Thursday, November 5, 2015

Cool Ass Cinema Presents: Talking Templars with Filmmaker, David Garcia

David Garcia is among the rising crop of Spanish genre filmmakers gleefully getting their hands bloody by realizing their celluloid nightmares that have gloriously haunted them since childhood. David's inaugural work is a short film love letter to 70s Spanish horror, and, in particular, the Blind Dead Templar Knights made internationally famous through four films directed by Amando de Ossorio. Titled EL ULTIMO GUION (THE LAST SCRIPT), David took time out of his schedule to discuss this project as well as his thoughts on Spanish horror and his own genre interests. Below is film director David Garcia's conversation with Cool Ass Cinema.

David Garcia (far right) and his crew shooting EL ULTIMO GUION (THE LAST SCRIPT)

Venoms5: Tell me a little about yourself and when your interest in horror began.

David Garcia: My first contact with the horror genre was when I was very young, at eight years old. Public Television of Spain aired a run of horror movies on Friday night called "My Favorite Terrors" presented by film director Narciso Ibañez Serrador (THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED [1969], WHO CAN KILL A CHILD? [1976]). They aired horror classics and I fell in love with them almost instantly. From there, movies and comics became my passion. Eventually I would edit my first fanzine dedicated to the genre called "Monster World". The first issue appeared in August of 1998 and I am still publishing issues today under my SHOCK imprint, where I also edit other fanzines like "Fantastic Cult Classics" and "The Colossa Treasures", the last of which is dedicated to stop-motion wizard Ray Harryhausen.

V5: When did you first see LA NOCHE DEL TERROR CIEGO (TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD) and what was your impression of it?

DG: I remember seeing the first movie on Beta tape. In the early 80s I often frequented the many video clubs in my city and saw many genre films there including lots of Spanish horror. I became, and remain, a great admirer of our grand cinema tradition. I was very young when I first saw LA NOCHE DEL TERROR CIEGO and it had a great impact on me; all the scenes in slow motion; the atmosphere Ossorio created... the music ... I was hypnotized!!

V5: What did you think of the other entries in the series?

DG: My favorite is EL ATAQUE DE LOS MUERTOS SIN OJOS (RETURN OF THE EVIL DEAD). I think the idea of a large group of people besieged by the Templars was a great concept. The weakest for me is EL BUQUE MALDITO (THE GHOST GALLEON). The minimal economic means are greatly felt in this production. LA NOCHE DE LAS GAVIOTAS (THE NIGHT OF THE SEAGULLS) is, to me, a wonderful story. The four together make a very frightening and macabre mythical framework. I was disappointed the series didn't continue. The Knights Templar still have many stories left to star in.

V5: Have you seen John Gilling's THE CROSS OF THE DEVIL (1975) and Jess Franco's MANSION OF THE LIVING DEAD (1985)?

DG: Yes, I have seen both of those. The Jesus Franco picture is a very mediocre film. Franco handled this one very carelessly, more interested in softcore porn than horror. THE CROSS OF THE DEVIL was a missed opportunity, but I do not dislike it. It's an entertaining movie.

V5: How did the idea for EL ULTIMO GUION (THE LAST SCRIPT) come about?

DG: The idea for THE LAST SCRIPT emerged as a small challenge, and crazy on my part. I wanted to pay homage to the sort of craftsmanship found in Spain's golden age of 70s horror cinema. As big a fan of Amando de Ossorio and his Templars that I am, I thought it would be great to bring back these iconic and internationally recognized horror movie characters. I proposed the idea to my good friend Lone Fleming, the lead actress of LA NOCHE DEL TERROR CIEGO, that she should star in my short film. She accepted and the rest has come together nicely. We brought aboard a fantastic cast of actors from the golden age, and I was lucky and pleased that everyone liked the idea. The cast includes Jose Lifante (LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE), Antonio Mayans (A DRAGONFLY FOR EACH CORPSE), Loreta Tovar (RETURN OF THE EVIL DEAD), Marian Salgado (DEMON WITCH CHILD) and Sandra Alberti (SATAN'S BLOOD).

V5: What is the story about and when will the film be completed?

