It will probably be a while before traditional Latin American bogeymen like the chupacabras, La Llorona, and el cuco star in their own Hollywood films.
But if Bronx-raised filmmaker Edwin Pagán had his way, everyone would know about Latin contributions to all things spooky.
Pagán’s online brainchild, latinhorror.com, was launched on Halloween. “The mission is to consolidate in people’s minds that there is a genre called ‘Latin horror,'” he says.
The Latin horror tradition stretches at least as far back as the 1920s, when Mexico‘s film industry was making silent horror movies, says Pagán.
Even the famous 1931 classic “Dracula” was filmed simultaneously in Spanish, with Carlos Villarías instead of Bela Lugosi playing the bloodsucker. Some horror buffs say the Spanish version boasts superior filmmaking and is scarier, too.
And who knew New York-born George A. Romero, maker of iconic Night of the Living Dead zombie films, had a Cuban-American father?
Unfortunately, Latin horror gets short shrift in histories of the horror genre. “Mexico and Spain get maybe a half-page and, then, that’s it,” says Pagán, “it’s mostly glossed over.”
He hopes the Web site can help secure Latin horror’s place within the pop universe, something Japanese horror has achieved.
Latin horror movies are starting to be remade by Hollywood, says Pagán, 44. He points to a Colombian movie, “Al Final del Espectro,” from 2006.
Universal Pictures has acquired the film as a vehicle for Nicole Kidman, and kept on director Juan Felipe Orozco to oversee the English version, according to Variety.
Mexican director and screenwriter Guillermo del Toro might be described as the reigning king of Latin horror.
His frightening but affecting 2006 international hit “Pan’s Labyrinth,” produced and set in Spain, had a dark magic suggestive of a baroque Latin American imagination.
Queens-born Jason Cuadrado is a rising star — a Latino who recently wrote and directed the Japanese horror film “Tales from the Dead” in California.
However, latinhorror.com will not limit itself to film, arguably the dominant horror medium. It will also encompass comics, graphic novels, photography, music, art and books.
The Web site launched as a newsletter, and will expand to include interviews, reviews and, eventually, an online store and message board.
Of the 3,500 fans currently registered, maybe 70% are non-Latinos, judging by surnames, which Pagán says demonstrates the crossover appeal of the genre.
“Horror fans are true fans, they’re very loyal,” says Pagán, who has produced several independent horror films with Latino actors or themes.
Latinos tend to create spiritually tinged horror stories that deal in fantasy, alternate dimensions and the afterlife, less with slashers and gore, says Pepper Negrón, 49, a Bronx-raised filmmaker and photographer.
“It’s kind of beautiful in a sense,” says Negrón, “at least to me.”