Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 25th, 2005
Theatrical Release Dates: USA, 1990. Spain, 1994, 1998
Director: Nacho Cerdà
Writer: Nacho Cerdà
Cast: Xevi Collellmir, Jordi Tarrida, Ángel Tarris, Pep Tosar, Trae Houlihan
DVD Released: August 23rd, 2005
Approximate Running Time: 70 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 & 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 Full Frame
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
DVD Release: Unearthed Films
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.99
The Awakening: After receiving a bad grade in class Tony doses off and when he awakens everyone and everything appears to be frozen in time. After a brief investigation of his surroundings Tony is overcome with a headache and this time when he looks around everyone in the classroom are huddle around a body that is lying on the floor. Tony approaches the lifeless body which upon closer inspection is his body.
The Awakening is an interesting early effort from Nacho Cerdà that only hints at what is to come from this filmmaker. His style is yet to be established and the acting is not as strong as it is in his later films. The films eerie spaced out score works well with the films themes of suspension of time and out of body experiences. The story tends to shift directions too often and never really decides on what kind of film it really is. Overall the film is an impressive feat on what they were able to accomplish on a two day shooting schedule.
Aftermath: A young woman has just died tragically in a car crash and her corpse is on its way to the morgue. Two forensic surgeons are each separately working on autopsy’s when a orderly walks in and watches them emotionlessly perform their jobs. One of the surgeons notices the orderly and gazes at him menacingly until the man leaves them room. Later on the surgeon who disapproved of the watching orderly is now by himself as his colleague has left the room. He goes into another room and fetches the woman who died earlier that day in a car crash. Once he has her back in the autopsy room he starts to examine her in way he never examined anyone ever before.
Aftermath is by far and away Nacho Cerdà’s nastiest film to date with its all too graphic and realistic autopsy footage. The camera moves effortlessly through out the room as it documents every detail and action by the surgeons who are working. The fetish nature of the camera and its setups are most apparent when the young woman who died in a car wreck is being examined not in a clinical but a more sexual way. As if a story who plot that deals with necrophilia isn’t disturbing enough the ending of Aftermath makes everything that came before in the story pale in comparison. Aftermath is leaps and bounds ahead of Nacho Cerdà’s pervious effort The Awakening. Filled with macabre imagery that borders on the surreal Aftermath is Nacho Cerdà’s best work to date.
Genesis: When a sculptor loses his wife in car crash he then decides to recreate his loss loved one in the form of a statue. What starts out as a tribute to his wife turns bad when the life like sculpture he has been making starts bleeding in its cracks. The sculptor desperately tries to repair the damage sculpture which proves to be impossible. The decaying sculpture brings back the trauma of losing his wife as the sculptor has a mental breakdown.
Genesis oozes with beauty as every frame is filled with symbolic images like when the decaying sculpture is inter-cut with the sculptor who is suffering his own similar fate. The soundtrack ambient score perfectly adds to the films bittersweet story. Pep Tosar who also starred in Aftermath returns for Genesis in which he gives a performance that is equally impressive as his turn in Aftermath as the necrophilia surgeon. Being that all three of these films are played silent the actors’ reactions are of the utmost importance and Pep Tosar is one of those rare actors who are able to tell a story through his eyes. Each of the three films even though they are connected in theme they are unique unto themselves. These films elevate the horror genre above your average slasher film and the end result is something truly impressive as it is frightening. Nacho Cerdà is talent to be reckoned with who plays by the beat of his own drum as he disregards the rules of commercial filmmaking.
Unearthed Films present The Awakening in a full frame aspect ratio of about 1.33:1. There is some noticeable grain and minor print damage in the form of nicks and scratches. Overall the image is reasonably sharp through out. Aftermath is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The colors look nicely saturated and spot on with flesh tones looking natural through out. The black levels remain solid through out with an exceptional amount of detail present in every frame. Overall the print used is in very good shape and there are no problems with compression or edge enhancement. Genesis is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The colors look vivid and flesh tones look healthy. The black levels are in exceptional shape as there is a lot detail in every frame and grain is virtually non-existent. This DVD transfer is progressive scan. Overall Genesis looks the best of the three films included and there are no problems with compression or edge enhancement.
All three films are presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 that makes good use of all the speakers with most of the action devoted to the front and center channels. All three films contain no dialog and are all accompanied by either music or sound effects. No subtitles have been included because technically there is no native language for these three films.
Extras for The Awakening include an audio commentary with the films director Nacho Cerdà who divulges interesting tidbits like how the film was shot in just two days. Extras for Aftermath include the director’s filmography and a section of stills titled “Production Stills” that was broken up into the following sections: “Location”, “FX Pre-production”, “Continuity” and “Movie” each of these galleries play out like a featurette only silent without any background music. There is also twenty four minute making of documentary for Aftermath that includes interviews with Nacho Cerdà and Pep Tosar. They both speak in Spanish and English subtitles have been included. Other extras include another interview this time with Nacho Cerdà and Jorge Buttgereit where they discuss not only Aftermath, but his first short The Awakening. This interview runs about fifteen minutes and is in English. There is an audio interview with Nacho Cerdà that runs about forty five minutes and has stills from his films playing in the background. Rounding out the extras for the Aftermath release is another insightful and informative commentary with Nacho Cerdà. Extras for Genesis include a section of stills titled “Production Stills” that was broken up into the following sections: “Continuity”, “Set Design”, “Back-story”, “FX Pre-production”, “Movie” and “Production” each of these galleries play out like a featurette only silent without any background music. The main extra for the Genesis release is an audio commentary with Nacho Cerdà offers some interesting thoughts into the meaning of the film. Each of the three films comes with their complete storyboards that have the music and films from them playing in the background. All three of them also come with DVD-Rom content that includes the original hand written notes in Spanish, shot lists and press books. There are liner notes that are written by Scott Gabbey that give a condensed view of the films included for this release. Trailers for other Unearthed releases like Flower of Flesh & Blood, Rock & Rule, Ichi-1 and Junk have been included.
Unearthed’s have gone the extra mile and then some with their Aftermath/Genesis release. Besides the cleaning up the audio/video for all three films they have filled this DVD with a wealth of extras that are always interesting and offer more depth into the films themselves, Highly Recommended.
For more information about Aftermath/Genesis visit Unearthed Films here.