Monday, February 26, 2007

Mexican Fantasy/Horror at the Oscars

With several Oscar nominations, the Mexican-Spanish El laberinto del fauno (Pan's Labyrinth, 2006) picked up three Oscar wins last night: Best Achievement in Cinematography (Guillermo Navarro), Best Achievement in Art Direction (Pilar Revuelta, Eugenio Caballero; pictured above), and Best Achievement in Make-Up (David Marti, Monste Ribe). Crafted by Mexican director Guillermo del Toro, certainly the most impressive contemporary artist in cinemafantastique, the film lost out to Germany's Das Leben der Anderen for Best Foreign Language Film.

Of the winners for El laberinto del fauno, only Guillermo Navarro (pictured to the right) is Mexican born. Navarro has had a long-standing working relationship with del Toro that started with Cronos (1993). Interestingly enough, another Mexican cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, who had been nominated for Children of Men (2006), may have once worked with del Toro on the Mexican horror TV series, Hora marcada (1986-1990), which represented del Toro's first professional directorial efforts.

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

Sunday, February 25, 2007


Does this look familiar?

If you are a fan of Mexican horror, you should recognize one of the images in the opening credits of El baron del terror (The Brainiac, 1961). The first image, in fact. From Goya's "The Caprichos" etchings and prints. Now, why would the filmmakers opt to use images from Goya's "The Caprichos" to set the tone of El baron del terror?

Think of the irreverent Baron d'Estera, mocking the Catholic inquisitors of New Spain; think of his general disdain for humanity. And then reflect on this, written about "The Caprichos":

"The entire set of some 80 prints cover subjects of prostitution, child sexual abuse, witchcraft, numerous specific superstitions, and satiric critiques of doctors, politicians, and clergy, among others. Nearly half of the imagery concerns itself with witchcraft, often in a mocking tone that shows that Goya's use of this particular subject was meant to have more than just one single understanding for the viewer."

Or this:

"The series known as "Los Caprichos," which, loosely translated, means "the caprices," shows Goya's rancor at the unpredictability of life, combining acerbic commentary on the Spanish aristocracy, the clergy and human nature itself with images of monsters, ghouls and other supernatural figures."

It seems there was a method to the outre madness of those behind the Brainiac!

Closing In

I'm really pushing myself to finish up the Vampiros and Monstruos book by the end of March. Though a chunk of work still remains to be done, there is light at the end of this long tunnel and I'm very hopeful a publication date can be finalized for the summer. The book will cover the Mexican horror and fantasy film of the 20th century and is guaranteed to be the most comprehensive book on the subject yet. (Though, admittedly, there are only a few books that touch upon the subject at all!)