In cross-cultural relationships, families and friends can let their own prejudices get in the way of romantic endeavours. Spanish Affair pits the Andalusians against the Basques when Rafa (Dani Rovira), a stand-up comic from Seville, falls for feisty country girl Amaia (Clara Lago). Venturing into Basque country for the very first time, Rafa must keep up the charade that he is a local, rather than a vile city dweller, especially in front of Amaia’s fiercely traditional father (Karra Elejalde).
I’ve enjoyed and shared Nacho Vigalondo’s debut feature many times but this was the first time I had seen it on the big screen. Fantastic Fest had a special screening in 35mm to commemmorate the limited release of the film’s score on vinyl, composed by his friend, Grand Piano director Eugenio Mira, together with a limited Mondo print (pictured). Both men were in attendance and talked at length about he experience making the film ahead of the screening. A fantastic one-of-a-kind event.
Alex de la Iglesia goes hell-for-leather with this riotous horror comedy that will likely draw parallels with Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn for its heist-turned-horror switcheroo narrative. Hugo Silva stars as Jose, hard-up single parent and a couple of simpleminded cronies hold up a cash-for-gold store in central Madrid before hightailing it into the Basque countryside. With his young son in tow, Jose soon finds his ex-wife (Macarena Gomez) – as well as the authorities – on their tail, but what at first appears to be a quiet village to lay low for the night proves quite the opposite when these three misogynistic robbers inadvertently stumble into a witches’ coven.
The gorgeous Carolina Bang and Almodovar regular Carmen Maura head up the cast of witches, and the film soon descends into CG-heavy slapstick horror as the men find themselves cornered in an underground network of cavernous tunnels. The film runs a little long and spins its wheels in the final act somewhat, but Witching & Bitching is still hugely entertaining and worth catching if only for the incredible opening heist, which sees a shotgun-wielding silver-painted Jesus and Spongebob Squarepants – among others – run amok in the Spanish capital.
Arguably the scariest of Guillermo del Toro’s films to-date, this chilling ghost story takes place in a remote orphanage during the Spanish Civil War. When young Carlos is dumped there following the death of his father, he soon discovers the orphange is haunted. Del Toro would revisit this period of history again for his internationally acclaimed Pan’s Labyrinth, but here the fantastical makes way for the phantasmagorical and the results are truly frightening.
Excellent Spanish thriller that takes two seemingly separate story strands and sends them hurtling towards each other with predictably shocking, tragic consequences. In the Spanish countryside on the eve of the civil war, a group of children who can feel no pain are confined to an asylum after being deemed a danger to themselves and each other. A rogue German doctor attempts to cure the children by teaching them human suffering, only to find his endeavours take a wildly different turn. Meanwhile in the present day, a revered surgeon discovers he is in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant after a widowing car accident. This tragic incident proves just the triger for a spiralling descent into darkness as he goes in search of his parents. Part Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies, part del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone, Juan Carlos Medina’s incredibly atmospheric thriller proves an engrossing and horrifying experience.