THE RETURN OF THE DEAD / BY GERARDO MARES
Alfredo Lira: Communication sciences degree and Graphic Design diploma. Participates in the organization at the third Morbid Film festival in Leon, Guanajuato.
Horror film and comics specialist invited to participate at the Comic Fest to talk about Zombie mythology in films and comics, some days ago, at a hotel in Leon, located in the center of the city.
Thin, tall and nice appearance, it is hard to tell that somebody like him would have a particular taste for high graphic violence content. Here are some of his thoughts about this contemporary film genre.
GM: The first impression that most people get at a speech about zombie films within a conference about comics is quite surprising. How does it come to you that it would be a good idea to choose such topic for a speech presentation?
AL: Well, we’ve always thought that once of the aspects that enrich this sort of events is diversity. There is no place where we can’t actually get to, indeed, as long as you know how to do it, I mean, the right moment and the right association of ideas.
Why? Well, because a lot of the artists who work in the making of comics have worked or are directly influenced from films, and I mean any film genre, but we are based in horror, and there is a lot that comes from horror that we can work with: There is Marvel Zombies, one of the most remarkable and most famous; there is Evil Dead, about monsters; there is Dracula. There is enough diversity for which we are not, by no means, off topic.
GM: What make zombies in films important for the comic universe?
AL: About that, we wanted to make a point in showing that there are not only comics about superheroes, but also comics were there’s great demise in the appearing of monsters attacking big cities. As I just stated in my conference speech, we can diversify… just as has been happening lately, where there are comics that talk about sexual diversity in this era, people need to see that there are romance and drama stories, and of course, horror stories in comics.
GM: Alright, and whom would be the most remarkable authors in living dead genre comics?
AL: Unfortunately there are just a few known, Warren Ellis among them. Nevertheless there are a great number of great sketchers and writers… The problem lay in the rotation of artists who work on the genre, so that makes it hard to talk about somebody specific into this particular field.
GM: So, what horror films have had and impact for you?
AL: Well, I recall George Romero’s Day of the Dead from the eighties… It was quite impressive to see how zombies would carry out the story… there was an example of the possibility for intelligent zombies, as it was the case of this character named Bub. That was better than the classic zombie concept. There was a remake, later on, of the same movie in 2008, but I didn’t like it much; zombies were smarter and faster but the zombie essence had been lost within the modern conception of zombies. In contrast I can say that I liked a lot ‘The serpent and the rainbow’ and ‘White Zombie’ with Bela Lugosi, and I must say that those are movies which you have to see in order to go one step further on. Without those references is hard to tell what is and infected zombie or a voodoo zombie, or what is a Romero or Fulci style. I think that Romero movies will change the view of anyone, almost as it did to mine.
GM: What do you perceive in new films, or what zombie movies would you recommend to the audience of Contrapuntonews?
AL: The most remarkable aspect of this type of film is the collective hysteria that run around nowadays about it. The idea of a zombie apocalypse, the idea of… well, some media have worked seriously in the topic doing research, such as Nat Geo, which have talked about the possibility of an event of such sort. So, this is something that has given more material to us, fans, since there is some truth to the possibilities which bring verisimilitude to fiction stories, the fact that people can get to the conclusion of that voice that says, “Damn! It can actually happen”. All that along with a great concern that can lead to such hysteria. So that creates the perfect environment for fantasizing. People are now immersed in a stream of chaos and violence that can only be evaded through an alternate reality. Most people are generating their own personal fantasy and that is taking over reality… so, there is no movie I might recommend but the old schools of Romero, Fulci and O’Bannon. Romero is all about the original concept of zombie, which is the Haitian zombie. There are no movies I would recommend from the new school, and I would recommend a book on the topic over a movie.
GM Would you consider REC, the saga, as good quality material?
AL: From that saga I liked the first and the third movies. The second one was disappointing, although Paco Plaza, the producer wanted to give it a spin, but in the end the zombie was off the concept and it was not an infected, it was somebody possessed; somebody taken by an evil spirit. I don’t think they were good or bad, but I think they are not a good zombie trilogy. The first one was a zombie movie but it was disappointing to find that the second one refuted the first one. But the third one was fairly decent.
GM: Have you found any good zombie concepts in Mexican films on your research about zombies?
AL: Gee, lots of them… There is a classic, ‘El Santo contra los zombies’ (The Saint, the silvered mask wrestler, versus the zombies), for example, and there has been many projects lately, especially in Mexico City. There was a mini serial project that was tried to put together, Distrito Mictlán, that sounded quite interesting but unfortunately wan not concretized; there was another one, ‘Los infectados’ (the infected) by Alejandro Alegre, and another one, not about zombies but about cannibals. So, I must conclude that there is a lot going on in Mexico, just a matter of taking a look around.
GM: Just to conclude, could you provide us with more information concerning the Morbid Festival that will take on in the city?
Well, the festival will take on from August 23rd to 26th. It will be set at a famous cinema site on the way to the Leon stadium for the main feature presentations. We are still working on organization details for which we recommend those who are interested to keep an eye on the social networks, we will throw rock concerts, pro wrestling shows which goes ad hoc with zombies to which also will be a one entire day theme. We will have international film directors, we will probably have some actors, but much more important will be that directors will present some of their productions for direct contact with the audience, and last thing for me to say about that, this is the third festival set in the city of Leon, Guanajuato. Unfurtunatelly, ‘Morbido’ has been a festival with little promotion and little publicity although this is a very well recognized event in other cities and internationally. We haven’t succeeded the way we would like to in Leon, but we hope this year would be different, so we extend invitation to everybody, and for people to keep an eye on virtual social networks so we can tell them how can they get passes. I must say that tickets will not be sold and the idea is to get every horror film fan to participate so people into this type of film genre can have their own site and get involved. We want people to bring their ideas, if not possible this year for the next one. The reason why is that the space will be opened for photography, painting, and mainly anything related to horror films. There is enough room for everyone. This is a not very well known festival in the city, yet, but we surely want recognition for which we want this year to be critical so next year this festival will be anticipated and people be willing to participate. For this will make the festival big making possible to get jobs for new talents… To all those interested, here’s the link: muertos vivientes.