In one of the most remembered scenes of the heifer, by Luis García Berlanga, the soldiers of the republican army and those of the Francoist side exchanged cigarette paper and tobacco. A truce to make a barter that will allow them to have a quiet cigarette. Berlanga, with the help of Azcona in the script, tried to show the nonsense of any war by showing that there is always something that unites two people. In this case the need for tobacco. The director repeated this idea in another masterful sequence, the bath in the lake. The Republican band led by José Sacristán took off their clothes and went into the water. At that moment the enemy army arrived and did the same. There, naked, without their military suits, all the soldiers were the same. There were no sides, because what identified them as such was only their clothes. He was pointing to the nonsense of killing someone for thinking differently. Someone who, at first glance, without a flag waving, could be another teammate.
Coloring photographs of the Civil War: “Black and white gives the feeling that it is something that cannot be repeated”
There is a lot of Berlanga, specifically the heifer, on Malnazidosthe film directed by Alberto de Toro and Javier Ruiz Caldera and adapted Night of the dead of 38by Manuel Martin. Here tobacco is replaced by a common enemy that temporarily brings together the ‘reds’ and the ‘fachas’ to defend themselves and survive: zombies created by the Nazis to win the Civil War first, and the World War then. Those who come together are not the two sides, but a kind of wild group made up of a few outcasts from the rebel side and a split from the Republican army locked in a forest that is a testing ground for the zombie experiment.
The reference to Berlanga’s film It is managed by the directors themselves. Alberto de Toro, who after forging himself in editing makes his feature debut, believes that, although they never talked about her during the preparation, her influence is present. “In 85 it was already done the heifer and it was shown that it is possible to talk about the Civil War with humor, and I think it is clear what Berlanga’s position in the film is”, he assures. They thus face one of the eternal questions when making a film about the Civil War, if it is It is mandatory to position oneself or equidistance is to buy a speech created in the Transition.
This is a debate that Almudena Grandes was clear about. In her last novels she always said openly that on a subject like war you had to position yourself and that equidistance was impossible. Javier Ruiz Caldera, co-director of the film, shares it, but with some clarification: “If you talk about the war you must position yourself, but our film is not about the Civil War, we have used it as a stage, and also as a stage pulp, far from reality. Logically we have our position very clear and I think you can sense it in the film, but it is an adventure, an action film and a sense of humor”.
The directors bought the rights to Night of the dead of 38 as soon as it came out. The premise matched their interests and seemed like a perfect project to satisfy the desire to work together. The one that, a priori, did not seem to be part of the equation was Telecinco, which has produced a film about zombies and the Civil War, two red lines that not many dare to address. De Toro confesses that in the first meetings they wanted to hide that it was a zombie movie, but that it was too obvious and that they quickly became interested in the idea. “You have to give Telecinco courage for betting on an original film when the current scene is full of sequels and remakes that are what works for sure. This is something rarely seen, but there is a tradition of zombie movies in Spain. The last known maybe REC, but there has been a tradition since the 1970s,” says Ruiz Caldera.
If you talk about the Civil War you must position yourself, but our film is not about that. We have used it as a pulp stage, far from reality
Javier Ruiz Caldera
— Film director
They don’t fear being accused of making ‘another Civil War movie’. First, because they are aware that the topic is not true. “Anyone who knows or is inside the industry knows that this is not real,” explains Ruiz Caldera, who believes that “some are made that are good and others that are bad,” but that his film is not just another one. It is one that bets on series B, on genre films and on entertainment, because “imposted solemnity gives hives”, as the director says. “I love all genres, but there are films in which the solemnity gives me creeps, and this film would be absurd to present it that way. It is a diversion that I think we deserve at this time, the escape from reality, and it is made for that. We leave the solemnity for other films”.
The influences of Malnazidos they go through “the double bills of the 80s” to, of course, George Romero, but trying to find some aesthetic bet that sets them apart. They were clear that the film was commercially ambitious, but they believe that it did not ask for an excess of viscera or liters of blood, so they opted for an original effect, powdered blood that shoots out of the zombies: “We think that if the zombies are dehydrated , the blood would be powder, and that it was more original, because if you do a zombie one, even if the references are clear there has to be something original”.