the mean old Generalissimo when Spain really needs him? Instead, male
patriarchy’s last line of defense against a cult of cannibal witches will be
two bumbling crooks and the cabbie they hijacked. Bedlam ensues in Álex de la
Iglesia’s truly bonkers Witching &
opens tomorrow—late night—at the IFC Center.
town of Zugarramurdi is sort of like Spain’s Salem, except it seems the witches
still run the joint. An odd series of circumstances will bring Jose and Tony there
at a particularly inopportune time. After their hold-up went down spectacularly
badly, they commandeered Manuel’s cab, stashing his profoundly unlucky fare in
the trunk. Of course, being a good father, Jose brought his son Sergio along.
Unfortunately, he perfectly fits the bill for the apocalyptic ceremony presided
over by Granciana Barrenetxea, the leader of the coven. However, the lads are a
bit slow to realize their predicament, because they are so busy drooling and
bickering over Barrenetxea’s daughter, Eva. However, Sergio’s disappearance
soon snaps them out of it.
to make amends for the dour and stilted As Luck Would Have It, de la Iglesia doubles down on physical comedy and gore.
The resulting vibe could be considered something like The Evil Dead, by way of Mel Brooks. Few horror films were ever so
hyper-active and eager to please. Simply maintaining the manic energy level
represents quite a cinematic feat.
those who know their Spanish cinema, Witching
is practically It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad
World. For everyone else, Carolina Bang utterly steals the show as the
punky Eva. She delivers a wickedly sly, sexually super-charged performance in
the tradition of Eva Green’s near redemption of Dark Shadows. Most of the rest of the cast serve as de la
Iglesia’s puppets, getting tossed in every which direction, but Almodovar
regular Carmen Maura (Pepa in Women on
the Verge) adds a touch of class as Barrenetxea.
is one of those all too rare films that so
enjoys its own lunacy, it loses sight of its message. While clearly intended to
satirize male chauvinism, it sort of winds up celebrating the resiliency of
patriarchy. That is a good thing, because it means de la Iglesia was paying
closer attention to the blood, guts, and gags than the teaching moments and
take-aways. Thoroughly recommended for those who enjoy their comedy broad and
macabre, Witching & Bitching
screens just after midnight this Friday (6/13) and Saturday (6/14) at the IFC
Center, with further weekday screenings to follow at select times.
Labels: Alex de la Iglesia, Horror Movies, Spanish Cinema