On June 7th, the horror genre lost someone very important to the it, although most fans here in the states probably know very little of him. Narciso Ibáñez Serrador might not be a name most fans are familiar with, mainly because he didn’t produce a lot of work in the film genre, but what he did before that laid the grounds for the genre in Spain. According to author Antonio Lázaro-Reboll in his book Spanish Horror Film, “Narciso Ibáñez Serrador was the most culturally prominent image of horror in Spain in the late 1960s due to his horror-suspense TV series Historias para no dormir (Stories to Keep You Awake, 1966-67).”
He grew up in the theater where both his parents were involved in, where his father Ibáñez Menta adapted horror classics for the stage. His parents divorced when he only 12, he would eventually work with his father in the late ’50s creating a TV show for Argentina’s only TV channel, adapting the works of Poe and Robert Louis Stevenson, with his father acting in them while he wrote the episodes. This was called Obras maestras del terror (Masterworks of Horror). When he eventually came to Spain, he continued the work for television, cementing his reputation with the genre, even before making his first film.
His first feature film, La residencia (The House That Screamed, 1969), starring Lili Palmer, Cristina Galbó, and John Moulder-Brown, gave audiences a very gothic picture, with many touches of the Italian giallo. His second feature, ¿Quién puede matar a un niño? (Who Can Kill a Child?, 1976), is even more powerful, from the opening montage to the message he is trying to convey, is very hard to forget.
In 2006, he wrote and directed one of the episodes in the TV series 6 Films to Keep You Awake, which also featured directors like Jaume Balagueró, Álex de la Iglesia, and Paco Plaza.
Earlier this year, the Spanish Academy awarded him an honorary Goya Award for lifetime achievement. To show just how much of an impact his work had on the future generations of filmmakers, the award was presented to him by directors Alejandro Amenábar (The Others), J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage), Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza (directors of the [REC] series), Rodrigo Cortés (Buried), Alex de la Iglesia (Witching and Bitching), Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later) and Nacho Vigalondo (Colossal).
Narciso Ibáñez Serrador passed away at the age of 83. Director J.A. Bayona had tweeted the following about him and of his importance. “A capital figure of our cinema has gone. Master and teacher, he filmed a pair of masterpieces and we caught his love for the great classics of terror. RIP Narciso Ibáñez Serrador. Thanks for the laughter, the scares, the tears and the lessons in cinema.”
While he may be gone, we not only have his work to keep his memory alive, but also all of those that he has inspired. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family.