El Grito (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Video title: Bloody Proof.

For a completely unheralded straight-to-vid (it may have had a theatrical release in Mexico), this film has some very strong positives. The photography is beautiful, at least what the DVD shows of it. Unfortunately, the DVD is a boring 4:3 pan 'n scan, but the director is Gabriel Beristain. He's never directed before, but he has been  the cinematographer on several good looking flicks, like Molly, The Spanish Prisoner, Caravaggio, and parts of Aria. He also did some second unit photography for Wide Sargasso Sea, and The Green Mile. 

The man knows how to compose a shot. He knows how to move a camera (the opening credits are a very impressive pull-away down a bar that eventually seems infinitely long ). He chose beautiful locations in Mexico City, both interiors and exteriors, and he did some impressive angle shots of those locations. Even inside, all of his characters manage to speak in front of windows which show off magnificent cathedrals and Spanish-style baroque architecture. The grotesque home of the psychotic serial killer is creepy and imaginative, highlighted by a giant Aztec calendar-stone which he's embellishing with body parts, and which is lit with colored lights to make it both spooky and impressive. I would very much like to see this movie in a widescreen anamorphic print. 


Olivia Hussey's breasts are "exposed" while the killer starts to mutilate them, but I suppose that it is a prosthetic, and it is an extremely dark scene.

One woman is seen naked in B&W flashbacks.

 Having said that, let me point out that the film is not exactly Citizen Kane. 
  • The plot is the usual straight-to-vid crap. A serial killer is terrorizing the city. A reporter wants to break the story by revealing all the connections between the murders. The lead detective keeps a lid on her. The fight, they fuss, they are falling in love .... The killer is stalking women who used to be mistresses to a powerful man. The reporter's best friend used to be one of them. Gee, who do you think will be the intended victim when they finally kill the guy?
  • The characterizations are presented in great depth, but aren't very interesting. The special character development in the lead player is that she is the wife and daughter-in-law of two other rich guys who kept multiple mistresses, and the only job she could get after dumping her husband was with a sleazebag tabloid newspaper. She's angry at her life situation, and that affects her perception of the murder.
  • The logic of the investigation escapes me. At one point, the reporter concludes that someone might be the murderer because he cheated on his wife, and a man capable of adultery is capable of murder. I'm not joking.
  • The story takes place in Mexico and is performed by bi-lingual actors, but they all speak English. Most of them have no Spanish accent at all! I suppose they must have filmed a Spanish-language version simultaneously, but there is no alternate language track on the DVD, so I'm at a loss to explain why it is in English.
  • What the hell happened to Olivia Hussey? The sweet, innocent, round Juliet really aged strangely. Her cheeks are sunken far below her cheekbones. She now delivers all of her lines in a haughty contralto like a pompous pseudo-society dame from the 1930's movies. She has turned into a thinner version of Margaret Dumont, or all those stuffy women who ended up as straight women for the Stooges.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • no widescreen 

  • no meaningful features

To tell you the truth, they missed out on a good opportunity here. If this film were available in a widescreen version with an alternate Spanish soundtrack and some features, I'd probably be recommending it as a fairly good little flick about a Mexican investigation of a serial murder, with brilliant cinematography and some insights into Mexican culture.

As a pan 'n scan, however, it just isn't worth your time, and is nowhere near worth the suggested retail of $29.95. Are they kidding? 

The Critics Vote

  • no reviews

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: not enough votes for a score.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C-. I'd recommend it as a decent rental if it came in a widescreen version with some features. As it is, skip it unless you're to tired to change the channel. It's not much of a rental, and is priced about 4x its value  

Return to the Movie House home page