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Nightmare Cinema:
Q&A at Frida Cinema in Santa Anna

June 26th, 2019

 This week’s round of Nightmare Cinema release events concluded with a screening at The Frida Cinema on Saturday night. Sponsored by Horror Buzz and The Horrible Imaginings Film Festival, the event drew an enthusiastic crowd and concluded with a Q&A session where I joined directors Mick Garris, Alejandro Bruges, and Ryuhei Kitamura in a discussion moderated by Miguel Rodriguez of Horrible Imaginings.

Above: The Q&A session following the Nightmare Cinema screening at the Frida Cinema. 

The session opened with Mick Garris responding to a question about the international aspect of the film.

“The original idea was to do a Masters of Horror-style anthology. But my ambition was to do one in a different country every week with a filmmaker from that country. And it was too ambitious. Nobody wanted to do that.”*

Not wanting to give up on on the international scope of the film, Mick enlisted an international team of directors who were available to shoot entirely in LA. Those directors were Ryuhei Kitamura (from Japan), Alejandro Bruges (from Cuba), and David Slade (from the UK).

But the international components of the film extend beyond the selection of directors. For example, consider “Mashit” — perhaps the most international of all the Nightmare Cinema segments. In addition to being directed by Ryuhei Kitamura (whose past credits include Godzilla Final Wars and the samurai-zombie mashup Versus), the film is written by Mexican novelist, screenwriter, and director Sandra Becerril.

Set in a Latin American boarding school, Kitamura’s installment plays like an 80’s-era Italian horror film, with deeply saturated colors and a powerful techno score by Aldo Shllaku. Beyond that, the film stars Mariela Garriga, whose IMDB page identifies her as being “born in Habana, Cuba[of] Italian, English, Spanish and France ancestry.”

Above right: Mariela Garriga and Ryuhei Kitamura at the cast-and-crew screening, Hayworth Theatre in LA.

Interestingly, according to Alejandro Bruges, Mariela Garriga had been the original pick to play the lead in his segment “The Thing in the Woods.” Instead, that role was filled by American Sarah Elizabeth Withers, which might have made Alejandro’s segment one of the most American-centric stories (involving college kids at a forest retreat gone terribly wrong) were it not for the way Alejandro infuses the tale with the distinctive blend of Cuban irony that characterizes his previous film Juan of the Dead.

The Q&A session also gave us a chance to cover the international genesis of “This Way to Egress,” a film project that spent years under option by a UK production company, working from a feature adaptation written by British filmmaker Charly Cantor. It’s a story I’ve told before, most recently in “The Manchester-Sheffield Connection” and  “More UK Connections.”

Other topics discussed at The Frida covered deleted scenes (let’s hope some will be included on the blu-ray disk that is now available for pre-order at Amazon), possibilities for future installments in the franchise (which is looking increasingly likely given the recent round of strong reviews), and the way horror films reflect and inform the human condition.

We’ll get a chance to revisit those topics and more when I join the good people at The Parkway Theater in Pittsburgh on June 29 for Q&A sessions following the 7:15 and 9:30 shows. Hope to see you there!

Above right: Miguel Rodriguez of Horrible Imaginings, Norman Gidney of Horror Buzz, Alejandro Bruges, Ryuhei Kitamura, Mick Garris, and the 21st Century Scop at The Frida Cinema screening. 

*As quoted in “Mick Garris Brings Together a Roster of International Horror Greats in NIGHTMARE CINEMA,” by Tony Timponeon. Dread Central, June 24, 2019