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An Anthology with Sinister Themes Framed in Lovable Camp


Vampus Horror Tales's campy, lovable host belies the film’s more sinister statements on ‘love’ and violence.



Feb 2, 2024


Vampus Horror Tales (2020) was released in Spain to generally positive reviews and found a larger audience in 2023 with a digital release on multiple platforms. The Spanish-language film features four segments by “first-time filmmakers” that revolve around the worst of all human emotions: love. The segments are partitioned by a Tales for the Crypt (1989) inspired host, Sr. Fettes, played by veteran Spanish actor Saturnino García.

Sr. Fettes is a violently brutal analog to the better-known Cryptkeeper masked, but his loveable exterior sets him apart. The name ‘Fettes’ appears to be a play on the Spanish word for fat, ‘fet,’ alluding to Fettas as the fat surrounding the meaty segments of the film. It's not a flattering description, but it's accurate. Fettes, or Vampus as he prefers to be called, is an unassuming but playfully murderous grave keeper. He spends his days burying bodies and his nights exhuming the same bodies, with only his pet zombie, Toby, to keep him company. His only escape from this mundane existence is his horror comic books featuring “necrophilic tales” (his words, not mine).

Saturino García as the titular Vampus in Vampus Horror Tales. Courtesy of Quiver Distribution

García excels in the tsk-tsk nature of the role, swinging mallets, shovels, and chainsaws with glee. Despite being 88 years old, García delivers a lively and physical performance. Non-Spanish speakers have no trouble connecting with his passion, even with the subtitles. Vampus is a sinister character in his own right, as he murders on a whim, but that is okay because he doesn't “need to kill people. It's just that the world is full of dipshits.” An irrefutable defense for murder, if one was ever uttered.

Overall, the interlude segments, directed by Víctor Matellano, are campy fun and serve as welcomed rest spots from the more sinister subject matter in the anthology. The segments of Vampus Horror Tales explore the emotion of love in all its brutal ignobility. Like the two-sided nature of this emotion itself, the film is also shot in black and white.

The film starts with “La Boda” (The Wedding), directed by Manuel Martínez Velasco. La Boda explores love turned to rage in a claustrophobic setting. Like many relationships, the segment begins with innocent infatuation but escalates into horror, intimating the cyclic nature of domestic violence. Felix Gómez and Elena Furiase deliver brutal performances, navigating the transition from desire to rage as reasonably as the short segment time would permit. The conclusion is troubling to watch, and Velasco provides much to ponder in the limited time.

Felix Gómez and Elena Furiase in La Boda. Courtesy of Quiver Distribution

While La Boda serves as a strong opener, there are some weaker segments. In most horror anthologies, the second segment is typically the weakest, and "Cumpleaños" (Birthday), directed by Erika Elizalde, does not fail to deliver in this regard. Elizalde tries to say something about revenge, but nothing is gained from the segment other than a spontaneous need to go to a horror theme park if those still exist.

Nacho Guerreros in Segunda Cita. Courtesy of Quiver Distribution

Following this weak second segment comes “Segunda Cita” (Second Date), directed by Isaac Berrocal. Segunda Cita is a terrifying statement about women and violence. The segment is not fun to watch, uncomfortable in its conclusions, and something the viewers will quickly want to forget for all the right reasons. The cruelty on display is primal and should fill better men with rage at the lesser members of their sex. Actor Nacho Guerreros is terrifying as the assailant, and his opposite, Erika Sanz, rightly draws the viewer’s sympathy. It is easily the most unnerving segment in the collection and is tense up to the final moment. This is one everyone should watch only once and then never again.

The final segment, “Linaje” (Lineage), directed by Piter Moreira, provides a solid finish. A couple of aid workers, in love with each other, battle a deadly virus that originated in a hot dog. While the premise sounds comedic, the execution is anything but. Moreira delivers some interesting mechanics on vampire zombies that deserve more exploration. The direction is the best of all the segments, and Moreira tells an exciting, well-paced, and tense story. Frederico Repetto and Vicky Jorge also give solid physical performances. While the story veers into ‘what the hell is happening’ territory near the end, it is a strong closer exploring the only form of selfless love the audience will see.

Vampus Horror Tales is a campy and sinister work that deserves attention from non-Spanish-speaking audiences. The film is an uncomfortable exploration of the worst parts of love, punctuated by the lovable Vampus, who fills the audience with joy when he appears. Appropriately, Vampus Horror Tales became available via digital release on Valentine's Day, February 14, 2023.

Available on: 

Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV, YouTube

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