Latin Horror: REVIEW: ’30 COINS’ sets the bar high for horror television in 2021

Álex de la Iglesia creates a unique edge-of-your-seat experience.

January 12, 2021

Justina Bonilla By JUSTINA BONILLA

LATIN HORROR Spain’s wildly popular and critically acclaimed original 8-part horror paranormal series ‘30 Coins‘ has made its way to American screens.

30 Coins or 30 Monedasas it’s known overseas, is the first television show from Álex de la Iglesia to come to America. De la Iglesia is one of the most influential directors of contemporary Spanish horror. He is best known for the horror-comedies ‘The Day of the Beast‘ and ‘Witching & Bitching‘.

Each episode of 30 Coins is directed by de la Iglesia, and co-written by de la Igelsia and Jorge Guerricaechevarría. Guerricaechevarría is a frequent collaborator with de la Iglesia, also co-writing ‘The Day of the Beast‘ and ‘Witching & Bitching‘. 

Carmen Machi, Miguel Ángel Silvestre, and Megan Montaner in ’30 Coins’ (2020)

Within a very brief seconds of the first episode of 30 Coins, “Cobwebs”, starts with a bang in Geneva, Switzerland. Leaving viewers caught off guard, but intrigued by why this ancient Roman coin is so highly sought after. 

The title sequence is a gothic melodrama interpretation of the crucifixion of Christ, including Juda’s betrayal and his suicide. When the coins of Judas are spilled, they appear to be similar to the coin seem in Geneva, insinuating a connection between the two.

Elena (Megan Montaner) in ’30 Coins’ (2020)

Then30 Coins focuses on the sleepy small village in Spain, which will become the main focus of the program. The regular lives of everyone are turned upside down, when a routine cow in labor at a farm, gives birth to a healthy human infant. The strange birth is witnessed by the town veterinarian Elena (Megan Montaner). She asks for help from the mayor Paco (Miguel Ángel Silvestre), and the village’s new priest, Father Vergara (Eduard Fernández). 

“Whoever has the 30 coins, will have in their possession a weapon more powerful than the very Arch of the Covenant”

As Elena and Paco seek answers for the strange birth, they stumble on to the deep evil force from Father Vergara’s past, from which he was desperately trying to protect them from. An evil which seeks to steal the Roman coin in Father Vergara’s possession, which is one of the coins of Judas’ 30 coins. Father Vergara warns that “Whoever has the 30 coins, will have in their possession a weapon more powerful than the very Arch of the Covenant”.

Mixing horror, Catholic mythology, and multiple intertwining novela style stories, 30 Coins creates a unique edge of your seat experience. Though each of the episodes could be a standalone horror story, they form a series of unbelievable paranormal activates, all revolving around Judas’ 30 coins. 

‘La Caja de Cristal’ 30 Coins (2020)

The cinematography by Pablo Rosso ([Rec] and [REC] 4: Apocalypse) highlights its diverse sets around the world, especially the exterior of the small village. It captures both the beauty of natural sunlight and the hidden terrors of the night. The kills and monsters in 30 Coins are distinctive, with kill weapons varying from knitting needles to holy relics. While the use of CGI special effects helps to elevate the eeriness of the supernatural elements of30 Coins, they sometime can come off as cartoonish. For example, certain blood splatters from a kill, looking as though they are video game graphics. 

Some audiences might be turned off by the use of English subtitles, with the characters speaking in primarily Spanish, with supplementary other non-English languages. However, the use of the native languages gives the series a more authentic and realistic feel.

30 Coins is a unique breath of fresh air in horror television, with its stylized use of cloak and dagger elements, with non-stop paranormal suspense. It sets the bar high for horror television of 2021.

30 Coins is now on HBO Monday nights at 6 PM EST/9 PM PST, with reruns. All episodes after initial airing are available on HBO Max.  

30 Coins

Father Vergara, an exorcist, boxer and ex-convict exiled to a remote town in Spain, enlists the help of the mayor and a veterinarian when a series of paranormal phenomena begins to occur. Rating 8


Latin Heat: ‘Malcolm & Marie’ On Its Way To The Oscars


By Justina Bonilla

One of 2021’s first highly anticipated films, Malcom & Marie is set premiere on Netflix on February 5, 2021 following a theatrical run in select theaters in January.

Malcolm & Marie is already creating Oscar buzz, thanks to its artistically bold cast both in Infront of and behind the camera. These amazing talents include actors Zendaya (EuphoriaK.C. Undercover) and John David Washington (BlacKKKlansman,Tenet), director Sam Levinson (Euphoria,The Wizard of Lies), cinematographer Marcell Rév (EuphoriaAssassination Nation), composer Labrinth (EuphoriaWonder Woman), and editor Julio Perez IV (Euphoria, American Made).

Perez reunites with the creative team of Euphoria as he continues to make a name for himself with his work as an editor on a wide variety of films from the groundbreaking modern horror film classic It Follows to now Malcom & Marie. His style of editing compliments the black and white visuals of Malcom & Marie. The film was shot on a 35 mm camera, giving it the clean stylistic, yet organic feel.

