Horror Favourites – Sergio Uguet De Resayre

Arrow Video Channel is the passion-driven film platform giving film fans the opportunity to watch a curated selection of movies that the Arrow Video brand is famous for. This June, the Arrow Video Channel is committed to blowing your mind, with the exclusive premiere of Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway, a genre-busting, synapse-shredding, cult masterwork. We had the honour of chatting to the films producer Sergio Uguet De Resayre about his “doomed search” for the perfect horror movie.

Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway is Miguel Llanso’s bonkers mashup of Afro-futurism, Cold War paranoia, the dystopian world of Philip K. Dick, and 60s exploitation cinema. It sees two CIA agents enter a virtual reality world to wipe out a virus, encountering killer flies, an Irish-accented Joseph Stalin and Jesus Christ himself.

With a star-making performance from unlikely leading man Daniel Tadesse, stop-motion stunt work, Mexican wrestlers and martial arts, coke-snorting super hero Batfro, astonishing and exotic locations, not to mention disguises involving paper masks of top Hollywood actors from the 70s, Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway is bursting with imagination, bristling with inventiveness, and might be the maddest thing ever committed to film. You can see it first on Arrow Video Channel – the home for weird and wild cult classics, newly-restored gems, and genre favourites, available on Apple TV and Amazon.

Below Sergio Uguet De Resayre takes us on an extensive and fascinating tour through a ton of his favourite horror films:

“My life is rooted in the search for the perfect movie. It’s a doomed search because I know that as soon as I have found one, the question then becomes, will it stand the test of time? Nowadays, it might be “cancelled,” giving it that feeling of contraband, of prohibited cargo. It feels risky nowadays to comment on certain films because certain people involved with them might have been “cancelled.” A horrible practice, in my opinion, more in tune with fascism and that has no place in a democratic society. So just to provide some context, I don’t subscribe to that notion, I judge films by their contribution and their intrinsic value, i.e. we should not cancel the value of the cave paintings because cavepeople were not up to our standards. People die, art prevails and this is the context with which I embrace these films. The perfect film for me is an iceberg, the tip is the movie itself but underneath there are layers of subtext and intertextuality. A perfect film transcends the screen, with its ability to manipulate the audience’s behaviour, for example Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975) giving people real fear of the ocean. I also judge films holistically by their ability to spawn stories around them that build the lore where the film is just the central element of the larger artwork, a movement driven by the power of great storytelling. After all, marketing is an integral part of the filmmaking process. The real filmmaker, the storyteller is going to know how to capitalize that by realizing there is a context layer in which you can also tell a story that helps put your film out there.

As with any artwork, it forms relationships with people. That movie that comforts you, the one you always go back to, that you watch in repeat. It might inspire a halloween costume. How many people have dressed up as Vincet Vega and Mia from Pulp Fiction? It’s a source of entertainment while being enlightening. Perfect films have a gravity to them, a power to draw people in, to bond with them. With horror films it’s the goosebumps, it’s that moment when you experience that thrill the first time you see a horror movie most likely hiding from your parents because you know you’re not supposed to be watching it. That first time you have actual nightmares. When it happened to me, I was amazed by the influence that images on a screen had over me, how it was able to provoke emotion in me that lasted beyond the film’s length. It’s a feeling I continue to seek, like an addiction. For me that film was The Changeling (Peter Medak, 1980). I remember the red ball bouncing down the stairs and the bathtub scene and feeling spooked, I didn’t sleep properly that night. When I was a kid, there was also the thrill of the discovery, the chase for the perfect film, looking for a physical copy, sharing feedback with friends, seeking, researching. The experience of watching a film growing up was communal. Now it’s slightly different because the ubiquity is eliminating the search, but the word of mouth thrives.

In essence a storyteller is an observer trying to make sense of their reality and hoping that it will relate with somebody now and hopefully in the future. That it will bring joy and value. I have always liked telling stories, then photographing and video recording, so filmmaking was a natural progression for me. I think the moment you start to obsess over a camera it all just kind of comes in a pack, making you realize filmmaking is a commitment for life, a lifestyle. All the films I am about to mention have had an impact on me in one way or another and I consider them aspirational benchmarks in my career as a filmmaker but they are also films with which I have deep rooted relationships.

Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960) This is a movie of firsts. First toilet in a film, first slasher film, first blockbuster. It’s because of Psycho that the term blockbuster exists. Will there ever be a blockbuster again? Who knows. Psycho is masterful, it is the work of a magician, an illusionist, a master manipulator. Hitchcock steers away from the classic narrative structure to provoke a sense of disorientation in the viewer that keeps wondering where this is going, completely destroying the expectations built into you by the consumption of factory type films.

Rosemary’s Baby (Roman Polanski, 1968) This film feels like a lucid nightmare. It starts like a fuzzy embrace that slowly turns into an oppressive bear hug, squeezing stronger and stronger and then when you think it might let go, it doesn’t. The acting is superb and the production design, the cinematography, it is all perfectly orchestrated. I also love the mythology around the film, its relationship with the Dakota building. I am fascinated by the folklore about it being the seed of tragedy for Polanski, with the Manson family Sharon Tate murders a year later. It gives me chills to think that some evil force might have actually influenced the movie and those involved with it, and that if so, it might be able to reach you when viewing the film.

