• Desesperación Criminal

    Released by: Venus Pictures
    Released on: N/A
    Director: Valentin Trujillo
    Cast: Valentin Trujillo, Carla Zapien
    Year: 1994
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    The Movie:

    Two blocks away from where I live, there’s a Mexican video store. A lot of what they sell there is simply dubbed or subbed Spanish language versions of the latest Hollywood movies but once you head towards the back of the store, things get interesting. All along the side wall there’s a really extensive selection of Mexican films from all decades and while few of these have English subtitles (I don’t speak Spanish), sometimes it doesn’t matter. Tucked away near the porno section and the religious section are a quartet of “4 x $10” racks and while a lot of what’s stacked on these racks looks like boring romance and drama type movies, if you get down closer to the floor and dig through the dusty discs hiding down there, your eyes will soon be drawn to garish covers of some pretty rad trashy action and exploitation movies. And when those movies are only $2.50 a pop, well, sometimes a fool and his money are soon parted. Oh sure, the kindly old lady at the counter will wander over and tell you ‘Spanish movies… no anglais subtitulos’ but you’ll see that cover, with that guy waving his shotgun around and that poor victimized woman in the corner jump out at you and before you know it, you’ve found three more equally tacky looking discs and you’re gleefully handing your ten dollar bill to the guy on the way out, happy to have once again experienced that all too rare thrill of the hunt.

    This brings us to Desesperación Criminal, a movie that the imdb says was made in 1994 but which looks like it was made in 1984 and which stars a mustachioed superstar named Valentin Trujillo. I won’t pretend to have known who he was before this movie, but you can be damn sure I know who he is now. He plays a guy named Adolfo who lives in a really nice house with a woman named Sofia (Carla Zapien) who is either his wife or his girlfriend. They seem to have a nice life together, even if the front bumper of their Volkswagen is falling off. We know that Adolfo works as an architect so we assume he’s wealthy even if his car sucks because he has a water slide. At any rate, he and Sofia wander around for a bit and then hop into the pool and make sweet, sweet love. As they do, a guy who kinda looks like Tommy Wiseau and another guy who just looks kinda mean peer in on them. Something is up. Later that night our two lovebirds hear something outside. Adolfo grabs the shotgun from the closet, but when he heads outside to check it out it turns out to be nothing more than a cute little kittie-cat out for a midnight stroll.

    Later on, Adolfo and Sofia go to a small shop where the shopkeeper is sleeping in a hammock on the roof. They wake him up and we see that the rim of his baseball hat is flipped up. Maybe he’s the comic relief. Sofia covers her cleavage with a broom and then they go home for a bit. The next day though, flippy hat guy is seen hanging out with the other two peepers and they’re getting an eyeful of curvy Sofia as she showers unusually close to a series of open windows. Before you know it, they carry a giant cardboard box with ‘FRAGILE’ scrawled onto it with Sharpie into the house and interrupt her (we never learn what's in the box but the box is big and it looks like it's about to break open at any moment). She seems kind of annoyed that they popped in on her and she gives them a mouthful but then they throw her on the bed and take turns raping her. This goes on for a bit and Adolfo comes home to find her pretty bloodied up. He’s not too happy about this and so they talk and I guess they know who these dudes are. In fact, Adolfo figures that the three rapists are probably hanging out at the office of the shirtless notary public (seriously, this dude sits shirtless in an office with "notario público" stencilled on the window) down the street having some Corona’s… and he’s right. He drives his car onto the sidewalk in a fit of mild annoyance and he talks to them... and then he goes home. The next day, poor Sofia gets raped again but this time the main creepy guy doesn’t so much sexually assault her as he does force her to take a soothing bubble bath. But this is the last straw. When Adolfo comes home, they talk some more but he prepares for what he knows is inevitable… a home invasion that will involve a machete, a random jump off of a flaming roof (how did he get up there? the house has no stairs!) and the destruction of his prized Chicago Bulls basketball hoop!

    This is a fairly sleazy affair with poor Sofia, quite the looker she is, on the receiving end of some fairly grisly stuff… and a lovely bubble bath. There’s probably some sort of plot about the comic relief guy maybe being in love with her, because he’s at least tender with his rapings, but the angry guy rapes her with a machete to her throat and he’s pretty menacing. Carla Zapien emotes well here, though the script affords neither she nor Valentin Trujillo the chance to really freak out the way you’d assume most people would freak out. Even when they get the revenge that you know is coming in the last part of the movie, they’re surprisingly chilled out about all of this. The guys who play the three villains, though, they get into it as they creep around and peep through windows and do their dirty deeds throughout the film. Subtlety is not a strong point of any of the three dudes who play the heavies here.

    There’s some pretty great random stuff here to watch out for, including a lot of Corona product placement (the best one is a bottle just left on the front grill of the bad guys’ truck), that aforementioned Chicago Bulls basketball hoop, lots of acid washed pants and bad fashions, a cool Casio style score and some genuinely awkward looking stunts. This is essentially a Last House On The Left style movie, though it never gets that nasty, that intense or even close to that scary, but the fact that it’s set on the lovely Mexican coast and that it’s got a whole lot of local flavor definitely gives it some legitimate cult appeal. It’s super low budget but that’s half of its charm and on top of that it moves pretty quickly.


    Desesperación Criminal arrives on DVD from a tape source complete with some obvious fading and a few rad tracking lines from time to time. The image is murky, soft and pretty flat looking. Judging by the video generated credits and what actually appears to be legitimate print damage, maybe this movie was shot on film and edited on video? Either way, it all has the look of an old tape, because that’s almost certainly what was used to create this DVD.

    The only audio option on the disc is a Spanish language Dolby Digital Mono track, there are no alternate language options or subtitles provided. The quality of the audio is on par with the video, so expect some occasional shifts in the levels and some dialogue that sounds muddier than other bits of dialogue.

    There are no extras on this disc, sadly.

    The Final Word:

    Desesperación Criminal is completely derivative of other, better rape revenge and home invasion films but there’s enough quirky Mexican flavor to this movie that, even if you don’t speak Spanish, it’s kind of a fun, sleazy watch. The bad guys tend to steal the show but Carla Zapien is easy on the eyes and frequently naked. It’s cheap exploitation with bad stunts and really terrible production values but that doesn’t mean it isn’t entertaining. $2.50 well spent. Hell, the cover art alone was worth twice that much.

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Todd Jordan's Avatar
      Todd Jordan -
      I had no idea what was going on for most of the movie, but that sweaty long-haired dude was entertaining. As was the mustachioed feller. This movie would be best watched, in Spanish, as a 15 minute version.
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      There's no need for subtitles when you have cold beer.
    1. Todd Jordan's Avatar
      Todd Jordan -
      Cold beer, and laying on a bed with a man friend as you view. Don't get better than that.
    1. Martin Brooks's Avatar
      Martin Brooks -
      I can also recommend with Valentín Trujillo, Occupational Killer (here's an old review I did when I had more time to do these things : http://www.pre-cert.co.uk/martin/vpd...al_killer.html)