Purchased by Netflix for $30 million, Malcom & Maire was exclusively shot at the Feldman Architecture’s Caterpillar house located in Carmel, California, from June 17 – July 2, 2020. According to IMDB Malcom & Maire was first film to be written, directed, and completed during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. In order to film, the cast and crew followed the intensely strict entertainment union COVID-19 guidelines.

Malcolm & Maire is an achingly romantic drama which filmmaker (Washington) and his girlfriend (Zendaya) return home following a celebratory movie premiere as he awaits what’s sure to be imminent critical and financial success. The evening suddenly takes a turn as revelations about their relationships begin to surface, testing the strength of their love” – Netflix.

Malcolm & Marie reminisces both visually and artistically the groundbreaking and controversial 1966 Oscar-winning film Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf, which starred the iconic Elizabeth Taylor and Robert Burton.

If Malcolm & Marie garners Oscar nominations Washington, who is also a producer on the film, would have the unique chance of having a film nominated the same year as his father Denzel Washington, who is a producer for another Netflix film predicted to receive an Oscar nomination, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. And if Washington is nominated for an acting Oscar, he and his father will join the history books of parents and children who have acquired Oscar wins and nominations, including the Coppola family (Francis Ford CoppolaCarmine, and Coppola), the Fonda’s (Henry Peter and Jane Fonda), the Douglas’ (Kirk and Michael Douglas), and the Garland/Minnelli’s (Judy GarlandVincent Minnelli, and Liza Minnelli).


Latin Horror: Review: ‘CASTLE FREAK’ is a Remake of a Cult Classic

A Horrific Return to the Whateley Castle. 

December 28, 20202


Castle Freak (2020)

LATIN HORROR Castle Freak, directed by special effects makeup artist Tate Steinsiek, is a remake of the 1995 cult classic of the same name, heavily influenced by H.R Lovecraft.

1995 Original:

Co-written and directed by horror icon Stuart GordonCastle Freak, was loosely based on several multiple H.P. Lovecraft stories, including “The Outsider”, “Herbert West-Reanimator”, “The Dunwich Horror”, “The Rats in the Wall”, and “The Hound”. Other films Gordon directed or wrote which were also Lovecraft influenced, including ‘From Beyond and ‘Re-Animator‘. These Lovecraft inspired films became iconic 1980s horror cult classics.

In the original film, starring scream queen Barbara Crampton, an American family is in turmoil, after John Reilly (Jeffrey Combs), the father, caused a traumatic car crash by his drunk driving, killing their five-year-old son and blinding their teenage daughter, Rebecca (Jessica Dollarhide). John inherits an Italian castle, which unknown to the family, houses a deformed beast. As the family moves into the castle in order to liquidate the estate, the beast breaks free of its prison and terrorizes the family.

Castle Freak (2020)

2020 Remake:

In keeping with the original film, we follow Americans in a foreign county. This time, it’s a young couple John (Jake Horowitz) and Rebecca (Clair Catherine) at a castle in Albania called the Whateley Castle. John and Rebecca are a hard partying couple, get into a car crash, resulting in Rebecca going blind. John, feeling guilty for being intoxicated when causing the crash that caused Rebecca’s blindness, cares for her, with increasing resentment and anger towards her. After Rebecca’s mysterious and reclusive mother (Kika Magalhães) dies, she inherits Whateley Castle and the unholy presents within its walls. The young couple travel to the castle with the hopes of selling the castle and its assets, only to find that nothing is what it seems.

Whateley Castle is visually striking, inside and out. The classic style and size of the castle’s rooms give it a cold unwelcoming feeling. While the view from the castle to the small village and nature below, is a lovely vision of old Europe. The old-fashioned village and the isolated feeling it gives, visually resembles the small village seen in ‘Hostel.

With all of the potential that the new Castle Freak had, it disappointingly lacked, especially in focus for the plot and the characters, as well as the presentation of the beast. While the plot could have worked as either minimal or complex, the plot felt empty in the beginning and overly concentrated towards the end. The deaths and backstabbing by the cast was predictable. None of the characters were fleshed. Though other horror films (House Of 1000 Corpses and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) had minimal character development, they were able to learn on plot, violence, or action, to keep viewers engaged. These characters didn’t have anything to rely on.    

All the characters lacked in personality and chemistry, especially the relationship between Rebecca and John. They lack any connection, either positive or negative, making their relationship obsolete. The friends were used to using subplots that added more bulkiness to the plot, rather than helping create conflict and expanding the story.

While the practical effects of the monster was impressive, it would have worked to the advantage of the film, like the original film, to minimize the beast’s initial appearance on screen, to create mystery and tension. Showing too much so soon took the horror away from the beast, making it unintimidating.

Castle Freak (2020)

The best part of the film was the end, after the credits. A brief scene references Herbert West from Re-Animator. A treat for Re-Animator fans.

