Horror in Literature and Film in Latin America
- LAST REVIEWED: 05 May 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 29 May 2019
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0124
- LAST REVIEWED: 05 May 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 29 May 2019
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0124
Latin American horror literature and film is manifold, a heterogeneous landscape with perhaps more differences and peculiarities from country to country than a non–Latin American observer might perceive at first glance. Very often, Latin American horror resides on the borderlines between different genres, permeating a number of nonnaturalistic types of narrative—such as science fiction, fantasy, or crime thriller—and a great deal of horror literature and film embraces parody by means of comedy or experimental works. So, in order to identify and draw a line delineating the so-called Latin American horror genre in both literature and film, one should be significantly open-minded to concepts such as hybridity, multiculturalism, transculturalism, syncretism, non-Western narrative strategies and approaches, and so forth. If the ideal of a pure genre has rarely or perhaps never truly been identified in classical contexts, Latin American horror demonstrates that impurity might be one—that is, if there even is one—distinctive trait of the production of this genre on the Latin American continent. In fact, there is still no crystalized “genre culture” in Latin American literature and film. To attain full-fledged commercial and critical success, a Latin American writer/filmmaker must write/direct mainstream fiction, and this means “realist” fiction in most cases. The reasons for this phenomenon are varied. The infrastructural context (i.e., editorial market, editorial policies, audience, and reader demands) may partially contribute to the situation. Critical and academic orientations, which involve the valorization of the realist novel and authorship (auterism) to the detriment of “industrial” or “escapist” genres, can also be included in this context.
In most Latin American countries—with the exception of Argentina, perhaps—speculative fiction, both in literature and cinema, tends to be underrated, neglected, or simply overlooked by literary/film critics and scholars. In Latin America, the horror genre—and consequently all speculative fiction—suffers from historical prejudices held by the academic milieu, editorial markets, and audiovisual industries. For instance, Mary Elizabeth Ginway suggests that the invisibility of Brazilian science fiction could be ascribed to the overestimation of the realist novel in Brazil. According to the author, Brazilian literary science fiction suffers from elitist cultural attitudes that prevail in Brazil and the idea that a Third World country could not genuinely produce such a genre (Ginway 2004). However, vampires, ghosts, and zombies have appeared in Latin American and Caribbean literature since the 19th century (see Pulido 2004), mythic or fictional characters that syncretize European aesthetics and leitmotifs, colonial and tropical contexts. The history of the horror genre in Latin American literature and film is yet to be written, as suggested in Bravo Rozas 1994. Unlike in Europe, the United States, and Japan, there is no consolidated academic bibliography on the subject. There are no “Latin American Horror Film” and “Latin American Horror Literature” books available. Today, researchers must connect the dots themselves, investigating the scattered academic articles available, usually focused on specific topics, authors/filmmakers, periods, and nationalities. In this panorama, Bravo Rozas 1994 offers a useful introductory analysis of the death motif in Hispanoamerican literature. In terms of film studies, the horror genre in Latin America very often appears interwoven with fantasy and science fiction. For this reason, Clarens 1997, Ginway 2004, and Paz 2008 (cited under Mexican Film) provide useful frameworks for the first contacts with Latin American horror film, in spite of their focus on the science fiction genre. The legacy of 19th- and 20th-century fantastic literature in Latin America has been rescued by several anthologies edited by literary scholars such as Hahn 1990, López Martín 2010, and Roas 2003 (cited under Mexican Literature). Further research on Latin American horror literature and film must regard the work that has been done by academic groups such as Grupo de Estudios sobre lo Fantástico (GEF), based out of the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Spain. In the early 21st century, the Hispanet Journal, from Florida Memorial University, has been releasing a series of special issues dedicated to Latin American literature and film in which one can find useful studies on horror literature and film.
Bravo Rozas, Cristina. “El cuento de terror em España e Hispanoamérica: Un mundo por descubrir.” In Actas del XXIX Congreso del Instituto Internacional de Literatura Iberoamericana, Barcelona 15–19 de junio de 1992. Vol. 3. Edited by Joaquín Marco, 119–132. Barcelona: Promociones y Publicaciones Universitarias, 1994.
This work presents an overview of the horror genre in Spanish and Hispanoamerican literature tracing the origins of Hispanic horror fiction, the development of this literary genre, and its relations with Gothic fiction and other manifestations of horror in other national literatures.
Clarens, Carlos. An Illustrated History of Horror and Science-Fiction Films: The Classic Era, 1895–1967. New York: Da Capo, 1997.
Carlos Clarens provides one of the most comprehensive critical overviews of horror and science fiction cinema dating from 1895 to 1967. In spite of the predominance of American and European productions, Clarens comments on some Latin American films in the horror/science fiction genre, such as Fernando Méndez’s El vampiro (Mexico, 1959). This work provides a useful basis for any further investigation of horror film in Latin America.
Ginway, M. Elizabeth. Brazilian Science Fiction: Cultural Myths and Nationhood in the Land of the Future. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 2004.
