Monday, 13 December 2010

Spanish horror film season

I am involved with programming films for the Edinburgh Film Guild, my local film society. As part of this we do some Friday night screenings which feature cult and B-movies, the sort of things which film societies traditionally have stayed away from, at least in the UK.

As part of next year's programme, I'm thinking of a Spanish horror season, looking at films produced during the final decade of the Franco regime.

What do you, as fellow cult / horror fans, think of the following? What should be added, and what should be removed?

Spanish Horror, 1969-1976

Following the success of The Mark of the Wolf Man in 1968 (shown last year as part of our werewolves mini-season) it's not too much of an exaggeration to say that Spain went horror crazy. That film's unlikely star, weightlifter Jacinto Molina/Paul Naschy made himself into a one-man horror factory playing almost all the famous monsters. Amando De Ossorio created the figures of the Blind Dead and brought them back for three sequels, while Jorge Grau and Jose Larraz ventured to Britain for the likes of The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue and Vampyres. Back home, Narciso Ibanez Serrador, who had earlier scored a hit with the TV series Tales to Keep You Awake made The House that Screamed and Who Can Kill a Child. Elsewhere more avowedly political figures like of Juan Antonio Bardem, with The Corruption of Chris Miller, and Eloy de la Iglesia, with Apartment on the 13th Floor and Murder in a Blue World, found the genre a useful way to sneak subversive content past the censors. But look more closely at De Ossorio's Tombs of the Blind Dead and you can still see a subtext, given that the undead medieval knights are blind and rely upon their young victims foolishly raising their voices.

With this mini-season we showcase some of the best and most entertaining Spanish horror of the period.

La Residencia / The House that Screamed
Narciso Ibáñez Serrador | Spain | 1969 | 99 minutes
Mrs Forneau (Lilli Palmer) owns and runs a school for wayward girls in France. Her absolute discipline has fostered a social order among the girls with rampant sex, lesbianism and torture the norm. She also has an adolescent son (John Moulder-Brown) she tries to keep isolated from the young women lest he be tainted by sexual relations; he must wait for a girl “just like his mother”. Meanwhile, girls are disappearing one by one, never to be seen again...

La noche de Walpurgis / The Werewolf vs the Vampire Woman
Leon Klimovsky | Spain/West Germany | 1971 | 95 minutes
Elvira (Gaby Fuchs) is scouting the French countryside with her friend Genevievre, looking for the tomb of murderess and possible vampire, Countess Wandessa. She finds a likely site in the castle of Waldemar Daninsky (Paul Naschy), who invites the women to stay as long as they like. As Waldemar shows Elvira the tomb she accidentally causes the vampire to return, hungrier than ever. Daninsky has a hidden secret of his own (note the English title) but will he be able to save her from becoming Wandessa's next victim?

La noche del terror ciego / Tombs of the Blind Dead
Amando De Ossorio | Spain / Portugal | 1971 | 86 minutes
In the 13th century there existed a legion of evil knights known as the Templars, who quested for eternal life by drinking human blood and committing sacrifices. Executed for their unholy deeds, the Templars bodies were left out for the crows to peck out their eyes. Now, in modern day Portugal, a group of people stumble on the Templars abandoned monastery and unwittingly rouse the inhabitants from beyond death...

Non si deve profanare il sonno dei morti / The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue
Jorge Grau | Spain / Italy | 1974 | 95 minutes
A near fascist cop (Arthur Kennedy) chases two hippies (Ray Lovelock and Cristina Galbo) whom he suspects of being behind a series of bizarre Manson family-like murders; unbeknownst to him, the real culprits are the living dead, brought to life with a thirst for human flesh by an experimental pest control device.

Las garras de Lorelei / The Loreley's Grasp
Leon Klimovsky | Spain | 1974 | 85 minutes
The legendary Loreley has been living for centuries in a grotto beneath the river Rhein in Germany. Every night when the moon is full, she turns into a reptile-like creature craving for human blood. When one girl after another of a nearby boarding school is killed by her, a hunter named Sirgurd (Tony Kendall) is engaged to kill the monster.

¿Quién puede matar a un niño? / Who Can Kill a Child?
Narciso Ibáñez Serrador | Spain | 1976 | 107 minutes
A couple of English tourists (Lewis Fiander and Prunella Ransome) rent a boat to visit an island off the southern Spanish coast. When they arrive, they find the town deserted of adults, occupied only by children who don't speak but stare whilst eerily smiling. They soon discover that all the children of the island have been possessed by a mysterious force or madness which makes them attack and murder their elders...


Nigel M said...

Maybe add jess franco? anyhow good list

dfordoom said...

I'm with Nigel on this one. Definitely add some Jess Franco. Many of his movies are technically French or German productions, or co-productions, but he is by far the most interesting Spanish horror director of that period.

Anonymous said...

"¿Quién puede matar a un niño?" and "La Residencia" are masterpieces!

Anonymous said...

How would these be shown btw? celluloid or from disc?

K H Brown said...

From disc. Though we have the facilities for 16 and 35mm, it isn't really practical for us to show things on proper film anymore.