MEXICO CITY — Morbido Festival, Mexico’s most important event for genre cinema, has announced that Spain’s Paco Plaza, “Veronica” director and co-creator of the 2007-14 “Rec,” the breakout hit found-footage horror movie series, will be attending the festival and writing a script for one of its newest initiatives.
This year, Morbido Group renovated the haunted house at the biggest and oldest theme park in Mexico, La Feria de Chapultepec. The house sees more than 10,000 visitors a week, and Morbido has enlisted Plaza to write the attraction’s 2019 script.
It’s the latest in an increasingly diverse portfolio of undertakings by Grupo Morbido, which launched Morbido TV in 2015. The service is a Mexican pay TV channel that is now broadcasting in a number of South America countries such as Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay and Peru.
The late 1980’s saw the birth of a number of franchises which have held up for decades, and in many cases spawned countless sequels, remakes and updates. This year, Morbido will be paying special tribute to a few of the most influential.
The “Hellraiser” and “Child’s Play” series both turn 30 this year. “Hellraiser” and “Hellbound, Hellraiser II” actress Ashley Lawrence will attend Morbido, as will “Child’s Play” creator, writer, producer and director Don Mancini, who will be bringing with him the original Chucky doll.
“We are going to treat Chucky as an international guest. He is going to do the red carpet, go to the pyramids, and of course he is going to have a huge birthday party,” said Morbido Group CEO-founder Pablo Guisa Koestinger, adding, “We are just trying to decide if we should give him the knife to cut the cake or not.”
Peter Medak’s 1980 classic “The Changeling” is getting a 4K remaster this year: the filmmaker will be in Mexico to present the high-definition upgrade. He will also receive this year’s Crystal Skull, a lifetime achievement award given by the festival. Previous winners include legendary genre actor-writer-producer-director Roger Corman and legendary American filmmaker John Landis.
While genre filmmaking has always had its mainstream stars – M. Night Shyamalan and Sam Raimi stand out in recent decades – the medium itself has never quite reached the heights of box office and festival success that it finds itself experiencing today. Guisa had two main theories as to why that could be.
“One has to do with generations. Children that grew up with ‘Harry Potter’ went through puberty with the shiny vampires and hairless werewolves and they are used to consuming genre since childhood. So they are always asking for more.”
And the other: “Box office. If you look at last year’s box office, it was literally saved by genre.” In 2017, fantasy, science fiction and horror dominated the worldwide box office, and the top horror film on that list, “It,” was directed by a Latin American filmmaker in Argentina’s Andy Muschietti.
“We can see examples of successful genre films and filmmakers coming from Latin America and doing well worldwide in the box office and festival circuit,” Guisa elaborated, citing Demián Rugna’s “Aterrados” – which world premiered at Morbido last year, Fede Alvarez’s “Don’t Breath” and of course, “Guillermo del Toro is the perfect example,” he finished.
The festival’s Latin American film section tells a similar story. Carl Zitelmann’s “The Lake Vampire” won the audience award and best art direction at the Festival of Venezuelan Cinema, Dennison Ramalho’s “The Nightshifter” was nominated for best film at the Sitges Intl. Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia; and Cristobal León and Joaquín Cociña’s “The Wolf House” was nominated for the Cristal for best feature at the Annecy Film Festival and the Zabaltegi-Tabakalera Prize at San Sebastian.
Big picture, Guisa think’s that while Latin American genre is at a historic peak, there is still plenty of room to grow. According to him, “Genre is in a golden age, it’s a worldwide phenomenon, and Latin America is proving that its culture, its traditions, its legends, its ghosts and its monsters travel. It’s starting to find ways to show off to the whole world.”
2018 MORBIDO SELECTION
LATIN AMERICAN FEATURE FILMS SELECTION
“Abrakadabra,” (Luciano Onetti, Nicolas Onetti, Argentina)
“Anya,” (Erik Zavála, Mexico)
“The Lake Vampire,” (Carl Zitelmann, Venezuela)
“Fiesta Niburu,” (Manuel Facal, Uruguay)
“The Tenants,” (Chava Cartas, Mexico)
“The Wolf House,” (Cristobal León, Joaquín Cociña, Chile)
“Crystal Eyes,” (Ezequiel Endelman, Leandro Montejano, Argentina)
“The Nightshifter,” (Dennison Ramalho, Brazil)
REST OF THE WORLD FEATURE FILMS SELECTION
“CAM,” (Daniel Goldhaber, Isa Mazzei, U.S.A.)
“Crisis Jung,” (Jeremie Hoarau, Baptiste Gaubert, France)
“Deadtectives,” (Tony West, U.S.A.)
“Haunters: The Art of The Scare,” (Jon Schnitzer, U.S.A.)
“One Cut of the Dead,” (Shinichiro Ueda, Japan)
“Lifechanger,” (Justin McConnell, Canada)
“Lucid,” (Adam Morse, U.K.)
“Luz,” (Tilman Singer, Germany)
“Mandy,” (Panos Cosmatos, U.S.A.)
“Mutafukaz,” (Guillaume Renard, Shojiro Nishimi, France)
“Parallel,” (Issac Ezban, Canada)
“Party Hard Die Young,” (Dominik Harti, Austria)
“Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich,” (Sonny Laguna, Tommy Wiklund, U.S.A.)
“Quién te cantará,” (Carlos Vermut, Spain)
“St. Agatha,” (Darren Lynn Bousman, U.S.A.)
“Starfish,” (A.T. White, U.S.A.)
“The Changeling,” (Peter Medak, Canada)
“The Cleaning Lady,” (Jon Knautz, U.S.A.)
“The Man with the Magic Box,” (Bodo Kox, Poland)
“The Ranger,” (Jenn Wexler, U.S.A.)
“Tumbbad,” (Rahi Anil Barve, Adesh Prasad, India, Sweden)
“Knife + Heart,” (Yann Gónzalez, France)
“Violence Voyager,” (Ujicha, Japan)
“Virgin Cheerleaders in Chains,” (Paulo Biscaia Filho, U.S.A.)
“What Keeps you Alive,” (Colin Miniham, Canada)