Dracula as Inter-American Film Icon: Universal Pictures and Cinematográfica ABSA


My essay explores the vampire cinema of Hollywood and Mexico.  In particular, I trace the relationship between Universal Pictures as the progenitor of horror during the Great Depression and Cinematográfica ABSA's "mexploitation" practices.  The latter resulted in the first vampire film in Latin America--"El vampiro" (1957).  Rather than strengthening separatist national cinemas, the unintended consequences of genre film production make this a case of inter-American scope.


Dracula; Hemispheric; Inter-American; Cinema; mexploitation

Agrasánchez, Jr., Rogelio. Mexican Movies in the United States: A History of the Films, Theaters
and Audiences, 1920-1960. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2006.
Berg, Charles Ramírez. Cinema of Solitude: A Critical Study of Mexican Film, 1967-1983.
Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992.
_____. The Classical Mexican Cinema: The Poetics of the Exceptional Golden Age Films.
Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015.
Borge, Jason. Latin American Writers and the Rise of Hollywood Cinema. New York and
London: Routledge, 2008.
Burton-Carvajal, Julianne. “South American Cinema.” In World Cinema: Critical Approaches,
Ed. John Hill and Pamela Church Gibson. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 194-210.
Carreras, María Elena de las and Jan-Christopher Horak, eds. Hollywood Goes Latin:
Spanish-Language Cinema in Los Angeles. Los Angeles: FIAF, 2019.
D’Lugo, Marvin, Ana M. López, and Paula Podalsky. “Introduction: Troubling Histories.” In
The Routledge Companion to Latin American Cinema. Ed. Marvin D’Lugo, Marvin, Ana
M. López, and Paula Podalsky New York: Routledge, 2018. 1-14.
“Drácula asombrará a México en los cines ‘Monumental’ y ‘Teresa’.” El Universal. April
9, 1931, 6.
“Drácula hoy en los cines ‘Monumental’ y ‘Teresa’.” Excélsior. April 8, 1931, 6.
Green, Doyle. Mexploitation Cinema: A Critical History of Mexican Vampire, Wrestler, Ape-
Man, and Similar Films, 1957-1977. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2005.
Jarvinen, Lisa. The Rise of Spanish-Language Filmmaking: Out from Hollywood’s Shadow,
1929-1939. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2012.
López, Ana M. “Are All Latins from Manhattan? Hollywood, Ethnography and Cultural
Colonialism.” In Mediating Two Worlds: Cinematic Encounters in the Americas. Ed.
John King, Ana López, and Manuel Alvarado. London: BFI, 1993. 67-80.
Rhodes, Gary D. “Fantasmas del cine Mexicano: The 1930s Horror Film Cycle of Mexico.” In
Fear without Frontiers: Horror Cinema across the Globe. Ed. Steven Jay Schneider Godalming, U.K.: Fab Press, 2003. 93-103.
Rhorer, Seraina. La India María: Mexploitation and the Films of María Elena Velasco. Austin:
University of Texas Press, 2017.
Skal, David J. Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of Dracula from Novel to Stage to Screen.
Revised edition. New York: Faber and Faber, 2004.
_____. The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror. New York: Norton, 1993.
Vega Alfaro, Eduardo de la. Fernando Méndez. Guadalajara, Mexico: Universidad de
Guadalajara, 1995.
Wilt, David. “Mexican Vampire Cinema: A Brief History.” YouTube (5-part video series):

Published : 2020-08-16

BarrenecheaA. (2020). Dracula as Inter-American Film Icon: Universal Pictures and Cinematográfica ABSA. Review of International American Studies, 13(1), 259-277. https://doi.org/10.31261/rias.8908

Antonio Barrenechea  abarrene@umw.edu
University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg, VA, USA  United States

Antonio Barrenechea is a professor of literature of the Americas and cinema. He is the author of America Unbound: Encyclopedic Literature and Hemispheric Studies (University of New Mexico Press, 2016), which brings together comparative literature and hemispheric studies by tracing New World historical imaginaries in prodigious novels from the United States, Latin America, and Francophone Canada. He is also co-editor of “Hemispheric Indigenous Studies,” a special issue of Comparative American Studies (2013) that calls for a trans-American frame for indigenous history and culture. Over the past fifteen years, Dr. Barrenechea has contributed articles and reviews to Comparative LiteratureRevista IberoamericanaAmerican Literature, and other venues, including the American Comparative Literature Association’s “state-of-the-discipline” report. The forthcoming “Hemispheric Studies Beyond Suspicion” was awarded the 2014-2016 prize for the best essay by the International Association of Inter-American Studies. Following upon a 2016-2017 fellowship at the Institut Américain Universitaire in France, Dr. Barrenechea’s recent work is on the relation between trash culture and analog cinema as produced in the fringes of North and South American film capitals. He also conducts ongoing research on the intellectual history of the literature of the Americas, particularly its international pioneering waves, and its contemporary manifestations in U.S. academia. Dr. Barrenechea presently serves on the boards of the International American Studies Association, the International Association of Inter-American Studies, and Comparative American Studies.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

The Copyright Holder of the submitted text is the Author. The Reader is granted the rights to use the material available in the RIAS websites and pdf documents under the provisions of the Creative CommonsAttribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0). Any commercial use requires separate written agreement with the Author and a proper credit line indicating the source of the original publication in RIAS.

  1. License

The University of Silesia Press provides immediate open access to journal’s content under the Creative Commons BY 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Authors who publish with this journal retain all copyrights and agree to the terms of the above-mentioned CC BY 4.0 license.

  1. Author’s Warranties

The author warrants that the article is original, written by stated author/s, has not been published before, contains no unlawful statements, does not infringe the rights of others, is subject to copyright that is vested exclusively in the author and free of any third party rights, and that any necessary written permissions to quote from other sources have been obtained by the author/s.

If the article contains illustrative material (drawings, photos, graphs, maps), the author declares that the said works are of his authorship, they do not infringe the rights of the third party (including personal rights, i.a. the authorization to reproduce physical likeness) and the author holds exclusive proprietary copyrights. The author publishes the above works as part of the article under the licence "Creative Commons Attribution - By the same conditions 4.0 International".

ATTENTION! When the legal situation of the illustrative material has not been determined and the necessary consent has not been granted by the proprietary copyrights holders, the submitted material will not be accepted for editorial process. At the same time the author takes full responsibility for providing false data (this also regards covering the costs incurred by the University of Silesia Press and financial claims of the third party).

  1. User Rights

Under the Creative Commons Attribution license, the users are free to share (copy, distribute and transmit the contribution) and adapt (remix, transform, and build upon the material) the article for any purpose, provided they attribute the contribution in the manner specified by the author or licensor.

  1. Co-Authorship

If the article was prepared jointly with other authors, the signatory of this form warrants that he/she has been authorized by all co-authors to sign this agreement on their behalf, and agrees to inform his/her co-authors of the terms of this agreement.

I hereby declare that in the event of withdrawal of the text from the publishing process or submitting it to another publisher without agreement from the editorial office, I agree to cover all costs incurred by the University of Silesia in connection with my application.