Moctezuma and Me
“For there is no folly of the beast of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men. ” -Herman Melville, Moby Dick 2: The Revenge
Every film geek needs their white whale. Something to look for at flea markets and yard sales to see if you can find just one more piece of evidence that your crazy obsession touched other lives. Moctezuma's movies are that for me. As a teen I came across his films hidden in my mother's things. She was not happy, movies were already off limits. So, of course, movies became my life. As I grew up and began to study film, I discovered that Moctezuma's films had not touched very many other lives. His body of work is small, hard to come by, but potent. The few that have seen his films remember. Moctezuma's work has influenced not only myself, but Guillermo del Toro, Robert Rodriguez, Sam Raimi, and more. The last film Moctezuma made was, "Death Has 1000 Pathways", his first US film, produced by Roger Corman, and rumor has it, starring Danny Trejo in his first film ever. However in the middle of production Moctezuma stole all the shot footage and disappeared.
I started this page as a teenager to reach out to the world to see who could tell me more about this unknown director. Currently we are acquiring interviews with Moctezuma scholars, and people who worked with him. Our goal is to go to Mexico this year, get more interviews and retrace Moctezuma's steps.
Who is Juan F. Moctezuma II:
Moctezuma with DP and actor on, "Las fieras"
Moctezuma birthplace - Janitzio Island
Moctezuma workplace - Cine Ópera
“Juan Francisco Moctezuma II is a Mexican horror and sci-fi filmmaker from the 60's and 70's. We believe he was born in the early 40s on the Isla de Janitzio on Lake Pátzcuaro in the state of Michoacán. He found his way to Mexico City in his early teens and worked as projectionist at the Cine Ópera theater. There are no records of payment, but it is believed he learned the craft of filmmaking from his work as a projectionist and from sneaking onto film sets around the city when he could. His first project of note is "Lovers of the Lord of Night (1960)" (more below on each film) which won him an Ariel from the Academia Mexicana de Ciencias y Artes Cinematográficas. With his winnings Moctezuma created "A Priceless Woman (1961)". There was a long break while Moctezuma worked with Chilean filmmaker, Alejandro Jodorowsky, before making his next film in response to the Tlateloco Massacre in the 1968, "Las Fieras (1969)", most of which was destroyed by the government. Moctezuma's next, and last completed film, was Demonoid (1971). After struggling to get his next film made, he had the huge opportunity to make a US produced film, "Death Has 1000 Pathways" produced by Roger Corman. An American producer who has launched the careers of directors like, Francis Ford Coppola, Ron Howard, and actor Jack Nicholson. However, Moctezuma threw away this opportunity, stole the footage they had shot and to this day we do not know why, where he went, or what happened to the film.
"Moctezuma is a pivotal director in Mexican Cinema for making bold and personal films during a time of social unrest and government oppression.. ”
- “Masked Men and Mummies: The Encyclopedia of Mexican Pulp Cinema.” By J.D. Chalston
“Directors such as René Cardona, Alfredo B. Crevenna, Alfonso Coronoa Blake, Federico Curiel, Miguem M. Delgado, Juan Moctezuma II and Chano Urueta take the horror film and ‘horribly mutate’ it. The eaisly recognizable formula of the Universal and Hammer horror films is taken to bizarre extremes in mexploitation.”
- "Mexploitation Cinema" by Doyle Greene
Reviews by my good friend, Curtis Dye and myself.