Blu Release – 3.5/5
Director – Eloy de la Iglesia (The Cannibal Man, No One Heard the Scream)
Starring – Jose Luis Manzano (Navajeros, El Pico 2), Jose Manuel Cervino (The Last Circus, Cold Winter Sun), and Luis Iriondo (Bar-Cel-Ona, Gran Sol)
Release Date – 1983
Rating – 4/5
For several years now I’ve spent my entire October binging as many horror titles as I can. It’s always been a fun experience but this year has been a bit unusual. I guess with the pandemic still hindering some aspects of life we are given some non-genre titles as we approach Halloween. I don’t mind it but it does slow my down from reviewing horror releases.
So far this month I’ve reviewed a sexploitation flick and now I’m given an opportunity to review three quinqui releases from Spanish director Eloy de la Iglesia that was kindly sent my way from my friends over at MVD and Severin Films. The first film I get to check out is the 1983 crime drama El Pico starring the late Jose Luis Manzano. I want to thank MVD and Severin for sending this over.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows Paco (Manzano) who is the son of the local civil guard. His best friend Urko is the son of a famous politician and the two are addicted to heroine. Their addiction eventually becomes so crippling that they rob their drug dealer at gun point where they accidentally kill him and his wife. When they make off with the drugs they go on a binder leading to Urko’s overdose. This leads Paco to returning home and seeking help from his father. **Spoiler Alert**
I had no idea what to expect from El Pico but I fucking loved it. It was one hell of a film that I couldn’t look away from. It may not be the typical horror release that I would watch during my October binge but it was nothing short but amazing and I can’t wait to dig into the sequel.
The acting in this one is absolutely amazing. Manzano and Javier Garcia are fantastic together as the drug addled teens who make horrible decisions. They carry the film and make it as enjoyable as it is. Also, the supporting cast is absolutely amazing as well. The characters are superbly written and the cast knocks it out of the park with their performances.
The story for this one is a deep look at the youth in the Spanish cities in the late 70s and early 80s which is where the sub-genre quinqui get their names. It focused on drug use, violence, and clashing with authorities. El Pico may not be one of the first films in quinqui but it really embodies what it meant to be one of those films. We see the abusive civil guards, the liberal political party, the hatred to homosexuals, and the youth turning to drugs and other illegal reaches to have fun. It’s a riveting story that really pulled me in and I didn’t want to look away. It’s a culturally significant film that is perfect for any fan of the genre.
Finally, the film has explicit use of drugs and needles checking the vein. However, that is the only gruesome images we see. Two gun shots are done off camera with light blood splatter but that is nothing memorable or enjoyable. Overall, El Pico is a surprisingly amazing film that I can’t recommend enough. Please do yourself a favor and check this one out.
El Pico 2
Director – Eloy de la Iglesia (The Cannibal Man, No One Heard the Scream)
Starring – Jose Luis Manzano (El Pico, Navajeros), Fernando Guillen (Don Juan in Hell, Brain Drain), Andrea Albani (Sexual Desires, Mad Foxes)
Release Date – 1984
Rating – 4/5
A few weeks ago I received the Eloy de la Iglesia Quinqui Collection from my friends over at Severin Films. MVD sent it my way for review and I was really curious about the release. Iglesia is one filmmaker I was not familiar with but Severin’s release of The Cannibal Man made me a fan. I knew the three films in the set were not horror titles but after watching The Cannibal Man I couldn’t wait to see what sort of films he was bringing us.
I started the set with El Pico and it was one hell of a film that in seriously one of my top 10 favorite films now. It’s nothing short but phenomenal. After spinning that it only made sense to check out the sequel El Pico 2.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows Paco (Manzano) finds himself in jail after the murder of the drug dealer and the overdose of his friend. His father is actively appealing his sentence. While in prison Paco has made friends with a drug dealer who gets him addicted to heroin again. However, when he leaves prison Paco finds himself doing things he normally wouldn’t do for his fix. Eventually his father gets him released from jail but is still addicted and finds himself robbing and stealing to support his habit. His lifestyle eventually catches up with him resulting in the death of his father which proves to be the turning point of his life. **Spoiler Alert**
El Pico was not what I was expecting and it’s one that I can’t stop thinking about even after I was done watching it. However, El Pico 2 turns it up a notch and delivers another punch to the gut that I was not expecting.
