Satanic Hispanics opens with a police raid that finds a building containing twenty-seven dead bodies, four of them children. All Hispanic, all shot in the head and none with any identification. There is one survivor, a handcuffed man (Efren Ramirez, Lightyear, Crank: High Voltage) who tried to hack off his hand in order to escape.
It doesn’t work and we next see him at the police station. He tells his interrogators that he is The Traveler and it’s important he leave right away to attend a wedding in San Antonio. As they question him he starts telling them of the evil he’s seen during his time on Earth. So begins “The Traveler” directed by Mike Mendez (Big Ass Spider, The Gravedancers) from a script by Alejandro Mendez. As you’ve probably guessed this is Satanic Hispanics’ wraparound segment. Watch for cameos by scream queen Jessica Cameron (Camp Twilight, Rucker) and Noel Jason Scott (No Name and Dynamite, Tales for the Campfire 3).
“Tambien Lo Vi” written and directed by Demian Rugna (You Don’t Know Who You’re Talking To, Terrified) is the story of Gustavo (Demián Salomón, The Unburied Corpse, Red Point) who competes in Rubic’s Cube solving tournaments. He’s also convinced he’s found a way to see into the afterlife. It starts off with the lack of seriousness you might expect from that description. But it quickly turns serious and manages to be both terrifying and, at one point. touching.
Next up is “El Vampiro” by director Eduardo Sanchez and writer Adam Cesare. Surprisingly it wasn’t about the wrestler, instead, it’s a humorous tale of a vampire (Hemky Madera, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Queen of the South) who forgot to allow for Daylight Savings Time when he was planning his night out. It’s funny at times but often lapses into outright silliness. It does have some practical gore that varies from excellent to what looks like a styrofoam head.
Satanic Hispanics’ third segment, was co-written by Shadan Saul and Raynor Shima and directed by Gigi Saul Guerrero (Bingo Hell, México Bárbaro). “Nahules” is another serious segment, this time about a man (Ari Gallegos, Cry Macho, Narcos: Mexico)who finds himself on the wrong side of a powerful witch (Gabriela Ruíz, New Order) and her followers. While not a bad segment, it’s not really frightening and seems more concerned with the torture sequence that makes up the mid-section of the story than anything else.
The final story “Hammer of Zanzibar” by director Alejandro Brugués (Juan of the Dead, Nightmare Cinema) and writer Lino K. Villa swings back into more lighthearted territory. Malcolm (Jonah Ray, Victor Crowley, Mystery Science Theater 3000) suspects that his ex Amy (Danielle Chaves) may be possessed. And not by just any spirit, but by King Zombie (Morgana Ignis, Harbinger Down, Shortwave). This segment runs heavy on the slapstick, often feeling like The Evil Dead without the gore.
And then Satanic Hispanics wraps up on a note that feels like a more serious version of action scenes from Menendez’s film Don’t Kill It. Right down to the open ending that hints at a sequel.
When all is said and done, Satanic Hispanics is a fun film that doesn’t feel like it runs for a little under two hours. That length gives each of the filmmakers the time they need to tell their story, but without enough time for padding. It’s also good to see Mendez behind the camera again for the first time in six years, and the first really good thing he’s done since Big Ass Spider. My only real complaint is the way the segments are ordered, constantly shifting back and forth between serious and funny. The tonal shifts stopped the segments from building off of each other. The filmmakers would have been better off starting with the lightest segment and getting progressively darker from there.
Satanic Hispanics made its world premiere at this year’s Fantastic Fest. You can check their website for the remaining screenings. Epic Pictures has picked it up for release via its Dread imprint, but no dates have been announced. While you wait, FilmTagger has some suggestions for similar films to watch.