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April 25 - May 8

Alex de la Iglesia: Films and Inspirations

Although hugely successful in his native Spain, Alex de la Iglesia remains largely unknown to American fans of both commercial genre films and traditional art cinema. This is somewhat surprising given his skill at bridging the divide between these two camps in films that are both accessible and astutely informed by film history. A former student of philosophy, de la Iglesia has established a rabid cult following with his pulpy re-evaluations of such tried and true genres as the horror film (Day of the Beast), the spaghetti western (800 Bullets) and the psychological thriller (Ferpect Crime). This series pairs six of de la Iglesia’s most notable works with films that inspired him, including works by Martin Scorsese, Samuel Fuller and Roger Corman. Perhaps most interesting among these titles (selected by de la Iglesia himself) are three works by another overlooked master of Spanish cinema, Luis García Berlanga. Both directors share a devilish penchant for scathing satires of modern society.  

This program is presented in collaboration with the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures who will present a conference, Madrid and Modernity from May 3-6. Alex de la Iglesia is scheduled to appear in person at the conference and film series. For an updated schedule with screenings to be attended by de la Iglesia, please visit hcl.harvard.edu/hfa. Special event admission will apply to these screenings. Special thanks to Brad Epps.

April 25 (Wednesday) 9 pm

Shock Corridor

Directed by Samuel Fuller
US 1963, 35mm, b/w, 101 min.
With Peter Breck, Constance Towers, Gene Evans

See description in Poetic Horror, Pop Existentialism and Cheap Sci-Fi: Cold War Cinema 1948-1964

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April 27 (Friday) 7 pm and 9:15 pm

Perdita Durango

Directed by Alex de la Iglesia
Mexico/US/Spain 1997, 35mm, color, 121 min.
With Rosie Pérez, Javier Bardem, Harley Cross
English and Spanish with English subtitles

Perdita Durango features Rosie Perez as Perdita and future sex-symbol (then Spanish cult-idol) Javier Bardem as the deliciously sadistic Romeo Dolorosa. Romeo is a self-styled Santeria guru who spends most of his time flitting from one anarchistic crime to another. When Perdita and Romeo hook up, all Hell breaks loose!  For his English-language debut, de la Iglesia comes to Mexico and the territory of another master of transgressive, surreal cinema: Alejandro Jodorowsky (El Topo). Echoes of Jodorowsky run through most of de la Iglesia's early films but none more so than in this completely perverse, over-the-top love story. Film description and print courtesy of the Brattle Theatre.

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April 29 (Sunday) 7 pm

Dying of Laughter

Directed by Alex de la Iglesia
Spain 1995, 35mm, color, 113 min.
With Santiago Segura, El Gran Wyoming, Álex Angulo
Spanish with English subtitles
Japanese with English subtitles

A fatal turn of events on the evening of the live, televised reunion of a popular comedy team prompts the duo’s manager to reflect on their rise to fame. De la Iglesia chronicles the lives of comedians Nino and Bruno, who grow increasingly angry with each other the more successful they become. Parallels to real-life entertainers Martin and Lewis and Abbot and Costello are obvious, but de la Iglesia is at his most scathing in his hilarious send-ups of Spanish variety shows. Print courtesy of Lola Films.

April 29 (Sunday) 9:15 pm

The King of Comedy

Directed by Martin Scorsese
US 1983, 35mm, color, 109 min.
With Robert De Niro, Jerry Lewis, Sandra Bernhard

This significant departure for celebrated collaborators Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro is a mordant black comedy about Rupert Pupkin, a fanatic autograph seeker and wannabe comedian who concocts a bizarre plan to achieve instant show-business fame. Fueled by unrealistic aspirations, Rupert resorts to increasingly drastic measures in order to appear on his favorite television program. De Niro gives a riveting and unsettling performance as the unhinged loser whose obsessive personality seems well-suited to the inhuman demands of the entertainment industry.

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May 1 (Tuesday) 9:15 pm
May 6 (Sunday) 7 pm

Bienvenido Mr. Marshall

Directed by Luis Garcia Berlanga
Spain 1953, 35mm, b/w, 95 min.
With José Isbert, Lolita Sevilla, Alberto Romea
Spanish language version

In an attempt to draw financial interest from American tourists, the
townspeople of a small Castilian community organize an outlandish celebration which masks the harsh realities of their everyday life. Berlanga offers an angry yet humorous response to the failed policies of the Marshall Plan, which excluded Spain from its funding programs.