Although horror remakes can be tricky to make, it has the potential to become a classic itself (The Fly, 1986), or a flop (The Wicker Man, 2006). The strength of Castle Freak, is limited to the location and the Re-Animator clip. Fans of Lovecraft influenced horror should instead, stick with the classic Castle Freak. However, if you enjoy very rushed violence, with bold and extended sexual content, then this remake might interest you.

Catch ‘CASTLE FREAK‘ on Shudder and VOD & Digital HD.


Castle Freak (2020)

Terror strikes when a blind woman and her friends travel to a mysterious Albanian castle that harbors dark secrets. Rating 3


Latin Heat: Review: ‘We Can Be Heroes’ Holiday Superheroes


Review: ‘We Can Be Heroes’ Holiday Superheroes


By Justina Bonilla

Robert Rodriguez’s superhero, adventure film We Can Be Heroes premieres on Netflix on Christmas day. It is a sweet, feel-good family film starring some of Hollywood’s top talent.

Director Robert Rodriguez
(Photo Credit: Robert Rodriquez)

Texan native, Rodriguez’s directorial debut film El Mariachi earned the distinction of being the lowest-budget movie to make $1 million at the US box office and launched his career in 1993. His cutting-edge visual style seen in his horror (From Dusk till Dawn) and action (Sin City) films, has made Rodriquez one of the most famous, influential, and beloved directors in contemporary American cinema. For We Can Be Heroes Rodriguez, once again takes on multiple roles including director, writer, producer, editor, and director of photography.

We Can Be Heroes is the stand-alone sequel to Rodriguez’s 2005 film The Adventures of Lavagirl and Sharkboy – 3Dwhich follows a young boy named Max as he’s recruited by two imaginary superhero friends, Sharkboy and Lavagirl, to save their home planet, Planet Drool.

In We Can Be Heroes, Sharkboy and Lavagirl are now adults in the real world. They’re a part of a team of elite Earth superheroes called The Heroics led by Marcus Moreno (Pedro Pascual). When the earth is threatened by a massive alien invasion, The Heroics have their super children sent to safety, under the care of the strict government babysitter, Ms. Granada (Priyanka Chopra Jonas).

(Photo Credit: Netflix)

However, when The Heroics are kidnaped by the aliens, the superkids, led by Moreno’s daughter Missy (YaYa Gosselin,) escape from Ms. Granada. Together they go on an adventure learning to use their strengths and unique powers, as a team to save both their parents and the world.

Throughout the film, there is an emphasis on the importance of teamwork among the diverse group of people, including gender, race, and physical ability. Every superkid, despite what limitations others put on them, is able to use their individual power to excel both in the group and individually. This is especially evident in Missy who must overcome her own insecurities and believe in herself, in order to effectively learn to lead.

Pedro Pascual & YaYa Gosselin
(Photo Credit: Netflix)

Intent on making We Can Be Heroes as true an authentic family film, Rodriguez collaborated with four of his five children, Racer MaxRebelRogue, and Rhiannon. For instance, Racer Max who initially created the characters of Sharkboy and Lavagirl, was also a co-producer on We Can Be Heroes. While Rebel wrote the film’s score. The film’s music references rock icon David Bowie’s hit song Heroes, which can be heard throughout the film. The phrase, “We can be heroes”, is one of the most recognizable lyrics of the song.

Rodriguez shared how he wanted We Can Be Heroes to be a children’s version of The Avengers. Expressing how, “The genre is a great way to present a mythology, but grounded in family values and messages for children,” he said and added “If kids are going to watch a film over and over, you want to give them something that teaches them about family, working together, inspiring others, and using all of their personal power to change the world for the better”.

In these turbulent times when adults don’t seem to have all of the answers and with so much infighting among them, children are left to feel unsure about their futures. We Can Be Heroes gives children positive encouragement. It gives hope that with each new generation comes the opportunity to rebuild and go further than the generation before them.

We Can Be Heroes premiers on Friday, December 25, 2020.


Latin Heat: Colman Domingo Chosen To Shine in ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ as Cutler

By Justina Bonilla

Among the extraordinary cast of actors of Netflix’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, is Colman Domingo who plays Ma Rainey’s bandleader Cutler. He is dazzling in his supporting role.

(Photo: Netflix)

Domingo, born in Philadelphia has been acting for over thirty years. He is an award-nominated and winning actor, director, writer, and producer, in film, television, and the theatre. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as well as the Director’s Guild of America. But his work extends beyond Hollywood. He is also a 2020 Julliard School Creative associate and is part of the Yale School of Drama faculty.

The stage is where Domingo honed his skills; in acting (The Wiz and Taming of the Shrew), writing (Dot), and directing (Single Black Female). Domingo’s impressive and diverse resume includes two revival plays Fences and Seven Guitars written by “The American Shakespeare” August Wilson, in which Domingo worked as actor and director, respectively. Another one of these plays, all part of Wilson’s “Pittsburgh Cycle” of Broadway productions which highlight the African-American experience, is the 1985 Tony Award-winning Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, adapted for the screen by Ruben Santiago-Hudson.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom follows “The Mother of the Blues” Ma Rainey (Viola Davis) and her band during a Chicago recording session, on a hot day in 1927, where both heat and tempers rise. The lead musician of Ma Rainey’s band is trombone player Cutler, played by Domingo. Cutler is a seasoned musician, who like his other bandmates navigates his life as an African American in an industry that wants to profit off of their talent, without respecting the person behind it.

