Entertainment

HBO’s New Spanish-Language Series Is Exploring Another Widely-Held Love Within Our Culture

There are certain universal similarities throughout the Latinidad that binds us to one another. We don’t mean stereotypes, but things that we honest to goodness all love. For example, our appreciation for cafecito and a rhythmic beat are accurate clichés tied to Latinx folk. Similarly, HBO’s new Spanish-language series is exploring another widely-held love within our culture.

On July 14th, the television network debuted its new series “Los Espookys” and it’s “horror” theme is very close to our hearts.

Twitter / @HBO

“Los Espookys” is a mostly Spanish-language comedy that includes a healthy dose of horror and camp. Created by Julio Torres, Ana Fabrega and Fred Armisen, the series takes place in an undisclosed city in Latin America. It follows a group of friends —Renaldo, Andrés, Úrsula and Tati — as they turn their hobby of horror and special effects into a business of their very own creation.

While the show’s mix of comedy and horror is completely engaging, “Los Espookys” is also groundbreaking. As mentioned, the series is mostly in Spanish with English subtitles. The portions that aren’t in Español utilize slang and English with Spanish subtitles to communicate to its audience. For a large network like HBO to carry a Spanish language series and air it in primetime is a huge deal. Even more, it reflects how much confidence the “Game of Thrones” network has in the new show.

The premiere of “Los Espookys” opens with a super intense quinceanera. If you think you’ve been to some scary quinces before, just wait until you see this spook-tastic party. As it turns out, everything from the entrails cake to the mutilated waiters is the work of Renaldo and his crew. The party impresses everyone, including Renaldo’s uncle, Tio Tico (played by Armisen). Expressing his support, his uncle encourages the spooky connoisseur to pursue his passion — even if that passion is monsters and mayhem.

The friends get the chance to do just that when the local priest makes an unusual request of the group’s special skills.

Twitter / @HBOPR

Episode One also reveals more about the group of self-proclaimed “horror technicians.” The black-clad unofficial leader of the group is Renaldo and his life-long friend is Andrés. The electric blue-haired Andrés is the heir to a chocolate company. Called the “Prince of Chocolate,” he is a genuinely intriguing dude with dramatic past. (Note the intense telenovela music that plays whenever he gets contemplative.)

Rounding out the group is a pair of unusual sisters. Úrsula is a dental hygienist with the soul of an artist who is happiest when she’s making something terrifying. Her sister is the odd and unintentionally funny Tita. We first meet Tita when she is hand-spinning the blades of an electric fan to cool down her boss, the priest. Fortunately for us, she only gets more bizarre as the episode goes on.

The cast delivers some great lines but that’s not the only thing that makes “Los Espookys” so entertaining. Improbable situations, subtle humor, and references to popular Latinx culture all add to the series’s appeal, too.

However, it’s the focus on the characters’ love of horror that will really resonate with Latinx viewers — and for a valid reason.

Twitter / WigWurq

Whether it’s the scary legends of La Llarona y El Cucuy or the movies of Guermillo del Toro, the Latinidad loves horror. After all, we have an entire holiday completely devoted to honoring the dead. If you need additional proof of this love, look no further than our children — the future of our culture.

In early June 2019, 3-year-old Lucia Brown went viral for her very scary birthday theme. The birthday girl insisted on a party that included Valak, the satanic sister from “The Nun.” It wasn’t just Lucia that enjoyed the theme; her friends also painted their face in black and gave into the darkness.

Yet, a love of horror isn’t something we simply grow out of; it grows with us.

Twitter / @BlairGuild

When we become teens and start to explore our own independence, we strike out towards our own styles. This often means we explore music and clothing to find what best suits us. In these two subjects, we still see marked examples of our cultural love of horror.

The Emo and Goth subcultures have been notably popular with Latinx teens and young adults since its birth. Both categories are usually associated with teens who are not of color and can appear to be at odds with the colorful traditions of the Latinidad. However, there’s something about the Emo and Goth lifestyles that resonate with Latinx folk.

These categories are often hard to describe but most people can place the look when they see it. Both Emo and Goth subgroups focus on self-expression by embracing dark fashions and the mentality of “the individual.” These subcultures also incorporate a healthy dose of horror — using zombies, monsters and the occult in their fashion and art.

Music is the heart of the Emo and Goth subcultures and is what most links the Latinidad to the lifestyle.

Twitter / @missbreton
Twitter / @_smromero

Emo and Goth music often explore dark and emotional topics in their lyrics and evoke feeling with their music. Bands like Morrissey, Joy Division and The Cure led the way for this type of music in the 80’s and 90’s. Later, groups including AFI, My Chemical Romance and The Used became the modern voice of their genre.

For these bands, Morrissey especially has become beloved to Latinx Goths and Emos. Maria Hinojosa’s exploration of this love — entitled “Goths: Latinos on the Dark Side” is an interesting episode of Latino USA that explores this topic.

In it, a guest explains, “For whatever reason, Latinos love Morrissey and no one really knows why. I think it’s the melodrama.”