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May 4 (Friday) 9:15 pm

The Day of the Beast

Directed by Alex de la Iglesia
Spain/Italy 1995, video, color, 99 min.
With Álex Angulo, Armando de Razza, Santiago Segura
Spanish with English subtitles

A Basque priest who has been studying the Apocalypse according to St. John for 25 years comes to the inescapable conclusion that the Antichrist will be born on Christmas Day 1999 in Madrid. Unfortunately, the priest can't tell exactly where. So, helped by the only people who believe him (a chunky metal head and a TV psychic), he decides to commit a series of crimes in hopes it will lead him to the baby Satan. Shot on the streets of Madrid at night and with over-the-top art direction, The Day of the Beast is a devilishly entertaining, visually dazzling film, and one of the highest grossing in Spain's history. Film description courtesy of the Brattle Theatre.

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May 5 (Saturday) 7 pm

La Communidad

Directed by Alex de la Iglesia, Appearing in Person
Spain 2000, 35mm, color, 110 min.
With Carmen Maura, Emilo Gutiérrez Caba, Eduardo Antuña
Spanish with English subtitles

With a hearty nod to Jeunet and Caro's Delicatessen, La Comunidad
(literally The Commonwealth) features Almodovar regular Carmen Maura as Julia, a middle-aged real estate agent who discovers a stash of money hidden above an apartment she is renting. The film goes increasingly out of control as Julia attempts to escape the tenement block with both the cash and her life—the crazed residents of the building are also after the treasure and aren't about to let her get away without a fight. Film description courtesy of the Brattle Theatre. Print courtesy of Lola Films.

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May 5 (Saturday) 10 pm


Directed by Luis Garcia Berlanga
Spain 1961,video, b/w, 85 min.
With Cassen, José Luis López Vázquez, Elvira Quintillá
Spanish Language Version

A truckdriver at risk of having his vehicle repossessed gets caught up in a charity drive in which wealthy families invite the poor to their homes for Christmas dinner. Berlanga received his one and only Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film for this satire of bourgeois altruism. Print courtesy of Filmoteca Española.

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May 6 (Sunday) 9 pm

800 Bullets

Directed by Alex de la Iglesia
Spain 2002, 35mm, color, 124 min.
With Sancho Gracia, Ángel de Andrés, Carmen Maura
Spanish/English/Italian with English subtitles

De la Iglesia's homage to the Spaghetti Western gives the storied
genre a typically perverse twist as he sets his action in "Hollywood, Texas," a Western-themed amusement park that has fallen on hard times.  When Laura (Almodovar regular Carmen Maura) learns her son Carlos has run away to the park (where his grandfather stages gunfights for tourists), she decides to get revenge by buying out the property for Euro Disney. Unwilling to give up their way of life, the 'cowboys' decide to fight back the only way they know: Wild West style! Film description courtesy of the Brattle Theatre. Print courtesy of TLA Releasing.

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May 7 (Monday) 7 pm
May 8 (Tuesday) 9 pm

Ferpect Crime

Directed by Alex de la Iglesia
Spain/Italy 2004, 35mm, color, 105 min.
With Guillermo Toledo, Mónica Cervera, Luis Varela
Spanish with English subtitles

An impeccable Hitchcock homage with de la Iglesia's bent sense of humor, Ferpect Crime features Guillermo Toledo as Rafael, a department store clerk with ambition… ambition to be the manager of the floor where he works! So dedicated to this task is Rafael that he ruthlessly competes with his rival for the position yet still finds time to wine-dine-and-everything else his lovely co-workers. All except one that is, the homely Lourdes (Cervera) to whom he pays little attention—until they find themselves with a dead body on their hands and Rafael must give in to Lourdes' romantic demands or risk being exposed as a killer. Film description courtesy of the Brattle Theatre. Print courtesy of Vitagraph Films.

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May 7 (Monday) 9 pm

The Masque of the Red Death

Directed by Roger Corman
US 1964, 35mm, color, 86 min.
With Vincent Price, Jane Asher, Hazel Court

In this celebrated adaptation of the classic Edgar Allan Poe tale, Vincent Price stars as Prince Prospero, a sleek Satanist with a penchant for burning down feudal villages, capturing fair maidens, and debasing his servants. To protect against the oncoming plague of the Red Death, Prospero arranges for the local noblemen to hide out in his castle, where they attend a masked ball filled with debauchery. But soon a mysterious figure arrives to disrupt the decadent affair. Corman’s first attempt at an "art film" exhibits influences as diverse as Bergman and Buñuel, and he succeeds in large part thanks to Nicolas Roeg’s crisp cinematography.

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