The sad story of a cursed movie that was going to save Spanish fantastic cinema

1994. Two young people, both emerged from the fantastic film scene that has meeting points such as the Sitges Festival or the Donostia Fantastic and Horror Film Week, began the respective filming of their new films. Álex de la Iglesia had already stood out with his first feature film, Mutant action, and sought to consolidate with The Day of the Beast. A regular in the world of fanzines, Arturo de Bobadilla, was shooting his own film in homage to the classics of the genre. Both productions had in their cast an emerging Santiago Segura and Manuel Tallafé. One of the works becomes a great success. The other becomes a damn project that will feed a thousand and one anecdotes.

New and Digital Blood for Vampires and Lycans of Late Francoism

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There is little to tell about The Day of the Beast, a great success of Spanish pop cinema, fantasy and horror comedy that staged that a cinema freak Spanish could be artistically compelling as well as commercially lucrative. De Bobadilla, on the other hand, had imposed a true divine mission, like that Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) of the contemporary Pulp fiction. It was proposed to resurrect the tradition of Spanish fantasy, from the lycanthropes played by Paul Naschy in The mark of the werewolf and many other titles, of the Templar zombies devised by Amando de Ossorio in The night of blind terror and its aftermath. And cross this material with the legends of Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer. The same Naschy, then in a stage of professional bump, wanted to rely on the film signed by De Bobadilla as a springboard to regain popularity.

Finally, The risen ones premiered in 2017 in related spaces. A fan film exalted by the unusual presence of professionals. The intrahistory of the work may be reminiscent of other unusual creative alliances of the audiovisual series Z, such as the filming of Ed Wood (Space Plan 9) with its mythical Bela Lugosi, interpreter of a few vampires and mad scientists in the early years of talkies (including the Dracula signed by Tod Browning). Or the collaborations of another willful fantasy, the prolific director Fred Olen Ray (Hollywood chainsaw hookers), with a very veteran John Carradine.

A few years after the presentation of the film, and with a certain perspective, the director Victor Matellano (Vampyres) recovers the eventful and long history of making the film through the documentary My beloved monster. He does so with many direct witnesses, such as the aforementioned Segura and Tallafé, along with another face of fantasy such as Antonio Mayans, a regular in the films of the compulsive filmmaker Jesús Franco (Vampires). Other habitual and not so habitual of the fantastic scene also appear, such as the popularizer and director of the Sitges Festival, Ángel Sala, the singer Alaska, the interpreters Carlos Areces and Macarena Gómez ... or the very Álex de la Iglesia, to close the circle .

This shoot is a wreck

"This story has encouraged us many after-dinner meals," says Tallafé at one point in the film. And Matellano has chosen to give the documentary a humorous tone. "It is a comic film, but made with respect, with affection, with sympathy," says the director. Matellano is happy that documentaries take on the tone of a certain type of cinema "to tell the stories, to guide the viewer, and more in the case of My beloved monster, because it is a difficult work to explain. "" In the case of The strain returns, my gaze on Cuenca crime, he knew he should use the form of thriller. This time, I knew I had to get closer to comedy, "he says.

The project began to be built from a monologue where Tallafé tells memories of the filming of The risen ones. There is no shortage of imitations of the director of the film or jokes at the cost of his inexperienced enthusiasm. From this comic nucleus, Matellano and company added layers: the memories of other participants in the filming, the considerations of people from the fantastic family who knew the story indirectly and the reactions of other guests (some of them are unexpected , like Antonio Miguel Carmona or Pedro Ruiz) to whom the phenomenon is discovered.

The film manages to conjure up an atmosphere of meeting friends where funny stories are told. The varied profile of the participants, who maintain different degrees of relationship with respect to The risen onesPerhaps it makes it easier for the audience to feel part of a party that is not only intended for the enjoyment of the initiated. Along the way, a thousand and one picturesque moments are detailed. It arouses some perplexity to imagine the film crew walking after a filming because there was no money to pay for metro tickets. And the anecdotes about some sandwiches, supposedly prepared by the director's mother, are surprising, where the covers of sliced ​​bread that many avoid eating proliferated in an anti-statistic way. Evocations can have something of a revival from Tallafé ... or from Matellano himself. In any case, the director affirms that real things have remained in the pipeline: "I have discarded anecdotes that could be misinterpreted and be a bit bloody. It is a limit that I self-imposed because Arturo has not demanded anything of me."

