7 Great Horror Movies To Celebrate Cinco de Mayo
Nothing is more American than circumventing another country’s holiday, misinterpreting it, and then packaging it as a way to eat tacos and drink. Cinco de Mayo, is here. The Mexican holiday which is not Independence Day is a day to commemorate the Mexican victory over French forces at the Battle of Pueblo on May 5th, 1862. It is not a significant holiday in Mexico, but it did affect our civil war in that the Confederate army had been courting the French, and when they lost the Mexican battle, that was no longer an option. There are a ton of extraordinary Mexican filmmakers and horror films set in Mexico that could be watched today while chowing down on chips and pico de gayo and tequila. Here are the 7 best horror films that honor Mexico to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.
The first two movies on this list are for extreme horror lovers. These are not for weak stomachs or casual viewers. They are both rough, but for a specific subset of horror lovers, they are both quintessential viewings. Atroz, otherwise known as Atrocious, is precisely what it is named. It is a grisly, gory affair that takes a page from shock films like Cannibal Holocaust and A Serbian Film. When police officers search a car after a woman is hit, they find a snuff film. When the officers decide to mete out their own justice, they find some rabbit holes that shouldn’t be gone down. Lex Ortega’s film uses his low budget to amplify the realism, and the effects really hit home. It is available to stream on Tubi.
We Are The Flesh
This is another extreme film that I can’t warn you enough about. For extreme horror fans, it is excellent, but it is not something to be taken lightly. Do not eat before watching; don’t even consider eating those enchiladas during it. This is a visual masterpiece that is as striking as it is disturbing. Emiliano Rocha Minter’s tale of two siblings who wander a ruined city for years sticks with you. When the siblings meet a man who makes them an offer they can’t refuse, things quickly spiral out of control. This highly allegorical film is unrelenting and vicious, with wicked sharp editing, incredible performances, and a hypnotic, jarring soundtrack that gets under your skin and inside your bones. You can watch it for free on Tubi.
The Exorcism Of God
The best creature design and makeup of any movie on this list, The Exorcism Of God, deserves to be on the best horror movies for Cinco de Mayo list. An American priest serving in Mexico is possessed during an exorcism and commits a terrible act of violence. Eighteen years later, that sin comes back to haunt him and his congregation. Easily some of the best religious horror designs I have seen in years, these monsters are unique and unlike anything you have seen before. Director Alejandro Hidalgo is one to watch. There is no shortage of possession movies out there, but this one brings something fresh to the table. You can stream it on Prime Video, Apple TV, Vudu, or Roku Channel right now.
Tigers Are Not Afraid
This horror fantasy reads like the bleakest fairy tale you have ever seen. Mixing magical realism and intense fantasy, this is the story of childhood trauma. When a young girl is left alone, she turns to a gang of street children for survival. Unfortunately, that decision leads to a chain of tragic events. This heartbreaker will keep you on your toes with tears in your eyes. Issa López’s emotional horror movie is powerful in depicting the terror of a child’s imagination. Full of inventive ideas and dizzying visuals, this is a film you won’t forget. Think Pan’s Labyrinth but with drug cartels instead of mysterious monsters. The child actors all deliver solid performances. You can stream it on Roku, AMC+, and Shudder.
This Tobin Bell vehicle is better than you expect it to be. Struggling with a personal tragedy, a police officer investigates two massacres involving children. He must consider that all three events are linked and caused by something demonic. The exorcism is unique, and the tension builds, never letting up. Quick-paced and dread-filled director Emilio Portes keeps the pressure applied, knowing when to twist and turn to keep you engaged. A back half twist is unexpected, and the effects work is very well done. Star Joaquín Cosio is excellent as a grieving father caught in something he can barely understand. Bell is predictably imposing. You can stream it on Shudder now.
You can’t have the best horror movies to celebrate Cinco de Mayo list without including something from Guillermo del Toro. The master of horror fantasy never disappoints with his creatures or his fairytale-like stories. This list could be made up of nothing but his films. They are all so good. Despite winning a ton of Oscars, including Best Picture with The Shape Of Water, Pan’s Labyrinth is my favorite. Set in Spain, the young daughter of a sadistic army officer escapes into her bizarre fantasy world to escape her horrible reality. Long-time creature actor Doug Jones is tremendous, and de Toro’s creature design makes the most of the gifted actor. This is a mesmerizing movie with arresting imagery. You can stream it on Apple TV+.
Santa Sangre or Holy Blood
This cult classic from Alejandro Jodorowsky is a fan favorite for a reason. A circus performer escapes a mental institution and joins his armless mother’s cult, where he is asked to be “her arms” and commit several grisly murders. If it sounds bonkers, it is. As far as creepy cult movies go, this one takes the cake. Cinco de Mayo wouldn’t be complete without watching this insane mind trip. This is another bloody film that is very disturbing. The storyline and powerful imagery will stick with you if you can stomach the gore. You can stream it on AMC+ and Flix Fling now.
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo by celebrating the filmmakers from Mexico. But, above all else, stay safe and don’t drink and drive.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.