×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Reign of horror

Spanish fare from aliens to zombies

If Spanish films are remembered for anything at the 25th American Film Market, it could well be their horror.

Spain’s biggest sales company, Filmax Entertainment, is a frightfare specialist. But a generation of newer Spanish producers are now revving their chainsaws, honing their f/x or sweating over subtler scenarios of psychological pain.

An avid appetite of horror and stepped-up production levels can of course be seen in the U.S. and Asia.

Why the Spanish film industry has a particularly acute case of the horror heebie-jeebies, leading Europe in scarefare, is another matter.

No sub-strain dominates its horror pics. Tubthumped AFM product run the gamut of A (aliens) to Z (zombies):

  • Filmax has 14 horror pics or TV movies on its current slate at the AFM. Highlights: the gothic Calista Flockhart starrer “Fragile,” from Jaume Balaguero; Luis de la Madrid’s deb “The Nun,” where a back-from-the-grave sister of mercy shows little toward the schoolgirls who murdered her; and the delirious sanitarium-set “Hypnos,” from another first-timer, David Carreras.

  • Eugenio Mira’s English-lingo deb, “The Birthday,” market preems at the AFM. Pic combines a bravado nerd perf from Corey Feldman, and a finale appearance by a schlock Satan monster.

  • Possibly the AFM’s most out-there bow, tyro Pepe de las Hera’s splatterfest “Mucha sangre” (Much Blood), has a bunch of alien zombies terrorizing a village, sodomizing the men folk, aided by an extraterrestrial penis.

  • In the Aurum-sold “Ouija,” four young board players accidentally summon up a devil.

  • Canonigo Films touting two projects toplining Spain’s 1960s horror pic legend Paul Naschy: werewolf tale “Waldemar,” and slasher “Behind the Tapestry.”

Why has horror found such fertile ground in Spain?

Here, pundits wax large. One theory: under Franco’s dictatorship, the Catholic Church instilled a horror of hell in Spaniards. The Church’s influence has waned. But a capacity for horror remains.

Also, like Japan and South Korea, Spain saw a relatively recent industrial revolution. Half a century ago, most Spaniards lived off the land.

Superstitions, tall tales, folklore abounded.

Now young Spaniards live relatively comfy urban lives.

“But they need shocks to be jump-started out of their materially sated existence. Horror provides this,” says “Much Blood” producer Isona Passola at Massa d’Or Produccions.

In industrial terms, the biggest brute force energizing indie business remains DVD.

International DVD sales have rocketed from $6.3 billion in 2001 to a forecast $20.1 billion for 2004. Dutch distrib San Fu Maltha at A Film claimed early this year that two-thirds of his revenues came from DVD.

Horror plays notoriously well as home entertainment.

Though its pics are now squarely aimed at theatrical, Filmax was one of the first European companies to tap into the burgeoning DVD market, launching a horror label, Fantastic Factory, in 1999.

“Filmax created an industrial model that saw consistent international sales. On modest levels, younger Spanish producers are trying to imitate it,” says Canonigo’s international affairs director, Igor Massa.

The horror genre has also allowed Spanish films to square a — characteristically European — industrial circle.

From the 1960s, any Spanish director of artistic ambitions has seen himself as an auteur.

Yet, facing increasingly studio-dominated markets, local producers have battled to make more commercial auteur pics.

An early stock response was to combine social-themed cinema with local, often TV, stars. The results often grated, satisfying neither haute art crowds nor multiplex hordes.

Horror offers a happier solution, allowing young Spanish directors to place their personal signature on a mainstream genre.

“When you have co-production meetings with foreign producers, everybody asks if you’ve got some horror,” Passola said. “But they also demand a second element: a large dose of individual imagination.”

More Film

  • With PGA win, 'Green Book' is

    Oscars: With PGA Victory, 'Green Book' Becomes Best Picture Frontrunner

    Save for a pair of recent back-to-back discrepancies in “The Big Short” and “La La Land,” the Producers Guild’s Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Theatrical Motion Pictures has been a fairly reliable barometer for the annual Oscar season outcome. At least, ever since both the PGA and film Academy expanded their top categories, sharing the [...]

  • Peter Farrelly30th Annual Producers Guild Awards,

    PGA Awards: 'Green Book' Wins Top Feature Film Award

    “Green Book” has won the Producers Guild’s Darryl F. Zanuck Award as the top feature film of 2018. The 1960s drama-comedy topped “BlacKkKlansman,” “Black Panther” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Crazy Rich Asians,” “The Favourite,”  “A Quiet Place,” “Roma,” “A Star Is Born” and “Vice. “When you make ‘Dumb and Dumber’ you never expect to get an award,” [...]

  • Netflix HQ LA

    Andy Gruenberg, Veteran Film Executive, Dies at 68

    Veteran film executive Andy Gruenberg, who most recently oversaw theatrical distribution at Netflix, died suddenly on Friday. He was 68. Gruenberg worked on classic films like “Ghostbusters,” “Karate Kid” and “Silverado” while at Columbia Pictures in the 80s and 90s. He then moved to MGM where he served as exec VP of distribution. There he [...]

  • Fyre Festival Caterer Receives Thousands in

    Unpaid Fyre Festival Caterer Raises Thousands in Donations on GoFundMe

    As two Fyre Festival documentaries hit the airwaves, a couple who say their credit was ruined due to the Fyre Festival’s lack of payment for their services have raised $54,381 at time of publication on GoFundMe. Elvis and Maryann Rolle wrote on their page that they catered “no less than 1000 meals per day” in [...]

  • DF-10956_R – Gwilym Lee (Brian May) and

    'Bohemian Rhapsody' Producer Confirms Bryan Singer's Reason for Leaving, Says 'No One' Was Attached to Play Mercury

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” producer Graham King provided insight into some of the events surrounding the Golden Globe-winning film Saturday at the Producers Guild Awards Nominees Breakfast, including director Bryan Singer’s departure from the film partway through production. “It’s an unfortunate situation, with like 16, 17 days to go and Bryan Singer just had some issues, his [...]

  • Author Tony Mendez arrives at the

    Tony Mendez, Former CIA Officer Depicted in 'Argo,' Dies at 78

    Tony Mendez, the former CIA technical operations officer who orchestrated the 1980 rescue of six American diplomats from Iran and who was portrayed by Ben Affleck in the Academy Award winning film “Argo,” has died. He was 78. Mendez’s book agent, Christy Fletcher, announced the news on Twitter Saturday morning. “Early this morning, Antonio (Tony) [...]

  • Glass Movie

    'Glass' to Rank in Top 3 MLK Debuts With $48 Million

    M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” is on its way to a solid debut with an estimated $48 million for the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. A sequel to 2000’s “Unbreakable” and 2017’s “Split,” the Universal superhero thriller should bring in around $41 million from 3,841 domestic locations over the Friday through Sunday period. The estimates are [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content