It could be argued that melodrama is also the reason the Latinidad loves horror.

Many have expressed a sense of community in finding these subgenres so maybe that’s the real reason Latinx folk feel so at home with them.

Twitter / @llavvves

Often times, Latinos and Latinas feel excluded from the larger communities we’re a part of. Sometimes we’re marginalized by income level. Sometimes it’s our nationality or citizen status that isolates us from others. We can even be excluded from others within our own Latinx community.

However, a shared appreciation of the Emo and Goth subgenres and all things horror unites us in a mutual love. In a world where we can feel so alone, we can go to a Guermillo del Toro film and feel connected. When feeling as though no one understands us, we can listen to Morrissey and hear our feelings in his words.

In this way, “Los Espookys” also has the potential to unite our Latinidad with something we’ll love. Though we’ve only seen one of the six episodes of this season, the response online has been more than positive. Obviously, the hilarious script combined with the characters’ love of horror makes for a combination that audiences relate to. We can’t wait to see what spooky surprises “Los Espookys” has in store for us still.

Amazon Prime’s New TV Show Is Showing The Zombie Apocalypse From The Perspective Of Narcos

Entertainment

Amazon Prime’s New TV Show Is Showing The Zombie Apocalypse From The Perspective Of Narcos

@NALIP_ORG / Twitter

Amazon has officially become home to post-apocalyptic horror series “Narcos vs Zombies,” which will be entirely created, written, and produced in Mexico. The action-drama series will even star actors from “Narcos: Mexico,” and will showcase the resiliency of narco-culture long after zombies have taken over the planet. The drama will unfold at the U.S.-Mexico border after the U.S. military performs shady experiments on its wounded soldiers, who become the original source of a booming zombie population. Soon, Mexican SWAT teams fall victim to the zombie virus and the U.S. Army dedicates its attention to eradicating the zombified SWAT team across the border.

The Spanish-language series confirms what we all already know: Mexico deserves its own zombie apocalypse content, and Amazon Prime is making it happen in 2020.

We’ll witness the zombie apocalypse unfold through the lens of a Mexican drug lord.

CREDIT: @NALIP_ORG / TWITTER

Sergio Peris-Mencheta, known for his role in “Snowfall” and “Rambo: Last Blood,” will play the untouchable kingpin Alonso Marroquín, whose life changes forever during a prison escape. Accompanied by his son, Lucas, played by Nery Arredondo of “Vuelven,” Alonso breaks out of a high-security Mexican prison and goes into hiding on the U.S. side of the border. The dangerous father-son duo finds themselves taking shelter at a drug rehabilitation facility ironically called Paradiso, without knowing Zombie Apocalypse Ground Zero would develop not too far from there. 

The premise of the plot is only moderately scathing of U.S.-Mexico relations, and it starts with how the United States treats its wounded soldiers. The story goes that the U.S. decided to conduct military experiments on its wounded soldiers, in the hopes that it would turn them into killing machines. When the experiment fails, the U.S. Army leaves its soldiers for dead near the border. The experiment, of course, takes hold as the soldiers do become killing machines, but they won’t take orders from the U.S. Army.

As a Mexican SWAT team leads a search to find the escaped Marroquíns, they stumble upon the mutant zombie soldiers and fall prey to the zombie virus, leaving the Marroquíns in the middle of what will become a U.S.-Mexico zombie war.  “The series is a lot of fun, action-packed and features amazing VFX, but it will also likely ruffle some feathers as it deals with several important – and controversial – current affairs,” Nicolas Entel, series showrunner and founding partner of Red Creek Productions, said in a press release.

Creator of the Pablo Escobar documentary, “Sins of My Father,” Nicolas Entel will be the series showrunner.

CREDIT: @BUENASENFISH /TWITTER

“We are always looking to bring new kinds of premium content to our Prime members, therefore we are very excited about this new and innovative series that will surely be loved by fans of a variety of genres,” head of Amazon Prime Video’s Mexico Originals, Javier Szerman, told Variety, adding, “The story of ‘Narcos vs Zombies’ is something that hasn’t been done at this scale in Latin America.”

Argentine Nicolas Entel has been named the series’ showrunner, and given his success with “Pecados De Mi Padre” (“Sins of My Father”), “Narcos vs Zombies” is slated to be very well-received. “Pecados De Mi Padre” is a documentary about Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, as told through the lens of his only son, and the sons of Escobar’s most famous fatal victims. Acclaimed director Rigoberto Castañeda (“Diablero”, “Hasta Que Te Concocí”)  will bring the series to life and Miguel Tejada Flores (“Screamers”, “Beyond Re-Animator”) will write the series.

So far, Latino reception has been mixed.

CREDIT: @ROSE20143521415 / TWITTER

What kind of Televisa is this? First the Derbez series and then this. They are on a very good road @PrimeVideoMX. NOOOOOOOOOOT!” tweeted Alejandro Gómez (@AliasChiri). “Just what we need, another series of narcos,” added Mario Franco (@lccmariofranco).

