Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi (2013)

Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi (2013)

Director: Alex de la Iglesia

Cast: Hugo Silva, Mario Casas, Carolina Bang, Macarena Gomez, Javier Botet, Enrique Villen, Santiago Segura, Terele Pavez, Gabriel Angel Delgado, Pepon Nieto

Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi is a film made by Spanish director Alex de la Iglesia, a director well known in his country for making crazy, kinetic, politically incorrect comedies that feel like a nonstop rollercoaster ride of madness, but in the best way. If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing an Alex de la Iglesia film, I recommend checking out The Day of the Beast (1995), Perdita Durango (1997) or The Last Circus (2010). As a film connoisseur, I regularly enjoy films from all over the world and comedies from Spain always have a special kind of ‘je ne sais quoi’ about them, they always make me crack up. I think it’s the way they use the Spanish language, the curse words sound funnier somehow, stronger. That’s one thing about Alex de la Iglesia movies; they are the furthest thing from politically correct. Nothing is sacred in them and profanity is used amply; which is kind of refreshing and one of the reasons it shocks me all the more. American films concern themselves with being so politically correct all the time that films with intensity filled dialogue like Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi can feel like a bucket of ice thrown down your spine, like the first time you saw a Tarantino film and went “goddamn!” Some jokes will undoubtedly lose their spice in the translation, so be aware that if you know Spanish, you will enjoy this film that much more. But for those of you who don’t know Spanish, and are still adventurous enough to look outside of American cinema, well, you’ll find that Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi is a real treat for both horror and comedy fans.

Only in an Alex de la Iglesia movie will Jesus Christ pull off a heist! 

The premise is a simple one, four thieves have just robbed a pawn shop and stolen all their gold jewelry.  While on the run from the law, they make a pit stop at the titular town of Zugarramurdi, somewhere in northern Spain. The town is sleepy, eerie and mist filled, like something straight out of an H.P. Lovecraft story or a Hammer film. Some of the thieves in the gang are afraid of the town because of its reputation. It is said that this is one of the birthplaces of witchcraft, and the thieves are all spooked about having to stay at a hotel in this spooky old town. One thing leads to another and soon they discover that leaving the town of Zugarramurdi isn’t as easy as they thought! All the women in the town are witches and tonight, unbeknownst to them is a special night for the coven!

I went into this film expecting an okay film that would make me laugh, but I left the theater all pumped and happy that I dragged my ass out to see it, it totally blew me away with how funny, entertaining and fun it was. Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi is a treat for horror fans because it’s a mash up of some of the best horror films ever made. It’s like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) because the witch’s that run the local hotel are part of a crazy ass family, complete with weird looking handicapped family members that will freak you the hell out, all of which show up at this memorable insanity infused dinner  scene. It’s also like Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead (1981), paying its respects to said film by way of a couple of visual homage’s to it, if you’re a horror buff, you’ll know the scenes I’m talking about when you see them. And speaking of visual homages, de la Iglesia does one shot for shot homage to The Goonies (1985), any true film connoisseur's should recognize it. Finally, it’s like The Wicker Man (1973) because it’s all about a town who is in on the whole joke. They know someone is going to get sacrificed, they know what’s really going down while the protagonists of the film are completely unaware of what is in store for them. It’s also about a crazy religious cult, and has to do with everything you’d expect from a film about witches: human sacrifices, a burning hatred for men, rituals and prophecies.

In terms of themes, the film is all about men vs. women and about how much marriage sucks! In fact, the whole movie revolves around the importance of the negative energies held within a bunch of gold wedding rings that these four guys stole! So behind all the craziness and the heists and the curse words, what we have is a movie that criticizes the institution of marriage. It’s also about men complaining about women and about women who despise men for all the oppression they’ve gotten throughout the ages. The witches are all extreme feminists! They are all about how God is a woman, and about how women want to take revenge upon men, basically intense hatred for anything with a penis. In contrast to all that, one of the witches falls for one of the guys, which hints at a love conquers all sort of message squeezed in there, unfortunately, said love comes from Eva, a witch who is a recollection of that psycho girlfriend all guys have had at some point in their lives. The kind that says things like “you prefer to go out with your friends than to be with me?!” Eva is the psycho girlfriend from hell! Not only is  she a complete psycho; she’s also a witch with magical seductive powers and she smoking hot as hell! Actress Carolina Bang, I salute you! You get an award for being one of the hottest actresses to grace the silver screen this year! And there, I’ve said my sexist comment of the day, which somehow seems inappropriate in a review about a mostly feminist film. But then again, the feminists are the villains of the film, so maybe the film is depicting extreme feminists as being evil? I’ll leave the interpretations up to you my dear readers; point is, this is one of those movies were both sexes are always bitching and moaning about each other when in the end, they both need and want each other; at least from a sexual perspective.

Finally, I didn’t expect the film to be so epic. The final sequence seems to come straight out of your worst cult religion nightmare! Take Silent Hill (2006), The Wickerman (1973), Children of the Corn (1984) and especially Dagon (2001), mash ‘em up and you’ll get an idea of what to expect, only funny! This movie also brought to mind Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977) because of the whole witch coven thing, so as you can see, this film is a real love letter to horror cinema. The Weinsteins are distributing this one in America under the god awful title Witching and Bitching (2013). Okay, I know the word ‘Zugarramurdi’ isn’t exactly well known, but come on, Witching and Bitching? What’s wrong with calling it The Witches of Zugarramurdi? Witching and Bitching is the worst sounding English title you could have chosen! It makes the film sound like a low budget, straight to video piece of shit, when in fact it’s a very well made horror/comedy. Final word on ‘Las Brujas the Zugarramurdi’ is that it’s an entertaining as hell horror film from Alex de la Iglesia. Now I’m a fan of de la Iglesias films (The Day of the Beast is still my favorite) but this one ranks somewhere amongst his best. It’s not a horror spoof because it doesn’t make fun of the horror genre, actually it reveres it and has fun with it without forgetting that it’s a horror film. Thankfully, ‘Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi’ isn’t afraid to sink its metal fangs on your skin to remind you it isn’t some shitty ass PG-13 ‘horror’ movie! Man, what a relief!

Rating: 5 out of 5   


Debbie Rochon said...

Francisco, this looks and sounds like a slightly more mainstream and accessible variation on Rob Zombies cult oddity "The Lords of Salem", would you agree ?.

Franco Macabro said...

I would argue that it has some similarities, especially in relation to the whole cult angle, but in terms of tone and execution, they are both very different films. Also, I'd argue that Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi is actually less mainstream, Zugarramurdi is gorier, more sexual and profanity filled than Zombies film.

Debbie Rochon said...

It would still be great though if a film like "Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi" could get a wide release in North America (say 3000 screens), it would scare the life out of prudish, hypocritical, and Hollywood lobotomized multi-plex audiences.

Franco Macabro said...



Related Posts with Thumbnails