Accion Mutante (1993) Retrospective

SUMMARY
A future post-apocalyptic world is ruled by the good-looking people. A terrorist group of disabled people, who see themselves as mutants, take arms against their oppressors. They plan to rid the world of “beautiful people” and superficiality. They are very inept at what they do and mistrust one another. They assassinate body builders, massacre an aerobics class on live TV and blow up a sperm bank as part of their violent campaign.

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Led by their chief Ramón Yarritu (Antonio Resines), they plan their final hit before retirement; the kidnap of Patricia Orujo (Frédérique Feder), the daughter and only heiress of billionaire businessman Lord Orujo (Fernando Guillén), the plan involves kidnapping the girl in the middle of her wedding but the scene becomes a massacre when the girl cuts the cake with a large sharp knife puncturing the chest of one of the terrorists that was hidden inside of it, badly hurt he opens the cake top and open fire on the alarmed and unsuspecting attendees, 2 members of the terrorist group are killed in the middle of the fray but the rest manage to flee with Patricia as their hostage. They staple Patricia’s lips together with a special electronic device and escape from the police in their spaceship whose disguised as a gigantic fish merchant ship.

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Ramón, planning to keep the ransom money for himself, hides from the group that the amount set for the exchange is 100 million and declares its only 10 million, the gang accidentally watches a news flash report where the correct amount to be delivered by the girl’s family is revealed, the gang gets upset and summons Ramón to explain the misinformation but he turns the gang members against each other by convincing them there is a traitor on board the ship and that is part of the crew.

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His scheme and plot leads to the deaths of all the crewmen/henchmen of the gang seemingly accidentally each time a member was murdered by Ramón himself, while killing the last one of the terrorists – Juan (Juan Viadas), who has a siamese twin .. Álex (Álex Angulo), he is discovered and a fierce fight starts culminating in the destruction of the guidance system of the ship. They crash on a planet called Axturiax, a brutal and forgotten mining planet inhabited only by male crazed, sex-starved miners because all women had died. Ramón and Patricia, who has developed Stockholm syndrome, are captured by miners but manage to escape, but not before they attempt to gang-rape her, Álex survives the crash too and after he friendlies with a blind experienced miner, he decides to pursue Ramón to avenge his death brother and to rescue Patricia, he must drag the attached dead body of his brother Juan around with him for the rest of the film, A planned ransom drop trick by Orujo turns into mayhem, when a portable nuclear device is activated by lord Orujo to wipe clean the whole area, the event is compounded by live TV coverage for the ransom negotiations when Álex arrives and kills Lord Orujo with a headshot, initiating a dogfight inside the bar that goes to its climax when the police forces join the show and Ramón decides to sacrifice himself to allow Patricia escape and survive the bar fight with the police forces outside … greeting Patricia with a French kiss and Álex by telling him he is still useless, he uses Lord Orujo mini nuke to evaporate the police army outside entrance while the bar trembles and crumbles due to the mini nuke shockwave.

When the nuclear blast is over Álex finally gets rid of his siamese twin attached body and finds Patricia hidden below a metal cage that saved her, they hold each other in order to ready a machine gun and get outside the destroyed bar.

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DEVELOPMENT/BACKSTORY
“When Jorge Guerricaechevarria and myself started to write Accion Mutante, we wanted to do an action film, and our only purpose was to entertain people,” says de la Iglesia through a translator. “We wrote a movie with a lot of shotguns, two spaceships and a lost planet. All of these things are not at all fashionable in Spain, where people are very serious about movies. It’s not easy to find money to make films in our country, because producers are only willing to pay for adaptations of prestigious books with a couple of old cars in them. I’ve got nothing against that kind of film, but I really think there’s room for something else. You can replace money with imagination; the only important thing is to have a story to tell.”M8DACMU EC001

De la Iglesia originally planned for Accion Mutante to be a short film. After completing Mirandas Asesinas, his first short about a crazy killer in a bar, the fledgling director was lucky enough to attract the attention of Spain’s most famous and powerful director, Pedro Almodovar. He read the Mutante script and let its authors know that El Deseo. his production company, was ready to put money into the project. “It was a bit like if someone had called us and said, “The pope loves your script, wants to produce it and is waiting for you in Rome,” says de la Iglesia. “We thought it was a joke, but we decided to go and meet Pedro anyway, because you never know…”

Almodóvar and his brother Augustin were indeed very keen on working with the young director, but they weren’t interested in a short film, which they considered a poor investment. “We had nothing against making a feature out of our story,” recalls de la Iglesia. “To tell you the truth, if they had asked us to write 100 chapters about whales, we would have said yes anyway.” After the initial meeting, the director spent four months getting the script ready and sent it to the Almodóvars. “It was a really crazy screenplay,” he remembers, “so crazy that we were almost hesitant to send it. We decided to do it anyway because, after all, we had nothing to lose.”

