The first Panamanian horror movie
Far from Jack O’Lantern’s legend about a headless horseman riding on Halloween night, every country has its own ghost. And the Panamian’s are terrifying.
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An enlightened devil becomes an art piece on wheels with a flaming Christ drew on the laterals or a nude woman who rides a dragon. Until 2013, it was very common to find in Panama’s streets the buses called “diablos rojos” that were old school vehicles from the U.S converted into an unusual and irregular collective transport.
The Panamanian filmmaker Sol Moreno rescues them from the park lots to tell a story about a diablo’s driver harassed by a witch curse. This is “Diablo Rojo PTY”, the first horror movie recorded in Panama.
And, indeed, it is deep-rooted to the local Panamanian folklore...
With legends such as La Tulivieja - a feminine ghost similar to the Mexican La Llorona, who dresses a ‘tule’ hat (a kinda banana hat) and goes around the isolated paths near the towns with her big breasts pouring milk followed by a queue of ants and crying for the baby she lost - the Panamanians, specially in rural regions, believe that if Tulivieja arrives in your village and listens to a baby crying, she will try to comfort him, breastfeed him and kidnap him.
The beliefs about witches are firmly embedded in most Latin American countries who have a very rich oral tradition. Archetypical characters like witches symbolize the dark side of the feminine, the one who gives birth but also destroys it. Although, if you do deep reading, she's just another the victim of patriarchy.
The La Tulivieja myth, also called La Tepesa, tells that there was a Spanish man who got an indigenous woman pregnant and she was so in despair that gave birth to his baby at a river mountain and threw him into the water. Then God punished her roaming for the rest of eternity and crying for her guilt.
Moreno uses this mythical witch to hunt the devil’s driver until the Chiquití jungle, where once you go in you don't know how you'll come out. And, with no intention of spoiling, she has very good reasons to do so.
“Diablo Rojo TPY”, starred by Carlos Carrasco (Blood In Blood Out) has reminiscences from the B-grade horror movies on vampires and zombies and takes us to another period, to a place and a time where these roaring devils rumbled across the streets along with the night’s ghosts.