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Review: Vampus Horror Tales. Terrifying and Straight to the Point

Vampus Horror Tales is a film based on Vampus, a 70s Spanish comic magazine that compiled horror stories from different publications of the time.

  • Release year: 2020
  • Director: Isaac Berrocal, Erika Elizalde, Manuel Martínez Velasco, Víctor Matellano and Piter Moreira.
  • Producers: Erika Elizalde and Rafael Martín.
  • Screenplay by: Diego Arjona, Isaac Berrocal, Yolanda García Serrano, Ignacio López, Víctor Matellano, Piter Moreira and Victoria Vázquez.
  • Cinematographer: David Cortázar.
  • Music by: Javier de la Morena.

Synopsis: anthology of horror stories introduced by an old undertaker with an eerie lifestyle.

Shotgun Commentary: big must watch if you love horror stories that rely on buildup rather than eek or jumpscares.

Fig. 1. Vampus’ pet. Source: Vampus Horror Tales (Isaac Berrocal, Erika Elizalde, Manuel, Martínez Velasco, Víctor Matellano, Piter Moreira; 2020).

Review

Vampus Horror Tales is a film based on Vampus, a 70s Spanish comic magazine that compiled horror stories from different publications of the time. The date is significant due to the severe censorship that went on during that decade, which made it harder to publish this type of narratives. As such, the violence shown is quite mild in terms of horror cinema. However, this not only maintains the style and content of the original works, but also accentuates the tension of the plot and keeps the attention of the spectator from irrelevant diversions.

Fig. 2. Blogger dying from an animal attack. Source: Vampus Horror Tales (Isaac Berrocal, Erika Elizalde, Manuel, Martínez Velasco, Víctor Matellano,
Piter Moreira; 2020).

While the cover of the comics were printed in bright colours, the interior used black and white, as does the movie. This lack of colours further intensifies the relationship between the original written work and its modern cinematographic version, and gives a sense of nostalgia and old-cinema vibes that can be very interesting and beautiful when used correctly for horror. Fortunately, this film is one of the good results and the setting does wonders for the atmosphere instead of making it dull.

Great storytelling

The accounts themselves are very imaginative and all made by first-time filmmakers who have proven to be incredibly talented. As mentioned before, they don’t rely on jumpscares, but rather on the stress of not knowing and the feeling that something is terribly wrong even if you can’t put your finger on what it is. Despite some segments being predictable in general terms, they all have certain attributes or plot twists that make them unique and keep the audience glued to their seats.

Mistake… or is it?

Vampus Horror Tales is quite a short feature, a little over an hour and a half and, for someone who knows nothing of the Vampus magazine, it might feel like there are lots of questions left unanswered, lots of details unexplained. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the adaptation is bad.

Fig. 3. Vampus looking down on a kid who bumped into him. Source: Vampus Horror Tales (Isaac Berrocal, Erika Elizalde, Manuel, Martínez Velasco,
Víctor Matellano, Piter Moreira; 2020).

The spectator doesn’t need to learn all about the characters, not even about the narrator himself, Vampus. You know what you are required to know: he’s an undertaker and he does a series of unsettling criminal things that you are told about as he does them. You have who, what and why, and you don’t really need to know anything else to enjoy the film. The mystery is part of the charm, so defying the natural demand for answers by refusing to explain any further about Vampus is a wise decision.

Clever casting

As for the performances, most of the actors will be unknown to you unless you have watched some Spanish cinema before, in which case maybe Marta (Elena Furiase) or Vampus (Saturnino García) will ring a bell. Regardless, being unknown, in addition to being talented, adds more mystery, you get more into it because you forget easily that they are actors. Additionally, the limited time of each tale does not hurt at all to their development, only the necessary information is shared, which makes the story all the more absorbing.

Fig. 4. Marta (Elena Furiase) and Santi (Félix Gómez) arguing. Source: Vampus Horror Tales (Isaac Berrocal, Erika Elizalde, Manuel, Martínez Velasco,
Víctor Matellano, Piter Moreira; 2020).

The final touch

The cherry on top is the connection between narratives, made clear only at the end when, with a few sentences, Vampus makes everything clear. The only seemingly unimportant circumstances mentioned during all the stories turn out to be the link between them, thus encompassing what is a very accomplished Spanish horror film, and a complete anthology of horror.

Advice to take from this movie:

  • If you are in a client-facing job, especially one that requires a certain level of trust, don’t be on your phone. It’s rude, unprofessional and, in some unforeseen cases, dangerous.
  • Maybe right before your wedding is not the best moment to cheat on your future husband?
  • Can’t believe I have to say this, but DO NOT go with a person you barely know to their cabin in the middle of nowhere! Unless you want to get rid of them, then I reckon it’s the best place to do so…
Fig. 5. Alex (Nacho Guerreros) guiding Margot (Erika Sanz) up. Source: Vampus Horror Tales (Isaac Berrocal, Erika Elizalde, Manuel, Martínez Velasco,
Víctor Matellano, Piter Moreira; 2020).

What’s your take? Have you watched Vampus Horror Tales? Don’t hesitate to let me know your thoughts in the comments section below or leave a message in my contact page! For more reviews and cinema-related articles check out the rest of my blog! 😀

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