:— Armless and
Alan Morrison meets the crazed degenerates behind sicko Spanish cult item Accion Mutante.
No more will granite-jawed heroes fill the screen or a full set of limbs be the desirable physique for movie icons. Accion Mutante have arrived. A motley crew of disabled revolutionaries, the closest this lot would get to a buddy movie would be in the shape of their resident Siamese twins. Determined to kick the designer-clad pants off a futuristic society of beautiful people, Accion Mutante want to ﬁght back from the sidelines and make their oppressors choke on their chilled glasses of mineral water.
When the group’s leader. Ramon, is released from prison, he puts into effect a plan to kidnap Patricia, the daughter of a wealthy industrialist. at her wedding (local hook: some of the outrageous costumes in this scene were designed by Pam Hogg). But as they head for an off-world confrontation on a remote mining planet. gang members begin to die off one-by-one like some crazed Agatha Christie cast, Patricia develops a crush on her captor and the miners act rather oddly when they see their first woman for twenty years.
Accion Mutante: ‘Frealts meet: Barbarella at a party drown by Mad Max’
In terms of movies, Accion Mutante is a space-age cult trash instant classic — Freaks meets Barbarella at a party thrown by Mad Max. The loud and unruly offspring of young Spanish writer/director Alex de la Iglesia. it began life as a script that might have been doomed to knock about the Iberian penninsula forever. had it not fallen into the lap of Pedro Almodovar. who proceeded to take it under his wing and act as producer.
‘ln Spain. it was absolutely impossible for people in the industry to believe that this movie could be done.‘ admits de la lglesia. ‘Most of our movies repeat the same stories and the same
styles. and try to be very serious and intelligent. The filmmakers believe that they can’t do anything else. Even the success of Accion Mutante hasn‘t shaken the industry up. although the public and technicians want more. It‘s Spain’s first futuristic movie. technically demanding. and it‘s a mad. mad story. But Pedro is a mad. mad producer. It was made by the only producer who could take the risk of a movie like this.‘
Accion Mutante has already proved a hit at various festivals across the world. winning the audience prize at Avoriaz and whipping up a late night frenzy at Edinburgh. Amid the gales of laughter.
however. a few voices have been raised — not without reason — at the level of abuse dealt out to the female lead.
‘l didn’t have a problem with that.‘ says 27-year-old French actress Frederique Peder. who plays Patricia. ‘Lots of women react badly. thinking they shouldn‘t accept to see a woman being beaten. But it‘s a comedy, it‘s a movie. At the end. Patricia is the one who has succeeded. but pe0ple forget that and just focus on when she‘s dragged along by the hair and has staples on her mouth.‘
The narrative may take Patricia from squeeling bimbo to woman in charge of her own destiny. but arguments defending the blatant misogyny aren‘t entirely convincing. even given the over-the-top context. The director is determined, however. that there is an ideology behind it all.
‘lt’s not just a question of what‘s comedy and what‘s not. but whether or not you‘re willing to laugh at yourself,’ he argues. ‘You should be able to laugh at things in a film that you wouldn’t allow yourself to laugh at in real life. Everybody wants to laugh at the big topics — death. sex. violence — and I hate the sense that you have to respect
these things. It's like saying I can play with this. this and this.’ — he points to a
couple of plates and an ashtray -— ‘but this?‘ — a cup and saucer — ‘no. . . sol go . . .' — and all of a sudden tea spills as the cup becomes a plaything. Comic philosophy and.the anarchy of crockery. ‘Why shouldn’t we change the rules a little?’
Accion Mutante opens at the Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh F ilmhouse on Friday 24 September.
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18 The List 10-23 September 1993