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Shown on Mexican television every Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) , Hasta el Viento Tiene Miedo (Even the Wind is Afraid) has long been a cult classic among Mexican horror cinephiles. Released in 1968 and written and directed by Carlos Enrique Taboada, it is also widely considered the best Mexican film of the horror genre. Mexican movie studios did produce a number of horror movies during the 1950’s- 1960’s (Mexican Cinema’s Golden Age), but they were largely mediocre movies featuring masked wrestlers. What sets Hasta el Viento Tiene Miedo apart from the latter is Taboada’s introduction of 19th century literary gothic motifs in a contemporary setting. This had previously not been done in Mexican cinema.
The story takes place in an all-girl private boarding school. One of the students, Claudia (Alicia Bonet) begins experiencing the same nightmare repeatedly in which she hears a young woman calling her name and sees the young woman’s body suspended above her bed hanging from a rope. Shortly after this Claudia sees or thinks she sees the girl from her nightmares looking out the window of the school’s clock tower. Entrance to the clock tower is strictly forbidden to the students and the door always remains locked. However, one day, Claudia and some of her classmates notice that the door is, oddly, unlocked. Egged on by Kitty (Norma Lazareno), the most brazen and liberal of the gang, the girls enter the tower and go up the stairs with a mixture of curiosity and fear. The girls are caught in the act and punished by the headmistress Bernarda (Marga Lopez). The punishment consists of making them stay in school during the holidays. The girls, of course, are furious that their vacations have been ruined and incredulous that their parents would allow this severe punishment. The headmistress is such a controlling, merciless tyrant that I wonder if the director named her after the main character in Garcia Lorca’s famous play “The House of Bernarda Alba”.
As the film progresses the girls learn that five years earlier a brilliant, sensitive student named Andrea (Pamela Susan Hall) committed suicide by hanging after she was punished by the headmistress and prevented from going to see her dying mother. As I previously stated Hasta el Viento Tiene Miedo has all the elements of a gothic tale; a large house, visions, a vengeful ghost, the supernatural, a young woman (or women) in danger and oppressed by an authority figure. And of course the howling wind; as the film’s title suggests even the wind is afraid. But afraid of what? Throughout the film the students and the viewer has an impending sense of doom ….something BAD is about to happen at any moment.
The dialogue of young adolescents in the late 1960’s within a gothic setting and story makes for an interesting contrast. While Claudia is the apparent protagonist her personality and presence fades in comparison to the rebellious, extroverted Kitty (who will later treat her classmates to an unfinished striptease). Maricruz Olivier as the benevolent teacher Lucia is a comforting presence but none can challenge the self-assurance of actress Marga Lopez who dominates every scene she’s in.
Hasta el Viento Tiene Miedo is the first in a horror trilogy by Taboada and while Veneno Para las Hadas (Poison for the Fairies) received awards and was more critically acclaimed it’s the former that remains his most popular film. Although there’s one or two DVDs claiming to have English subtitles, so far that does not seem to be the case. As soon as I learn otherwise I’ll update this post. It’s a shame really, because this cult classic should be available to English speaking horror fans as well.