The first season is expected to be eight, high-production-value episodes, and is produced by Dynamo (“Narcos” and “El Chapo”) and Red Creek Productions (“Sins of My Father”). The series will premiere to more than 200 countries worldwide, and is expected to rivet Latin-American audiences.

For all of us at Dynamo it has been an incredible experience to produce this unique original series for Prime Video in Latin America,” Andrés Calderón, CEO of Dynamo said in a press release. “The level of complexity in the production of this series added with the blending of genres will bring audiences a story which they have never before seen.”

READ: ‘Narcos: Mexico’ Is Back For A Second Season: Here’s Everything We Know So Far

Four New Shows From Latin America Will Soon Be On HBO And Here Are The Ones We’re Most Excited About

Entertainment

Four New Shows From Latin America Will Soon Be On HBO And Here Are The Ones We’re Most Excited About

Entre Hombres / HBO

HBO has decided to expand its Latin American catalog by adding four new shows aimed at Spanish-speaking audiences. The new programs all seem to vary in subject matter with some focusing on LGBTQ issues and others on criminal underbellies or counter-terrorism. The slate will launch in conjunction with six new English-speaking series on the network. 

 “[2020] will be a year in which we will concentrate even more on subscribers’ experiences with the brand, especially in the digital environment,” Gustavo Grossman, vice president of HBO Latin America, told the Digital Weekly

According to Variety, the company decided to continue to broaden the scope of their Latin American content due to a hit Colombian documentary it produced called Guerras Ajenas, along with a recent International Emmy winner for the scripted series Sr. Avila

So here’s what you can look forward to in the new year. 

Entre Hombres

Entre Hombres is a 4-episode mini-series based on the novel by Argentinian author Germán Maggiori. The story takes place in 1996 in Buenos Aires and will center around a senator who covers up a murder during a time of great social division. The show will star Gabriel ‘El Puma’ Goity, Nicolás Furtado, Diego Velázquez, Diego Cremonesi and Claudio Rissi.

“At HBO we continue betting on good stories. In this sense, Argentina has always been a source of talent and inspiration for our productions. Entre Hombres is a visceral piece and we are very proud with this new project that will enable us to take this magnificent cult novel to a big audience on the screen of HBO,” said Roberto Ríos, VP Corporate Original Production at HBO Latin America.

The production will be made in collaboration with Pol-ka and the series will be directed by Pablo Fendrik who previously directed El Jardin de Bronce. Author Maggiori will adapt the book for television. 

Mil Colmillos

HBO will launch its first show in Colombia Mil Colmillos in partnership with Rhayuela Films. The series will focus on a military mission to thwart a rogue squad roaming the Colombian jungles. The popular director of suspense thrillers, like El Paramo and Siete Cabezas will co-direct with Pablo Gonzale. 

They will film eight one-hour episodes in various locations in Colombia including Bogota and the Amazon jungle, according to Variety. The series will have a high production value, indicating HBO is willing to invest in Latin American content to broaden its audience. 

Todxs Nosotrxs

The new HBO series set in Brazil will follow Rafa, an 18-year-old non-binary person who is pansexual. Rafa decides to leave their family and move to Sao Paulo. Claro Gallo will portray Rafa and star alongside Kelner Macedo, Juliana Gerais, and Golda Nomacce. 

Patria

The series adapted from Spanish author Fernando Aramburu’s novel Patria is technically an HBO Europe production, but is still aimed at Spanish-speaking audience nonetheless. The series will be eight parts and written by Aitor Gabilondo and directed by Venice-winning Pablo Trapero and Goya-winning Félix Viscarret.

Set in Spanish Basque County the story will span over thirty years, following two families divided by the separatist terrorism of ETA. It will center around Bittori whose husband is murdered by ETA and her friendship with Miren, whose son is a member of the ETA. 

“I’ve dedicated almost a year to adapt Patria for TV. Now, it’s time to bring these characters to life and recreate the painful past reflected in this work of fiction. That the wounds of this recent history are still open in the Basque Country fuels my commitment and forces me to sharpen my sensibility,” said writer Gabilondo.

Antony Root, EVP of Original Programming and Production, HBO Europe told Deadline that he believed that while the story may take place during a specific political backdrop it is largely a universal one. 

“A personal, human story that unfolds against the backdrop of political violence in the Basque country, and which explores themes of grief, community and forgiveness, Patria is at once acutely local and affectingly universal,” Root said. “That we have such an outstanding creative team to bring it to life is testament to our ambition for the series, and its appeal to both Spanish and international audiences.  It is the perfect project to kick-off HBO Europe’s drama slate in Spain.”

The series began shooting in Northern Span this year and like the other series will premiere in 2020, though no premiere dates have been set yet. 

“Luckily, HBO has enabled me to be surrounded by an exceptional technical and artistic crew who share the same commitment. To me, Patria is not only the challenge of adapting a powerful and moving novel that has reached readers all over the world. It’s also a personal journey which, through these characters, takes me back to the toughest years of ETA that made such an impact on my youth,” Gabilondo.