The issue of diversity in Hollywood is a rather thorny one, with statistics showing a dearth of Latino actors, writers, producers, and directors. Several groups have been feverishly working for years on that issue, trying to improve those numbers. But as I was thinking about Halloween, I realize there’s one genre they need to leave alone: having a Latino family as the star of a horror/scary movie. Here's why:
We Wouldn't Stick Around the Strangeness. It’s called the "Qué fue eso? Vámonos de aquí!" (What was that?/Let’s go!) factor. Those words are said so fast it’s almost part of the same sentence. Think we're going to stick around to investigate strange sounds and noises? No way! Isn't that how people get killed?
Remember that movie "The Amityville Horror", about a house haunted by evil spirits and a guy who killed his whole family? A year after the murders, a family buys the house, knowing that the murders took place and they’re okay with that. Uy! No way would a Latino family buy a house where brutal murders took place. And then all kinds of weird things happen, including the family seeing the spirit of the murderer behind some bricks in the basement, and the family priest and an aunt who’s a nun being too scared to even come inside. Right there that’s a red flag! A priest and nun think there’s something wrong? No way would we stick around, but that family did and spent many nights after seeing all that. We’d be out of there the first hour and there would be no movie.
Same for creepy phone calls. We’re not sticking around to keep answering the phone, only to find out the call is coming from inside the house! Uy! 'When A Stranger Calls' is happening somewhere else, not in our house!
Babysitting Kids We Don't Know? Nope. Yeah, babysitting is real common in our culture, but it’s usually one of the five million primos (cousins) or pseudo-primos we all have. And we’re never alone when we do it. It took my mother a lot of convincing to finally let me babysit a non-relative by myself, and my mother called every half hour and even came by to make sure everything was okay. Any potential stalker would likely have given up and gone to where no Latinos would be! So those scary scenes in the movie "Halloween" where Jamie Lee Curtis and her friends babysit these kids alone and are terrorized by a crazed brother who broke out of a mental hospital just wouldn’t happen in a Latino household. There would be way too many people around to take care of business before anything bad would happen.
We Would Get Ratted Out. Nothing gets past our nosy relatives and neighbors. You know that movie 'I Know What You Did Last Summer'? With a Latino cast, it would have been called 'I Know What You Did Five Minutes Ago'. And once our moms find out, fuhgeddaboudit. I’m amazed the CIA and Homeland Security haven’t recruited Latina moms as interrogators. The most hardened terrorist would cave, believe you me. No secrets are safe in the Latino culture with that kind of scrutiny. So yeah, an entire year would not go by before someone found out we killed somebody. Not happening, so therefore, no movie.
We Don’t Go Camping. The National Park Service has been in the middle of a real concerted effort to get more Hispanic families to enjoy the great outdoors, but it’s an uphill battle once you introduce the notion of sleeping outside. "Uy no", my mother says, "why am I going to sleep on the ground when there is a perfectly good hotel nearby?" And like many men of his generation, my father served in the military and I once asked him why he chose the Navy over all the other branches. Was it because he wanted an adventure and not just a job? Was it to see the world? Nope. It was a simple answer: "I didn’t want to sleep on the ground in some tent." So Jason in 'Friday the 13th' wouldn’t come after us because we wouldn’t be among the camping set. Plus we know the forest is where ax murderers live, so we’re not venturing out there, and certainly not overnight. Uy no!
We’re Not Into Isolation. Chances are a Latino writer wouldn’t house-sit an off-season hotel in the middle of nowhere with nobody around and with no TV or radio. 'The Shining' is not us. We'd be the ones renting the house and inviting the familión. We like to be surrounded by friends and family, noise, music. Our world is loud and crowded.
We’re Not Fans of Darkness.Darkness means scary things happen and we’re not having any of that. Stroll into a Latino household at night and chances are every single light is on, especially if you’re by yourself. And you better believe the TV is on too, and so is the radio, sometimes all at the same time. Anyone trying to creep us out in that kind of situation wouldn’t get very far. Of course any strange noise and we’re outta there anyway! Same holds true for Latino neighborhoods. Lights are on everywhere, people are talking, the music is on, the TVs are blaring, the neighbors are watching. No leafy, quiet suburbs for us! That’s where "Scream" and other bad things happen!
We Have Enough Jesus Pictures To Scare Off Anything and Anybody. Not to mention all the crosses, candles, and virgencita and saints figurines displayed all over our homes. We take all that seriously. The dead giveaway that there's no Latino presence in the "The Sixth Sense" is that there's no priest. You better believe that if we’re seeing dead people, the priest would get a phone call, and so would a curandera (healer). And someone with Vicks VapoRub. And it would have been a completely different movie.
We Don’t Do Sleepovers. We all know some old-school Latino parents who don’t like the notion of the kids spending the night at a non-relative’s house, especially if the family is non-Latino. They don’t have all the crosses and Jesus pictures and saints figurines to scare away the bad spirits, and they don’t have all the lights and TVs and radios on to scare away the bad people. Just tell your friends to stay here, that’s what my mother would say. That’s why we would never be part of 'A Nightmare on Elm Street'.
We Don’t Hitchhike. All those horror movies of girls hitchhiking and getting killed never involve a Latina cast member because it simply wouldn’t be believable. There are way too many brothers, cousins and neighbors who would give us a ride to wherever we wanted to go.
Our Parents/Relatives are ALWAYS Around. There is no such thing as Latino parents taking off for the weekend or going on a cruise and leaving the kids alone in the house to party and end up getting killed by crazed stalkers. Plus we wouldn’t suddenly skip school and take off to parts unknown like Bella did in 'Twilight' and called her mom days later to say everything is okay. No, everything wouldn’t be okay if we dared to do something like that.
So all in all, I don't think we Latinos make a good "family" for a scary movie. Either way, Happy Halloween!