If you remain unmoved by the recent airings of the diluted MASTERS OF HORROR series entitled FEAR ITSELF, 6 FILMS TO KEEP YOU AWAKE, the Spanish language equivalent, may be just what the mad doctor ordered. All the tales hold something of interest and happily the lion’s share boast themes of a truly Kindertraumatic nature. On a technical level, 6 FILMS consistently impresses by constantly delivering a too rare, rich theatrical vibe to the small screen. A bit of patience may be required with the more subtle and psychological of the stories, but all in all this half dozen set of variant views of the dark side provides the chills.
Doctor Ana Torres does the old bait and switch on pal Gloria when she offers her and her young daughter room and board in exchange for Gloria’s aid at her in-home medical practice. Gloria soon learns that not only is Ana carrying a torch for her, but that she also wants her to assist in providing secret abortions to boot. When Gloria herself becomes pregnant, Ana coaxes her into taking advantage of the house specialty with high anxiety and profound regret the result. The aborted fetus disappears, young daughter Vicky begins carting around a tin box and slimy residue is found on the attic stairs. Directed by NARCISCO IBANEZ SERRADOR (the classic WHO CAN KILL A CHILD?), BLAME throws the viewer off by pointing its finger in every conceivable direction until its final thought provoking, slightly frustrating scene.
An older man looks back on his youth and the part he played in the ostracism and tragic death of his first real love. This is a true blue ghost story in the PETER STRAUB vein, filled with some startling imagery and capped with an ending that grows creepier the more you think about it. Haunting in every sense of the word, SPECTRE director MATEO GIL (NOBODY KNOWS ANYBODY) proves the best way to slip a noose over the audience’s head is very quietly.
A REAL FRIEND
Think you’re tired of the old kid has make believe friends that just might be real storyline? What if I told you the kid’s make believe friend was THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE‘s Leatherface? This fascinating journey into the mind of a little girl who just may have seen one to many horror movies is a must see for genre fans. The less I give away about this superbly crafted, beautifully shot mind screw the better, but I’ll leave you with this, Leatherface is not the only icon who drops by…
A CHRISTMAS TALE
I’m a sucker for X-mas horror, but I was taken aback by just how up my alley this segment turned out to be. I was pretty much sold from the beginning, which not only spoofs a cheesy zombie flick but also introduces us to a group of kids who appear to be the missing members of THE GOONIES. Making things all that much more irresistible is that the action takes place in 1985 and we’re surrounded by references to such things as THE A-TEAM, THE KARATE KID, the miniseries “V”, Princess Leia, and that blinking light game SIMON. The kids discover an escaped female convict trapped inside a hole in the woods and rather than aid her decide to exploit the situation to their advantage. When the crazed Santa costumed woman does finally make her way out of the hole, well, to quote one of the kids, “She’s got an axe and she’s pissed!” Amongst holiday horror flicks this is highly original and lots of fun. You can bet I’ll be watching it again once December comes around.
THE BABY’S ROOM
ALEX DE LA IGLESIA (DAY OF THE BEAST) is an exceptionally talented director and this particular tale showcases his strong suites well. This is a haunted house tale and like all good haunted house tales, the structure in question is really just a substitute for the interiors of the human mind. IGLESIA is able to inject potent doses of humor without diluting the terror as he peels back the wallpaper to reveal something akin to real madness. JAVIER GUTIERREZ and LENOR WATLING both turn in highly memorable performances as a couple whose new home subjects them (and their infant child) to domestic anguish levels not seen since STANLEY KUBRICK‘s THE SHINING, another must see.
One director I cannot get enough of is JAUME BALAGUERO ([REC]) and here he does not disappoint. MACARENA GOMEZ and ADRIA COLLADO are a young couple checking out an apartment listing who get unsnarled in a nightmarish trap of which there seems no escape. GOMEZ, who you may remember from DAGON, has a striking resemblance to horror icon BARBARA STEELE and frankly she’s impossible to take your eyes off of. Her performance along with that of NURIA GONZALEZ as the authentically frightening captor is something to behold. BALAGUERO‘s wonderful visuals are a given, but here he really showcases his deft hand at creating edge of your seat suspense.
If you’ve enjoyed recent Spanish language horror films like [REC], THE ORPHANAGE and PAN’S LABYRINTH this set is for you. I enjoyed all six of these productions and that’s a real rarity. Less gimmicky and more in touch with a real genuine sense of the uncanny than most popular horror, they actually may have the power to keep the viewer up late into the wee hours.
NOTE: There’s much more Kindertrauma fun to be found HERE!
Thanks for the great review! Even though I don’t have nearly enough time to watch this, it sounds too good to pass up.
Where/how were you able to see them? Are they online? I can’t shell out over $100 for an imported region 2 DVD set (though after reading these reviews, I’m tempted).
The great thing is that each tale is about 70 minutes long so they’re pretty easy to squeeze into your viewing schedule one at a time. They’re perfect for when you want a little more than a T,V episode and a little less than a feature length film.
this set is available domestically from Lionsgate. You can find it on Amazon for less then twenty bucks(!)….my only complaint is that Lionsgate for some reason put the same dumb trailer for “Beneath still waters” (a 2007 release) before each movie. Bonus features include a “making” of for each flick…….
(Just follow this link: 6 Films to Keep You Awake)
I’m a sucker for Spanish horror so I was a bit worried that I had oversold this set in my review but as I was gathering screenshots It just hit me again how great each individual story was and how visually impressive. There’s not one that I wouldn’t watch again.
Here is a wonderfully written review of the segment A REAL FRIEND from horror journalist Peter Gutierrez who brilliantly connects it to the classic THE SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE (wish I had thought of that!)..
You sold me, Unk – I just placed my order at Amazon! Can’t wait to check these out!
Thanks, Unk! I was searching for it under the Spanish title, I guess that’s what threw me. ORDER’D!
Wow: Shockingly NETFLIX has these! And – Cool Beans – they rent ’em to ya two on a disc!
BLAME & SPECTRE
A REAL FRIEND & A CHRISTMAS TALE
and THE BABY’S ROOM & TO LET
Unk, these sound really good. I love Spanish horror. I find it much more appealing than the Japanese horror the U.S. is so crazy about remaking. The Orphanage, Pan’s Labyrinth, and The Devil’s Backbone are some of my favorites. Thanks for sharing this list!
I’ve been looking forward to checking these out. Glad to know they’ve got the Kinder Seal of Approval!