Tod Browning’s DRACULA (1931) is rightly hailed as a horror classic while the Spanish-language version directed by George Melford was assumed lost and went largely unseen by modern audiences following its initial release until it was restored and distributed on home video in 1992. Both films were shot at the same time using the same sets but with different casts, which was a typical practice … Continue reading DRACULA VS. SPANISH DRACULA
ON VAMPYRES AND OTHER SYMPTOMS (2011) is the clever title of a new documentary directed by Celia Novis focusing on the reclusive Spanish filmmaker, writer, and artist José Ramón Larraz. If Larraz’s name doesn’t ring any bells don’t be alarmed. Despite the fact that the 83-year-old director is well regarded by his peers which include Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg, and author Stephen King, Larraz remains relatively … Continue reading On Vampyres and Other Symptoms (2011)
Narciso Ibáñez Serrador’s THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED (1969) is often cited as one of Spain’s most important and influential horror films but its audience is typically restricted to genre fanatics. The highly sexualized content and graphic murders depicted in this gothic thriller limit its appeal. But the commercial success of THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED during the late 1960s helped pave the way for the post-Franco Spanish horror boom … Continue reading THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED… “MURDER!”
As a film journalist I have often tried to focus my attention on underappreciated films, actors and directors. Unsurprisingly, this has led me to write about a number of gay/LGBT films as well as gay/LGBT filmmakers and actors. So in celebration of Gay Pride weekend and the Supreme Court decision that now makes gay-marriage a constitutional right (as it always should have been) I decided … Continue reading Celebrating Gay Pride
I recently had the opportunity to view Celia Novis’ new documentary, ON VAMPYRES AND OTHER SYMPTOMS (2011), about the life and work of director José Ramón Larraz. Larraz is one of Spain’s most fascinating horror filmmakers but his work is hard to get a hold of and I’ve only managed to see a handful of his films myself including VAMPYRES (1975), DEVIATION (1971), THE HOUSE THAT … Continue reading On Vampyres and Other Symptoms
At the Movie Morlocks this week I took a sneak peek at Severin Films upcoming DVD/Blu-Ray Combo Package for HORROR EXPRESS (1972). This entertaining Spanish/British production directed by Eugino ‘Gene’ Martino is finally getting the red carpet treatment from Severin that it’s long deserved and if you’re a fan of the film you’re going to want to pick up this release. A brief outtake from … Continue reading All Aboard the HORROR EXPRESS!
Mod Macabre continues over at The Movie Morlocks today where I take a look at Narciso Ibáñez Serrador’s horrific thriller The House That Screamed (1969) featuring a great cast that includes Lilli Palmer, Cristina Galbo, Mary Maude and mod wonder boy, John-Moulder Brown. Here’s a brief description of The House That Screamed from my post: “THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED takes place at an isolated boarding … Continue reading The House That Screamed… “Murder!”
I was gutted by the news of Paul Naschy’s death today due to complications from cancer. He was 75 years old and had a very full and productive life but I didn’t realize he was so ill. Naschy directed and appeared in some of my favorite Spanish horror films and as I’ve mentioned before, I came up with the name for my blog thanks to … Continue reading Paul Naschy 1934-2009
Before the Fall (aka Tres días) is a terrific Spanish thriller with an end-of-the-world setting. This thoughtful genre-mixing film takes place in a small Spanish village as the news breaks that a giant meteor has begun rapidly descending towards earth. The meteor is expected to hit the planet in just three days and scientists predict that the world will come to a sudden and violent end when it does. As these events begin to unfold director and co-writer F. Javier Gutiérrez focuses his camera on one very troubled family that is struggling to live with some deep scars caused by a traumatic encounter with a serial killer many years earlier. Unfortunately the family is forced to face their past head-on when the killer escapes from jail in the chaos following the frantic news announcement of the meteor’s decent.
In most films with a doomsday plot line the characters act as if they don’t have a past. But they’re willing to fight for a future that often seems vague and undefined. Characters might struggle with family matters before the action starts and occasionally make reference to it as the drama progresses, but once the adrenaline kicks in their personal history mysteriously seems to vanish into thin air. This lack of emotional depth and character development in many science fiction films and thrillers can be distracting and exasperating for some viewers. Before the Fall is smart enough to reject typical scenarios found in countless apocalyptic films and instead director F. Javier Gutiérrez managed to craft a taut psychological thriller that never forgets about its very human characters.
The film’s deep sense of humanity is what separates Before the Fall from countless other end-of-the-world films that have preceded it. Throughout the course of the film the flawed protagonists in Before the Fall are never allowed to forget their past and the events that have shaped them. Director F. Javier Gutiérrez knows that death is inevitable whether it comes in the form of a giant falling meteor, suicide or a serial killer so the meteor plunging towards earth in Before the Fall is only a minor distraction that never gets in the way of life’s bigger questions and conflicts. The film unapologetically allows viewers to forget about the impending disaster facing planet earth and embrace the troubled family in their very personal plight.
Besides some surprisingly creative directing choices by Gutiérrez, the film also features some wonderful performances from Víctor Clavijo as the reluctant hero of the film as well as Mariana Cordero as his mother and Eduard Fernández as the determined killer. These three characters really make up the heart, soul and mind of this unusual movie that happens to be one of my favorite films of the last decade.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but overall 2008 was somewhat of a lackluster year for new Region 1 DVD releases of 1960s and 1970s era films when compared to the previous two years (See: 2006 and 2007). Some of my favorite DVD companies such as BCI Eclipse and most recently New Yorker Films have folded. Boutique DVD companies are releasing fewer … Continue reading 20 Favorite DVD Releases of 2008: Part I.