The tour embraces multiple tones. Tallafé or Segura are rather jokers. Others, like Álex de la Iglesia or Alaska, choose to wrap themselves in a certain cloak of affection and prioritize the value of creating something, although the results may be very imperfect. One of the puzzled discoverers of The risen ones, states that "this is what children do when they get older." Matellano concedes that he too has fed on a taste for monsters and stories conceived in his youth. "My first movie, WaxIt has the same plot as a play I wrote as a child in school. You are fulfilling small dreams, "he explains.

Director of My beloved monster clarifies that his works are based on an industrial and professional approach that was not present in the genesis of The risen ones. "In this I move away from the approach of the fan that Arturo could have then," he clarifies. "For Arturo, the very act of shooting was a reason in itself. He wanted to play with the monsters he had mythologized and with his own ghosts. He found access to someone like Paul Naschy, and he told himself why not. He was inventing , and in that forward flight is part of the reason for never ending. Because what made sense to him was the process of making the film, rather than the film itself ", says the author of The Cepa Returns.

The end of the myth, the arrival of silence

When it was finally presented to the public, The risen ones caused some astonishment. Beyond the appearances and disappearances of characters, or the fragmented and hardly understandable narrative, the film started from an archaic conception, from dialogues that recalled the forms of romantic literature (which the director, they explain, dictated on the fly to the interpreters). The result was fantaterror in its most solemn variant, without a trace of humor or postmodern irony, and also without the technical competence of the professionals of the genre. Matellano considers that he is a reflection of the young De Bobadilla: "He was haughty, he had a great capacity for conviction and that is why he convinced people like Naschy. I have always had respect for him, and now I have affection for him, but then he was unpleasant to me."

In the screenings in San Sebastián or Sitges, the mismatch between the director's intentions as a creator of myths and a stunned reception was evidenced. The audience, fired in a thousand battles of the fantastic, reacted with a few laughs to the quixotic endeavor. In the documentary, the director of The risen ones He does not seem affected by it and defends the attempt to enjoy. Matellano affirms that "he has been to these projections, he knows that they are a party, and that laughter was part of the answer, that the worst thing is indifference. I think that the drama comes later with silence. There are a couple of very critical critics. hard, and that's it. Any filmmaker has experienced that, but this postpartum depression, let's say, coupled with other problems that we allude to, is magnified by the duration of the whole process. "

After the laughs, the final minutes of My beloved monster they tackle dramatic moments. They fly over several duels due to the loss of family members and the possibility of health problems. "At one point, Arturo opened up to the camera, to the extent that he considered appropriate. He was very generous there," says the director. After ending that myth built on years of promising a movie to come, they played new stages conditioned by the death of loved ones. When the time comes to deal with the monsters and nightmares within each one's mind, Matellano opts for careful treatment.

However, De Bobadilla is not portrayed as a heroic vocational director: after many minutes of humor, there is no room for idealization, but affection and empathy are possible. And the possibility of facing new challenges and chimeras, such as the possibility of promoting a second part of that vocational, chaotic and improvised filmic fantasy. Along the way, a small halo of relative mystery is preserved about what happened during that two-decade span. "I think there are many things that we explain or imply. That there is a fear of ending, that one lives better in the mythical. There are other things that I know, very mundane, and others that I do not know, or that I do not know they have. real and mythical. I don't think it matters. "

My beloved monster it was screened at the last Donostia Horror and Fantasy Film Week and at the Isla Calavera Canary Island Fantastic Film Festival (Tenerife), where Matellano received an honorary award. The documentary is expected to reach a limited number of commercial theaters in the country.


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