While this book does not directly approach the horror genre in Brazilian literature, some science fiction works cited by Ginway do have a hybrid character. Ginway’s work casts light on the peculiar relationship between Brazilian culture and history and speculative fiction. This book was translated into Portuguese by Roberto de Sousa Causo as Ficção Científica Brasileira: Mitos Culturais e Nacionalidade no País do Futuro (São Paulo, Brazil: Devir, 2005).
Goodwin, Matthew David, ed. Latin@ Rising: An Anthology of Latin@ Science Fiction and Fantasy. San Antonio, TX: Wings Press, 2017.
This volume brings together science fiction, fantasy, and magical realism written by twenty-two Latinos/Latinas from the United States and from eight different national traditions, like Kathleen Alcalá, Pablo Brescia, Sabrina Vourvoulias, Ana Castillo, Junot Díaz, Richie Narvaez, Giannina Braschi, ADÁL, Daniel José Older, and others, along with a new generation of authors. A comprehensive sample of contemporary Latino fantasy and science fiction.
Hahn, Óscar, ed. Antología del cuento fantástico hispanoamericano: Siglo XX. Santiago, Chile: Editorial Universitaria, 1990.
This anthology of short stories is edited, prefaced, and annotated by the Chilean poet and essayist Óscar Hahn. The book presents twenty-nine short stories of the 20th century, among them Alejo Carpentier’s “Viaje a la semilla” and Augusto Monterroso’s “El dinosaurio.”
López Martín, Lola. “Formación y desarrollo del cuento fantástico hispanoamericano en el siglo XIX.” PhD diss., Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 2009.
This doctoral dissertation is a fundamental work for any research on Latin American fantastic literature. Martín investigates the impact of independence and modernizing processes in Hispanoamerica and closely examines the poetics of the fantastic short story in 19th-century Hispanoamerica, choosing one author’s work as a case study in particular: the Argentinean Eduardo L. Holmberg.
López Martín, Lola, comp. RIP: Antología del cuento latinoamericano de terror del siglo XIX. Madrid: Editorial Edelvives, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 2010.
This collection of fundamental short stories provides a basic survey of 19th-century and early-20th-century Latin American horror fiction. The book includes an introduction by Ernesto Pérez Zúñiga, followed by Leopoldo Lugones’s “El escuerzo” (1906) and Clemente Palma’s “La granja blanca” (1900), among other stories.
Pellicer, Rosa. “Notas sobre literatura fantástica rioplatense: De terror a lo extraño.” Cuadernos de Investigación Filológica 11 (1985): 31–58.
In this paper, Pellicer proceeds with an examination of the psychology of characters and the narrative strategies that underpin the horror effect in the fantastic literature of the Río de la Plata region. In conclusion, Pellicer proposes a formal analysis in order to discover an aesthetic unity among rioplatense writers of fantasy/horror fiction.
Pulido, José Antonio. “El horror: Un motivo literario en el cuento latinoamericano y del Caribe.” Segunda Etapa 8.10 (2004): 229–249.
This article provides an overview of Latin American horror literature, but with a focus on the forefathers of the genre, particularly Venezuelan authors. Pulido’s most valuable contribution consists of comments on the works of Juan Montalvo, Julio Calcaño, Luis Lopez Méndez, José Assunción Silva, and Innés Wallace. The author focuses on the first appearances of vampires, ghosts, and zombies in Venezuelan literature.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
- Agricultural Technologies
- Ancient Andean Textiles
- Andean Contributions to Rethinking the State and the Natio...
- Andean Music
- Antislavery Narratives
- Arab Diaspora in Brazil, The
- Arab Diaspora in Latin America, The
- Argentina in the Era of Mass Immigration
- Argentina, Slavery in
- Argentine Literature
- Army of Chile in the 19th Century
- Asian Art and Its Impact in the Americas, 1565–1840
- Asian-Peruvian Literature
- Atlantic Creoles
- Baroque and Neo-baroque Literary Tradition
- Bello, Andrés
- Black Experience in Colonial Latin America, The
- Black Experience in Modern Latin America, The
- Borderlands in Latin America, Conquest of
- Bourbon Reforms, The
- Brazilian Northeast, History of the
- Buenos Aires
- Caribbean Philosophical Association, The
- Caribbean, The Archaeology of the
- Cartagena de Indias
- Caste War of Yucatán, The
- Caudillos, 19th Century
- Cádiz Constitution and Liberalism, The
- Chaco War
- Children, History of
- Chile's Struggle for Independence
- Chronicle, The
- Church in Colonial Latin America, The
- Chávez, Hugo, and the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela
- Cinema, Contemporary Brazilian
- Cinema, Latin American
- Colonial Central America
- Colonial Legal History of Peru
- Colonial New Granada
- Colonial Portuguese Amazon Region, from the 17th to 18th C...
