Spanish cinema has lost an understated giant with Friday’s passing of genre film and TV pioneer Narciso “Chicho” Ibañez Serrador, dead at the age of 83.
Although he only filmed two features, both stand out as milestones in the country’s early genre cannon, 1970’s “La Residencia” (“The House That Screamed”) and 1976’s “¿Quién puede matar a un niño?” (“Who Can Kill a Child?”).
The films anticipated Spain’s surge in upscale genre auteur, and helped evolve the medium from quickly produced hack-and-slash fare intended to make a quick buck at the box office, to films with aesthetics, psychology and humanistic narratives that stood and stand out in international cinema.
In Spain he is equally well-regarded for his work in TV with programs such as “Un, dos, tres… responda otra vez,” in its time the biggest game show in Spain, and the legendary horror series “Historias para no dormir” (Literally, “Stories to Keep You Awake”).
In February of this year the Spanish Academy presented Ibáñez with an honorary Goya Award for lifetime achievement. The award was presented by Alejandro Amenábar (“The Others”), J.A. Bayona (“The Orphanage”), Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza (“[REC]”), Rodrigo Cortés (“Buried”), Alex de la Iglesia (“The Day of the Beast,” another milestone in Spanish genre), Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (“28 Weeks Later”) and Nacho Vigalondo (“Colossal”) – one indication of the ample influence Ibañez has had on one of Europe’s most-talented genre generations.
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Many of the group shared condolences across social media on Friday, including Bayona who tweeted a link to a story in Spanish newspaper El País and accompanying video of a meeting he and Ibañez shared ahead of this year’s Goyas in which the publication labels the two as the grandfather and grandson of Spanish horror.
He also penned a brief statement: “A capital figure of our cinema has gone. Master and teacher, he filmed a pair of masterpieces and we caught his love for the great classics of terror. RIP Narciso Ibáñez Serrador. Thanks for the laughter, the scares, the tears and the lessons in cinema.”