The Exorcist (Willaim Friedkin, 1973) This is the film my friends and I used to watch all the time as teenagers. We also watched a lot of gore and other stuff but The Exorcist is what we would always come back to. This film is a symphony for the devil, with layers and layers of meaning for the trained eye. The film is visceral and dark. It embodies the occult and tells its story. It instills in you fear of ouija boards and of the dark because the devil might live there, lurking.

The Shining Stanley Kubrick (1980) In the realm of all my favorite films not just horror this is also one of my all time favorites. In my opinion, it is very close to perfection. It showcases Kubrick’s privileged mind. Kubrick is a creator of icons, an engineer of realities. This is his power as a filmmaker. This film is one of the pillars in my foundation as a filmmaker. The Shining is tight, it presents a collection of master craftspeople directed by The Wizard himself. The Shining is an iceberg, and an onion. It is a puzzle. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. The story is so elaborate and complex that it presents multiple viewings, with each viewing being like an easter egg hunt, revealing new storylines and details. It’s like never ending entertainment, always there to please by virtue of it being a masterpiece and not because a corporation’s marketing department is shoving it down your eyeballs. The film has an hypnotic power over me, it feels so authentic, so real. I will think of it sometimes and replay scenes of it in my mind. Think of the twins, or the elevator hall being flooded by blood. It has become ingrained in my memory, forever in time. Think about the feelings the pattern of the carpet evokes in you. Or Jack Nicholson’s performance. How Kubrick uses the camera to weave you in with those steadicam shots. I have lost count of how many times I have seen this film. I have owned it on VHS, on DVD and on Bluray. I have watched it with girlfriends, I have watched it with friends, I have watched it alone. I have seen a documentary about the conspiracy stories triggered by the film (Room 237 – Rodney Ascher 2012). I have visited around 4 or 5 exhibitions related to Kubrick and the film. I have read books about the film. I own merchandise. I have spent hours talking about it with friends, analyzing it. It has all given me joy.

I love the horror films of the eighties and nineties but I tend to see them as clusters. There are the low budget independents, the straight to VHS gore film, the asian horror, the Disney looking franchises, etc. So I won’t get into them.

The Blair Witch Project (Eduardo Sánchez, Daniel Myrick, 1999) The film plays with your voyeuristic tendencies and pulls you into this web that exists between fiction and reality. When the movie was originally released it wasn’t clear whether what you were seeing was real or not and that justified the low quality aesthetic. The entire film builds leading to a very effective payoff.

The Others (Alejandro Amenabar, 2001) It evokes that golden era of spiritism that is so fascinating but also so aesthetically haunting, with a perfect twist. As a whole, a superior film in my opinion than its contemporary The Sixth Sense (M. Night Shyamalan 1999) which is also really good and I enjoyed it but I find Shyamalan’s intertextual devices a bit too narcissistic as he usually plays the cameo that has the missing bit of information and his use of the twist feels a bit overplayed and manufactured. The Others is an organic story where we adopt the position of the protagonists who guide our process of discovery.

Let the right one in (Tomas Alfredson, 2008) I love the characters of this film because they have so much depth. You are able to feel so much empathy for the character of Eli that you can relate to her fears even though she is the dangerous one. The final swimming pool scene is a display of skill in film grammar that proves that causing the brain to fill in the gaps is much more powerful than showing too much. Hitchcock’s Psycho shower scene is built on the same principle. Show bits and pieces and allow the audience’s imagination to fill in the missing parts. It is much more terrifying that way.

A Ghost Story (David Lowery, 2017) If you’re into pop science especially physics, and the paranormal like I am, this film is haunting. It is the first time I have seen the tragedy of life and the mystery of death portrayed so organically. A Ghost Story is Goya’s The Dog in film, it is also so much more. It is a metaphysical theory, a case study of trauma, a lesson in physics. The soundtrack is perfect. Rooney Mara really brings it home in this one, in a display of raw emotion that only a few very talented thespians are capable of drawing from. Many in Hollywood wish they had this level of talent.

Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018) As you might have noticed there is a pattern to my tastes in horror. My preferences lean towards subtle antagonists, slightly more mystical. Hereditary is a continuation in these types of films and this is why I love it. Ari Aster provides a suspenseful, heart wrenching experience. As many filmmakers, he builds over the body of work that already exists but through a distinct voice. I really look forward to indulging in his oeuvre as he develops it.

Mandy (Panos Cosmatos, 2018) Cosmatos is a master of color. He is able to use it to tap into very primal human emotions while taking you on a ride. The rhythm and pacing of this film is impeccable. Mandy exudes creativity in such a masterful way that it borders experimental filmmaking and this part of the reason why I love it. It pushes the limits while still being able to find a balance between commerce and art. We should be grateful for the precedent that Mandy has set and hope that it frees future filmmakers from too many commercial constraints.”

Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway is available now exclusively on the Arrow Video Channel in the US and the UK.
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