- Contemporary Maya, The
- Costa Rica
- Cárdenas and Cardenismo
- Cuban Revolution, The
- Dependency Theory in Latin American History
- Development of Architecture in New Spain, 1500–1810, The
- Development of Painting in Peru, 1520–1820, The
- Drug Trades in Latin America
- Dutch in South America and the Caribbean, The
- Early Colonial Forms of Native Expression in Mexico and Pe...
- Economies from Independence to Industrialization
- Ecuador, La Generación del 30 in
- El Salvador
- Enlightenment and its Visual Manifestations in Spanish Ame...
- Environmental History
- Era of Porfirio Díaz, 1876–1911, The
- Family History
- Film, Science Fiction
- Football (Soccer) in Latin America
- From "National Culture" to the "National Popular" and the ...
- Gaucho Literature
- Gender in Colonial Brazil
- Gender in Postcolonial Latin America
- Guaraní and Their Legacy, The
- Guatemala and Yucatan, Conquest of
- Guatemala City
- Guatemala (Colonial Period)
- Guatemala (Modern & National Period)
- Haitian Revolution, The
- Health and Disease in Modern Latin America, History of
- History, Cultural
- History, Food
- Honor in Latin America to 1900
- Horror in Literature and Film in Latin America
- Human Rights in Latin America
- Immigration in Latin America
- Indigenous Elites in the Colonial Andes
- Indigenous Population and Justice System in Central Mexico...
- Indigenous Voices in Literature
- Japanese Presence in Latin America
- Jewish Presence in Latin America, The
- José María Arguedas and Early 21st Century Cultural and Po...
- Las Casas, Bartolomé de
- Latin American Independence
- Latin American Urbanism, 1850-1950
- Law and Society in Latin America since 1800
- Legal History of New Spain, 16th-17th Centuries
- Legal History of the State and Church in 18th Century New ...
- Literature, Argentinian
- Machado de Assis
- Magical Realism
- Maroon Societies in Latin America
- Martí, José, and Cuba
- Mestizaje and the Legacy of José María Arguedas
- Mexican Nationalism
- Mexican Revolution, 1910–1940, The
- Mexican-US Relations
- Mexico, Conquest of
- Mexico, Education in
- Migration to the United States
- Military and Modern Latin America, The
- Military Government in Latin America, 1959–1990
- Military Institution in Colonial Latin America, The
- Modern Decorative Arts and Design, 1900–2000
- Modern Populism in Latin America
- Modernity and Decoloniality
- Musical Tradition in Latin America, The
- Native Presence in Postconquest Central Peru
- New Conquest History and the New Philology in Colonial Mes...
- New Left in Latin America, The
- Novel, Chronology of the Venezuelan
- Novel of the Mexican Revolution, The
- Novel, 19th Century Haitian
- Novel, The Colombian
- Oaxaca, Conquest and Colonial
- Painting in New Spain, 1521–1820
- Paraguayan War (War of the Triple Alliance)
- Pastoralism in the Andes
- Paz, Octavio
- Perón and Peronism
- Peru, Colonial
- Peru, Conquest of
- Peru, Slavery in
- Philippines Under Spanish Rule, 1571-1898
- Photography in the History of Race and Nation
- Political Exile in Latin America
- Ponce de León
- Popular Culture and Globalization
- Popular Movements in 19th-Century Latin America
- Post Conquest Aztecs
- Post-Conquest Demographic Collapse
- Poverty in Latin America
- Preconquest Incas
- Pre-conquest Mesoamerican States, The
- Pre-Revolutionary Mexico, State and Nation Formation in
- Printing and the Book
- Prints and the Circulation of Colonial Images
- Protestantism in Latin America
- Puerto Rican Literature
- Religions in Latin America
- Revolution and Reaction in Central America
- Rosas, Juan Manuel de
- Sandinista Revolution and the FSLN, The
- Santo Domingo
- Science and Empire in the Iberian Atlantic
- Science and Technology in Modern Latin America
- Sexualities in Latin America and the Caribbean
- Slavery in Brazil
- São Paulo
- Spanish American Arab Literature
- Spanish and Portuguese Trade, 1500–1750
- Spanish Caribbean In The Colonial Period, The
- Spanish Colonial Decorative Arts, 1500-1825
- Spanish Florida
- Spiritual Conquest of Latin America, The
- Telenovelas and Melodrama in Latin America
- Textile Traditions of the Andes
- 19th Century and Modernismo Poetry in Spanish America
- 16th-Century New Spain
- Transculturation and Literature
- Trujillo, Rafael
- Tupac Amaru Rebellion, The
- United States and Castro's Cuba in the Cold War, The
- United States and the Guatemalan Revolution, The
- United States Invasion of the Dominican Republic, 1961–196...
- Urban History
- Urbanization in the 20th Century, Latin America’s
- U.S.-Latin American Relations During the Cold War
- Vargas, Getúlio
- Venezuelan Literature
- Women and Labor in 20th-Century Latin America
- Women in Colonial Latin American History
- Women in Modern Latin American History
- Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas