Mexico Maleficarum: Resurrecting 20th Century Mexican Horror Cinema 

Oct 6 – Oct 27, 2022

A ceremony is about to begin. Bells are tolling. Candles are lit. "Maleficarum" is the Latin word for witchcraft, which tragically became entangled with religious prosecution and abuse. This series reclaims the word back from the fanatics to use its might to resurrect and protect the psychotronic spirit that blossomed within Mexican horror cinema during its evolution in the latter part of the 20th century.

These films have historically been considered outcasts. While audiences enjoyed these delirious tales and box offices gorged on the receipts, the majority of film historians and critics openly denounced the recycled plot lines, genre mashups, and financial straightjackets under which they had to operate. Meanwhile, a peculiar flavor of cinema developed, one wearing a luchador mask, suspending vampire bats with clearly visible nylon thread, and lavishly displaying outlandish facial makeup that ventured beyond the absurd. In this cinematic ecosystem, bizarre filmic flora bloomed into a mystical space within the Mexican cinematic consciousness which revels in unhinged entertainment value, imagination that defies limitations, operatic emotions, a recurrent fear of the feminine, and a constant acknowledgement of the occult. 

Through the decades, many of these films have enjoyed cruel cycles of euphoric popularity on television, followed by long, quiet hibernation. The time has come to liberate monsters, lusty vampires, witches, deranged scientists, doll people, ghosts, and an Aztec living head from their extended slumber.

Hear these sisters and brothers of the night awake. Their existence honors the sheer bravado and passion of the actors and filmmakers who created them. We salute all the institutions, media companies, festivals, historians, and devoted fans, from Mexico and abroad, who have protected the legacy of these films against oblivion. Still today some jewels remain inaccessible, while others are scattered into a limbo of unsupervised transfers and neglect. Join us in a ritual ceremony of resurrection, from the unlit corners of vaults and archives to the mythical canvas of the museum’s screen, where these films will once again face the light beam of the projector and deliver their Mexquisite dark gospel into your souls.

Watch the Mexico Maleficarum series trailer here.

Films in this series contain graphic content; viewer discretion is strongly advised.

Please note: La cabeza viviente (The Living Head) is no longer screening as part of this series. We apologize for this inconvenience.

Programmed and notes by Abraham Castillo Flores, Guest Programmer