Al Filo Del Terror (1990)

Originally published in Bleeding Skull! A 1980s Trash-Horror Odyssey.

Suffer, little children. The El Griego Show is on the air.

There are two sides to every human. Sometimes, there are two sides to every movie. But what if those two entities coalesced? The philosophic possibilities would be daunting, infinite even. Generously, one film heard the call and answered with alarming clarity. Two divergent entities became one, and still didn’t get along. I won’t go into the details of how I chanced upon this tape in a questionable Chicago neighborhood, how my VCR ferociously ate it at the 40 minute mark, or how it took me an entire evening to survey and repair the damages. Salvation is all that matters. Al Filo Del Terror has been unearthed. Clowns see red. Ventriloquists sue. I rejoice.

Meet El Griego. He’s a kids’ TV show ventriloquist with several hang-ups. His jokes stink. His living room looks like someone vomited on every piece of furniture, then covered that furniture with plastic. El Griego beats his six-year-old daughter Carlita, kills his father, and slits the throat of his girlfriend, all while pursuing the fame that comes with ventriloquism. Too bad there aren’t any fire-breathing, goop-vomiting, sword-wielding clown-midgets locked in the basement to even the score. Oh. Pardon me. There are.

Al Filo Del Terror is a constant battle between opposites that never mesh. I couldn’t care less. A Mexican film (with no subtitles) from prolific exploitation director Alfredo Crevenna (Aventura Al Centro De La Tierra), Al Filo is no dream. Indeed, this film is alive, a hybrid of The Garbage Pail Kids Movie, somebody’s whipping fetish, and excerpts from the life of The World’s Worst Father.

Two types of scenes hang around. One features people staring at each other. The other focuses on four clown-midgets and the world that surrounds them. This arena includes, but is not limited to, the following: Carlita picking up a severed head. El Griego whipping, slapping, and chopping the clown-midgets with an axe. Clown-midget hallucinations. An aerobics workout scene. Carlita helping the clown-midgets with a communal bath. Finally, El Griego dressing Carlita as a clown-midget, then using her in his act. There’s no style, sense of pace, or explicitness to any of this. As expected, there is a lot of screaming and crying.

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