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Ernesto Alonso: EL MALEFICIO’s Demonic Mafioso Dandy, Wednesday Addams, Train To Busan, And More
The Bite #149

Ernesto Alonso: EL MALEFICIO’s Demonic Mafioso Dandy, Wednesday Addams, Train To Busan, And More

February 23, 2021

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Ernesto Alonso: El Maleficio’s Demonic Mafioso Dandy

By Abraham Castillo Flores

El Maleficio (February 1983 to April 1984) was a horror telenovela phenomenon that captured the attention of an entire nation in the midst of a deep recession. The lead was Enrique de Martino, a ruthless but seductive Mexican businessman who was the Latin American representative for the Mafia. This totemic character was expertly played by Ernesto Alonso, the famed cinema, theater, and TV actor. He was also a powerhouse telenovela producer who helped bring pioneering TV writer Fernanda Villeli’s concept of El Maleficio to life.

Born in 1917, Alonso moved to Mexico City from his hometown Aguascalientes in 1930, chasing the dream of becoming an actor. He first tasted popularity while performing in theater and radio dramas on XEW radio from 1939 to 1942. Later, an illustrious career on the screen developed, where he excelled at playing elegant and cosmopolitan characters as well as peculiar individuals such as the first Mexican saint in San Felipe de Jesus (1949), and an obnoxious pimp in Streetwalker (1951). His film acting career reached an apex in 1954 with Luis Buñuel’s wonderful, kinky film The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz.

Rumors surrounded El Maleficio’s production: the Bael painting would continually fall down from the wall, heavy soundstage doors would suddenly close shut, and actors and actresses wore crucifixes and religious images under their costumes as protection. Actress Patricia Reyes Spíndola hired a cartomancy expert to help her avoid any esoteric pitfalls that her onscreen persona could attract while actress Malena Doria had to hire a shaman to cleanse her home after repeated incidents of weird noises and moving objects. Tabloids reported stories of mysterious private rituals that were allegedly demonic invocations held by Alonso. There were even those who denounced him as a warlock, bent on corrupting Mexican households through the airwaves.

I was 11 when El Maleficio aired and was both fascinated and repelled. My parents weren’t too keen on me watching but allowed it since it offered them extra time for unrestrained marital conflict. That is until my nightmares with Bael and Teodora (the Indian white magic witch) and my repeated questions about summonings and black magic at school.

The roaring success of El Maleficio demanded a sequel which came out in 1986 as a film. El Malefico 2: The Envoys from Hell, starring Ernesto Alonso and TV superstar Lucia Mendez, was shot in NYC, Venice, and Mexico City. But despite the expectation, glamorous locations, nuclear annihilation angst, and Alonso, the film tanked at the box office. Something most definitely got lost in the telenovela-to-film translation. Even previous fans like me rejected it as the film felt like a clunky, pale imitation of The Omen trilogy.

In the final episode of El Maleficio, Enrique de Martino was, unfortunately but predictably, vanquished by the forces of good. He stoically stood before his altar to Bael as flames slowly crept up around him until he was fully consumed. His reign of terror came to a halt. But in the final shot of the series, we discover the painting survived the purifying fire and we clearly see the eyes of Bael glow.

I have never forgotten that moment. A seed had been planted. It was through the character of Enrique de Martino, a demonic mafioso dandy, that I had discovered a gateway into a hidden world of mysticism, rituals, and invisible forces that both scared and captivated me. That paradox would take years to bloom but it would eventually become one of the building blocks that still, to this date, fuels my passion for defending and promoting the power of Mexican imagination and its creators.

Viva Ernesto Alonso!

A Mexican offspring of the 1970s obsessed with the power and paradoxical beauty of genre stories imprinted onto celluloid and pixels. Abraham Castillo Flores has been Head Programmer at Morbido Fest since 2010, where he curates and presents exotic and outrageous films to audiences hungry for intense emotions. Abraham lives in Mexico City where he dedicates his every breath to the promotion, restructuring, study, and presentation of genre films.


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A new take on Constantine is in the works and will focus on John Constantine’s earlier years.

Alexandre Aja (High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes) is producing a feature-length adaptation of the horror short Mr. Thisforthat.

YouTube channel Golden Eagle Studio created a horror stop-motion parody of The Office.

The Deccan Herald has a wonderful piece about horror artist Basil Gogos.

Ricardo Delgado is writing Dracula of Transylvania, a new take on the vampire king that aspires to be darker and deadlier than Bram Stoker’s classic novel.

Ever wondered what happened to some of those “development hell” movies from folks like George A. Romero, John Landis, and more? Dark Horse’s Untold Horror gives you insight directly from the masters themselves!


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