On the third day of Comic-Con At Home 2020 activities, a meeting took place between famous filmmakers representing the new wave of Latin American horror. It’s about the Mexicans Issa López (They return), Isaac Ezban (The incident), Victor Osuna (The ruin rules) and Gigi Saul Guerrero (Culture Shock), along with the Cuban Alejandro Brugues (Juan de los muertos) and the Argentine Demián Rugna (Terrified).
Next, we make a summary of the comments that each of these directors made in the panel called Latin American Horror Cinema 2: Sometimes they come back. Such statements refer to those influences that triggered his love for the horror genre or that laid the foundation for the kinds of stories that each yearns to tell in his films.
The Argentine was the first (but not the only) to point out Guillermo del Toro from Guadalajara as one of his greatest influences in Latin American horror cinema. He explains that he grew up in Cuba during the 80s, so « not many things came to us [películas] and less of the horror ».
However, Brugués is very aware of the Cuban film Vampires in Havana! (1985), which left its mark on his childhood, was « one of the most fun » he saw growing up and influenced his zombie film Juan de los Muertos (2011).
On the other hand, the 43-year-old filmmaker talks about the writer Stephen King as responsible for some literary works that inspire him and that even motivated him to learn English. However, Hispanic letters are not alien to him and highlights the work of Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortazar and Horacio Quiroga.
Our countryman also praised the name of Guillermo del Toro, defining him as « the titan we all admire. » For Ezban, the greatness in the cinema of the Oscar winner lies in his « special way » to approach « stages of life such as the coming-of-age », realistic situations or the contrast between childish innocence and the adult world, through the horror genre. This inspired the 34-year-old director to always look for the human element in his fantasy and science fiction films.
On the other hand, Ezban acknowledges that he grew up with scream (1996) —the first film within the genre he saw—, as well as with Nightmare on Hell Street (1984), the filmography of David Cronenberg and generally slasher tapes from the 70s and 80s.
Also highlights his passion for television series such as The unknown dimension (the realistic coexisting with the supernatural) and Lost (whose essence was disputed between the deep and the sinister).
And regarding the literary field, Ezban points out that he always tries to read one Stephen King book a year. Separate mention that his film The Incident (2014) was partially inspired by the novel (not the film) Cloud atlas.
Gigi Saul Guerrero
The young director (born in Mexico, based in Canada) recalls that her approach to horror occurred since her grandmother told her stories about La Llorona and Coco.
On the other hand, he says that the filmic hit came with The children of man (2006) because it impressed her with her maturity and «visceral narrative». From this production by Alfonso Cuarón, she went on to the filmography of the other two « friends » (del Toro and Alejandro G. Iñárritu), and from there to the work of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.
Likewise, regarding her interest in gore images, the director of Culture Shock (2019) recalls that a first approach emerged when she saw recordings of plastic surgeries, frame by frame, when she was a child. And he also does not forget that when visiting McDonald’s in Mexico, there was a newspaper stand next to it where there was no shortage of printouts with the image of some headless man.
For the director of Vuelven (2017), also the stories of the grandmother – a town being visited by the devil, for example – were key to plunging into horror for the first time. But this was complemented by national films from the 50s and 60s, starring the Saint, the Mummies of Guanajuato or « our own Latin American Werewolf ».
Likewise, López recognizes the importance of the director Carlos Taboada, « A heavyweight and a unique voice within the genre » with films such as Poison for fairies (1984), Hasta el viento tiene afraid (1968) and Más negro que la noche (1975).
But the comics have also exerted a great influence on the filmography of the Mexican; specifically, the series The Sandman by Neil Gaiman, which inspires « the nerve of his work » by turning on the clash between reality and dreams.
Separate mention to novelists like Fernanda Melchor, Mariana Enriquez and Carmen Maria Machado, who in their stories « take elements from real life and fuse them with true visceral horror. »
« One of the important things about Latin American cinema is that, in some way, it takes horror in its veins, » says the director born in Guadalajara, referring to films by Cuarón (Los Niños del Hombre) and Iñárritu (Amores Perros). , as well as the work of the five colleagues with whom he shares a panel.
He does not stop mentioning, of course, Guillermo del Toro, Carlos Taboada and Mexican films such as El escapular (1968), El vampiro (1957), La Llorona (1933) and El esqueleto de la Señora Morales (1960).
On purely visual references to which the director of The Rules of Ruin (2018) resorts, he mentions artists as Caravaggio, Zdzisław Beksiński and H.R. Giger.
In addition, it uses the music of The Smashing Pumpkins and Depeche Mode when you want to let your imagination run wild for new stories.
The Argentine thinks of a « local hero » of his country, the director Narciso Ibáñez Menta, if it is Latin American filmmakers of past generations who left their mark on the horror genre. Outside of him, Guillermo del Toro remains the top benchmark.
On the other hand, Rugna clarifies that he grew up with the cinema of Steven spielberg and John Carpenter. And when he didn’t watch movies, the future director of Terrified (2017) created his own stories with his toy soldiers G.I. Joe.
Also, as a child it was not difficult for him to be in macabre scenarios since his father – dedicated to witchcraft – performed animal sacrifices, so the house where the filmmaker grew up used to be stained with chicken blood.
Enter here to see the complete panel of Comic-Con At Home with these six great talents of Latin American horror. What is your favorite?
Comic-Con Isaac Ezban issa lopez
Toño Guzmán I have a very bad memory. In solidarity with my memories, I choose to lose myself too. Preferably in a movie theater.