Each bandmate deals with the struggle of racial inequality differently, from Cutler’s calm and cooperative manner to Levee (Chadwick Boseman)’s excitable and rebellious demeanor. Even their clothes contrast, with Cutler in a well-coordinated suit, while Levee’s suit is mismatched country-boy-clean.

Domingo shines in his supporting role, as the anchor and peacemaker for the band, with the recording studio and within the band. He is a wise bandleader, who listens to concerns, while also giving honest wisdom, and maintaining order within the band.

(L to R), Glynn Turman as Toldeo, Chadwick Boseman as Levee, Michael Potts as Slow Drag, and Colman Domingo as Cutler., (Photo: David Lee / Netflix)

In an interview with Yahoo! Movies, Domingo shared how “The team of Denzel Washington and George C. Wolfe chose me to be a part of Ma Rainey and believed that whatever I can bring to it, will help be a part of this magnificent film.”

As a film actor, Domingo has made a name for himself as an actor, in the popular AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead, he is the only actor in the franchise to also direct. His film work extends beyond, working with some of the most notable film directors in multiple contemporary classics such as Selma (directed by Ava DuVernay), If Beale Street Could Talk (directed by Barry Jenkins), and Passing Strange (directed by Spike Lee).

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is already a theatre classic, its chance of becoming a film classic is almost a given with the powerful cast headed by Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, Glynn Truman, Michael Potts and yes, indeed with the talent of Colman Domingo.

With the passion, respect for Wilson’s legacy, and artistic strength Domingo puts into Cutler, we see the potential for both critical acclaim and award recognition.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom premiers on Friday, Netflix December 18, 2020.

Domingo’s Official Site




Latin Heat: Exclusive: Screenwriter Ruben Santiago-Hudson on The Power of ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’

By Justina Bonilla

The highly anticipated Netflix film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom makes its way from its stunning stage production by “The American Shakespeare” August Wilson, to the TV screen with the artistic discipline of Tony Award-winning actor, director, playwright, and screenwriter Ruben Santiago-Hudson.

Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Photo Credit: OWN)

Santiago-Hudson was born in Lackawanna, New York. He has performed on the stage in numerous productions including Seven Guitars; television (Billions, Lackawanna Blues, The West Wing); and film (Selma, American Gangster). Both his Tony Award win for Best Featured Actor in Seven Guitars and his Tony Award nomination for best direction for Jitney were for his work in Wilson’s plays.   

From a young age, Santiago-Hudson developed a love and passion for the theatre. Santiago-Hudson remembered, “I fell in love with theatre at a very early age. Second grade, I did my first play that I remember. And every year [after that], I wanted that feeling again. I wanted to learn lines, and have people laugh, cry and clap.”

After years of professional acting, Santiago-Hudson started to write and direct plays. During this time, he would go on to write and star in his critically acclaimed one-man off-Broadway play turned HBO film, Lackawanna BluesLackawanna Blues follows the dramatized life story of a young Santiago-Hudson and the boarding house of colorful characters who helped shape him, focusing on the influence his primary caregiver Miss. Rachael, best known as Nanny, had on him.

Santiago-Hudson revealed, “Basically what I was doing, I was telling the story of the woman who sacrificed so much for me, and given me the appetence, the confidence, the love, the support to go out and make something useful of myself in the world.” Further elaborating, “I wanted to write something to pay respect and to say thank you to her, and all the women in our communities that hold our communities together, the rock and the foundation of our communities.”

August Wilson (Photo Credit: David Cooper)

Wilson is Santiago-Hudson’s favorite playwright. In sharing his love and admiration for Wilson’s work, Santiago-Hudson says it’s in part due to his portrayal of, “The reality and celebration of African American life. He takes a common man and puts a crown on him, and makes him more than worthy and whole, and complete as a human being, with the fragilities and power that human beings can have. Whereas other writers, particularly White writers, don’t seem to have any love for any people of color. They just use you as an interesting device in their plays for the most part. But, August loves you. And you can feel the love for his characters when you read his plays, or you perform his plays, or direct them.” 

His favorite Wilson play? “Right now, the one that has my heart in a big way, is Jitney. Because I took Jitney to Broadway and completed the ten-play cycle of Broadway plays.” It was a ten-year journey to complete this. Wilson is the first American playwright to write a play set in each decade from the 20th century, about the African American experience, including Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, set in the 1920’s.

Adapting the iconic Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom script from the stage to the screen, Santiago-Hudson says he first focuses on pictures, elaborating on how, “A film is just motion pictures, which is pictures in motion. So, I got to create pictures,” he explains. “What pictures do I want to tell a story with? I try to take words, and [think] how do I set them into pictures, instead of just doing all the words? [Then] you start editing, but you don’t edit out the heart and soul of the movie, you just put it in a different way. So, let me show this, instead of saying this.”

