I didn’t mean to watch another crazy movie involving pedophilia so soon after The Scary of Sixty-First, but that’s what I get for not reading plot descriptions. It’s more of a twist ending in this movie, anyway. Jose Manuel is apparently helping out his sister whose daughter has been abducted, but really J.M. has helped abduct the girl and is now working on her twin sister. This is because he’s joined a minor UFO cult (half of whose members are named Raúl) whose leader asks for spiritual child sacrifices but is actually a child pornographer, illegal organ harvester, and probable murderer.

Made in Spain, played Locarno’s main section with Zeros and Ones and After Blue. It’s a likable, low-key absurdist movie with fun visual design and cool music, and you think you’re following a group of harmless kooks until the ending revelation. I take this as a critique on so-called harmless cults in general, that escape into conspiracy theory leads to ignorance of a darker reality. The Cinema Scope review isn’t online and I’ve misplaced half my issues in the move, damn, but in Cineuropa, Ibarra talks of working with nonprofessionals: “I look for that kind of natural spontaneity: I try to avoid them memorizing the text and have them read it only a few times … Nacho Fernández, the protagonist, is a guy from Alicante who works as a night watchman in a car park.”

Sexually explicit horror movie filmed in Galicia. The Bride imagines being raped by a closet dweller at her honeymoon hotel, so instead they go to his weirdo family’s place, where instead she fantasizes of joining with Creepy Carmilla and murdering the husband with a dagger that looks like a bathtub faucet handle. She keeps having visions, so I assumed the time he finds Carmilla naked, buried in the sand and breathing through a scuba mask would be one of those, but nope.

Carmilla appears to be the ageless vampire of a family ancestor. By the end, she’s killed a couple locals, and turned the bride and young Carol, who sounds dubbed by someone older. The husband figures it out and does some vampire slaying, but this looks bad to the local authorities.

Who could kill a child?

This guy could:

Main dude was in The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion (whoa) and Beyond Re-Animator. The Bride was a lead in The House That Screamed by Serrador, whose other movie I just watched, and Carmilla costarred with John Hurt and Peter Cushing in The Ghoul.

First I’ve seen by Aranda – his 1960’s proto-giallo Fata Morgana sounds good, and his murder mystery Exquisite Cadaver. The DP worked on Cannibal Apocalypse and Comin’ at Ya and the editor works with Carlos Saura. One of many adaptations of the Irish novel Carmilla – others include the previous year’s Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, Alucarda, the British Vampire Lovers, a Christopher Lee called Crypt of the Vampire, Roger Vadim’s Blood and Roses, and a three season youtube series.

This opens with scenes of death camp nazis bulldozing bodies… Indian starvation camps… mutilated Korean War orphans, and so on, a Faces of Death montage. Feels like an poor way to set the tone for your stupid horror movie, but it turns out they’re making a more socially conscious version of Village of the Damned, and the kids’ psychic murder rampage is payback for all the needless child death caused by adult decisions.

English couple travels to a Spanish island for vacation, having never heard of the Spanish language or culture before, and they happen to arrive on the day the kids rise up against adults. A good British person, he’s obsessed with never telling his pregnant wife what’s happening – when he witnesses the kids string up an adult as a human piñata and attack it with a scythe, he insists to her that it’s nothing, and everything’s fine. This is his fatal flaw, since he becomes convinced that the kids are monsters and she doesn’t, so she wrecks the car when he tries to run them down while escaping. Her own baby attacks her from inside, and he gets a Night of the Living Dead ending when a postman from the mainland sees him killing a kid and shoots him.

Serrador made The House That Screamed, which I didn’t love, but this was on some horror lists and proved to be good and messed-up. The lead guy was in Dr. Phibes Rises Again and his wife in The Secret of Seagull Island. DP José Luis Alcaine has been an Almodóvar regular since Volver.

José is a drug-addict filmmaker editing a vampire movie (Law of Desire star Eusebio Poncela). He meets Pedro, an extreme cinema obsessive (Will More of Dark Habits). The two are maybe not great for each other, or maybe that’s the drugs talking – movie jumps back in time to when Pedro was alive, while in the present tense, José gets high with Ana (All About My Mother star Cecilia Roth) and investigates letters, tapes and films sent to him.

José’s inspirational posters also include Viridiana wearing a Spider-Man mask.

Pedro is a super-creepy young man who only loves cinema and silly putty. He gets a stop-motion time-lapse gizmo and films himself sleeping, becoming obsessed with some hidden change that is happening. His camera apparently becomes sentient and starts killing people, beginning with Pedro’s large-eyed cousin Marta, while Pedro becomes hoarse-voiced, weak and withdrawn. José finally arrives, performs a blindfold ritual before the killer camera, and becomes pure cinema.

I prioritized watching this after Nick Pinkerton’s writeup – some of his best work.

