Their titles practically scream in: Night of the Chupacabra, When he Was Alive, the Necropolis of The Symphony. Immediately you can guess that these are the movies that you might need to see through his fingers, and horror stories to speed up the heart. But you don’t know where they are. Step to one side of Carmen Miranda and The Girl from Ipanema, these frightfests are from Brazil.
What evokes the Brazilian cinema for many, beyond a dance with the lady in a fruit-covered hat?
Countries tend to the mark of the movies they produce. Hear the words “French cinema”, and the low-key cool wrapped in the smoke of Gitanes comes to mind almost immediately. Japanese film evokes samurai and monsters kaiju, and Ozu’s domestic dramas. The Hollywood cinema is all about glamour. But hear the words “Brazilian cinema’ and what do you think beyond a dance with the lady in a fruit-covered chapeau? Perhaps the style of the violence of City of God or the land of lyricism of the Central Station.
A new way to see the Brazilian cinema is coming into focus. Inspired by the works of international filmmakers such as Guillermo Del Toro (El espinazo del Diablo), Bong Joon-Ho (The Host), Julia Ducournau (Raw), and Robert Eggers (The Witch), a new generation of directors and writers are embracing passionately horror.
Between now and next year, more than 10 new Brazilian horror films will be released in the country, and there are more in development. Unlike Oscar-ready films with sociological concerns, such as City of God and Central Station, these horror movies are not made to the capture of foreign recognition and awards – these are movies made for Brazilian viewers, who embrace the pop and the pulp of traps in the surface, as the films contraband in a comment in the brazil of the political and social issues below.
It came from the interior of
Horror and other films with fantastic themes that have been historically infrequent in the Brazilian cinema – that appear once each decade, in isolated efforts that dates back to 1908 and The Chefs’ Duel, a silent movie described by its director, one of Antonio Leal, as “a comic image in a fantastic way.”
Horror films, commented on the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985
The 1960s marked the true beginning of the Brazilian horror, with the arrival on the scene of José Mojica Marins, an actor-director-producer responsible for the most successful horror character in the Brazilian film: Coffin Joe. Born into a circus family and an avid fan of comics and pulp fiction, Mojica Marins, he discovered his true vocation when he came to a 8 mm camera for his 12th birthday. Although some of his images are simple stories of adventure, became famous for its bloody, over-the-top and highly sexualized horror films, from 1963 with the Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul, and followed by a long series of equally explicit and bombastically-titled of images: This Night I will Possess Your Corpse, The Beast Wakes up, Black Exorcism, the Demon of Delirium. All that appear Mojica Marins’ alter ego Josefel Zanatas, also known as Coffin Joe, a sinister master of horror with impossibly long, curly nails, devilish beard and a very satanic.
None were box office hits, but they all had a devoted cult, both in Brazil and abroad – in the 1990s Mojica Marins was discovered by horror fans in the united states and his films of the 1960s have been shown at festivals and released on DVD. Mojica films also serves as a template for another batch of thrillers in the 1970s and ‘ 80s, the independent and highly politicised work of underground filmmakers like Ivan Cardoso and poet Torquato Neto. Works like Nosferatu in Brazil, the Red Terror, and A Werewolf in the Amazon riffed on the classic horror plots and characters – Nosferatu, the Mask of the Red Death, and The Island of Dr Moreau, respectively – to discuss about life under the military dictatorship that ruled the country with an iron fist from 1964 to 1985.
The current wave of brazilian horror films owes very little to these rarified roots. Are born directly from the alien movies become increasingly available to the public since the year 2000, when the economy was stable, the veil of the censorship was gone and multiplexes are under construction throughout the country. More recently, Netflix, which chose Brazil as its first overseas market outside of North America, presented Brazilian viewers to The Babadook, My Mother, the Eyes, The Witch, and Under the Shade. Those movies caused a small stir in the united states, when they were released. But in Brazil that have been shown to the filmmakers how powerful stories can be even when told with small budgets.
The majority of the Brazilians, directors and industry executives agree that in terms of inspiration, in Brazil, the current wave of terror can be traced back to two films: 2008’s Black Swamp, and 2011’s Hard Work.
Black swamp, a story of zombies cannibals terrorize the locals and tourists at a beach resort, it was the first film of a self-taught technician special effects-became director Rodrigo Aragão, after 30 years of age. With a budget of $ 15,000 (£11,853) and the use of a vacant lot behind his house as the main location, Aragão of the Swamp became a cult hit instant, and launched a mini-franchise: Aragão followed with Night of the Chupacabra, the Black Sea Black and Fables, all low-budget, all shot at a local level in his home in the city of Guarapari, in the eastern Brazilian state of Espírito Santo, and all cult favorites.
