[Interview] Eduardo Sánchez and Demián Rugna for SATANIC HISPANICS

The other two Latino AF directors from the all-Latino anthology horror film SATANIC HISPANICS are Eduardo Sánchez and Demián Rugna. It was a real pleasure to speak with all of the directors of this amazing anthology, but I’m going to remind you that Sanchez is half of the co-directing team that made The Blair Witch Project, which was a cultural phenomenon, and that Demián Rugna made the film Terrified in 2017 that is still being raved about and converting new fans five years later. Rugna’s newest film, shortly to hit theaters on October 6, is When Evil Lurks and it’s one of the most horrifying experiences you will have in a theater this year. He’s revitalized the entire possession subgenre with this savagely merciless and diabolically clever Argentinian film.

But we are here to talk about SATANIC HISPANICS, which is a film that is overflowing with some of the genre’s best Latino talents. In our previous installment, I spoke with Alejandro Brugués, who directed the segment The Hammer of Zanzibar, Mike Mendez, who directed the wraparound segment The Traveler, and Gigi Saul Guerrero, who directed Nahuales, and who will next be seen as part of the director ensemble in V/H/S 85.

During my conversation with Sánchez and Rugna, we chatted about what their inspiration for their SATANIC HISPANICS segments came from, what it was like making the film, and the camaraderie of Latino filmmaking.

Hello Eduardo and Demián, I’ll start with the beginning, which is how did both of you become involved with SATANIC HISPANICS?

Eduardo Sánchez: For me, it was, well, for both of us, actually, Alejandro Brugués reached out to us. He and Mike had come up with this idea. Mike Mendez, the other producer, had come up with this idea for an anthology movie. He said, “It’s called Satanic Hispanics.” And I said, Where do I sign? I was honored to be a part of it, and so that was it. I’ve done some anthologies before, and they’re fun in their own way. I said, “Let’s go. I’m ready to go.”

Awesome. Demián?

Demián Rugna: It is similar to Eduardo; Alejandro called me. I didn’t know him. Well, actually, I shared a Zoom call with ten filmmakers, but I never talked with him. I know his movies. But well, he called me and told me about the project. All the time, he was pushing for me to be part of this. Even when I thought I was never gonna do this project because I’d been shooting my movie all the year. But he pushed me all the time, and he understood me [and] my process to make this short. “You need to shoot, man.”

Well, I did it. But I guess it was the idea. I love the idea and love the filmmakers. Gigi [Saul Guerrero] was the one that I knew before. But I had never talked with Eduardo and Mike. I met them at Fantastic Fest. Obviously, we shared a screen with the Zoom call, but we never met in person. But it was amazing. So appreciate that from Alejandro.

Demian, you made the short Tambien Lo Vi, and Eduardo, you made El Vampiro. I’d like to ask you about the individual segments and what inspired you to make this particular story.

Eduardo Sánchez: For me, it was Hemky Madera, the main actor in my film. I met him doing television, and we were friends, and I knew he was a great comedic actor. He didn’t really get a lot of chances to do comedy, straight comedy. We said to each other we should do a movie together.

Then, this idea came across my desk. A friend sent it to me, and I thought, Oh, my God, this is perfect. I could see Hemky in it. He brought in Patricia Velasquez, and I thought, oh my god, they have such good chemistry. They have been friends for a long time. I don’t know if they had worked together, but they were just like people who had been married for so many years. They were just perfect.

It was really my desire to work with Hemky and also to do comedy. I rarely get a chance to do comedy, and I really like I miss it because I used to do a lot of it in my film school days. It was just a chance to do something really goofy and not take ourselves seriously. Let’s just let Hemky and Patricia have fun and see where we land.

You’re totally correct. They have great chemistry together; they seem like they could be married. There’s a wonderful sweetness to the segment. There’s always that perspective when you have a specific monster, like vampires. They’re these romantic vampires who are not really monsters. Vampires are either in love with this one person, or they’re animalistic monsters like the vamps in 30 Days of Night. It really had this kind of touching sweetness to the segment, which actually works really well together with the comedy because of the sequences like the one in the alley. That’s one of my favorite parts.

Eduardo Sánchez: Thank you. I got really lucky with them, and that’s really what I loved about the script is that at the end of the movie, you want to care about these people. Luckily, we cast it perfectly, and you do care for them. So, I was really happy with the way it ended up.

Your sympathies are totally with the vampire, although he’s really got an appetite.

Eduardo Sánchez: He’s ruthless. He’s ruthless. But you still gotta you still root for him for some reason. Yeah, he’s just an idiot. He’s kind of a dumb guy, to tell you the truth. So.

So, about Tambien Lo Vi, it’s really also fascinating in a different way. The idea, Demián, is about the guy with that mathematical compulsion.

Demián Rugna: My inspiration came from the world of Clive Barker. The movie Hellraiser. I can find my inspiration there, but it’s more for the box. The idea of opening the gate, another portal, and the monster coming here. But I don’t know. I’m not conscious about where the inspiration came from.

The truth is I wrote it last minute because I’ve been really busy with my previous movie. Alejandro needed a little storyline to share with the producer and with the studio. So, I thought, okay, I need to write something where I can find later, after shooting my movie, the ideas to make this short. I wrote a single line. Alejandro needed an element to unify the rest of the shorts. He asked me, “I need something.” Okay, use the light. I will use a light, and my movie is going to be about a guy discovering monsters using the light of his home. Okay, do that.