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A few days later, Pedro Almodóvar himself was calling to give them a go-ahead on the project. “The first question people ask me is how I got along with Pedro,” de la Iglesia says. “The truth is that he was very helpful, even if he didn’t like the violence I was putting in my film. Sure, he gave me advice, but he never imposed anything on me, because he’s a director himself and he wouldn’t like anyone trying to intrude on his own movies.”

There were problems, however, which began during preproduction. Writing an outlandish script like Accion Mutante is easy to do, but bringing it to the screen when you have no experience and a small budget can be quite a chore. “Writing ‘Everyone starts shooting with shotguns’ or ‘The spaceships go down on Washington’ is not difficult,” de la Iglesia points out, “but when you realize everything you have to do to put these kinds of things on screen, it’s really painful.” The novice director was lucky enough to work with Esther Garcia, a skilled executive producer who offered advice and encouragement at all times. The team spent almost two years preparing for the filming, and de la Iglesia drew up precise storyboards for all the action scenes. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing to improvise on a shoot,” he notes, “but what we had to do was so complicated and my lack of experience was so obvious that I thought it was better to have everything on paper.”

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One of the main problems involved the film’s special FX; de la Iglesia was unable to find Spanish technicians good enough to handle a science-fiction thriller packed with spacecraft and gory scenes. Being a big fan of Delicatessen, the director went to Paris to meet with the FX team who had toiled on that comic horror hit. “I knew that the shooting was going to be very difficult,” he explains. “These guys knew what it was all about, because Delicatessen was an equally suicidal project. We understood each other completely, even if they only spoke French!”

The tyro’s predictions of a rough shoot proved to be absolutely correct. The cast and crew went crazy while sliding on the blood and grease covering the spaceship floor. Six air compressors were working at the same time in the small studio, making so much noise that the actors weren’t able to hear de la Iglesia yell “Action!” “Each night, we wanted to let it drop and become mimes,” he recalls. “But after seeing the dailies, we felt good enough to make things even more complicated.”

The actors were particularly helpful and patient with the untested director—like himself, most of them were making their feature film debuts. Alex Angulo, for example, agreed to being hung from a tree during an entire night, while Antonio Resines, playing the movie’s hero, underwent five hours of makeup each day and wore a full rubber outfit on a very hot set for the 13-week shoot. “He never lost his sense of humor,” says de la Iglesia of the actor’s plight.

After four months of post-production (“More difficult than the shooting itself!” claims the director), the movie was ready. “Pedro really enjoyed it-he liked the humor in it,” says de la Iglesia. “Like me, he’s a fan of black humor. I think that it’s really amusing to poke fun at serious matters. If you respect something and take it seriously, you’ve got tension. When someone breaks this tension, you start to laugh. That’s why I think it’s important not to respect things and ideas if you want to be able to think for yourself. Accion Mutante is not a sophisticated comedy, but I hope audiences will have a good time watching it.”

CAST/CREW
Directed
Álex de la Iglesia

Produced
Agustín Almodóvar
Pedro Almodóvar
Esther García

Written
Jorge Guerricaechevarría
Álex de la Iglesia

Antonio Resines : Ramón Yarritu
Álex Angulo : Alex Abadie
Frédérique Feder : Patricia Orujo
Karra Elejalde : José Óscar ‘Manitas’ Tellería
Fernando Guillén : The ominous Orujo
Jaime Blanch : The crazy presenter
Bibiana Fernández & Rossy de Palma : Luxury guests
Féodor Atkine : Kaufmann
Ramón Barea : Blind old man
Santiago Segura : Ezequiel

CREDITS/REFERENCES/SOURCES/BIBLIOGRAPHY
Scifiworld#86
Fangoria#130

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