Seis Manos, Powerhouse Animation’s newest adult animation created for Netflix in partnership with Viz Media, has the three M’s: Magic, Monsters, and Mexicans. The eight-episode series firmly lives on a foundation of exploitation cinema, a genre defined by its over-the-top violence, use of drugs, sex, and, in Mexploitation’s case, the cartels. But that isn’t all that this series is. Seis Manos is able to bring together Mexploitation and Kung Fu cinema in ways that utilize genre tropes, themes, and visual cues. Thankfully that means that after you’ve watched the animation, you’re itching to see what else is out there, or perhaps see the films that helped Seis Manos find its footing. So here are seis movies to watch after you complete your binge of the series and to help you get into the genre cinema that the creators of Seis Manos took inspiration from.
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
The first film to watch after Seis Manos is Robert Rodriguez‘s cult classic is the most natural entry on this list. Vampires, violence, and sex is the name of the game for one of Rodriguez’s most iconic films; From Dusk Till Dawn even got its own television series on El Rey Network. In the film we focus on the Gecko brothers who are on the run after a bank robbery as they head to the Mexican-border after kidnapping a preacher and his kids. The criminals sneak across the border in the family’s RV and hole up in a topless bar, the now iconic, Tittytwister. Unfortunately, the bar also happens to be home base for a gang of vampires, and the brothers and their hostages have to fight their way out.
The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978)
It’s clear that this one influenced the Mexican series, so of course, it’s one to watch after Seis Manos. When it comes to Kung Fu cinema, our generation can vividly recall Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan who have each stuck their foot in American pop culture in the best ways. But, there were others, such as The 36th Chamber of Shaolin which came out in 1978, who helped define the genre and inspired many. In The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, young student Liu is urged to rise against the Manchu oppression in China, but the revolution had disastrous consequences. Escaping the massacre, Liu seeks shelter in the Shaolin Temple where the monks train him in their famous martial arts techniques.
Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
Assault on Precinct 13 was one of the easiest films to add on to this list because Seis Manos makes direct references to it. When the LAPD kills several members of the South Central gang, Street Thunder, the remaining members avenge themselves by way of a bloody war waged against cops and citizens alike. Caught in the crossfire is Lt. Ethan Bishop, who is managing a skeleton crew at the local and soon-to-be-closed police precinct. As the gang members close in, Bishop forms an unlikely alliance with a group of prisoners in order to defend the station and the lives of everyone in it.
I’m going to be honest, there is no list for a series in which Danny Trejo voices in or even cameos in without Machete. After entering many of our lives as tío Machete (Mah-che-teh, say it with me) in Rodriguez’s SpyKids, seeing him get his own violence-filled, off-the-rails film as a lead was perfection. Living deeply in the Mexploitation that Rodriguez brought to the United States with the El Mariachi trilogy, Machete is the most absurd film in the modern Mexploitation canon. After nearly being killed during a violent fight with a powerful drug lord, a former Mexican Federale known as Machete roams Texas streets as a vigilante and sometime day-laborer. Hired to perform a covert hit, he is double-crossed and forced to go on the run and ultimately settles the score.
Like much of Mexploitation, religion, specifically Catholicism, is one of the best tools to tell stories of monsters, depravity, and everything in line with the genre. This is none more clear than in Alucarda. In this 1977 film, after the death of her parents, a young girl arrives at a convent and brings a sinister presence with her. Friends with an entity of her own imagination named Alucarda, we have to ask is it Alucarda or is there another, satanic force, at work here?
Santo Contra los Zombies (1962)
Luchadores are the center of Mexican genre cinema and none more beloved than Mexploitation’s patron saint El Santo. Picking just one movie featuring this icon was hard but I finally landed on Santo Contra los Zombies, or in English: Santo VS the Zombies. In this cornerstone of cinema, El Santo is sent to defend humanity from an invasion of criminal zombies who are overwhelming local law enforcement created by a nefarious general. After duking it out on the streets, the masked superhero discovers that their Achilles’ heel lies in an abundant Mexican natural resource: chili powder. El Balde makes monsters in order to overrun San Simon, so the fit is natural right?
Do you have any genre favorites that made you would watch after Seis Manos? Let us know in the comments.
Kate Sánchez is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of But Why Tho? A Geek Community. There, she coordinates film, television, anime, and manga coverage. Kate is also a freelance journalist writing features on video games, anime, and film. Her focus as a critic is championing animation and international films and television series for inclusion in awards cycles.