|All in a day's work!|
If you haven't seen an Adrian Garcia Bogliano flick, please be advised to do so -- immediately! He, along with his filmmaking team at Paura Flics, has been a bloody force in the Argentine horror film world, as well as on the International scene. With films like 36 Pasos (36 Steps), and No moriré sola (I'll Never Die Alone), Bogliano has explored the dark side of humanity with the sexuality and violence of films like I Spit on Your Grave, and Dressed to Kill, and the style and finesse of Tarantino and Peckinpah.
His films are fast and furious as they are paced and methodical. They are full of gorgeous eye candy, but harbor a scathing intellect that challenges the viewer to think beyond all the blood, mayhem and sex. I'm hoping that one day soon, Bogliano will get the recognition in the States that he deserves. Adrian did me a kindness and took some questions from me. read 'em, and then go find his flicks and devour 'em!
|This isn't gonna end right|
Bad Ronald: Who are the filmmakers who influenced you?
Adrián García Bogliano: I started thinking of being a filmmaker after I saw Dust Devil when I was thirteen years old, so I guess Richard Stanley is one of the biggest influences. Later on, Quentin Tarantino, Shinya Tsukamoto, Nicolas Roeg, Brian de Palma, Peter Medak, Tinto Brass... but I like to keep watching films and finding new sources of inspiration.
I'm really glad that I'm a film lover that keeps watching movies every day and even so, I keep finding amazing films that really shake me deeply. When I was a kid I felt affected by very different types of films, from very violent ones like Spanish rape and revenge Coto de Caza or Class of 1984 to the creepy and yet not violent at all Picnic at Hanging Rock. Later, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Tokyo Fist, The Blair Witch Project, I stand alone, Gummo and more recently I discovered films like Unhinged, or Bo Arne Vibenius' Breaking Point... things that keep me in awe.
BR: Had you always been a horror fan?
AGB: Yes, all my life. I grew up -like I guess most directors of my generation- watching this brutal horrors of the seventies and eighties on double and triple features on the cinemas and on VHS. It was an amazing moment, I think. The decision of making horror films started with my love for the genre but also had a lot of relation with the lack of production of horror films in Argentina.
BR: Your films are very much driven by character. The action is always very intense because it’s motivated by how your characters react to the situations they are in, or find themselves in. Most horror (American horror that is) these days is more about trying to invent some kind of clever situation and forcing the characters and plot to fall into place. Can you tell me about your storytelling style?
|This IS gonna end right|
AGB: I think it depends on the type of movie you want to make. When I was a teenager I made a torture porn, a fake sort of snuff film and it helped me to realize what I don't like of horror films. I don't care if the ending is going to be happy or sad, but I do care whether the characters are going to have a chance to do things or if they are going to be just puppets that bleed and scream. I think the only film I love where characters are there without any chance of doing anything, and are there just to suffer is the original Funny Games. But obviously it's something Haneke was trying to tell through that horror, and the actors are so good that you not only feel pity but you actually like them...
And the problem is, for me, that if you don't like the characters, and you are just using them to get killed in a funny way, the film is not going to work. And I also love to have good villains that have even stronger motivations than the good guys. Probably the only film where they don't show their motivations is in I'll never die alone, because I had an idea of why they were doing that, but I wanted to show them as a bunch of beasts. Even so, in that film nobody explains much of themselves.
BR: The horror genre (and similar genres) has always been a place where social and political undertones (and overtones) have lurked about – whether intentional or otherwise. Your films, as far as I’ve gleaned, certainly have a great deal of social commentary. Is this your intent? If so: Do you start out with a purpose, or does the message come out with the development?
AGB: I don't think a film can work if it's just an excuse to make a political or social statement. You got to have good characters and a strong plot. I believe a lot in what Stephen King says that you should write first without giving it a lot of thinking and then read it and re write it trying to understand what the material is about. Obviously if you are a person that cares about things that happen around you, that will be reflected in your material.. After I have a structure I try to think what the story is REALLY about, what is lying underneath. And once you find it, I think that you are saved, because it's actually like a life saver that will help you through the rest of the process. That's something that will help you define behaviors and situations because you will know what the film is about. So, yes, it's intentional but after I find an idea that I really like.
BR: One of the strongest commentaries I see in your films is with your portrayal of women. In 36 Pasos, the females are sexy as hell, and flaunting it. In I Will Never Die Alone, one of the rape victim becomes very sexually charged – or empowered, as we like to say in the U.S. – once she has taken control of her fate. What are the views you have of female characters in your stories?
