I saw As Fabulas Negras (The Black Fables) Wednesday at Tucson's fantastic The Screening Room. It was part of the Arizona Underground Film Festival. Since it was the North American premiere and only eight of us were there, I feel I should say something about the film.
Almost no information was available about this film. I knew that Coffin Joe had directed one of the fables; this is an anthology film. Sadly, he does not play his usual character in the film.
The film is an anthology film four short Brazilian horror fables by four Brazillian directors. Like most anthologies, it could ditch its framing story that ideally links the stories together and just have four stories, one after the other (as New York Stories did). The framing device in this film is among the worst I have seen; children play paintball then discuss fear, and what the say scarcely matches the story that follows.
I do not know who is responsible for which film except for the film by Coffin Joe. The first film is simply disgusting. In this fable, the black is likely shit, since shit is splattered about and discussed at length. The film has something to do with waste disposal and creatures growing from poor waste disposal, as appealing as it sounds.
The second film is something a bit special
A werewolf story with some original bits and pieces. The locale, old-world feel and even the casual racism in the dialog, fit the characters. The werewolf looks silly (every attempt at a creature looks super fake, likely due to budgetary limitations that should have made some of these guys thing twice or try something different), but there is some genuine tension and sensual intensity in the story.
The biggest disappointment follows the werewolf, some kind of woodland creature terrorizing a small village. Coffin Joe directs in a noisy off-putting manner. It displays none of the creativity of his 60s work. It is garish and boring, but then the garishness isn't as bad as the predictable fourth entry that plays like Candyman on sedatives.
I give the film one star. I give the werewolf entry 2 and a half though and will seek out more from that director once I know which one did it. I will continue to hope Coffin Joe makes further Coffin Joe films.