Fantastic Fest 2008: Paco Limón's DOCTOR INFIERNO
A key part of analyzing Paco Limón's Doctor Infierno is understanding how the film was made. Limón came up with the idea for Doctor Infierno in 1996. He made a twenty-minute short film based on this idea in 2000. In 2003, the short became the first twenty-minutes of a full-length feature. Over the next few years, Limón shot film on weekends with limited cast and crew. Once the production was finished, various people, none of whom the director met until recently, contributed music, computer modeling, and other elements based on their enthusiasm for the original short. The result of these efforts is a black-and-white do-it-yourself (D.I.Y.) sci-fi/horror epic that is a testament to cleverness and persistence in the face of limited means.
In Doctor Infierno, the titular character is a lunatic who develops a cure for cancer and other terminal diseases. As would be expected of a mad scientist, he will only give up his cure if he is made global dictator. As to plotting or characterization, Doctor Infierno constantly changes narrative directions, and sometimes the threads become completely lost. Those who get past this will realize that Doctor Infierno's structural problems are more than compensated for by manic energy and grimy fun. Limon's film is packed to the walls with mad doctors, martial arts inspired fights, freaks, monsters, zombies, military squads, and giant robots. To compensate for the film's obvious financial limitations, each shot is tightly composed, and the sequences are edited to give the scenes a fast, marching rhythm. Not all of the material works, particularly some of the vulgar humor, but the film rushes forward in a way that allows the hits to linger longer than misses. Doctor Infierno is not slick and polished but it does not have to be. The filmmaker's creativity and skill stands out in spite of the film's raw edges. Those who have the opportunity to catch the film on the festival circuit, including Sitges 2008, will be well served by doing so.