-haired boy joins. Not a single one of 'em is wearing any sort of costume, which may explain why they're not getting any candy.
They decide to go to the graveyard, because buried dead people have lots of trick-or-treat goodies to give (actually, maybe this a bit of fridge brilliance - maybe they're going to go graverobbing for treats other than candy, like our 'protaganists' in Ladrones...). They flag down a stranger passing in a car for a ride. They don't get it. So, they talk more. We don't care.
The big plan is to go to the center of the local cemetery, count to a 100 and run away as a courage test. They flag down another stranger for a ride, who has a panel van, which they get into, which drives them off. Alas, no, not the set up to some final horror in this thing -- now 27 1/2 minutes ... it feels like 50.
Scene 23: Our brain trust arrives at the morgue. For some reason, despite everyone speaking strictly Spanish, the car has Texas plates. There's a story there, but we won't hear it. Instead, we'll be dealing with some more not-horror.
The boys break in. The girls wait for them.
Scene 24: Morgue security guys sit in office. One sleeps. One reads a comic. Scene.
Scene 25: Boys wander darkened corridors (which are actually appropriately lit). They do it slowly. They run into locked doors.
Commentary: I take a screen cap, because I need something to post. But, man, I can't wait to actually get something on screen that will be worth capping!
Scene 26: We join Doctor Cardan and Captain. Apparently, the doctor showed up with his badly done forged document ordering Captain to release Devlon's body to him. And even though the Captain knows the Judge is out of town, he doesn't bother trying to reach him in order to confirm the suspiciously obtained signature from someone who isn't there to actually give it.
Anyway, they're in Captain's car on the way to the morgue (again, presumably).
Scene 27: Another cut to sleeping/reading guards.
Commentary: POINTLESS (which I do believe was also an issue in Ladrones...).
Scene 28: The boys finally find the morgue, and guess what? Not locked. They scan the bodies. They take entirely too long to find the one they want to take with them. Guess whose it is. We don't see, but I'm sure we know.
And, did I just see Red Neck-kerchief lift the sheet to check out Naked Demon Guy's corpse-junk? I didn't see him do that, right?
Scene 29: Back with Captain and Doctor, Doctor yells at Captain to step on the gas. Captain tells him to chill, it isn't like the body is going to be leaving the morgue... wah-wah-wahhhhhhhh.
Scene 30: 32 minutes in... boys still futzing around with moving body. Still no sudden death. Music tries to assure us this is tense.
I don't buy it.