Colour, 1994/1998, 70m. / Directed by Nacho Cerda / Starring Pep Tosar, Jordi Tarrida, Trae Houlihan / Unearthed (US R1 NTSC) / WS (1.85:1/2.35:1) (16:9) / DD5.1

One of the rare short films to break through to significant horror fan awareness, "Aftermath" appalled and impressed a number of international cinematic golddiggers on the bootleg video circuit thanks to a striking combination of beautiful cinematography and thoroughly stomach-churning content. It also became an instant calling card for Spanish director Nacho Cerda, whose three films contained on this DVD - termed "The Death Trilogy" here, though that's really where the connection ends - are small gems of nonverbal mood and provocation.

Before the showstopping "Aftermath," Cerda crafted a shorter, far more subtle film called "The Awakening" (not cited as prominently as its more famous companion films on the packaging but a good place to start). Swift and effective, this black and white short involves a student in a classroom awakens from dozing and notices that time seems to have suddenly stopped... until the students begin clustering around something across the room. A typical Twilight Zone-style yarn, it's modest but gets the job done and indicates plenty of promise. However, few could have predicted the punch-to-the-guts impact of "Aftermath," which follows an evening in the life of a morgue employee (The Nameless' Tosar) whose eye is caught by a pretty female corpse. After performing an autopsy, he decides to get to know her a little better... One of the rare attempts to sculpt a genuinely artistic film out of an explicit (but non-pornographic) study of necrophilia, "Aftermath" is so exquisitely shot and edited that many viewers who would normally run out of the room searching for barf bags instead became hooked by its hypnotic, assured approach. Certainly not for everyone, it remains a truly unique, twisted little chapter in the continuing symbiotic relationship between high-art class and pure horror.

However, Cerda's finest hour lay ahead with "Genesis," which veers away from attention-grabbing excess and instead tackles a somber take on the Pygmalian/Galatea myth. Despondent over the death of his beloved, a sculptor (Tosar again) decides to create a statue of her likeness. However, he becomes puzzled and tormented when the statue begins to bleed and decides to tend to it like a person, caressing its surface and keeping it clean. Soon their relationship becomes even stranger and more supernatural... Switching to stunning scope for this third film, Cerda outdoes himself with a sensory feast in which bold colors and deep shadows combine to create a haunting mood piece, with a logical but eerie finale that lingers long afterward in the memory.

While "Aftermath" and "Genesis" have circulated in dupey VHS form for ages, all three films have rarely been seen in pristine condition until this DVD. Obviously the full frame "The Awakening" can only look as good as its grainy, low-budget origins will alow, but the other two films (presented in sharp anamorphic transfers) look marvelous from start to finish. As a bonus, the soundtracks have been boosted with effective 5.1 mixes that enrich the already evocative sound designs.

Cerda also participates throughout the DVD, offering commentaries for each film; packed with information about both the production aspects and artistic aspirations for each project, they're enjoyable tracks which have to move quickly given the short running times of the three films. Cerda also returns for a 45-minute audio interview for "Aftermath," while a "Making of Aftermath" featurette clocking in at half an hour features some astonishing behind-the-scenes footage, including some memorable clowning around by one naked "cadaver." Then Cerda is joined for a Spanish TV interview by Nekromantik director Jorg Buttgereit, with the latter exhibiting his usual twisted sense of humor while discussing the approach to filming extreme subject matter. Finally you get storyboards for both color shorts, a long behind-the-scenes "Genesis" gallery, DVD-Rom screenplays, and a booklet containing liner notes by Ultraviolent's Scott Gabbey. The disc is available with two covers, both depicting a corpse on the slab but in wildly different stages of nudity and bloodiness.

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