Santiago-Hudson is quick to emphasize, “But more than anything, you have to honor the script. The script you are taking in as an adaptation must be honored, and put first of all in the most proper, powerful place, and then build on that.”

Netflix Poster

In regards to the responsibility of writing the screenplay for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Santiago-Hudson revealed that “Yes, there was a lot of anxiety. There was a lot of anticipation. I wanted to get it right because I wanted to pay respect to a mentor of mine, a colleague, a peer, a person that I have great love for, August Wilson. Also at the same time, I gotta please Denzel [Washington] the producer, I gotta please George C. Wolfe the director, I gotta please August Wilson, I gotta please Netflix, and somewhere in there, I gotta be happy. That’s a lot of people to make happy.”

In the screenplay Santiago-Hudson preserved Wilson’s dialogue, asserting that, “August [wrote] those words. I did not write those words. I wrote more visuals and things I wanted to see. I was adamant about not rewriting his words. I had to write to make the play flow, but not much.”

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom follows the rising tension in a Chicago recording session for “The Mother of the Blues”, Ma Rainey (Viola Davis) and her band, which includes the young and driven trumpet player Levee (Chadwick Boseman). Davis starred in Wilson’s previous play which was also adapted to film, Fences. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is also the last onscreen performance Boseman completed before his tragic death in August of this year.

When describing both the performances of Davis and Boseman, Santiago-Wilson profoundly felt that each represented, “Integrity. Integrity is the thing I enjoyed the most. Because talent is easy to almost have a measuring stick on. But integrity, that’s something that you exude. You exude that it matters to you, that you’re not going to let these people fall short of anything — all the gifts that are innate in humanity. If it’s a part of humanity and you hold on tight to it, double fisted, you have integrity.”

In Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, an essential prop to the story was Levee’s new shoes. Though the shoes being yellow were a way to have them stand out in the film, Santiago-Hudson notes, “The shoes [represent] status. The shoes [represent] wanting to do better and wanting to feel good about yourself. A black man in the 1920s with new shoes and a new hat. That’s saying something.”

(L to R) Michael Potts as Slow Drag, Chadwick Boseman as Levee, and Colman Domingo as Cutler.
(Photo Credit: David Lee / Netflix)

Santiago-Hudson made two noted additions to Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Levee’s mismatched clothes, and the bolted door. “If you notice the way [Levee] is dressed,” Santiago-Hudson pointed out, “I wrote this in the screenplay, he has his jacket, pants, and vest — they don’t match. He’s country boy clean. Opposed to a city boy clean — [who] would have the jacket, pants, and vest match.”

As for the bolted door, Santiago-Hudson explained, “The door not being able to open throughout the movie until the end, it was the confinement. The closing in of the walls. [It’s] the metaphor for the way they have treated people of color in this country. They have closed us in. They gave us limitations on how we can travel, where we can travel, how high we could strive to achieve. It’s always ceilings and doors and walls around us. So, I wanted to create a combustible atmosphere that can explode. And finally, at the end when [Levee] wanted air bad, and space bad, the door finally opened, and he went out. And what did he see? Walls. So, there is no escape.”

In the future, if other Wilson plays are to be adapted for the screen Santiago-Hudson would want to be a part of it. “Anything they throw my way, I would love to do it. More than anything, even more than that, I would love to direct one. It would be a dream come true for me. I hope they will give me an opportunity,” he mused.

As for the experience for the audience, Santiago-Ruben hopes audiences will, “First of all, I want to be fully engaged and entertained. I want people to be able to get rid of all the ills that’s going on around them, and give themselves to a very wonderful story and event”.

He concludes, “Second of all, I want people to really feel that they, in watching Ma Rainey navigate this country, in her situation — I want people to understand that they have power. Power is nothing if you can’t acknowledge, or are unaware that you have it. I’d love people to see that, particularly people of color, know that we do have power, and we are worthy of the space and time that we have on this Earth, at all times unapologetically.”

Featured photo credit: Netflix/OWN


Latin Horror: REVIEW: ‘FREAKY’ is a Killer Fun Time

Freaky will become a teen horror classic.Justina Bonilla

Freaky is a fun teen comedy slasher horror, combining the fun of the 90’s comedies and horror.

Kathryn Newton as Millie in ‘Freaky’ (2020)

LATIN HORROR Director Christopher Landon has made a name for himself at Blumhouse with successful horror films, such as Happy Death DayHappy Death Day 2U, and Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. Landon co-wrote ‘Freaky with first time screenwriter Michel Kennedy, best known for co-hosting the horror Podcast Attack of the Queerwolf and for his diverse work on the Seth MacFarlane animated shows Family GuyAmerican Dad, and Bordertown (staff writer).