DG: The story is about Lone Fleming, playing as herself, suffering from terrible nightmares in which the Knights Templar persecute and relentlessly terrorize her. Her ordeal begins after she receives an envelope with no return address containing an old script written by Amando de Ossorio entitled "The Necronomicon of the Templars". All this happens in the context of a fantasy film festival paying homage to the Spanish horror films of the 1970s. Reality merges with fiction and nightmares come to life... for Lone, unfortunately. We are currently in post-production, assembling, and hope to have it finished by mid-2016 with the intention of presenting it to the main fantasy film festivals worldwide. 

V5: With so many well known names from vintage Spanish horror appearing in your movie, was there anyone you wanted but were unable to get?

DG: Of course. My original idea was to have Jack Taylor as a villain, but it was impossible to come to an agreement to obtain his services. A pity.

Lone Fleming and David Garcia
V5: Before embarking on your filmmaking debut, did you ever think one day you'd be directing the great Lone Fleming of LA NOCHE DEL TERROR CIEGO?

DG: Before I got to know Lone personally, I never thought I'd have the opportunity. She's a wonderful woman both personally and professionally, and working with her on this project has been a dream come true.

V5: Do you know if Mr. Ossorio ever attempted to get funding for another Blind Dead movie? He said in an interview back in the early 90s he had ideas for a new film, one of which returned the Templars to the sea.

DG: During the last years of his life, Amando de Ossorio wrote dozens of scripts. Many of them dealt with the Knights Templar. We rescued one of them for a plot point in EL ULTIMO GUION; the "Necronomicon of the Templars" I mentioned earlier.

V5: Since starting EL ULTIMO GUION, how has the experience been so far? Has the process of filmmaking been different from what you expected in any way?

DG: The experience has been wonderful!! Working with such iconic and professional actors is a dream come true. My crew is equally magnificent and everything has flowed in an amazing way. We have all been like a small family. With digital means at our disposal everything is easier. We shot the short film in 4K HD to give a more professional package. We hope the fans of this type of film can appreciate even the smallest detail. 

A look at the unfinished masks of the Knights Templar
V5: How many Templars are seen in THE LAST SCRIPT, and can you elaborate on their creation and design in your short film? 

DG: There's a fine cast of them, but better to preserve the suspense by not revealing too much. I am a big fan of special effects, so I participated in their creation as well.

V5: Are horror films popular with Spanish audiences today? There seems to be a lot of them being made.

DG: True. The 70s golden age of Spanish horror movies has many emblematic titles that have produced many followers. A new generation has discovered them and revere these films. Festivals pay tribute to the actors and directors with names such as Paul Naschy, Ossorio, Eugenio Martin, Jorge Grau, Juan Piquer Simon, Carlos Aured, Narciso Ibañez Serrador, Leon Klimovsky.... all are engraved with golden letters in the history of fantasy films with titles like WALPURGIS NIGHT (1971), HORROR EXPRESS (1972), CURSE OF THE DEVIL (1973), THE FABULOUS JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (1976), THE NIGHT OF BLIND TERROR (1971), LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE (1974) and THE MARSHALL OF HELL (1974).

V5: Other than LA NOCHE DEL TERROR CIEGO, have there been any other horror films that have made an impact on you over the years?

DG: My favorite movie of all time is not a scary one--it's the 1933 version of KING KONG. But if we focus on horror.... there are many. Carpenter's THE THING (1982), THE EXORCIST (1973), JAWS (1975), Jack Clayton's THE INNOCENTS (1961), THE EVIL DEAD (1981), THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE (2001).... I could go on as there are hundreds!!!

V5: Do you have plans for another film after EL ULTIMO GUION?

DG: It is a question I've been asked in other interviews. For now I want to finish this film and focus on distributing it on the festival circuit. I realize it will mean a lot of hard work and dedication. There are ideas for future projects but for now I'd rather wait and see. 

V5: Would the possibility of a full-length feature about the Blind Dead be in your future?

DG: I would love it!! Although in Spain the industry is past its prime from the old times. Nowadays it is difficult to raise money for such a project. Even as just a producer, I would be very happy to be involved on a feature film about the Templar Knights.

Cool Ass Cinema would like to thank David Garcia for his time in discussing his interests and his upcoming film. We wish him success in all his future endeavors.

***All photos courtesy of David Garcia***

You can keep track of the progress, updates and additional photos of David's Templar film, THE LAST SCRIPT, by clicking HERE.

David's Monster World blog is found HERE.

Actress Lone Fleming's blog is found HERE.

David's Colossa blog, devoted to Harryhausen, is found HERE.

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