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Cult Vault #12: Pedro Almodóvar on Rapture by Ivan Zulueta

Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar gets spooked out by a super 8mm camera

Taken from the March 2011 issue of Dazed & Confused:

Giant of Spanish cinema Pedro Almodóvar recommends a lesser-known Spaniard for this month’s Cult Vault: underground director Ivan Zulueta and his 1979 ode to drug addiction, vampirism and love of film Arrebato (“Rapture”). Compared to Cronenberg’s Videodrome (although it was released five years earlier) and shot on shadowy Super 8mm, the plot revolves around a director whose camera takes on a life of its own, gaining the ability to switch on, off and eventually erase the person who helms it. Zulueta, who passed away in 2010 after years of heroin addiction, was a great friend of Almodóvar’s and designed many of the director’s early film posters. A compulsive Polaroid snapper and Super 8 filmer, his career faltered after Rapture, and a Twin Peaks-esque TV series that was shipwrecked on chemical substances. Here, Almodóvar remembers Zulueta’s extraordinary masterpiece and his fast friendship with the troubled and talented filmmaker. 

“I had been in Madrid nearly ten years when I met Ivan. He was already known and desired for his work on television, the mythical Last Scream and One, Two, Three, English Hide-And-Seek, one of the few examples of non-tacky films which were made in our country in the late 60s. Fans of Rapture may not know this, but Ivan Zulueta had a great sense of humour. I vividly remember those days in his apartment in the Plaza of Spain. We hit it off immediately, united by psychedelia, the American underground and early English pop. We had a few mutual friends – and enemies – as well as the music of the new wave of Madrid, comix, absolute cinephilia and a love of shooting little movies on Super 8mm (although he was much better than me – Ivan was an absolute virtuoso in the use of that instrument). Rapture would be nothing without the thousands of metres Ivan shot in super 8mm in the years that preceded it. Not surprisingly, in Rapture, the Super 

8mm camera (like the character in Peeping Tom by Michael Powell, but in a different sense) takes away bodies, transferring them to a better world or no world at all – the only information given to us in the film is it is a kind of reddish void. The land where Ivan felt most comfortable was that of abstraction. The pure image, full of meaning without the burden of fiction, always supported by a wide cushion of sound – David Lynch, but less scary and more pop. Rapture still shakes with force now as it did 31 years ago – the year it premiered.”