Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Carlos Aured (1937-2008)

The website European Film Review is reporting the death of Spanish filmmaker Carlos Aured (Alonso), who evidently succumbed to a heart attack on February 3.

Aured is best-known to readers of this blog as the director of several significant Paul Naschy titles, all made in his most important year, 1973. They were HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB (El Espanto surge de la tomba, 1973; recently released on DVD by BFI Eclipse), CURSE OF THE DEVIL (El Retorno de Walpurgis, available on DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment), THE BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL aka HOUSE OF PSYCHOTIC WOMEN (Los Ojos azules de la muñeca rota, coming from BCI Eclipse on March 25) and THE MUMMY'S REVENGE (La Venganza de la Momia).
After this, as Naschy notes with regret in his autobiography MEMOIRS OF A WOLFMAN, something happened to destroy their working relationship. Under contract to Profilmes, Naschy was told that he would be making another picture with Aured and to call him for more details. When Naschy phoned, Aured "coldly and categorically" informed him that there was no role in the picture suitable for him. "I was absolutely stunned," Naschy writes, "and quickly phoned up the producer... but there was nothing he could do about it: Carlos Aured had already signed the contracts and had the upper hand." (p. 121) Perhaps Aured had sound reasons, perhaps he was wary of limiting himself by being branded "a Naschy director," but the Spanish genre cinema didn't offer many options. When Naschy took over the direction of his own projects, the Spanish horror cinema fell on even tighter times and Aured -- like Jess Franco and others -- retreated into soft- and hardcore sex programming, the best-known of which is 1982's Apocalipsis sexual, starring Lina Romay and transexual actress Ajita Wilson.
Aured (who got his start as an assistant to director Leon Klimovsky) was perhaps not as important a collaborator to Naschy as, say, Javier Aguirre; however, all of his horror films reflect a mastery of gothic atmosphere and contain some compelling set-pieces. HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB, particularly, is remembered as one of Naschy's best outings and is cited by Naschy himself as a "really emblematic title." It was Aured's first feature and, aside from some naked overreliance on the zoom, it's an effective fusion of horror and eroticism that manages to straddle the different centuries of its storyline with more grace than some other, higher profile horror pictures. The filmmakers had studied Mario Bava's La maschera del demonio well, and the picture gave Helga Liné one of her most popular genre roles. THE BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL was hailed by many fans for offering Naschy one of his more offbeat roles, and there's nary a character in the picture who isn't offbeat (the most memorable is Diana Lorys as the sister with the metal hand). THE MUMMY'S REVENGE (reviewed here on September 6, 2006) was an arrestingly brutal twist on the Mummy legends with impressive atmosphere, and CURSE OF THE DEVIL is one of Naschy's best "Waldemar Daninsky" films, slickly produced and boasting one of the actor's best werewolf makeups.
BCI Eclipse's DVD of HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB features an audio commentary that reunites the long-alienated Aured and Naschy. Despite its rough edges, it was an important document for that reason alone, and now it seems doubly important to anyone with a love for Spanish horror.

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