100 CRIES OF TERROR
(A STUDY IN PANIC IN TWO PARTS)
(A DEBT OF PANiC & THE CRiPT OF TERROR)
(1965), B/W, 96 minutes
Distributed by Trans-International Films
Presented by Young America Productions
Produced at Soundlab, Coral Gables, Fla.
Produced by K. Gordon Murray
Directed by Manuel San Fernando
DVD-R comes packaged as shown in color DVD case wrapped in plastic!
100 CRIES OF TERROR starts off strong, with a powerful opening, featuring a brisk montage of scenes to come, to a jazzy score, implying an attempt at a modern horror film. What follows is an interesting, if uneventful, anthology feature which owes a significant debt to THE TWILIGHT ZONE and others of its ilk.
In the first segment, “A Debt of Panic”, a bored rich couple buy a haunted house, and suffer betrayal, murder and terror.
The thought of a horror film about a laughing ghost-woman in chains looks promising at the start, but the segment turns out to be a fairly predictable story of human perversity and supernatural justice, with some interesting, if rudimentary, poltergeistian activity.
The ending, also, is downbeat and ironic in the NIGHT GALLERY vein.
In “The Cript of Terror”, an arty montage of crosses, poplars and high tension towers segways into a stylized tale of being buried alive.
The morbid notion of being trapped in someone’s tomb was done better years later in TILL DEATH (1978), which surely stole some ideas from this film, but the idea is spooky enough to work fairly well here, at least for awhile.
And the spooky Alicia Caro, also great in SPIRITISM, does convey well the curious paradox of a woman going mad, being both alluring and offputting at once.
But in the end, “The Cript of Terror” uses its jazzy music and arty visuals to try and liven up what is essentially a pretty mundane affair.
There is a good deal of rich, florid pseudo-psychological gibberish which makes for some great soundbites, but halts the flimsy non-drama dead in its tracks.
When the preachy doctor snaps, and turns on the woman, the event is expected, (and over-edited in a snappy montage), but still somehow disturbing.
As opposed to the advertised “Study in Panic”, one might say that the theme of the piece is the difficulty of honest communication between modern men and women, but that may be stretching things, the message being bungled.
Even scarier, 1COT may be a brave, ill-conceived attempt at existentialist cinema, similar to its near-cousin BLOODY SEA (same time period, country, heroine and producer), but as in BS, it doesn’t quite work. The bravura attempt, however, to fuse gothic horror style with aesthetic and philosophic modernism, is certainly disarming.
These two films also remind one of the Cuban existentialist masterpiece, BACKS TURNED (aka CUBAN CONFIDENTIAL).
Film ends with another arty montage, this time of modern Mexican skyscrapers, and alot more credits than we’re used to in the average Mexi-Monster Mash, leaving us with a question: is this flick an upscale cinematic curio, a botched psychological horror film, or a failed, bizarre exercise in post-sexual modernism?
Ironically, (perhaps unwittingly), 1COT does achieve what it set out to do; it may be Mexico’s first “modern” horror film. It is also, alas, a failure by any accessible standards.