Freaky, set in small-town America, with Millie (Kathryn Newton), a sweet, yet awkward teen girl, who’s trying to survive the cutthroat world of Blissfield High School, with the help of her two best friends Joshua (Misha Osherovich) and Nyla (Celeste O’Connor). However, the town is plagued by the brutal killings of The Butcher (Vince Vaughn), a vicious serial killer. When The Butcher tries to make Millie his next victim, he stabs her with La Dola, an Aztec blade with mystical powers, causing them to switch bodies. Millie, now stuck in The Butcher’s body, must convince Joshua and Nyla of her true identity, so she can get back into her body, before The Butcher, now in Millie’s body, continues his bloody killing spree unsuspected.

Vince Vaughn as The Butcher in ‘Freaky’ (2020)

Freaky blends the influence of 90’s comedies and horror films with ease. The comedic aspects of the film feel similar in tone and timing to Romy and Michele’s Highschool ReunionShe’s All That, and Never Been Kissed. While the horror aspects seem to be influenced in its suspense and cringe moments from Scream, I Know What you Did Last Summer, and Candyman. With Millie being a female character who gains strength and courage as the film progresses, she is a modern interpretation of the last girl, following in the footsteps of Nancy Thompson of A Nightmare on Elm Street and Laurie Strode of Halloween.

The unique death scenes in Freaky are a breath of fresh air. Seeing how everyday objects are used in the kills, including a tennis racket and liquor bottle is clever and entertaining. It was also intriguing to see how a whole set could be used for a kill, most notably the woodshop classroom. Among the weapons used, which was the most unique and important is La Dola, which was used in human sacrifice rituals. The power of La Dola sets the film in motion, with a great visual of a Aztec pyramid, used for human sacrifice.

However, the backstory of La Dola was incomplete. Initially, La Dola is introduced in a glass case and appears to be dated as circa 1436 A.D. Later, when Joshua looks up La Dola’s information on his phone, it says online it’s from 1325 A.D. There is also the question of why Spanish would be on an Aztec dagger, as the high school’s Spanish teacher Señora Cayenes (Maria Sager) pointed out, in Spanish, “It’s strange. The dagger is Aztec, but it has a warning in Spanish”. If there is an opportunity for a Freaky 2, hopefully, more background can be given on La Dola.

While the comedic timing between Señora Cayenes and Joshua was good, Señora Cayenes’ overly cartoonish and forced Spanish accent, along with her behavior, such as stating, “Santa Madre de Dios (Holy Mother of God)”, and kissing her rosary, was a snag in the film. Freaky overall did reframe from racial stereotypes, case in point, mean girl Ryler, played by Melissa Collazo, a Latina actress. She was an excellent mean girl, with no exaggerated ethnic behavior.

Joshua (Misha Osherovich), Ryler (Melissa Collazo), Millie (Kathryn Newton), and Nyla (Celeste O’Connor) in ‘Freaky’ (2020)

A positive theme throughout Freaky was the inclusion of queer influence through its characters and subtle references. For example, the first queer influence we see is subtle, with Millie giving a kiss to a poster of Panic! at the Disco lead singer, Brandon Uire, who identifies as pansexual.

“If the stereotype is like a confident self-assured gay man, then great. Because we definitely did that on purpose”.

– Michael Kennedy

Joshua is a loud and proud queer young man, not afraid to be himself. According to Kennedy in his interview with Latin Horror, he explained how, though some felt Joshua was a queer stereotype, “If the stereotype is like a confident self-assured gay man, then great. Because we definitely did that on purpose”.

Also, when Millie is in The Butcher’s body, her friends refer to Millie with she/her pronouns and treat her as Millie despite how she looks. Because as far as they are concerned, she is their dear friend, just stuck in the wrong body.  

Nyla (Celeste O’Connor), Vince Vaughn (The Butcher), and Joshua (Misha Osherovich) in ‘Freaky’ (2020)

Both Vaughn and Newton excels in both their roles as their initial characters and as each other. With each being able to show venerability and predatorial behavior equally throughout the film. Each makes their characters entertaining and charming.

Freaky will become a teen horror classic. Without a doubt, The Butcher and ‘Murder Barbie’ Millie costumes will be been seen at future Halloween events and as a cos-play at horror conventions.



Latin Heat: Gigi Saul Guerrero and Ryan Zaragoza Direct on “Welcome to the Blumhouse’ Series”

The Welcome to the Blumhouse series, a VOD collaboration between Blumhouse Television and Amazon Prime Video, has announced the next four films to complete its eight-film TV series. Gigi Saul Guerrero (The Purge (TV Series) , La Quinceañera) and Ryan Zaragoza will each direct one of the four films which will be released in 2021.

The suspenseful thrillers will continue to highlight female and emerging filmmakers, and diverse casts; and will launch next year on Prime Video in over 240 countries and territories worldwide. The “Welcome to the Blumhouse” program continues the legacy of original, elevated, genre storytelling. Centered around unsettling themes of institutional horrors and personal phobias, the films tap into people’s deepest fears. These social thrillers present a distinctive vision and unique perspective.

“Coming off the successful launch of the first four films of the program, which has surpassed our expectations, we are excited to reveal the next chapter coming in 2021,” said Jennifer Salke, Head of Amazon Studios. “The spine-tingling, edge of your seat thrills continues in this next collection of titles that will surely entertain, surprise and shock our global customers.”