I’ve been married to that idea, but I didn’t have the script. When I finished my movie, I sat down and said okay, what was the idea? I wrote it in a week, and I shot it after I wrote it. I waited for it for a week, and I shot it. So, I’m not really conscious of what it means. We were in a hurry to make it.

Eduardo Sánchez: How many days did you shoot, real quick?

Demián Rugna: Five.

Eduardo Sánchez: Yeah, that’s what I shot.

So you both shot your segments in five days? Wow.

Eduardo Sánchez: Yeah, you kind of had to, you know. They gave us a certain amount of budget, and you had to work it in those number of days, so.

Demián Rugna: I was in one location. You had a lot of locations.

Eduardo Sánchez: Yeah, I mean, believe me, I know. [laughter]

Courtesy DREAD

You guys accomplished a lot in five days because both of your segments look very polished and are full stories. They’re beautiful in different ways; there’s that kind of love story humor going on in Eduardo’s segment and this otherworldly. I always go with Lovecraft. I think that the overarching theme of the actual movie, aside from Latinos in horror and our different perspectives, is the idea of the portals that can exist, which is a terrifying idea. We’re not alone, and anything could come through these portals, or we could go through them.

Demián Rugna: The idea that I liked from my segment is that this is a mistake. The guy from my story found a way to open that portal, but he doesn’t know what he is doing. We are showing that idea of ‘What are you doing? I don’t know what I’m doing!’ This is what I what I found to be funny, and I guess it works because we’re mixing with a horror story.

Eduardo, is there anything that you’re working on? That is coming up after SATANIC HISPANICS?

Eduardo Sánchez: I’ve been stuck with the strike. All my work has shut down. I’m producing these really low-budget horror films here in Frederick, Maryland, where I live. We have one later coming out in October called The Jester. But these are really low budget, very, very low budget. We’re trying to make the best films possible, but very low budget. That’s what I have going on, and then just more TV work. That’s pretty much it for me. Demián has got some stuff.

Please tell me.

Demián Rugna: I’m going to have a premiere in Toronto of my next movie When Evil Lurks.

Eduardo Sánchez: Yeah!

Demián Rugna: It’s a rural horror story with demons. Too much violence. We want to have a premiere in Toronto, and then we’re gonna be Fantastic Fest, and then we’re gonna be in LA.

For Beyond Fest, probably. So, Eduardo, if you had something to say, and I’m not asking you to make a statement for all Latinos or anything like that. But what was it like as a Latino film director working on a project like this with other Latinos and on this type of subject matter, after the long career that you’ve had?

Eduardo Sánchez: It’s really cool. It’s something that we always talk about doing, bringing more diversity, not just Latinos, but women and other nationalities and, you know, that’s the beauty of what’s happening right now with the digital revolution is the idea that anybody with an iPhone or a phone can shoot a movie these days. You never know where the talent is. The talent can be anywhere. So that’s really amazing and really refreshing that we have the ability to do that, but again, you need to put a spotlight on certain things.

I just love the idea of this because and we were talking about this in the last interview, Latino Americans, especially in the United States are really huge horror fans. They are a huge part of the audience that the studios want to bring in. Our whole thing is: let’s tell more stories about Latinos, a different place to start with. Horror is meant to scare people, and it’s very difficult to do that. Because once people know what you’re doing, they will say, ah, there’s going to be a jump scare here or whatever, so you always have to keep it fresh.

I think bringing in fresh perspectives, especially from a foreign perspective, or just something that refreshes the story a little bit, is always helpful. That’s why I think that some of the best horror movies in the last 20 to 30 years have been foreign films, at least for me. It just brings this kind of creepiness that is hard to do in American-based films. But it was just cool to be able to work with [these people], and we weren’t exclusively Latino, we obviously wanted to make the best films possible, but we wanted to have as many Latino writers, directors, obviously, and actors. It was everybody getting together, and it was cool. It was a lot of fun. Latinos have a certain kind of style that you don’t find elsewhere. There’s a certain kind of looseness and camaraderie. I just really love that part of it. We were all supporting each other and trying to make the best films possible, and it really showed.

I don’t know if you mind talking about The Blair Witch Project, but just seeing your name in the credits as a director was really inspiring to me when I saw the film. Up until then, you really hadn’t thought of a Latino being a director of this incredibly powerful and popular film. A phenomenon, a cultural landmark. When I saw that, I was like, wow, we can do it. It was representation at a time when there wasn’t as much.

Eduardo Sánchez: Yeah, that’s awesome. It’s awesome to hear because for me, it was Robert Rodriguez, who started the whole indie thing of just getting 5,000 bucks and going to shoot your movie and I followed that. I learned a lot. Again, it was the idea that it was a Latino. Somebody who just has a different point of view. I’ve heard that from other people, a lot of people saying, and I’m just so proud of that. I’m so blessed to be a part of the movie, and I’m so happy that my name alone inspires people. Because if I can do it, anybody can do it basically.

SATANIC HISPANICS is now playing in theaters. To learn more, check out our review here.

Dolores Quintana
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