In this project, horror shorts are a fucking godsend. Some days it is simply too hard to pay attention through TWO FULL HOURS of Apartment 1303 Three Dee and I get to the end of the movie only to realize that I have spent the 90 minutes in the middle contemplating what I’m going to have for dinner when I finally see those sweet sweet credits and am released from the cinematic bondage to which I have signed away my soul. Which is why I love me a good anthology. I can follow even the most poorly-written of plot lines for about twenty minutes at a time and, even more importantly, I don’t feel as beholden to summarize them all for you people because I wouldn’t want to RUIN it for you, now would I? NO I WOULD CERTAINLY NOT.
Which brings me to my half-assed report of Barrio Tales. Barrio Tales is a trilogy of shorts with a wraparound story line about why white people should just cut it the fuck out you guys. Two twenty-something dudes hop in a car and drive across the border to get some of those super great Mexican drugs they’d heard so much about. What kind of drugs, you may ask? Silly viewer! That would be like asking what kind of beer they serve in a sitcom bar. THE BEER KIND, DUH, FOR THERE IS ONLY ONE KIND AND THAT IS BEER. So our two bros (let’s call them Brad and…Cracker Steve) are on the hunt for Drugs, and they have heard that there is a Drug-dealer named Pedro in a town called Barrio, “barrio” just being the word for neighborhood, essentially, but once you’ve told two white guys that they can get Drug brand drugs from a guy named Generic Mexican Name, you may as well tell them to look for a place called Place.
So as soon as our heroes Brad and Cracker Steve cross the border, they immediately ask the first dude they see if he knows Pedro, because this is how you shop for Drugs. The guy, immediately knowing exactly what he’s dealing with, says suuuuuure Pedro is definitely coming soon and he’s bringing lots and lots of Drugs and if you wait with me you can see him. Brad and Cracker Steve are delighted at their luck and are happy to wait with the Complete Stranger who I’m *sure* is not a serial killer, and he even knows exactly three cool stories to tell them about things that have happened in Barrio!
The first cool story is “Maria,” about a young Mexican maid working for the family of an entitled rich college bro, who throws a party when his parents are gone and, along with his bro friends, harass and assault Maria until things go a little too far, at which point Bro and Friends must face the wrath of Maria’s grandmother, a healer who is VERY good with curses. “Maria” is probably the best of the three shorts, since it does manage at least a little character development and isn’t just a bunch of silly gore, but I’m not going to complain about the silly gore to come. What Barrio Tales lacks in depth, it makes up for in silliness, which I think can be a fair trade.
Cracker Steve asks when Pedro is gonna get there because he has such a hankering for some Drugs, but Complete Fucking Stranger Who Is Also Just COVERED in Scars tells him that Pedro’s on his way and besides, he still has two cool stories left. Second cool story (and sort of my favorite) is “Uncle Tio’s Taco Truck”, in which THE TACO MEAT IS PEOPLE. That’s basically the whole thing. It’s pretty dumb, really. But I’m a sucker for that kind of shit and I will happily watch kids run around a taco truck wondering where their delicious missing friend went before getting TRAPPED IN THE TACO TRUCK AND OH NO HERE COMES UNCLE TIO WAIT DOESN’T “TIO” JUST MEAN UNCLE ANYWAY OH SHIT WE ARE GOING TO BE TACOS. Also because this shit actually happens and if anyone wants to make a sweet horror movie about that guy, please please do it and let me know.
Brad and Cracker Steve are finally getting just the slightest bit uncomfortable with this arrangement when Actually Probably A Serial Killer launches into his final tale, “El Monstruo,” which is about a team of crazy white hillbillies who catch Mexicans jumping the border and torture and murder them in their crazy white hillbilly shack until a Mexican gang gets the opportunity to strike back. This one is pretty weak, but at this point you’re hanging around to see how Brad and Cracker Steve are inevitably going to die, so you can deal with it.
Does Pedro ever show up? Will Brad and Cracker Steve ever get their hands on some Drugs? Who is the Guy Who Is Now For Sure A Serial Killer, and is he really a serial killer???
Barrio Tales is, admittedly, not great, but it is a lot of fun to watch. It has a cartoonish feel to it and seems to take a lot of joy in being ridiculous and shitty, which is rewarding enough to me, a person who has had so so many mediocre horror movies that take themselves way seriously cross in front of my eyeballs. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tequila, and I wouldn’t advise trying to find socio-political messages in the taco meat here, but the insert Mexican words is a fairly breezy good time and I can’t argue too much with a slasher flick that is just so happy to be a slasher flick.
I give it……………TRES HORRORES.
That means “three horrors,” by the way.
I was basically a Spanish minor in college except that I was too lazy to get all the paperwork filled out.
I’m like *twice* as Mexican as Cracker Steve.