“I don’t learn about you, however I’ve been cooped up for 2 years and it’s so fucking candy to be right here proper now,” mentioned Ana Lily Amirpour, on stage with a small canine referred to as Benny, to introduce her movie Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon on the Sitges worldwide improbable movie pageant.
It was very candy certainly. Twenty-six miles south of Barcelona, the 54th version of the Pageant Internacional de Cinema Fantàstic de Catalunya, to provide it its full title, was the newest pageant to cautiously open up after a diminished version in 2020, however Spain nonetheless takes its Covid precautions critically, and audiences have been required to put on masks. Sitges is friendlier and extra inclusive than Cannes (shout-out to Ainhoa, who helped out once I cocked up my ticket reservations, and to the patrón of El Santo, who let me hand around in his cafe after I bought locked out of my Airbnb), and it’s a peculiar however agreeable sensation to be surrounded by Halloween window shows when it’s heat and sunny sufficient to permit for bathing on one of many city’s 17 gloriously uncrowded seashores.
And I don’t suppose Cannes ever greeted a visitor of honour with footage (from Silent Hill) of the actor being ripped aside. Alice Krige, who additionally starred in Star Trek: First Contact, Sleepwalkers, and Chariots of Hearth, was there to obtain the Màquina del Temps award and introduce She Will, during which Scotland’s witch-burning previous impinges upon the current of an actor recovering from surgical procedure at a Highland retreat. Additionally current was the movie’s writer-director, Charlotte Colbert, one in every of a sizeable variety of visiting feminine administrators similar to Amirpour, Lucile Hadzihalilovic (Earwig), Julia Ducournau (Titane), Prano Bailey-Bond (Censor) and Camille Griffin (Silent Night time). The ratio of feminine to male is much from 50:50, nevertheless it’s enhancing.
Every screening kicked off with the normal animated ident of King Kong wading by way of the ocean off the Sitges coast, grabbing one of many planes buzzing round his head and dashing it into the ocean, a gesture greeted every time by loud cheering from the viewers. Prestigious fare similar to Edgar Wright’s Final Night time in Soho, Zhang Yimou’s Cliff Walkers, and Justin Kurzel’s Nitram rubbed shoulders with Taiwanese zombie films (The Disappointment), Serbian vampire movies (Vampir) and Norwegian splatter comedies (The Journey). This yr’s lineup included a werewolf retrospective that includes all the same old bushy suspects, together with Sonny Chiba in Wolf Man and Spain’s personal Paul Naschy in Night time of the Werewolf. Security bulletins have been bookended by howling, with presenters approaching stage accompanied by pizzicato preparations of Who’s Afraid of the Large Dangerous Wolf?
Considered one of Sitges’ most intriguing sections is named Brigadoon, a showcase for documentaries, odd subgenres similar to Hong Kong Class III black magic erotica (the kind of movie that can nearly definitely be expunged underneath Hong Kong’s new censorship guidelines) and gems from Spain’s wealthy historical past of cine fantástico, a time period generally shortened, disconcertingly, to “fanta”. Non-Spanish style followers are conscious of the tradition’s newer contributions to horror and fantasy with movies similar to The Day of the Beast, The Orphanage and Julia’s Eyes, or of older classics similar to Horror Specific or Who Can Kill a Baby?, however there may be additionally a wealthy however much less acquainted seam of horror and fantasy from the Nineteen Sixties to the Eighties to be unearthed.
This was an period when style film-makers have been slipping subversive social commentary previous the censors in weird productions similar to Vicente Aranda’s Las Crueles (1969), which begins with a writer getting a severed hand within the morning mail and co-stars Hammer star Judy Matheson, Eloy de la Iglesia’s weird Clockwork Orange rip-off Homicide in a Blue World (1973) and Bloodstains in a New Automobile (1975) by Antonio Mercero, in all probability greatest recognized for his terrifying quick La Cabina (1972), during which a person will get trapped in a phone sales space. Put up-Franco liberalisation within the late Nineteen Seventies, in the meantime, produced the juvenile delinquent “Quinqui” cycle, an eye-popping frenzy of intercourse, medicine and violence neatly chronicled by Kier-La Janisse and Don Adams of their documentary Blood within the Streets: The Quinqui Movie Phenomenon. Amongst different treats was a screening of Javier Setó’s La Llamada (1965), a ghostly black and white romance a couple of younger man who refuses to imagine his girlfriend has died in a airplane crash, since she’s nonetheless hanging out with him. Main man Emilio Gutiérrez Caba, nonetheless dapper at 79, was readily available to introduce the movie and obtain the pageant’s 2021 Nosferatu award.