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Nightmares at Sustefest X!

November 7th, 2019

The southern portion of Guanajuato, Mexico, is a magical place – lush, mountainous, and dotted with volcanic craters arranged like the stars in the Big Dipper. It’s also home to the Sustefest Film Festival, which this year hosted the release of Nightmares, the new Spanish-language anthology featuring stories by members of the Nightmare Cinema writing team.

The festival’s opening ceremonies began the night of October 25 at Cinema Valle, a former movie palace in the heart of Valle de Santiago. With its marquee proclaiming SUSTEFEST and its façade fitted with an eight-foot poster of Nightmares, the theatre was our introduction to the festival that is now in its tenth year of bringing fantastic films to the Mexican heartland. Following a Q&A session with the press, the Nightmares authors moved inside for a screening of two classic segments of Showtime’s Masters of Horror, featuring Richard Christian Matheson’s “Dance of the Dead” and Mick Garris’s “Chocolate.”

The next day took us across town to Valle de Santiago’s Municipal Auditorium and a Nightmares release event hosted by festival organizer Carlos López Cardona.

Edited and translated by Mexican best-selling author Sandra Becerril, Nightmares features four stories — three of which are appearing for the first time in Spanish.

“Transfiguration” by Richard Christian Matheson first appeared in Visitants: Stories of Fallen Angels & Heavenly Hosts (Ulysses Press 2010) and has since gone on to be featured in The Best Horror of the Year: Volume Three (Night Shade 2011) and Shivers VIII (Cemetary Dance 2019). It is a haunting tale about a long-haul truck driver on a hallucinatory drive through the Alaskan wilderness.

Mick Garris’s “Chocolate,” the previously unpublished story that serves as the basis for the Masters of Horror film of the same name, centers on a man whose dreams are linked to another person’s reality. The story is a fine example of emo-horror (a genre that also describes Garris’s Nightmare Cinema segment “Dead”).

Sandra Becerril’s story “Meintras Duermes” (“While You Sleep”) is a frightening tale that supports one reviewer’s assessment that “Sandra Becerril is one of Mexico’s most important horror writers.”

My story “Ajuste de Cuentas,” originally published as “Reckoning” (This Way to Egress 2010), takes place in a cloistered church hidden in the Pennsylvania woods. It involves kidnapping, murder, and a ritual that is at once terrible and redemptive.

Nightmares can be ordered in print (limited and trade editions) from Sustefest Ediciones and as an audiobook from Beek — the Spanish-language equivalent of Audable.com. Though currently available only in Spanish, English-language editions may be in the works, details TBA.

Other Sustefest highlights included director Emilio Portes presenting a screening of his film Belzebuth in a sprawling cemetery on the eastern edge of Valle de Santiago. Hailed by critics for breathing new life into the demonic-child genre, the film is currently available in the US on AMC’s Shudder.

The festival closed with Hugo Félix Mercado‘s Cygnus, a horror/sf hybrid that Anton Bitel of Sight and Sound describes as “a paranoid tale of a man looking back at cosmic data from many aeons ago and […] finding reflected in it a dark mirror of himself and his own crumbling psyche.” Sounds like my cup of meat, and I had hoped to catch it while at Sustefest. Unfortunately, I was across town attending an author’s dinner during the screening. Rest assured, I’ll be looking out for a US release of Cygnus in the months ahead.

Sustefest X concluded October 27, and the tireless Carlos López Cardona tells me he already looking ahead to next year’s installment. Given the success of this year’s festival, it’s sure to be a winner.

Next up, a report from World Fantasy in LA. Until then, you can click the player below to check out some video highlights of Sustefest X. If it looks like it fun, that’s because it was.

 

 

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