AGB: My first four films were lead by female characters and it's something I'm very proud of. In every film I intend something different with female characters. In my first film, Rooms for Tourists, I tried to talk about the repression of female sexuality and the taboo of abortion; in the second, Scream at Night, I explored the relations of teens and the burden of growing up; in 36 Pasos I was talking about the role models of the perfect woman that society tries to establish and I also tried to take women out of the victim role and put women as the worst enemy of women; on IWNDA finally I was trying to explore the brutality of sexual aggression, the "macho" society that we live in and trying to give it a twist, that for me was like giving female victims a chance to do something that doesn't happen in real life, that is not only having a payback but, as you say, actually doing it with a charge of sexuality.
Every once in a while someone calls me misogynist, but I'm used to it because it happens a lot that horror films are misunderstood or overlooked, even by filmmakers that very often think that nudity or sexuality implies exploitation, a concept that bores me to death. To me there is also a very important element that relates female -sexuality, maternity, beauty- as opposite to death, a contrast that I really like to have in my films.
BR: In horror, the women are usually portrayed pretty much as stereotypes or archetypes: the heroine, the bitch, the slut, the wallflower, etc… But in the mainstream, they make sure that we are attracted to all of them, even the ones whose character is less than desirable. In your films, you’re not afraid to make a female character undesirable, even after they’ve become a victim of a horrible crime. Some are indifferent, some are struggling, yet they all react differently -- sometimes very unexpectedly -- to being a victim. To me, this makes your storytelling very honest and genuine, as opposed to an eye candy fantasy movies out of the U.S.
|A stellar cast!|
AGB: I started working with stereotypes in my first film, but after I finished it I realized that I committed a lot of mistakes and one of them was trying to make characters act in a straight line all the film -as stereotypes that is. Involving more the actresses in the process was crucial. I learned that in my second film, that was a breaking point, because all of it was improvisation. But to me the genuine part might be liking the characters, finding some beauty in all of them.
BR: In I Will Never Die Alone one of the young women reacts to her assault by becoming... I don’t want to say sexualized, but I couldn’t find the proper term. In America, they like to call it “female empowerment.” [Sort of a silly term for using female sexuality for strength, since the term is used widely to reach out to teen and tween girls, more than adults.] But, when the one character turns from withdrawn to ripping her clothing to expose her midriff, it becomes a visual metaphor for her strength. This sudden awareness of her sexuality seems to give her the will to overpower her male tormentors. In the original I Spit on Your Grave, the victim uses her sexuality to entice the men into her trap. But, in your movie, the young woman uses her sexuality as almost a super power.. What was your thought process when conceptualizing this character. And how did you relay that to your actress?
|Is this the line for the Bogliano flick?|
AGB: That's really interesting... I was thinking in animals, and lot of people told me I shouldn't compare rapists with animals because animals act for a reason: fear, hunger, territory, domination or whatever. But the truth is I was thinking about that, because to me the metaphor was the barb wire. This girls are much more intelligent than this guys but to communicate with them, they can't speak, they have to communicate in the only language that they will understand, which is the violence.
The first image that I worked on for a poster of the film was this girl that you are talking about with the arms extended holding a barb wire in front her chest that shows her only wearing a bra. And it was a risk and not too many people understood the moment that she starts to make this noises and starts to laugh like crazy. I tried to keep the film very quiet, with very little screams all the time and with characters showing their emotions in the less explosive way until that point. And to me the thing is she acts like an animal in front of another animal. It's more like a noise of an animal what she does. And for the sexual part, exactly, is more of the sexuality of an animal that a sexy thing. I love I Spit on Your Grave but I tried to avoid as much as possible the "sexy" element in this movie. Sick as I Spit on Your Grave is, I think that it has something of male sexual fantasy lying very underneath and I think most rape and revenge films had it. And I wanted to avoid the sexy element by any mean necessary. What I do think is that, there is a beauty in those two girls regaining their dignity at the end.
|Day of the women|
BR: I sometimes see the way you portray your women as similar to the way Hitchcock did. They are always quite beautiful, but they are put through brutal situations… and they don’t always act so beautifully.
AGB: Just like in life... We, men, like to think of women -and mostly good looking women- with an aura, that kind of slow motion and bright lightning of commercials. If you think about that is stupid, but that's the way it is. And we tend to portray women doing "women stuff" whatever that means. I always felt fascinated with portraying female characters but I try to give them whenever is possible as much complexity as I can. I always think of what David Mamet says that male writers should try to write female parts as if they were to be played by males. I never tried that, but I guess he is right.
BR: Thanks for talking with me, Adrian. Looking forward to more of your work.
AGB: I really liked your thoughts about the films, man! Thanks a lot.