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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Supernatural > Telefilms > Six Films To Keep You Awake (Blame/Spectre/A Real Friend/A Christmas Tale/The Baby’s Room/To Let/Lionsgate DVD)

Six Films To Keep You Awake (Blame/Spectre/A Real Friend/A Christmas Tale/The Baby’s Room/To Let/Lionsgate DVD)


Picture: C-     Sound: C-     Extras: C-     Main Features:


Blame: D

Spectre: D

A Real Friend: C

A Christmas Tale: C

The Baby’s Room: C+

To Let: C+



It’s always good for genre fans to step outside of their little Hollywood bubble.  Oftentimes the most memorable contributions to a genre are from places you’d never expect.  Now, I’m not saying that this collection of six Spanish horror films rank anywhere even close to the best in the genre, but it is a good reminder that there are horror buffs in other parts of the world too.  These six films were made for Spanish television and in the making-of featurettes the actors and directors repeatedly make reference to a long-standing tradition in Spanish television to produce made-for-TV horror under the label Películas Para No Dormir (Films to Keep You Awake).  The six films are arranged one on each side of three discs, and each disc has its own distinct mood.


The two films on the first disc, Blame and Spectre, are what you might expect from The Hallmark Channel if it were to start making horror films and they both carry rather heavy-handed conservative undertones.  Blame practically slaps you across the face and screams, “Lesbians are trying to get you to have an abortion!”  And the overall message of Spectre would seem to be that independent, sexually active women are inherently evil.  And even without the puritanical subtext, these first two films are just not that good.  Blame gets weighted down with red herrings and Spectre tends to go around in circles until the last ten minutes of the movie.


Fortunately, the second disc picks up considerably.  These two films, A Real Friend and A Christmas Tale, deal with how children who have grown up with horror incorporate its characters and images into their vision of reality.  And for those of us who did grow up on the genre, the effect is almost nostalgic.  Not only are these two films easier to reconcile thematically than the previous two, they are just plain better movies.


The last disc contains films that really try to be legitimately creepy.  Now this is a difficult thing to judge as different people have different tolerances for scariness in movies, but I would venture a guess that watching The Baby’s Room alone, at night, in the dark would give just about anyone a genuine case of the willies.  To Let sits firmly in the realm of the slasher flick, and while I wouldn’t go so far as to call it creepy, it holds its own in a subgenre that has a lot of stiff competition.  And even where it deviates from slasher tradition, the ending is oddly satisfying.  Each of the six films has its own making-of which lasts anywhere from fifteen to twenty minutes and varies in quality about in proportion with its respective film.


All the films are in 16:9 widescreen and the picture and sound quality is standard across the board since they all got the same funding and organization. The picture has decent color but suffers from video noise that becomes very apparent once you look for it and the same is true of the sound quality being a bit soft.  But considering the made-for-TV horror that we grew up with here in America, these movies are impressively cinematic.


So yes, the first two movies suck.  There’s no getting around that.  But luckily, that makes the other four look much better in comparison.  Four out of six ain’t bad, and you can even throw away the first disc if it will make you feel better.  The two discs that you will have left make this purchase worth it, especially for horror fans looking to expand their horizons a bit.  And who knows, this could be your first step into the wide wonderful world of European horror.



-   Matthew Carrick


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