Pedro’s address to José, dictated from the edge of oblivion in an unrecognizable rasp suggestive of lycanthropic transformation, structures what narrative Arrebato can be said to have … In Arrebato’s last act, which finds José totally absorbed in Pedro’s film and his strange quest, it becomes a movie about one run-down sybarite who’s coming apart at the seams bearing witness to the spectacle of another run-down sybarite who has come apart at the seams, both “reunited” on celluloid in the film’s inspired and singularly unnerving closing scene. If you watch the movie and aren’t keeping it together particularly well yourself – and who is these days? – this can all add up to a disquieting hall-of-mirrors effect.

Cute low-budget movie, black and white with star wipes, the sound cutting out during close-ups. Leo (played by our director) is an out-of-work stylist, picking up men online for money (guy at a cafe says he wants to be pissed on this tuesday, and won’t pay much) while her mom (played by her mom) stays home and puts curses on her enemies.

When they go out, mom shoplifts and puts meals at the titular restaurant on the tabs of local politicians. Leo flirts with Chen Zhou (The Cloud in Her Room), goes home with him, then finds out he’s married. Both women have their pains and need pampering, seem like fun little frauds though they are in real trouble, basically homeless. Mom doesn’t tell her daughter when the police finally come for her.

Watched this for being Vadim Rizov’s reported highlight of Sundance 2021. That’s the one I “attended” fourteen months ago, tho it seems longer. What would be my highlights… mostly the obvious choices:

Summer of Soul
In the Same Breath
Strawberry Mansion
All Light, Everywhere
Cryptozoo
Faya Dayi
In the Earth
The Sparks Brothers
Passing

Still want to see:
The Pink Cloud
I Was a Simple Man
On the Count of Three
The Cursed / Eight for Silver
Judas and the Black Messiah
The World to Come
Users
Flee

One of those movies I’ve been low-key meaning to watch every year for a decade and a half, and it’s good. Maybe not horror exactly, but it’s still a ghost story, expertly designed and written. Opens with a one-two rhyme just like all those Nightmares on Elm St. I’ve been tearing through, but the ghosts here are sad orphans who died in the house Laura is moving into. She’s Belén Rueda of a couple twisty Oriol Paulo thrillers, has got a husband and a curly-haired boy. When her son goes missing during a party and never returns, she invites medium Geraldine Chaplin to investigate the house’s spirits. Laura plays tag with the house ghosts, finally discovers her son dead under the stairs, then takes all the sleeping pills and plays ghost-mom to the houseful of dead children.

A making-deals-with-demons movie filmed in Spain featuring some really nice beards. Powerful blacksmith lives in seclusion, keeps a demon in a cage – a properly cartoonish red demon with pitchfork and tail – until the ignorant townsfolk break in and muck everything up. Rival demon masquerading as a bald government man is in there, an innocent girl with a dead mom gets mixed up in the mess, and everyone has to go to hell to sort things out.

This looked great, and the director is legit, channeling Danzig on his letterboxd photo… let’s see if we can find his short films.

Photojournalist Jack Nicholson isn’t having a great time in Saharan Africa, sees an opportunity and grabs it, stealing the identity of his suddenly deceased hotel neighbor, the only other white guy in town. Jack’s abandoned wife Jenny Runacre (The Final Programme, Jarman’s Jubilee) investigates, while Jack faithfully follows the dead guy’s appointment book, even after learning that he was an arms dealer, and meets the same fate as the guy he’s impersonating, though he gets to hang out with Maria Schneider along the way.

Maria, Jack, Gaudi:

Thought I’d seen this a long time ago, but maybe I’ve confused it with The Conformist again. MA: “Actually, the entire story takes place in a short period of one day, from early morning until some time before sunset” – that’s not true, it’s set in four countries and we see a UK newspaper article about Jack’s death in Africa, and we see Jack’s appointments spread across a week in the book. Maybe he meant as the film was originally written. The fourth movie I’ve seen in the last few years to play in the 1975 competition at Cannes. Argh, the execution footage in this wasn’t faked.

Las Ramblas:

This is aka La Residencia, but I already have enough horror movies with generic titles like House, so I appreciate the English version. All these movies that have big music and lazy credits as some fancy people arrive at a large house by carriage, I never think they’re gonna be good. This one was… alright. You’re not even sure it’s a horror movie until, as in Halloween, all the bodies are discovered in the final five minutes.

Before that it’s a boarding school drama, with a stern headmistress, a new girl, a bitchy kissup girl, a couple suspicious employees – and the principal’s son who hides in the walls and cuts up the girls for parts. The movie is Spanish, set in France, spoken in English. I was surprised the movie killed the new girl – a couple of the deaths were fun, including Isabelle’s slow-mo stabbing in the garden.

L-R: defiant girl, strict principal, kissup girl

The director died just last year, also made the acclaimed horror Who Can Kill a Child? Principal Lilli Palmer was in The Boys From Brazil. New girl Cristina Galbó went on to Let Sleeping Corpses Lie. The boy in the walls starred in Deep End.

Isabelle with the boy in the walls: