Film & TV

“The Living Coffin” (1959) – Mexican Gothic Western

Mexican Gothic

The Living Coffin (Spanish: El grito de la muerte/ Scream of Death) is a 1959 Mexican Gothic Western horror film focusing on a ranch haunted by evil spirits. It incorporates the story of La Llorona (The Crying Woman).

Gaston Santos, a famous bullfighter, plays the hero; he’s flanked by his resourceful steed and a chubby, perennially sleepy sidekick (initially amusing, he soon becomes overbearing especially when his antics are accompanied by incongruous ‘comic’ sound effects!). Unfortunately, too, the star is engaged throughout in some extremely fake fistfights! The main ‘ghost’ of the narrative actually ties the film with a long-running horror series revolving around a legendary character known as “La Llorona” (The Crying Woman).

Mexican Gothic Western

The typical atmosphere of the horror films originating from Mexico steeped in family secrets, shadows and superstition (by way of Edgar Allan Poe and Agatha Christie) is further boosted in this case by the muted but pleasant color scheme. The original title of this film EL GRITO DE LA MUERTE, which roughly translates to SCREAM OF DEATH to its American moniker, the rather meaningless THE LIVING COFFIN (which is actually a reference to its being armored with an alarm system in case of body snatching, or in the event the coffin’s occupant has been buried alive!).

Bloody Disgusting rated it 3.5/5 stars and called it “an enjoyable—if somewhat dusty romp—through Mexico’s version of the old west.” Bill Gibron of DVD Verdict wrote, “Though its mixture of horror and horse opera never quite succeeds, The Living Coffin is still an enjoyable example of Mexican madness. It may not give you the shivers, but it won’t directly disappoint you either.” Todd Brown of Twitch Film wrote, “The Living Coffin succeeds because it knows exactly what kind of film it is: this is pure b-film pulp.” Glenn Erickson of DVD Talk wrote, “The film may not be scary, but it is occasionally funny.”

New Spaghetti Western Music