Hard work is a thriller about the collapse of the life of a middle-class couple, directed by Juliana Rojas and Marcio Dutra, who had just turned 30 when this, his first feature film, was selected for the section un certain Regard sidebar at the Cannes film festival in 2011. The duo continued with solo works in the same genre – Red, next to The Necropolis of the Symphony, a musical about the chores of the house of a poet/undertaker, and Dutra, When he was Alive, Was a chronicle of ghosts and mental illness, both in 2014.
By the time of festivals and mini-conventions relating to the local horror trend began to emerge in the main cities of brazil and the media began to take note. The greatest filmmakers of prestige pictures, such as a documentary maker David Schürman (that went direct from Brazil To 2016 Oscar presentation, Little Secret), and Andrucha Waddington (winner of a special mention from the un certain Regard prize in Cannes for Me That in the year 2000) joined the trend. Schürmann shot Disappeared, about a group of stranded campers in a not-so-deserted island, in the style of The Project of the Blair Witch. Waddington Under Pressure, a thriller in a hospital that is now being turned into a TELEVISION series.
Between the next mini-tsunami of brazil horror movies are Waddington fantasy/psychological thriller The Judge, written by his go-to actress Fernanda Torres, Aragão, the new installment of its franchise zombie, Black Forest, and the return of the duo of Juliana Rojas and Marcio Dutra, with Good Manners, about a baby werewolf.
But like Hollywood, the Brazilian film industry of the strip the vast majority of their efforts in the production and promotion of films with healthy budgets of the films that are guaranteed to be hits simply because they are too big to fail. Non-Brazilian horror movie has ever reached the rarefied environment where tentpole shows live, as the biblical drama The Ten Commandments (11.3 million viewers), the crime drama Elite squad 2: The Enemy Within (11.2 million) and the body of the switch of the comedy sequel If I were You 2 (6.1 million). Horror movies may not make as much money as these blockbusters, but, since they are much cheaper to produce, the profit potential is greater.
“The decade of the 1990’s and early 2000’s [also] marked by the hunger for accolades and awards, with a particular anxiety towards the Oscars,” said Pedro Butcher, editor of Brazil, the main trade publication, Film B. “The Witch had lines going around the block,” says Diego Freitas, director of the horror film Davi’s Secret. “It was like the theater was showing a film of Marvel superheroes. Everyone was talking about him.”)
Executives of the Brazilian film industry still prefer popular movies of success, despite the fact that – as in Hollywood. “It was a long and hard process,” says André Pereira, the writer-producer of the micro-budgeted horror film, The Traces we leave Behind, of the seven-year journey to get the movie financed and in production. Freitas and producer Luciano Reck have spent over five years trying to raise $500,000 to do Lvad’s Secret. It is a psychological thriller about a troubled young man who comes apart when you move from a small town to the metropolis of São Paulo.
“Why should Spain, Mexico, Iran, Korea, France, Austria have their genre films and not us?”, question Freitas. “Gender allows us to express a lot. The monster is a powerful element. The monster is usually born of the absence of love. I could have been Davi, easily, if I was not a person to earth. Moving to a big city like São Paulo is frightening. You can break any person.”
And, as most of them, Pereira and Freitas used the genre to comment on the tribulations of Brazil in the 21st Century. “There are a lot of horrors, real horrors, all around us,” says Freitas. “That is a great source of material.” Pereira says that his first draft of the Trace is located in a traditional horror of the location of an isolated house in the country. But then, he felt the need to add “a particular, a precise reference to the Brazilian experience. That is something we have learned by watching foreign movies – they are more powerful when they incorporate local elements. That brought us to the hospitals in comparison to, say, a Danish hospital in Lars von Trier’s Kingdom and the reality of a Brazilian public hospital… well, that’s horror”. It just goes to show that sometimes our greatest fears is not outside, but within.
Brazilians sometimes refer to their culture as a ‘cannibal culture’, a melting pot of cultures that synthesizes a seemingly endless number of influences from europe to Africa to Asia. These horror movies have their roots in other cultures, but their lenses are trained directly in Brazil, to show how easily the beauty and the violence below. “And, of course,” Freitas says, “we just want to scare the hell out of you.”