Given the almost total lack of books in English language about Spanish cinema, both popular and prestigious, Antonio Lázaro-Reboll’s Spanish Horror Film, which was originally published in 2012, stands as a marvelous introduction to the Spanish Film industry in general. Although it focuses solely on the horror genre it also contains a good deal of information about the wider production environment in the country from the time of the Franco regime to the present day.
The book itself breaks down into seven core chapters which cover: the Spanish horror boom in general from 1968 to 1975; key filmmakers of the time (Franco, De Ossorio, Naschy); the work of Narciso Ibáñez Serrador and Eloy de la Iglesia; horror magazines and publications; modern horror; and the contemporary work of Nacho Cerdà, Jaume Balagueró and Guillermo del Toro. Each chapter is in depth and focuses on the significance of each of these as well ass providing a considerable amount of background information about why they happened and the cultural and social circumstances which bought them about. The chapters covering Ibáñez Serrador, de la Iglesia and horror fanzines are particularly interesting, largely because they are subjects which have been largely ignored elsewhere.
Although this is an academic publication – Lázaro-Reboll works at the University of Kent, a hotbed of interest in cult cinema for many, many years, and it is published by Edinburgh University Press – it is gratifyingly accessible. The language is clear and concise, avoiding the glossolalia which frequently bedevils publications from a cultural studies background. Furthermore, it avoids becoming bogged down in (selectively) using the films to advocate a particular theory, instead presenting the evidence in the form of information about the productions themselves and their historical context, then allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions. It includes information about how the films can be ‘read’, for sure, but avoids imposing a particular reading upon them – which might be far removed from what the filmmakers concerned were actually trying to do or achieve when they made them. It’s also interesting that whereas with Italian cinema it has tended to be the case that much of the more interesting writing has come from the fans and then been followed by the academics; the opposite seems to be the case when it comes to its Spanish equivalent. Highly recommended.
Spanish Horror Film is available from Amazon