Friday, October 31, 2014

BOO! ÁLEX DE LA IGLESIA'S 'WITCHING & BITCHING'


(NO SPOILERS) Let's ditch the tried and true Michael, Freddy, Leatherface, and Jason reruns and try something a little different, Álex de la Iglesia's Witching & Bitching (2013). It is at once briefly gory, somewhat campy, a tad disgusting, delightfully grotesque, wildly inappropriate and rather humorous. It can also be misinterpreted as severely misogynistic, but only by those who miss the subversive filmmaking this director is famous for. And, since subverting genre and gender conventions is his shtick, one must not take this film, or any other of his efforts, at face value. With the film title literally translated as The Witches of Zugarramurdi, the English interpretation is a better fit, as the film revolves explicitly around women who do the witching and men who do the bitching (about women and their evils, of course.)


And so, we have ourselves a group of men - misfits at best and deadbeats at worst - who decide to rob a pawnshop. How they do it in the opening sequence is something I'll bet you haven't seen before. There is silver painted Jesus with a 12-gauge shotgun and a SpongeBob fella with submachine hardware. A "What The F***?!" scenario in the best way possible. Because these lads are first-rate dopes, everything that can go wrong, does. As the police are on their tail, they improvise a quick getaway from Spain to France, passing through a small town of Zugarramurdi, where the witches reside. A series of unfortunate incidents bring them together, and the men become trapped in the witches' mansion as they prepare for their annual party/sacrifice.


This is a solid production. The special effects are believable. The premise, however silly, works, and what's more, becomes engrossing. It's not "torture porn", it's not laden with Hitchcockian suspense, there's no tension to cut with a knife. Yet, it is adult; it does have scares and, most importantly, plenty of very dark humour. It is the kind of film you'll enjoy watching with friends. Spooky, but without the dreadfully determined realism of prolonged, voyeuristic suffering much of modern horror aspires to. 


Today is truly a great day for movies. Marathons abound! Vincent Price, Hannibal, old-fashioned vampires, zombies, ghosts, and the aforementioned slasher boys are out in full swing. The Screams, Saws, Omens, Final Destinations, Exorcists, Hostels and endless remakes all fall on different ends of the quality spectrum, but tonight all is forgiven in the name of horror’s esprit de corps. Happy Halloween!

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