Friday Night Flix: Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi

wb1Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Each week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.

Notice how I didn’t put the English translation of this week’s movie up there in the title? I usually include the translation because I am not (generally) a pretentious purist snob. I didn’t this time because that perfectly reasonable if straightforward title Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi translates to The Witches of Zugarramurdi. But what did they call it when they ported it over to the U.S.? Witching and Bitching (Netflix). I smell a rant coming on.

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It’s perhaps fitting that whoever bought the U.S. rights to this thing chose that title. The movie is built on disturbingly pervasive misogyny, which of course the word bitch is as well. You may not think of it this way, but bitch is about one micron less offensive than the dreaded N word. (Perhaps that one micron accounts for why I can bring myself to type one and not the other.)

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But the truth remains: bitch is to woman (a traditionally oppressed, marginalized and victimized subset of humanity) as the N word is to black people. By using it we are denigrating whatever we’re talking about – a nasty person, too much complaining, a victim of prison rape – by comparing it to women. To our mothers, wives, daughters and sisters. How horrible is that? That we do not think of it as terribly offensive on the larger spectrum of curse words just shows how far we have to go before gender equality is anywhere close to real. So stop saying bitch, okay?

And the movie? It’s okay. It’s got some funny parts (see, e.g., gold painted Jesus leaning out of a car window blasting a shotgun at the cops) and some cool atmosphere. It’s well shot and acted, even if it skews a tad goofier than I’d like. It’s biggest sin (other than the fact that ALL the male characters’ wives and mothers are painted as hideous shrews) is that it fails to explore the relatable side of its cannibalistic witch cult.

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See when our bandits flee to this witch village (for the real life Zugarramundi is the Spainish equivalent of our own Salem) the witches don’t attack them outright. There’s some vague prophecy aspect (the kid is the Chosen One or some such) but the ladies are overall pretty nice until these chump thieves piss them off. They get some comeuppance I guess so maybe that’s part of the message? Who knows.

Added bonus: Next Friday is Halloween! Holy poop!

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