The Welcome to the Blumhouse series has hired a wide variety of diverse and emerging talent in front of and behind the camera with their first four horror films Black BoxNocturneEvil Eye, and The Lie. Each of these films were original social thrillers, unique to each filmmaker. Behind the camera talent included cinematographers Hilda Mercado and Carmen Cabana who captured the captivating visuals of Black Box and Nocturne respectively.

The ManorBlack as NightMadres, and Bingo are the next four films in the Blumhouse series. These four films will to be released in 2021. Here is a small peek at these films

The Manor

Axelle Carolyn, Director/Writer

Synopsis: Judith, an elderly woman, is placed in a historic nursing home, after suffering a stroke. Soon, she notices something supernatural impacting her and her fellow nursing home residents. Despite her condition, the only way to escape the unknown supernatural presence, is to persuade those responsible for her care that she is without doubt healthy enough to be discharged.

Cast: Barbara HersheyBruce DavisonNicholas AlexanderJill Larsen, and Fran Bennett

Black as Night

Maritte Lee GoDirector

Synopsis: During the summer time, in New Orleans, a teenage girl struggling with self-esteem issues, battles vampires, with her best friend, a boy she has a secret crush on. As her self-confidence grows thought her vampire battles, will she ever find the confidence to tell her best friend her feelings for him?

Writer: Sherman Payne; Cast: Fabrizio GuidoAsjha CooperCraig Tate, and Keith David.


Ryan Zaragoza, Director

Synopsis: In 1970s California, a young couple, who are expecting their first child, movie to a migrant farming community. Disturbed by the strange pregnancy symptoms and nightmarish visions, the young mother-to-be investigates to see if what she is experiencing is influenced by a local legendary curse, or something worse.

Writers: Marcella Ochoa & Mario Miscione. Cast: Tenoch HuertaRené Mena Joseph GarciaAriana GuerraJennifer Patino, Evelyn GonzalezElpidia Carrillo, Composer Geraldo Garcia Jr. and cinematographer Felipe Vara de Rey.

This is Zaragoza’s first feature length film. His previous directorial work includes the short films The Painter, Bebé, and Sterling and TV episodics.


Gigi Saul Guerrero, Director

Synopsis: A lively group of elderly friends, led by the spunky and bold Lupita, are fighting against the gentrification of their beloved barrio. However, they face the biggest challenge of their lives, when their treasured Bingo hall is in the process of being sold to a highly influential tenant, more powerful than money.

Written by Shane McKenzie & Guerrero Cast: Not yet announced

Bingo will be Saul Guerrero’s second feature film collaboration as a director and writer for Blumhouse Television. Her first collaboration was with Culture Shock, an episode of the Hulu series Into the Dark. It’s the highest-rated film of the Into the Dark series, on Rotten Tomatoes with a 100% rating.


Latin Horror: REVIEW: ‘HABITUAL’ digs deep into the wounds of a real life American Nightmare

In a time of isolation, ‘Habitual‘ justifies how deadly going to the wrong party can be.

LATIN HORROR Habitual, which premiers this Friday the 13th, is the second film and introduction into the horror genre, by director/writer/actor Johnny Hickey. Hickey, known for his first film, the indie crime thriller drama ‘Oxy-Morons‘, introduces audiences to Habitual, showing how horrific the seedy underworld of drugs and its impact on users and those around them.

Anti-Drug bona fides aside, Habitual is no after school special

– Johnny Hickey

Anti-Drug bona fides aside, Habitual is no after school special”, Hickey emphasized. “This film is a bloodbath highlighted within intense special effects and some seriously horrifying backdrops”. Hickey’s love and admiration for the horror genre shine throughout the film, most notably the influences from the 1980’s slasher horror films (Evil Dead), and filmmakers such as Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock.

From the opening credits, Habitual entrances you with its stunning, yet eerie scenic shots of an old and abandoned Massachusetts mental institution, at dusk. Its calm visuals and sound design create an unnerving feeling that something evil is lurking in the shadows. Sending shivers up your spine.

Twenty-four hours earlier, a local bar is hosting a rave. Ravers dancing among the vibrant and luminous colors combined with trap music, willingly take drugs without question, from an unsavory drug dealer. Also flowing among the ravers, are flyers promoting “Habit”, a 12-hour rave at an abandoned insane asylum, exciting ravers.   

The morning after the rave, a group of young drug-popping raver friends, plan to go to the “Habit”, to get high and dance the night away. Before they make their way into “Habit”, they take a new and potent drug. Like Alice in ‘Alice in Wonderland‘, the friends fall into a mind-bending rabbit hole, within the walls of the asylum. The inside atmosphere of the dilapidated asylum feels similar to the old abandoned factory of ‘Hostel‘. It visually emphasizes dread, fear, and staleness. The further the friends go into the asylum, the stronger their living nightmare becomes.   

