La Llorona Haunts DVD7 Apr, 2008 By: Angelique Flores
Children all over Mexico and the Southwest grew up frightened by La Llorona, the ghost lady dressed in white who drowned her children and wanders crying for them.
Filmmakers since the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema have been putting their own versions of the legend on the big screen. Now Monterey Media is bringing the latest story based on La Llorona to DVD June 3 (prebook April 29) with The Cry ($24.95).
The film takes place in New York City, where a woman comes under La Llorona's spell. Unlike a lot of popular horror films, The Cry is devoid of violence and gore.
“I wanted to leave as much as possible to the imagination,” said director-screenwriter Bernadine Santistevan. “People have their own ideas, and I didn't want to burst anyone's bubble. I could never create a monster as scary to you as the one in your head.”
But that didn't stop things from getting bloody on set. The film's post-production manager had a strange incident while working on the film, when tears of blood inexplicably dripped from her eyes. Santistevan also had a bloody experience herself during the film's shoot involving an object that almost took out her eye. The two experiences spooked the crew because the film's Llorona character says, “You will cry tears of blood.”
But none of that deterred Santistevan, who spent five years researching the legend for her film. She found stories of the legend not just in Mexico and the United States but also all over Latin America.
“La Llorona is 100% part of Latino culture, stemming back in Mexico with La Malinche,” she said. “She's a universal female archetype. She's a legend that belongs to the world.”
Santistevan's initial idea of the Llorona myth was a negative one filled with fear of the ghost. But her in-depth research on the woman found that, according to one legend, she was an Aztec woman who killed her children to save the Aztec people from Spanish conquest.
“I don't believe she's a negative figure,” she said. “She took the lives of her children deciding to save her people instead. But the mother in her came back. It was a difficult decision.”
With more than a dozen feature films and shorts about the legendary ghost, Santistevan wanted to offer a different look at the figure she describes as a powerful woman of strength.
“Most people don't know about the complexity of who she is and where she came from,” she said. “That's what sets my film apart. There's a true fundamental understanding of who La Llorona is.”
Santistevan is now working on a television pilot that, while different from the film, is also based on the Llorona legend.