Víctor Matellano • Director of Mi adorado Monster
“I am transposing the games of my childhood to the big screen”
- Surrounded by books and DVDs, we chatted with this lover of the Spanish fantaterror genre, who is releasing a documentary that portrays a filmmaker who took 20 years to finish his only film
The book shop Ocho y Medio (lit. “Eight and a Half”) is the perfect repository for the most recalcitrant of film buffs: located in the so-called “street of film”, right opposite two multiplexes showing movies in their original language, it tends to serve as a meeting point for Madilrenian movie junkies. We met up there with one such person, Víctor Matellano, to talk about his latest opus, the (non-fiction?) film Mi adorado Monster [+see also:
interview: Víctor Matellano
film profile], in which he paints a portrait of a real man, Arturo de Bobadilla, who strives to achieve his dream: to shoot the movie Los resucitados.
Cineuropa: Why did you keep the English word “Monster” in the otherwise Spanish title?
Víctor Matellano: It’s sought after, as is shown in the film, thanks to the world of Famous Monsters, because there’s a correlation with that legendary magazine (which the poster for my film pays tribute to). In addition, this “fantaterror” genre of ours has always imitated other things; it tried not to seem Spanish and instead toyed with being something else.
Last year, you coordinated the team of directors for the movie Vampus Horror Tales... Are there any young filmmakers who are following in the footsteps of Paul Naschy and his contemporaries?
I think so. There’s been a very interesting kind of evolution on that front. The link that united those filmmakers from the 1970s, albeit reinvented in a different kind of way, and the new generations is Álex de la Iglesia. The movies of other filmmakers active today don’t really have much to do with it. At the time when Los resucitados was filmed, Spanish fantastical and horror films were reviled somewhat, with Naschy himself coming out with poor-quality works. Now, we find ourselves at the other end of the spectrum, with no preconceptions at all. It’s curious because the fantaterror of the 1970s was very successful at the box office – more so than comedy. They were sold abroad a great deal, but certain critics were already panning them. Later on, there were others – some of them very conceited, whom I don’t wish to name – who hated them even more in the 1990s. But what’s happening with the new generation? They see it as a form of entertainment, a game, like the Hammer films… And they’re not Citizen Kane, of course.
Nor do they aspire to be…
Exactly. As it happens, this week they’re re-screening Pieces by Juan Piquer Simón, from 1982: there must be something to it when people are still watching it. I talk about this regularly with José Lifante, an actor who is very much in demand, not because – with all due respect – he worked with Berlanga, but because of those fantaterror flicks he starred in. The new directors are now watching that kind of cinema: they have no problem with it and no prejudice.
The fact that it doesn’t take itself too seriously is perhaps what gives it so much appeal.
It’s a game. Paul Naschy did take it seriously, but Jess Franco and the rest knew what they were doing. Some of them were more aware of the industrial products, such as Eugenio Martín, but not the rest… They wanted to make money, but first and foremost, they wanted to have a good time.
How did the idea of portraying the misadventures of Arturo de Bobadilla first come to you?
It was when I heard actor Manuel Tallafé telling the story of the shoot for Los resucitados. I met Arturo at Naschy’s house years ago, and he used to tell me the story as well, as he was involved in that film. It’s a wonderful tale, but I had no idea – and I discovered this in the process of making my movie – that I was going to stumble upon the inner journey of the main character.
What do you have in common with Arturo de Bobadilla?
I’ve been through different personal and professional situations to him, but I can identify with him in that we are all winners and losers, and we strive to make our dreams a reality. He was one of the first people who set about shooting a fan film, like Carpenter, Tarantino or Spielberg, although those other people had the good fortune to have a decent infrastructure and a certain orderliness. But I never cease to play, all the time: I transpose those childish games of mine to the big screen, which has a lot in common with Arturo. I think that in Mi adorado Monster, we also talk about human frailty: in the wake of the pandemic, we’re all a lot more vulnerable.
How do you get so many actors, like the ones who appear in the film, involved in this “game”?
They were all brought along, by Tallafé, by producer Enrique López Lavigne and by me. They’re all friends. Enrique was a key element because he leads you to question the project; he doesn’t go for the easy solution. He’s got a very creative concept, not just that of a producer or an industry-based one. It’s really interesting when you embark on this kind of journey with people who speak your language. He understood that it had to be narrated as a life experience, that it should not wallow in superficiality. Mi adorado Monster is like a wake, where people cry, but also where people laugh sometimes.
(Translated from Spanish)
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