While in their drug-induced haze, the friends are stalked by a horrifically animalistic masked stalker, who’s brutal bloodthirsty, take no prisoner style, is similar to the iconic Leatherface of ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre‘. The use of practical effects, within its death scenes, especially one involving a razor blade, add to the skin-crawling bloodbath of Habitual.  

Habitual is a modern homage to the classic 1980s slashers, while also maintaining a distinctive voice and style. Bringing to light a modern issue which has become a growing nightmare for many in America.

We congratulate Hickey on Habitual and look forward to his future horror projects.

Habitual is set to release in Theaters and VOD on FridayNovember 13, 2020. For more on Habitual watch the in-depth interview and trailer by clicking on the following links: EXCLUSIVE: Director Johnny Hickey talks DRUGS, HORROR and ‘HABITUAL’ in Video Interview and TRAILER: A new drug induced nightmare in ‘HABITUAL’.


INSTGRAM – @habitualmovie  



A group of partygoers and a criminally insane mental patient bundle together on a hell-bent trip to an underground rave.

Habitual is a modern homage to the classic 1980s slashers, while also maintaining a distinctive voice and style.


The Frida Cinema: 10 Horror Essentials From 1980

By Justina Bonilla

1980 was an amazing year for groundbreaking and entertaining Horror films. In honor of the 40th anniversary of The Frida drive-in screening of The Shining on November 27th, we’re gonna highlight ten Horror films every fan of the genre should see.

10: Prom Night

The Slasher film classic heavily inspired the popular 90’s Horror franchise I Know What You Did Last Summer. A group of teens who accidentally killed a fellow classmate as young children are being stalked by a masked killer as they get ready for their high school senior prom. Over the years, this film has become a B-picture cult classic, especially for fans of 1980’s Horror.

9: The First Deadly Sin

Though considered a Crime Thriller film, the intensity of the suspense and use of violence feels like a horror movie. Golden Age of Hollywood icon Frank Sinatra stars as a close-to-retirement New York City police inspector that is frantically following the trail of a serial killer. A unique aspect of this film is that the serial killer’s weapon of choice was an ice axe with serrated teeth.

8: The Fog

Co-written and directed by Horror icon John Carpenter, this was his second film starring Jamie Lee Curtis after the 1978’s Halloween. As a small California coastal town is preparing for their 100th year anniversary, mysterious events lead to an eerie fog engulfing the town, bringing fear and death. The plot was based on a true story of a shipwreck.

7: Maniac

Considered one of the most violent Slasher films of the 1980s–its bold use of guerrilla cinematic style and gory special effects by legendary FX artist Tom Savini continue to be its legacy. A psychotic serial killer roams New York City, murdering young women and taking their scalps as a trophy. However, when he meets a beautiful photographer, will his bloodlust end, or will she become his next victim?

6: Inferno

A visually stunning surrealist horror Hilm written and directed by one of the most influential Italian horror directors ever–Dario Argento. After a young poet goes missing in her New York City apartment building, her brother goes to investigate her disappearance and a series of brutal murders, caused by the magic of a powerful coven of witches. Another equally influential Italian Horror director, Mario Bava, also assisted with this film, such as shooting scenes of star Irene Miracle and creating the film’s special effects.

5: Cannibal Holocaust

Without a doubt the most controversial horror film on this list, this is credited as the first found-footage horror film. A university anthropologist goes to the Amazon rainforest in search of a missing American film crew and recovers their film canisters. As he views the footage, he is shocked by the stomach-turning brutality captured on camera.

4: Dressed to Kill

An Erotic Thriller by Brian De Palma, it was nominated for two New York Film Critics Circle Awards for Best Director and Best Film. After a prostitute witnesses a murder and becomes the prime suspect for it, she and her son must find the killer before the killer finds her. What Psycho did for showers, Dressed to Kill did for elevators.

3: The Changeling

A chilling haunted house Horror film, listed by Bloody Disgusting as #4 of its “20 Best Haunted House Horror Movies”. While relocating to a countryside Victorian mansion after the death of his wife and child, a composer deals with the raw pain of grief and a ghostly presence within the mansion. The story of this film is based on the real-life haunted house and its events, the Henry Treat Rogers Mansion, located in Denver, Colorado.

2: Friday the 13th

The start of one of the most influential pop culture Horror franchises from the 1980s, inspired by a real mass murder. As a group of camp counselors are in the process of reopening a summer camp with a tragic past, a mysterious presence stalks and murders them one by one. This film was part of the top twenty highest-grossing movies of 1980, alongside Prom NightThe FogDressed to Kill, and The Shining.

Honorable Mentions:

City of the Living Dead

Motel Hell


We’re going to Eat You

Terror Train

1: The Shining

Undoubtedly, one of the most influential and beloved Horror films of all time, The Shining brought American horror films to a new artistic level. A troubled family spends their Winter isolated in the sprawling Overlook Hotel, where sinister energy torments them at every turn. Starting with them seeing horrific supernatural manifestations, the film eventually spirals into a violent battle to the death. In 2018, The Shining was entered into the Library of Congress because of its historical and cultural significance.