The acting in this one is another example of perfect casting. Manzano once again absolutely nails it as Paco. His performance carries the film and I couldn’t imagine it being as riveting if someone else took over the mantle. The supporting cast is just as fantastic with everyone delivering a fantastic performance. The story for this one picks up where the first film left off but dials it up to 11. Each scenes takes you into the next while taking it a step higher. Iglesia is one hell of a story teller and this is the story he should be remembered for.
Finally, we do get a little blood but if you are looking for a gory flick then you will be disappointed. This one is focused on the characters and it delivers. Overall, El Pico 2 is a fabulous film that shows you actions have consequences and just how far someone’s life can spiral. It’s an amazing film that I can’t recommend enough.
Director – Eloy de la Iglesia (El Pico, The Cannibal Man)
Starring – Jose Luis Manzano (El Pico, El Pico 2), Isela Vega (Conan the Adventurer, The Bloody Monks), and Veronica Castro (Tell Me When, The House of Flowers)
Release Date – 1980
Rating – 3/5
I didn’t know what was awaiting me when Severin sent the Eloy de la Iglesia Quinqui Collection but from the moment I tossed in El Pico I was hooked. El Pico and it’s sequel are two of the most riveting and compelling films I have ever seen. I can’t imagine finding two films that hook me like these two films. However, my quinqui experience was not over yet. I still had the 1980 film Navajeros left to dig into to.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows El Jaro (Manzano) who is the leader of a group of deliquents that steal, assault, and do drugs. El Jaro’s mother left several years prior and his life has been a fight ever since. He meets the older prostitute Mercedes who tries to help him but he soon falls in love with the beautiful but drug addicted Toni whose introduction spirals El Jaro’s life out of control. **Spoiler Alert**
Navajeros is a fantastic film but it’s not on the same level as El Pico and it’s sequel. This is one of Iglesia’s first film in Quinqui and one of the first films to be credited in the sub-genre but you can see how much he has grown as a filmmaker focusing on the young in Madrid between this film and his 1983 classic El Pico.
The acting in this one is just as great as any of the other films of Iglesia. He is a fantastic director and you can tell he works very closely with his cast in order to achieve the performances he is looking for. Manzano, may he find peace, is fantastic once again as a young man looking to make his mark on the world while struggling with living in horrible conditions among the civil unrest in Madrid. The supporting cast is just as dedicated but the character of El Jaro is the one that stands out and carries the film for me.
The story for this one is a deep look into the underprivileged life of the younger generations in Madrid in the late 70s and early 80s but it doesn’t deliver that extremely emotional connection with the characters like El Pico but it’s still a dramatic look at how another country was struggling then and how the youth was adapting to it. Its wild at times but others is filled with heavy dialogue that seems to be going nowhere.
Finally, don’t expect a bloody film but there is some violence and some nudity. Overall, Navajeros is a wild ride that has heart but doesn’t have the story that pulls you in like some of the other quinqui. It’s fun but the weaker of the three films in the set.
Navajeros Special Features:
José Sacristán on Eloy de la Iglesia: Interview with Actor José Sacristán
El Pico Special Features:
Blood In The Streets: The Quinqui Film Phenomenon: An interview with Quinqui Historians Mery Cuesta and Tom Whittaker
El Pico 2 Special Features:
Queerness, Crime, And The Basque Conflict In The Quinqui Films Of Eloy de la Iglesia: A Panel with Scholars Alejandro Melero and Paul Julian Smith, Moderated by Evan Purchell of Ask Any Buddy