top of page

Débora Munhys - Honored Guest 

Débora e Márcia.jpeg


Débora Munhyz: from the margins of cinema to the heart of terror

Courageous, daring, fearless. Everyone who worked with Débora Muniz (who in recent years has preferred to be called Débora Munhyz) claims that she is the most complete actress they have ever met and only treat her with superlatives. She is praised both for her professionalism – always punctual and with the text duly memorized – and for her unique talent – the absolute delivery to the roles, to the point of fully experiencing her characters, and having no restrictions as to what she is asked to do on stage.

Dé's overwhelming strengthbora as an actress, muse and woman found her ideal vehicle when she made the short film Amor Só de Mãe (2002), by Dennison Ramalho. The film became the greatest representative of an extreme horror that prepared an entire generation for the renewed Brazilian genre cinema. And the short owes a lot to Débora for being a cult object, an evil and terrifying work in which the actress imposes herself with a breathtaking performance alongside the equally giant Everaldo Pontes – in addition to the iconic participation of Vera Barreto Leite.

“There's nothing I haven't done on camera,” Débora told Dennison upon accepting the challenging role that would have put most sensible actresses to flight. Thanks to her lack of judgment – in the words of the director himself – the national horror was brightened by an unrivaled performance as Formosa, a mature woman who dates a grown man who still lives with her mother, an elderly religious fanatic, from whom the mistress demands the heart as proof of love. This (per)version of the song “Coração Materno”, by Vicente Celestino, shocked and fascinated horror fans and brought the actress the prestige she always deserved.

Débora was born Maria das Neves, in the backlands of Pernambuco, into a family of many siblings, and fell in love with cinema after watching Dio, come ti amo! (1966). She left for São Paulo as a teenager, around 1975, determined to become a movie star. She ended up at the acting school of José Mojica Marins, Zé do Caixão, and ended up being chosen by actress and filmmaker Rosângela Maldonado to play the role of the young Débora in The woman who puts the dove in the air, which the veteran star was producing with Mojica's help. That was how Maria das Neves won not only the role of Débora, but involuntarily also her stage name. Everyone started to call her “Débora” and the name ended up being adopted.

She began acting professionally in 1977, when she made the film Rosângela, released the following year, and appeared in several Mojica productions, for whom she became practically the perfect goddaughter. At the time, the filmmaker sought to move away from the image of Zé do Caixão and invested in feature films that, although still bringing his brutal and transgressive characteristics, portrayed another type of terror. Débora has a brief but significant role in Perversion (originally filmed as Rape! and released in January 1979), as a young aspiring actress looking for a film opportunity. In June of the same year, Mundo: Mercado do Sexo (Jornal Headline) was released, also with a small participation of Débora.

The situation changed when explicit sex began to invade Boca do Lixo productions, and virtually all films made in the most popular center of national cinema began to adopt this content. Débora plays a luxury prostitute in The 5th dimension of sex (1984), directed by Mojica, but does not participate in the explicit scenes (grafted after the finished film). However, fearless as only she, she was not intimidated and soon surrendered her naked body to that cinema. His porn filmography is remarkable and includes many of the greatest classics of this genre - at a time when even our pornography was made with quality. A b… profound (1984), by Álvaro de Moya, Oh! Rebuceteio (1984), by Cláudio Cunha, Butterflies and stallions (1985), by Alfredo Sternheim, Gozo hallucinante (1985), by Jean Garrett, and Sit on mine, that I enter yours (1985), by Ody Fraga, are just some of the outstanding titles of this peculiar phase.

He then took his experience with explicit sex to the theater, teaming up with actor, writer and producer Ary Santiago to stage the porn play Clínica das taras, in 1984. The success of the endeavor motivated Ary and Débora to invest in the film version , creating the company Canaã Produções Cinematográficas. Old friend José Mojica Marins was invited to direct and accepted on the condition that they shoot two films simultaneously: the porn version, which was called O dr. Frank at Taras Clinic, and a terror entitled The Two Faces of a Psychopath, with the same technicians and actors. doctor Frank was released in March 1987, but the horror version was never completed and is still waiting to be assembled and released.

Twenty years passed before Débora and Mojica met again on screen (during this period she acted – from 1987 to 2006 – in the show Noites do terror at the PlayCenter amusement park). There were two projects that rescued the prestige of the filmmaker and served as worthy epitaphs of his career: the medium-length film A plague and the feature film Encarnação do diabo. The first was originally filmed in 1980, in Super-8, but the production had been abandoned before the editing and sound stage. Retrieved by Eugênio Puppo's Heco Produções, the film had to be dubbed by different actors from the cast at the time. Débora then gave her voice to the character Marina, played by Sílvia Gless. The film was shown in a retrospective of José Mojica Marins' work in 2007, and later scanned in 4K and re-edited to enter the festival circuit in 2022.

The actress is also a notable presence in Encarnação do diabo (2008), the late and long-awaited conclusion of the Zé do Caixão trilogy, playing a blind witch, alongside Helena Ignez, in the historic meeting of the muse of Boca do Lixo with the muse of Cinema Marginal and Udigrúdi. In one of the most brutal scenes in the film, the two are killed and bled by Zé do Caixão, when Mojica was finally able to act opposite his favorite pupil and whom he defined as “my greatest actress”.

Débora Munhyz participates in the Crash 2022 exhibition as a special honoree at the event, with the exhibition of the rediscovered A plague and the masterpiece Amor só de Mãe. Still in full swing, the actress is the protagonist of the horror comedy A Noite das Vampiras, directed by Rubens Mello, another disciple of “Mestre” Mojica, which features the muses Nicole Puzzi and Liz Marins in the cast, as well as appearances by the pioneers of the underground Petter Baiestorf and Cleiner Micceno. The film is scheduled to premiere in the first half of 2023 and promises to once again recognize the talent, charisma and strength of one of the greatest actresses in our horror cinema.


Carlos Primati

bottom of page